We begin with another europol preaching austerity, a Greek cabinet member threatening to quit over layoffs, the latest on those ongoing negotiations with the Troikarchs — and the failure to reach any significant agreements.
Hundreds of thousands of Greek civil servants are organizing protests, including judges and soldiers in uniform. Some islands are going up for grabs, and one potential customer is the Israeli military.
The justice minister is considering new legislation targeting racists [think New Dawn, now polling third in public opinion polls], and Golden Dawn fires back with a suit against a government minister,
Another austerian Greek tongue-lashing
Greece can stay on the euro, but only if it exhibits all due austerian discipline, and that’s straight from the EC President.
Seeing that the Troika just rejected half of the current round of cuts, that means a lot more political in-fighting, and a lot more pain for a lot of Greeks.
From Athens News:
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has said he expects Greece to stay in the eurozone if it abides by the terms of the bailout memorandum.
“If Greece stands by its commitments it should stay in the euro area,” he said, in his annual “state of the union” address in the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Barroso also called on the Greece’s European partners to end speculation that on whether the country can do it.
“I truly believe that we have a chance this autumn to come to the turning point. If Greece banishes all doubts about its commitment to reform. But also if all other countries banish all doubts about their determination to keep Greece in the Euro area, we can do it.
“I believe that if Greece stands by its commitments it should stay in the Euro area, as a member of the European family,” he said.
Minister threatens resignation over layoffs
Antonis Manitakis, who’s in charge of bureaucratic reform, says he’ll quit if the government headed New Democracy [conservative] Prime Minister Antonis Samaras goes ahead with the job cuts it’s proposed to the Troika.
From Dimitris Yannopoulos of Athens News:
Administrative Reform and E-Governance Minister Antonis Manitakis has reportedly threatened to resign if the coalition government goes ahead with thousands of outright layoffs in the civil service and public utility companies (DEKO), as the troika demanded on Monday.
Manitakis, who was fielded for the minister’s post by the Democratic Left, has voiced his determination to veto any such measure if it is passed at the coalition partners’ meeting scheduled for 7.30pm on Wednesday.
His aids told reporters that the minister would immediately tender his resignation “if the troika blackmail prevails and the government adopts the recipe of mass layoffs in the public sector”.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue
The government’s still busily meeting with the Troikarchs in hope of coming up with all those cuts, in exchange for which a bunch more money will be flowing in to Greek banks to bolster their sagging bottom lines.
If all goes as planned, Greek will work an extra day of week at reduced pay and for smaller pensions, all in order to keep the banksters happy.
The latest, from ANSAmed:
Greece continues in the difficult negotiations between the representatives of the troika (IMF, EU and ECB) and the Greek Government, in order to reach the definition of package of new austerity measures, 11.5 billion for 2013-2014 period, considered by the troika as the essential condition to unleashing the allocation of a new tranche of 31.5 billion, mostly of which destined to the recapitalization of Greek banks.
The demands of the representatives of the international creditors of Greece regarding the labor sector are considered “puzzling” and destined to radically change the lives of millions of people. According to newspapers report, the three of the Troika – the Germans Matthias Mors (EU) and Klaus Masuch (ECB) and the Danish Poul Thomsen (IMF) – have relaunched on the negotiations table the reduction of the working allowance, the abolition of the five-days week and the lengthening of working hours, while insisting on increasing by two years the age limit for retirement and further cutting pensions and benefits. . .
Symptomatic of the difficulty of the negotiations, is the fact that, at the end of the meeting of the Minister of Labour Yannis Vroutsis with the troika, which lasted more than two hours, the minister did not want to talk about the content of the negotiations except to say that there will be another meeting with the three inspectors.
Finance minister meets with the Troikarchs
Indeed, everybody who’s anybody in government is lining up for austerian scrutiny.
From Christine Pirovolakis of Deutsche Presse-Agentur:
The Greek finance minister held fresh negotiations Wednesday with the country’s creditors on additional cutbacks after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Athens in protest.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras held talks with debt inspectors, who have so far rejected many of the government’s proposals on a new 11.5-billion-euro (14.7-billion-dollar) austerity package for the next two years.
Hours earlier, more than 5,000 state hospital doctors, school teachers, municipal workers and retired military officers marched peacefully in separate rallies to the Finance Ministry, located near Syntagma Square, demanding that the government retract plans to slash salary and funding cuts.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has held numerous meetings with his two junior coalition partners, the socialist PASOK and Democratic Left party, in an effort to seek consensus on the cutbacks.
And by the end of the day. . .
Nothing had been achieved other than to further aluienate the coalition’s two junior partners.
A final agreement on the makeup of the 11.5 billion euros in spending cuts demanded by the troika remained elusive following Wednesday’s coalition talks, which ended with the two junior partners objecting to immediate layoffs in the state sector and radical labor market reforms.
Following a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the leader of Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, was the staunchest in his opposition to some of the measures, believed to include a six-day working week, increasing the retirement age to 67 and significant sackings in the civil service. “No measures can be imposed on a society that is disintegrating,” Kouvelis said.
Both he and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos objected to immediate civil service layoffs.
As for the proposed labor market reforms, Kouvelis said there was “no way” the government should accept the demands of the troika.
Venizelos noted that Greece’s labor market rules must be the same as in the rest of Europe. He reiterated his demand for Greece’s fiscal adjustment period to be extended by two years.
Judges plan 20 days of job actions
They’re not happy with getting their paychecks austerianized.
Judges at the Court of Audit in Athens announced on Wednesday that they would stage 20 days of protest later this month in opposition at government plans to slash their wages.
The judges are due to walk off the job at 10.30 a.m. each day from September 17 to October 6.
During this period, no verdicts will be issued and no inspection of public contracts will take place, the judges said.
Judges and prosecutors at all Greek courts had already decided to hold protest action from September 17 to 22, during which court hearings will be suspended.
Hundreds of thousands in protests
Most all the vital services sector of government are protesting the propsoed pay cuts and layoffs.
Keep Talking Greece has some of the critical numbers:
Military and police forces personnel, coastal guards, university deans and teaching personnel, judges, prosecutors and court staff, public hospital doctors… at least 200,000 civil servants are up in arm, organizing mass rallies to protest 6%-35% cuts in their wages. Cuts that will be applied retroactive as from 1. July 2012.
These civil servants groups belong to the so-called “special payrolls” that include also diplomats and clergy. As the Greek government struggles to save 11.5 billion euro under Troika pressure to trade with the bailout tranche of 31 billion euro, special payrolls cannot be excluded from the cuts. Despite some alledgedly government efforts to have them excluded from the cuts.
- Aiming to save 360 million euro, Samaras government is obliged to proceed to cuts like:
- 6%-7.5% for personnel of military, police and coastal guards forces and 12% as of 2013
- 17% in the average for university deans
- 13% in the average for state hospitals doctors
- 20%-35% for judicial personnel (judges, prosecutors etc)
- 20% for diplomats and high ranking clergy.
- In the broader context of scrapping also the 13th (Christmas bonus) and 14th wage (Eastern & Summer vacation bonus) for civil servants, additional 1,000 euro will disappear from the annual income of the special payrolls.
Military turns out for Athens protest
And they came in uniform.
From Keep Talking Greece:
More than 2,000 active and retired members of the Greek Armed Forces wearing their uniforms gathered at Kolokotroni Square in Athens on Wednesday afternoon to protest upcoming cuts in their wages and pensions.
In their first ever protest rally and holding banners the uniformed protesters marched to the Finance Ministry nearby to hand out a list with their demands.
In a statement calling their colleagues to join the protest the members of the Greek Land, Air Force and the Navy stressed:
“During 2009-2012 our incomce suffered cuts between 52.5% and 79.7%. We call you to join the protest wearing uniform together with your family.”
The uniformed protesters got the support from left-wing SYRIZA, national Independent Greeks, extreme-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) who sent elected MPs to the protest.
Here’s a video of the protest from Athens News:
Hey, buddy! Wanna buy an island?
Not buy. Just take it over for half a century.
After all, with austerity’s in play, what’s a little bit of uninhabited teasl estate when euros are in play.
Greece has identified 40 uninhabited islands and that could be leased for as long as 50 years to reduce debt as pressure grows on the country to revive an asset-sales plan key to receiving international aid.
“We identified locations that have good terrain, are close to the mainland and have a well-developed infrastructure and, at the same time, pose no threat to national security,” Andreas Taprantzis,executive director for housing at the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, said in an interview in Athens.
“Current legislation doesn’t allow us to sell them outright and we don’t want to.”
The fund is charged with raising €50bn from state assets by 2020 to meet conditions tied to pledges of €240bn in foreign aid.
One possible buyer? The Israel Defense Force.
From Gili Cohen and Barak Ravid of Haaretz:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak asked the Israel Defense Forces to consider leasing or buying a Greek island to use as a training area for the navy. But the IDF decided not to pursue the project, citing doubts about its economic viability, defense officials say.
According to Barak’s office, “Defense Minister Barak sent the subject for review, and the assessment concluded that there was no need [to lease or purchase a Greek island]. So the matter is void.”
Neither the General Staff’s planning division nor the navy have been enthusiastic about the idea, preferring instead to tighten security cooperation with Greece.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office declined to comment on internal army discussions.
Justice minister ponders tougher anti-racism laws
And the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn gets the lion’s share of the credit.
From Athens News:
The justice ministry is considering tougher penal treatment of crimes involving racist violence by the courts, including jail terms exceeding three years and restrictions on the ability to convert or suspend sentences, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis announced on Wednesday.
The minister openly criticised the tactics adopted by Golden Dawn during its recent attacks on migrants selling wares in street markets, saying that their actions “offend the traditional values of justice and create conditions for the growth of neo-fascist practices in the country”.
He warned of the hidden dangers when certain groups or individuals attempted to step in to replace the state and said that any expression of violence or hatred should be condemned, regardless of whether it was directed against migrants or against Greek citizens.
But Golden Dawn tries its hand at some law, too
Slander law and a few other complaints, and they’re using it to sue a government minister who doesn’t look kindly on them.
From Athens News:
Golden Dawn Parliamentary Spokesman Christos Pappas on Wednesday filed a civil suit against Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias and the chief of the Greek Police Lt Gen Nikos Papagiannopoulos for slander, ‘perversion of institutions’, and ‘suppressing legal public actions’ with the Supreme Court prosecutor.
The party accuses Dendias of trying to politically exploit the actions of the party on September 7-8 against foreign vendors in street markets and proceeding to act in ways that were beyond the bounds of legality. Among the charges it makes against the minister, there is even that of harbouring criminals – namely, the unlicensed street vendors targeted by the party.
It repeated objections to a decision to withdraw police guards supplied to protect the party’s MPs and also the stationing of police vans and patrol cars outside the party’s headquarters, claiming that their purpose was to check the identity of those entering and leaving.
The paper also reports that the police officer who participated in the stall-smashing has been suspended and faces the loss of his job.