Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt
CADTM

Éric Toussaint: “Greece must unilaterally suspend repayment of its debt.”

1 March 2013 by Eric Toussaint , Tassos Tsakiroglou

“In Greece, the ruling class and the government are destroying democracy,” Eric Toussaint, professor of political science and militant, told the Greek daily Ef. Syn. According to Eric Toussaint, only a determined government which has the support of the people will be able to find a solution to the debt problem. In his view, SYRIZA must not slide towards more moderate positions.

- Greece seems to be remaining at the center of the debt crisis. You have said that the Greek people, while being caught in the center of the crisis, are also the epicenter of the solution to that crisis. Could you explain?

Clearly, all of Europe is in a deep crisis. The capitalist class and the European Commission, which operates on their behalf, have launched a terrible attack against Europe’s peoples. Greece is at the center of the crisis, but is also at the center of the resistance to that attack. Countries like Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, but also Romania and Bulgaria, etc. are also victims of that attack.

However, Greece is at the center because Greece represents the start of the new phase of the crisis, with the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding of May 2010, but also because of the resistance of the Greek people. I am aware of the last general strike of 20 February 2013, which was a very large one. Millions of people throughout Europe and on other continents are looking towards the forms the resistance is taking in Greece. We are doing whatever we can to bring about a European-wide cooperation between peoples’ movements in order to build a broad resistance that can turn the situation around. It is very difficult for the citizens of one country to face this attack alone.

- For the moment we are not seeing that kind of cooperation.

That is why we should be concerned. However, many attempts have been made to bring it about. For example, the European Trade Union Confederation is working at it, but that’s not nearly enough. |1| There will be demonstrations throughout Europe on 13 and 14 March, 2013. I hope that they will meet with success, but that is still not enough.

- In Greece, we are in a very precarious political situation, with many possible scenarios. We live under a government that is more and more authoritarian, that has succeeded in several legislative coups d’état, and that systematically resorts to repression of social movements. At the same time, it is possible that SYRIZA could become the leading party in the next elections. What is your view of the situation?

You are facing a major challenge. I agree with you that in Greece the ruling classes and the government are destroying democracy at several levels. They are not respecting the people’s vote; they have imposed Memoranda of Understanding and treaties with no recourse to the democratic process; they are undermining the legislative power; and they are seeking to destroy the ability of the working class to negotiate collectively. So you are facing a major challenge, and SYRIZA’s ability to provide a truly radical response to this attack is crucial. If SYRIZA adopts more moderate policies and proposals, the consequences could be enormous.

- Recently, many have said that SYRIZA is making an effort to adopt more moderate positions.

I hope that SYRIZA will radicalize its positions. If SYRIZA succeeds in becoming the next government, it is very important that they unilaterally suspend repayment of the debt, for example.

- You feel that that is realistic?

I feel that it is absolutely imperative that the balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. of power be changed. If the government does not adopt a combative position and contents itself with saying ‘we want to renegotiate,’ it will be very difficult to impose a solution on the creditors that will be in the interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. of the masses of the people. If you begin a negotiation without changing the balance of power, you cannot arrive at a really positive solution. That is why, first of all, there has to be a payment default, which will force the creditors to negotiations. And suspension of payments needs the support of the people, as was proven in the cases of Ecuador and Argentina. Only a determined government can do it.

- We are seeing a gradual elimination of common property with the privatization of health, education and most public-sector companies and services. What are the consequences of that?

There is a considerable deterioration of the living conditions of the majority of the population. It is clear that with these attacks, the capitalist class seeks to destroy what was built after the Second World War with the victory over Nazism and Fascism in Europe. This is a historic moment for the capitalist class, who see this crisis as an excellent opportunity to bring about their dream of doing away with all the achievements of the people.

- What is your message to the Greeks?

First, the pan-European social movement must be strengthened. That requires action in cooperation with the Greek people. The issue is not only solidarity with the Greek people. The challenge is to join our struggles together, since other peoples of Europe are also suffering. The circumstances may be different, but they are victims of the same attack. We cannot face this attack unless we unite all the strengths of the continent in order to achieve radical change. So my message is that we need to unite and that all our efforts must converge in that direction.

Footnotes

|1| See also http://www.altersummit.eu/

The original interview was published 23 February, 2013 by the Greek daily Ef.Syn http://www.efsyn.gr/?p=25897

Éric Toussaint, professor of political science at the University of Liège, is president of the CADTM – the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt www.cadtm.org – and a member of the scientific council of ATTAC France. In 2007 he was appointed by Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa to that country’s internal and external public debt audit commission. He is known in Greece, where he has visited several times as part of his efforts toward liberating the countries of the South from the influence of international speculators and credit entities.

Translation: “Snake” Arbusto in collaboration with Mike Krolikowski

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