German Foreign Minister Admits That the Troika or ‘Tough Austerity Measures’ Are Torture Tools
April 13, 2020 (EIRNS)—The following short article is by Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, Ambassador ad honorem of Greece and member of the Schiller Institute, again calling for the suspension of Greece’s debt payments as the just response to the coronavirus crisis:
From the official website of the German Foreign Office we read the following excerpt of an interview of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas with Der Spiegel [posted April 10]: “In this crisis we need rapid help without torture tools such as the Troika or tough austerity measures....” We cannot condemn this statement because the German Minister is saying the truth, a truth that the majority of Greeks have felt. However, it is the first time that a German minister has characterized the Troika and tough austerity measures as tools of torture, tools that for ten years have tortured the people of Greece, tools that were accepted by Greek governments.
It was the tough austerity measures that resulted in the collapse of Greece’s health system by reducing about 42.5% of the budget that went for health care, that increased unemployment to 28% and youth unemployment to 60%, increased the yearly deaths from 70,000 to 124,000, and forced about 800,000 Greeks to leave their tortured country to find work abroad, mainly in other EU countries. Mistakes were made in imposing these measures upon the people of Greece, mistakes acknowledged even by the Troika and the IMF. The former President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem, in an interview he gave to the Greek newspaper Ta Nea published on Aug. 27, 2018, admitted that mistakes were made by the Europeans in handling the Greek crisis, saying that initially they experimented and it took four years for them to stand on their feet and set up mechanisms to confront the crisis. He conceded that a different policy should have been implemented in Greece, as the bailout programs were very strict and their implementation very difficult. More open was the former member of the European Union Commission Pierre Moscovici who mentioned the following on his blog dated Aug. 20, 2018:
“Yet mistakes were also made—in Athens, Brussels, Berlin and Washington—unnecessarily prolonging the crisis. We also underestimated the disastrous state that Greece was in when this started. What appeared to be a single budgetary crisis was, in reality a deep crisis of the Greek state and economy. So deep it took several years even to properly assess it. As a result the design of the three consecutive financial assistance programs was imperfect.... The financial expertise of the IMF was initially necessary and had been useful; but certain positions were too brutal and personal, antagonized relations with the Greeks, and even led the Eurogroup to adopt reforms that, in my opinion, were too harsh, particularly those on pensions due to kick in in 2019. Eight years of crisis is far too long. Politicians bear some responsibility and I will accept my share.... It must be recognized that the methods used were sometimes intrusive and that these officials had a major influence on the process....”
And of course even the official reason that the memorandum programs were imposed on Greece, which was the reduction of the public debt from 120% of GDP in 2010 failed, having reached today 185% of GDP.
The Maas statement of torture tools can facilitate the Greek government in announcing a cessation of the yearly payment of the memorandum obligations so that these funds be used to support the population of Greece during the coronavirus crisis.
We thank you Minister Maas for your honesty.