The Greek Debt Truth Commission that was created in April 2015 to audit the Greek public debt, on the initiative of Zoe Konstantopoulou, former President of the Greek Parliament (the Vouli), has held another meeting in Athens on the 5, 6 and 7 of November to continue its mission. The opening session, on the evening of the 5th,, attracted an audience of 250 people, into an overflowing hall! The message of the Commission members who addressed the assembly |1| was clear and unwavering – the work of the Commission will continue relentlessly.
The debt audit is more vigorous than ever
Zoé Konstantopoulou opened with a review of the beginnings of the Commission. Despite a lack of government support and media attacks, sometimes violent, against the Commission members, the Greek Debt Truth Commission presented a preliminary report in June 2015 that showed the Greek debt to the Troika
Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.
IMF : https://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/html/index.en.html to be illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable. |2| At the end of September the Commission presented a second report showing that the new €86 billion debt linked to the 3rd memorandum was just as illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable as the previous debts were. |3| It was at that moment that the Commission announced its intention to continue its mission in spite of the capitulation of the SYRIZA government and the pressure the Commission was facing.
One of the first acts of the new president of the Greek Parliament was to officially dissolve the Commission, then take down all mention of it on the Parliamentary website. The Commission’s premises were broken into, the locks were changed and the files removed. Evidently, the Commission’s efforts to bring truths to light were not to all tastes. Although the Greek government claims to be taking the question of the public debt by the horns, the payments continue to be made and the issue of debt reduction is no longer mentioned. In total submission to the creditors, the Greek government timidly hopes that the creditors will reschedule this debt as from... 2018!
In spite of this attempted ’putting to death’, the Audit Commission met in Brussels in March 2016 and decided to form an association in order to continue its enquiry. The authorities wanted to eliminate the Commission, they have only succeeded in strengthening its resolve: “We will leave no stone unturned, no person unquestioned and no envelope unopened”, concluded Zoe Konstantopoulou.
The Commission’s reaffirmed vitality is not only the doing of its members, of the analysts who took part, of the presenters of the results, it also draws vigour from Greek society, the Greek people and the Greek citizens. The play by a workshop of Greek actors that introduced the meeting gave a poetic, musical and dynamic touch to the debt audit.
It is intended that the findings be presented to the Greek population. How to do this was a recurring question for the Commission members during this first sitting. Sofia Sakorafa (MEP), a Commission member, said that diffusing the findings of the Commission was more than simply informing, but a defiant step against the TINA (There Is No Alternative) attitude that has consolidated since the ’Tsipras 1’ Government’s about turn.
The Greek Debt Truth Commission has produced valuable tools that are undoubtedly precious means of resistance. It is up to each one of us to use, understand and diffuse them in order to press the leaders into taking strong action, to disobey and to refuse to pay the debts.
As was emphasised by Eric Toussaint, the scientific coordinator of the Commission’s work, “if the government does not choose radical policies the people must replace them”. One thing is certain: The Commission will continue to battle on, but it cannot win alone.
The Commission got to work on the following day. On the agenda: the banking system, welfare cover – especially retirement pensions, the falsifying of the statistics of public debt by Elstat and also private debts at a moment when home repossessions are multiplying.
Translated by Mike Krolikowski
|1| The speakers at the opening séance were: Zoé Konstantopoulou, Sofia Sakorafa, Eric Toussaint, Yiorgos Kasimatis and Léonidas Vatikiotis.
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