German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Greece that, "the tough path of painful spending cuts is going to pay off." Meanwhile the social fabric of the country is falling apart.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Paolo Raffone, with the CIPI foundation from Brussels, to further discuss the issue of the Euro crisis and the harsh austerity measures imposed on some of the bloc’s indebted countries such as Greece to make them qualified to get the bailout packages.
He is joined by two additional guests: Journalist and director of the Debtocracy, Aris Hatzistefanou from the Greek capital city of Athens and Simon Dixon, founder of Banktothefuture.com from London.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Mr. Raffone,... this was of course Merkel’s [German chancellor] first visit to Greece since the debt crisis started almost three years back. It has been viewed as an important visit by Angela Merkel to Greece as it came despite the fact that these protests had been expected. But what do you think this meeting and this visit was basically aimed at achieving?
I do not feel it will achieve more than what we have seen over the past few years or so continuing with the austerity measures, which is what Germany seems to have as the only recipe for the entire Europe, which is the way to govern Europe from the German point of view.
But this will destroy completely the national sovereignty and democratic systems so Germany may control those countries, but they will be crumbled, so I do not know what they will do with the countries, which are completely destroyed after their intervention through the austerity measures.
And Germany has repeated this in Athens. That is why the Greek's response from the streets has been extremely strong.
We are hearing a lot now that the austerity measures, even structural reforms, are not helping to resolve this crisis. We even have some observers coming out and saying that, actually countries like Spain, Portugal or Greece do not need international rescue because their own ruling or upper classes have more than enough to bail out their nations.
And especially when it comes to the issue of sovereignty, these kinds of remarks are coming out. Would you say that austerity measures, actually, are not the appropriate way to tackle this?
Definitely the austerity measures are not the solution to the crisis. The austerity measures, if necessary, can be used for short-lived policies. Short-lived means a matter of few months.
Here we are in an austerity situation of over two and a half years and the results are disastrous on the social grounds, but what worries much is that austerity is incompatible with democracy and national sovereignty.
So this will generate a domino effect, yes and segregation of the European convergence and the hope to have a political union in Europe.
So to save a failed currency because it is failed from the structural point of view, we are destroying all the rest and this is something that we will pay for a long time.
What do you think are the factors that could lead to a Euro Zone breakup if, indeed, you are predicting that, our guests there are saying that the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is going to try for that not to happen, but can it do that?
I mean first of all there is the question of whether these European countries, even Germany itself, is willing to give that cash with the conditions that have been attached that the governments cannot actually meet those demands. At the same time the public anger that is growing, is it prepared to face this increasing public anger?
I think we are reaching a point of no return on the social grounds. The situation is getting extremely dangerous with a possible linkage between different types of extremisms built in the European society, which is massacred by the austerity measures, but also there are other kinds of imported extremisms, which are present in other territories.
The linkage between all of this will just be a blow to all democratic institutions in Europe and the more austerity measures are put in, the more this linkage will come closer. The problem is that we have mediocre leaders in Europe both in the European institutions and at national level.
The mediocre leaders do not want to take any responsibility to choose between a political union or economic disintegration. They have to make the decision, instead they are hiding it and they are lying to the population and the population is starting to respond...
And the last comments Paolo Raffone, if you can quickly tell us as well -Would you say that if Greece actually does take that move and come out of the Euro Zone, for any reason, how is that going to affect the entire Euro Zone? Would that mean an entire falling of the Euro Zone region?
Most probably yes. That for Greece is probably the best thing to do if they want to have a survival because they are being squeezed to a point where they cannot continue in this way.
If Greece gets out of the Euro Zone, the Euro Zone will fall apart and most probably there would be a smaller Euro Zone around Germany and the other countries in a vacuum probably pegging relations to the dollar, who know what will be the outcome. But certainly things are being managed now to the worst possible scenario that we could imagine two years ago.