The 'People Versus the Powerful' as Greece Faces Down Troika in Brussels
After weeks of heightened rhetoric and promises regarding Greece’s economic future, the country’s new leftist Syriza government on Wednesday at last met with European Union finance ministers in Brussels to discuss the plan to end the EU lenders’ punishing austerity regime.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Financial Minister Yanis Varoufakis are attending an emergency meeting with officials from the so-called Troika—composed of the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund—to introduce Syriza’s plan to cancel the deeply unpopular bailout program and, among other measures, tie the country’s debt repayments with future economic growth.
The newly elected Syriza government has found wide support among its countrymen. On Tuesday, the Greek parliament voted to back Tsipras’ 10-point anti-austerity plan. And as the talks commenced Wednesday, thousands of citizens physically demonstrated their approval with rallies across the country.
Meanwhile, across Europe, calls to “let Greece breathe” have also grown.
In London, the Greece Solidarity Campaign, Syriza London and other organizations are holding a protest in Parliament Square Wednesday evening in solidarity with the anti-austerity movement in Greece. Another mass rally will be held Sunday February 15 in London’s Trafalgar Square. Other expressions of solidarity are being shared online under the hashtag #mazi, Greek for “together.”
“Troika austerity policies have been the wrong path; we are dealing with a deep crisis in our democracy.”
—Gabi Zimmer, GUE/NGL
During a EU Parliament meeting early Wednesday, officials with the EU leftist bloc, the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), argued in favor of canceling the austerity program.
“It is very difficult for politicians to face up to failures of political strategies which are the foundations of their own policies. To deviate from them and come up with different strategies and policies is more difficult still,” said GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer.
She continued: “Troika austerity policies have been the wrong path; we are dealing with a deep crisis in our democracy. If the Eurogroup and Council meetings are able to appreciate what has happened and to take some of this responsibility, people may stop worrying.”
And Spanish MEP Marina Albiol added: “Today this Parliament should condemn the extortion which the European Central Bank is exercising on the Greek people. It is clearly punishing those who voted for the Left, those who are challenging the powerful and putting life and dignity before macro-economics. This is not a question of Syriza against Europe; it is about the people against the powerful.”
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