No more excuses: either our continent really unites or it is destined to fall apart under external and internal strains. The ongoing refugee crisis is one more demonstration of the need for a Europe with one voice, one plan and pooled resources. Huge damage has already been done by interventions in countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya, with the acquiescence if not active participation of some European countries: interventions of dubious legality lacking a plan for the day after.
Much has been debated about the Plan B that would lead Greece into previously uncharted waters of a so called ‘Grexit’. The Alexis Tsipras-headed government had the very same scenario prepared, according to the ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who led the negotiations with the Eurozone leaders and the “Institutions”. Varoufakis, in a teleconference call on July 16, alleged that his boss had given him the go-ahead to create a parallel banking system.
In a bid to boost morale and ease the financial squeeze on Greek citizens, banks reopened on Monday, 20 July, after being closed for 3 weeks. Though banks are fully operational, withdrawals will still be capped at €60 per day, but now with the possibility to withdraw a whole week’s worth in one go. Restrictions on overseas payments remain in place. Also, trading on the Athens Stock Exchange is still frozen, along with clearing services and cash settlements for Greek securities.
By Deniz Torcu
As of July the 13th, following tense negotiations, Eurozone leaders have reached an agreement for the new Greek bailout. A few days ago, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proposed an austerity plan which was nearly identical to the very one that the Greek people vetoed in the July 5th referendum. The Greek proposal includes strict measures like a unified VAT rate of 23%, elimination of discounts on islands, incrementation and/or adjustment of corporate income and property tax rates, abolition of subsidies for farmers, introduction of penalties for early retirement, privatization of state-owned companies, etc.
The fight about Greece’s bailout deal that is taking place within the Eurozone and the EU is not just about the sums of money that Greece may or may not get, and the reforms that it may or may not implement in return. There is a deeper fight about the nature of the European project and even the soul of Europe that cannot be ignored.
By Deniz Torcu
The image that has started to go viral in social media amongst Greek users is simple, yet strong enough to explain the stand of the majority. It says a clear “NO”, however the rejection is composed of the sentence “YES TO THE EURO”. My recent trip to Athens was a clear depiction of how devastated the country really is. The once busy neighbourhoods filled with restaurants, cafés and shops are now being replaced by two yellow signs that mark the desperation of the people: “for rent” and “for sale”, appearing side by side.