The state of play of the review of the economic adjustment programme for Greece

William, The Earl of Dartmouth, Member of the European Parliament, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group

Speech on Greece, February 14th, 2017

There may be some members of the parliament here who are familiar with the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles which contains the line “You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!”

Well, the Eurozone is rather like that. Whatever the pain, whatever the anguish, whatever the hardship, whatever the austerity imposed on the Greek people, Greece is not going to be permitted to leave the Eurozone.

But the inconvenient fact of the matter is that Greece is unable to pay its debts. Whatever the IMF may or may not say, Greece cannot pay its debts. What should happen, therefore, is two things:

First re the lenders. The lenders have to admit and accept, in the first instance to themselves, that they’ve lent money to Greece who simply cannot pay it back. The consequence has to be that the lenders forgive some or all of their loan. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the banks and other lenders doing this.

It’s not often that I agree with a Marxist. However, the former Marxist Greek finance minister was correct on the matter of loans to Greece. First of all, not one cent of one euro went to the Greek people. The money all went to the lenders. And second -the game, the masquerade, the comedy, that the troika were playing with the Greek government and the Greek people was actually, simply put, an illusion, and a thoroughly dishonest one at that.

The game with the loan negotiations, was to quote, “extend and pretend.” That is to say the loans were extended, but the pretend, the pretence, was that they would ever be paid back.

Greece has defaulted on its debts at least 7 times since it became an independent country. When lenders lend to Greece, they cannot expect to be bailed out as of right. However, the masquerade that is now being played out is taking place at the expense of the Greek people. To restate William Jennings Bryant, in his cross of gold speech, I now say to Mr. Juncker, Mr. Verhofstadt, and their groupies, “you shall not press down upon the Greek people this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify them upon the cross of the euro.”

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