From Volume 37, Issue 21 of EIR Online, Published May 28, 2010

Western European News Digest

Papandreou: Greece May Sue Wall Street Bankers

May 17 (EIRNS)—Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria today, said Greece is considering taking legal action against U.S. investment banks for their role in creating the Greek financial blowout.

Papandreou said: "There are similar investigations going on in other countries and in the United States.... I hear the words fraud and lack of transparency. So yes, there is great responsibility here."

Asked about possible legal action, he said: "I wouldn't rule out that this may be a recourse also ... but we need to let the due process proceed and make our judgments once we get the results from the investigation"—referring to an ongoing Greek parliamentary investigation.

Although Papandreou did not name any names, Goldman Sachs has been widely reported as involved in swindling Greece, by setting up phony derivatives to conceal the country's actual indebtedness.

Iceland Frog Marching Banksters to Jail

May 17 (EIRNS)—Over the past week, a number of former top executives of Kaupthing Bank—one of the three of Iceland's biggest banks, which failed in 2008, were arrested. Former officials and owners of a second bank, Glitnir, face a $2 billion (EU1.6 billion) lawsuit. And an investigation into the third, Landsbanki, is a priority.

The executives are regarded as liable for conducting fraud and robbing the banks "from the inside."

This "throw the bums in jail" approach is a global object lesson, in contrast to the "tut-tut" approach to Wall Street/London, by President Obama, and Senators Reid and Dodd.

"We had to start somewhere and Kaupthing was the biggest bank," said Eva Joly, who last year was appointed by the Icelandic government as a special advisor to the investigation into the financial meltdown. The probe, she said, will be widened to include Landsbanki. "What I'm saying is that everything will be investigated," she said.

Thousands Protest Cuts in Greece and Spain

May 20 (EIRNS)—Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Greece and Spain, protesting European Union-mandated, brutal cuts in wages and pensions. In Greece over 2 million workers went on general strike, while tens of thousands marched in the streets of Athens.

A 24-hour general strike by the civil service union federation ADEDY and the private sector union federation CSEE, closed schools, halted ferries and trains, and left hospitals running on emergency staff. This is the fourth general strike by the union in the last three months. They are protesting the deep pension cuts that will be imposed by the government. The Communist Party's PAME labor federation also staged a strike on the same day. The Greek lawyers' association also joined the strike action and demonstrations.

Thousands of protesters in front of the Parliament shouted, "Come out, you thieves!" Thousands also gathered in other cities, including 20,000 in Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki.

In Spain, unions were holding demonstrations in Madrid. The country's second largest union, UGT, which was already planning a public sector strike on June 8, said it was contesting the legality of a 5% wage cut for public sector workers, which is at the center of plans for budget reductions of EU15 billion announced last week. The wage cuts will go into effect in June. "We are going to challenge the royal decree on wage cuts," Julio Lacuerda, a UGT representative, told a news conference after meeting with government officials to receive details of the pay reductions. "This is a complete mockery of our legal right to bargain," added Enrique Foussoul of Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), Spain's largest union.

Resistance Building in Portugal

May 22 (EIRNS)—After capitulating to the European bankers' dictatorship, Portugal's Socialist government survived a no-confidence vote through the treacherous abstention of the conservative opposition party, the PSD, in the parliament. Nonetheless the, 31 deputies of the Communist Party and other leftists in the 230-seat Parliament voted for the ouster of Prime Minister José Socrates.

CP general-secretary Jeronimo de Sousa used strong words in the debate, denouncing the government for sacrificing the nation's sovereignty to the EU bureaucracy, to become eligible for money from the new EU super-bailout fund. This was in direct response to Socrates' charging the critics of his pro-EU austerity policy of being "profoundly irresponsible," and of "missing a sovereign opportunity to consolidate economic and political stability." De Sousa shot back: "If there is any irresponsibility, it is by those who led the country to stagnation and crisis via the destruction of national production."

Critics of the government also attacked ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet for his interference in the debate: Trichet posted a letter he had sent to Portuguese MEP Paulo Rangel, a member of the PSD party, to the ECB website yesterday, in which he demanded that Portugal do more to "consolidate" its budget deficit. "As regards Portugal," Trichet wrote, "the challenges for this country are related to the very urgent need of implementing effective and convincing fiscal consolidation."

Italy: Major Media Covers Glass-Steagall Fight

May 18 (EIRNS)—Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest daily newspaper, published an article by economics editor Massimo Mucchetti on May 17, endorsing the amendment introduced by Senators Cantwell and McCain to re-establish the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking, and calling for its emulation in Europe.

Mucchetti's article was picked up by the daily Il Giornale, whose editors, however, expressed pessimism about the outcome of the battle in the U.S. Senate.

Former German Supreme Judge Condemns EU Super-Bailout

May 20 (EIRNS)—In an op-ed in Wiesbadener Kurier on May 20, headlined "Without Democratic Legitimacy," Hans-Joachim Jentsch (CDU), a former judge on the Constitutional Court (1996-2005), attacks the super-bailout and its planned parliamentary passage tomorrow, as "opening the flood-gates, which we will not be able to shut again," and an open violation of the EU's no-bailout clause. And, worst of all, it is a usurpation of power by the EU institutions at the expense of national sovereignty—as the Lisbon Treaty ruling of the Constitutional Court has pointed out very clearly. "What is being done with the justification of the European stability mechanism, is nothing other than the transfer of sovereignty from the nation-states to the European Union, in bypassing of the European treaties, which means in a cold coup."

Jentsch, in particular, attacks EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso for his statement that "the euro will be defended, no matter what the price is," calling it an "open disregard of existing treaties and of democratic legitimacy. That is irresponsible."

Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag, who complained about the haste with which the deliberations on the German contribution to the EU financial umbrella are being conducted in the Bundestag, in an interview with Kölner Stadtanzeiger, stated that "the narrow timing" would have to be examined "self-critically." The government, which has to negotiate and act in such situations, could not put into effect the agreements, which have to be decided upon, if the Bundestag does not cooperate. In the case of the rescue package for Greece, the Bundestag did "recognizably" insist on corrections in the form of precise conditions and supplements, which he (Lammert) had demanded as a precondition for his vote.

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