Greek Bailout Is Accompanied by Greek Resentment : NPR
Debt-beleaguered Greece has secured a second international bailout. But for many Greeks, the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank — known as the “troika” — are a breach of their sovereignty.
A recent demonstration in central Athens was organized by a group of lawyers who claim the latest bailout agreement turns Greece into the ward of its international lenders.
Demonstrator Irini Lazana says it violates the country’s legislative foundations.
“First of all, many of the articles of the constitution are not working anymore,” Lazana says. “Our constitution, it exists for only part of its articles, not all of them.”
Whose Interests Come First?
Members of Parliament had just two days to read and approve a 400-page document. Much of the legal fine print was available only in English. More than 40 Parliament members from the two major parties backing the government rebelled and voted no. One was former Socialist Labor Minister Louka Katseli, who says Greece abdicated its right to immunity over its assets.
“If, in the years to come, there is a problem repaying loans, our partners have the right to seize assets, including gold of the Bank of Greece,” she says. “That’s why I have argued that our national sovereignty has been limited to a dangerous degree.”
Katseli says the troika stipulates that national collective labor contracts, which are enshrined in the Greek constitution, are now void. Another unconstitutional clause, she says, requires that all revenues of the Greek state must be first used to pay its debt before paying public services, wages and pensions.
“So servicing the interests of our creditors goes above the national interest,” Katseli says.
With its emphasis on austerity and structural reforms, the troika sets specific goals and deadlines for every aspect of the economy — for example, substantial hikes in public transport rates and cuts in the minimum wage.
One of the most controversial conditions is the obligation to privatize all state-owned assets — from utility companies to public land. This has raised widespread fear that Greece is up for sale, at rock-bottom, garage-sale prices.