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Ein griechisches Nein ist im Interesse aller Menschen in Europa

Dieses Interview der griechischen Zeitung "Epohi" mit Andrej Hunko wird am Wochenende in Griechenland veröffentlicht. Oxi.

How do you judge the Greek government’s decision for the referendum?

It is the unalienable right of the Greek people to decide and it is a brave decision of the government to let the people decide. Coming from a country, where people are denied the right of referenda and where there has never been any referendum since 1945, nobody should dare to question this right.

As rapporteur on austerity politics in the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) I called for more democratic participation of the peoples in the countries involved, including referenda. The resolution was approved with big majority. It is scandalous that the institutions of the Troika and the European leaders try to prevent such a democratic participation, as they did already in 2011 in Greece.

Let us as well remember the brave decision in two referenda of the Icelandic citizens not to bail out their private banks in the aftermath of the financial collaps in 2008/2009. It was the then leader of the EU Commission, Manuel Barroso, who intervened in Iceland to try to prevent the referendum. The decision not to bail out “Icesave” by the Icelandic people laid the cornerstone for the good outcome how they emerged from the crisis. A Greek No could have the same effect.

What will the dominance of NO mean for the European peoples?

A Greek No would not only undermine the authoritarian way the EU leaders are dealing with the so-called crisis countries. It could as well challenge the whole neoliberal reconstruction of European Union. The EU treaties already were harsh, but in the Euro crisis the Two-pack, the Six-pack, the fiscal compact and the European Semester put even stronger limits on the member states that cannot be overcome by new democratic decisions of sovereign people.

Greece is a laboratory for what is planned in the whole EU. So a Greek No is in the interests of all Europeans.

Many people believe that the strict attitude of the loaners towards the Greek government means that their target is to teach European people that there is no alternative solution apart from neoliberalism. What is your opinion?

There is political interest to stop the Greek experiment of politically challenging the neoliberal paradigm in EU politics. It is hard to imagine that the two sides would be able to forge a compromise without changing profoundly their character. Whereas the Greek government could change or step down quite quickly, it is a long way to change the EU, understood as the orientation of the governments of member states and the European institutions and treaties.

Many people believe that the Greek issue shows off the European issue too, and that these days it is the future of Europe that is being determined. What do you think about that?

Indeed, there is no Greek crisis but a eurozone crisis. A real solution can only be found by way of a EU solution – hopefully to come sooner or later. Whether we win or lose these days in Greece will have strong effects for the development in all the other states and for a common consciousness of the people in the EU. But even if the Greek people cave in – the work and struggles of the last month will not have been in vain.

What kind of consequences do you think a potential Grexit would have for the Eurozone?

That is hard to say. First, I don’t accept the threat to throw the Greeks out – as this would be against the EU treaties. Second, I think that there are serious risks for the Eurozone, not only concerning speculative attacks on several countries that could follow, but also because it could change the political debates all over Europe. If the “stronger” countries decide to bully out weak countries, that would possibly lead to new cleavages and even stronger conflicts to the detriment of all people in the countries.

Recently, you were in Athens invited by the Committee for the Accounting Control of the Debt. In your opinion, what could be a European solution for the debt of the countries in the periphery?

Debt in itself is not a problem. It can be restructured easily, as often happened in history, if there is a political will. The London debt conference of 1953 dealing with the German debt is one example. But currently the debt is used to blackmail countries like Greece and to enforce economic programs which never would be applied without this blackmailing. So debt audit is a good instrument to counter this strategy.

I call for a European debt conference by member states that should audit the debt, cut the debt (may be not only for the periphery) and find a common restructuring of the debt. Otherwise, we will see more countries struggle with unbearable debts and the social consequences of the Austerity approach, leading to ever new crises and may be even unilateral default.