The pro-rupture article of uncompromising Minister Lafazanis

Eh, hm, how is that for a negotiating stance?

The Greek Analyst


So, it’s been a long time since I have run any update on the blog. I return with the pro-rupture, uncompromising OP-ED article published today in Greek CRASH magazine by Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Greek Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment & Energy. Bear in mind that Lafazanis is one of the most hardcore members of Syriza’s Leftist platform. He is also one of the most influential. Once again, I translated the whole thing, leaving all judgment to you. The Greek version can be found in the website of the Ministry, here. In what follows, you can read my English translation.


Article of the Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment & Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis, published in today’s Crash magazine


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Go Back κυρία Merkel, but not too far


What we learned from Tsipras’ interview on Greek TV (enikos) yesterday is why things have become so stuck with the Eurogroup. Tsipras was adamant that he will not allow Troika inspectors back, meaning that there is no reliable way for the Troika to assess the fiscal situation. He said that he will stick to his red lines, refusing wage and pension cuts and VAT increases. He also failed to specify any counterbalancing fiscal measures, beyond what Varoufakis had proposed to the Eurogroup (fighting evasion, savings and gambling) which were considered vague and unquantifiable.

What he did propose is holding a referendum on presumably euro membership if pushed beyond his limits. What he wants is interim funding to take Greece through the summer apparently with no unpleasant terns attached and then negotiating a new bailout package. This will not please the Europeans and it is exactly why things have become so marred in acrimony. The problem as I keep saying is not Varoufakis, but the government’s negotiating stance in the face of Eurogroup intransigence.

The threat of a referendum brings us back to 2011 and Papandreou. Danger ahead…

Greek debts: what does it owe? When will the money run out?

Greek Left Review

originally published at the Guardian by Katie Allen Friday 24 April

Greece owes money to the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union following its two bailouts in 2010 and 2012

Greece faces a busy schedule of debt deadlines as well as payments due on salaries and pensions.
Warnings are growing that Greece could crash out of the eurozone as it battles a busy schedule of debt deadlines as well as payments due on salaries and pensions.


Crunch talks between Greece and its eurozone creditors are under way, but investors are growing increasingly sceptical that the country can reach an agreement on reforms and unlock the aid it needs from international lenders to avoid a debt default.

Greece owes money to the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union following its two bailouts in 2010 and 2012. Athens is waiting…

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Basta Yani! A discussion

My open letter to Yanis Varoufakis (blog post Basta Yani!) has caused some online discussion that I think deserves a response. The range of comments received show both the difficulty communicating the Greek government’s message abroad, and the inability of Syriza supporters to deal with criticism.

First of all, responses to my blog post on WordPress show resistance to my call for a new election.

H.Trickler wrote: “Up to a few weeks before elections Syriza always said that Grexit is the only possibility to regain sovereignty and dignity. Only in the very last weeks they also said that they do not intend to establish Grexit right away. Those who have voted for the current government must have known that Grexit could be the consequence of a firm strategy of the Eurogroup.

For this reason denying the current government having a mandate to continue their fight is unfounded.”

This is not correct. Only a fraction of Syriza (namely Lapavitsas) has advocated Grexit, and he has been thoroughly marginalised as evidenced by his exclusion from Kostantopoulou’s famous ‘Truth Commission’ (see discussion here). The rest of the party, Varoufakis and Tsakalotos specifically advocate a pro-european, pro-euro reform strategy. For a wonderful overview of this position see the book Crucible or Resistance (read my review here).

Lloretta objects to my condemnation of Germany: “{Europeans for bringing us to this position. Shame on Germany for killing the European dream} How about your former governments? Who made this size of debts? They are responsible. They have brought you in this situation., not Germany.”

My problem with Germany is not so much on the diagnosis of the disease (though, I do not agree with that either), but in the cure prescribed. By an ideological insistence on austerity and contraction Germany is destroying Greece and the European Periphery. This is not a fringe view (and I am together with Varoufakis on this one). I have explained extensively in my writing why the current ‘Troika’ plan cannot and will not work; to the detriment of everyone. Germany is forcing a choice between Grexit and a technocratic junta that implements policies that benefit the elite. This will end badly. The question for Greece is how and when to resist and with what consequences. This is where I disagree with the ‘rupture’ trajectory of Syriza.

Some, like the rather foul-mouthed Xenos (on other posts) on the blog of @keingut (see here) object to the idea of a referendum.

thread on blog

This is an important point of criticism, as I have been extremely critical (and not always polite) about Giorgos Papandreou in the past. Am I advocating doing what Papandreou proposed prior to his government’s implosion? I am not. I do not think a referendum is a good idea, because as I have said in the past the questions facing Greece are too complex to be placed in the binary of an in/out of Euro referendum. Possible rupture needs a wider political coalition of support that can only emerge from a new election. In such an election parties need to compete on in/out platforms explaining to the population what each choice entails. This cannot be done in a ‘Dignity vs Occupation’ referendum.

As to the references to a poker game. I sincerely hope that Varoufakis is not gambling the survival of the country in such a manner.

This brings us to even less dignified commentary (this time from the right of the political spectrum). @Ilias_Energia ,a staunch advocate of a minimal state and proponent of privatisation has launched on a personal attack along the lines of ‘you benefit from capitalism, yet advocate socialism for others’.

thread with @Ilias_Energia

While this is crude, I have heard such complaints of ‘hypocrisy’ in the past. What I can say is that the whole point of academia is to be critical, and one does not need a state sponsor (Venezuela style) to critique capitalism. Further, I would hope one can be critical of privatisations in the birthplace of Thatcherism, and I do not feel particularly privileged by the creeping privatisation of higher education. Nonetheless, I have thought about Mr Tsagas suggestions, and I am booking along with all other Marxist-leaning colleagues at UK institutions a trip to North Korea.

Despite being a little discomforted by personal attacks, I am aware that this is standard practice, especially if one comes from the left and criticises what now is the ‘official’ left in Greece. The sadly anonymous, yet prominent @GreekAnalyst (though no-one can accuse him of being a lefty) knows all about this.

thread with @GreekAnalyst

Hopefully. These debates even in a tiny corner of the internet can help us understand what is going on and guide policy makers to making more informed decisions. I can finish this by saying that I am thoroughly frightened by developments in Greece, but as I do not live there (benefiting apparently from advanced capitalism and its perks in London), I will not lecture the Greeks on choosing dignity over food on the table. Neither should Syriza.


Basta Yani ! The good fight has been fought, but it is time to stop.

This is an open letter to Syriza in general and Yanis Varoufakis in particular.


Yani, I (like many academics abroad) have supported you when you ran as a candidate in the 25.1.15 election and congratulated you on your election and your subsequent ministerial position.

I support your analysis and have written along very similar lines myself (albeit utilising different literature). I also supported your European tour trying to explain to those who refuse to listen how the Troika/Eurogroup programme has locked Greece into a recessionary spiral from which there is no escape. I agree that comprehensive debt cancellation is necessary and that a selective default may be the only way forward eventually if another negotiated haircut is not forthcoming.

However, while your arguments are correct and the fight just, it has not worked. The Germans locked within their ideological blindfolds are unable to see the failures of orthodoxy. Countries in the European Periphery do not support Greece for the simple reason that acknowledgement of different paths will undo the elites that supported austerity so far.

We are now at a crossroads. We cannot convince the Europeans to change their disastrous policies and we cannot survive without their help.

Syriza does not have a mandate to lead the country to default and/or Grexit.

Syriza should not default internally or externally right now and cannot risk the destruction of the banking system by endangering ECB support. Yani, you have no mandate for such a rupture.

A banking failure with the inevitable capital controls, disruption and liquidity problems will destroy what is left of the economy and also drive away tourists at a time when most of the country lives hand to mouth.

I repeat, Syriza does not have a mandate for this.

Yani, you need to sign on the dotted line, agree to whatever you need to agree to secure the release of the bailout money and after the immediate liquidity problems are addressed you need to resign along with the rest of the government and call an election.

Rupture and Grexit needs to be an explicit choice. The people must choose whether to become a German protectorate to maintain a semblance of normality, or to revert to emerging economy norms with living standards akin to 1970s. There are no good choices here, but the choice is not yours to make.

I consider myself a patriot the same as you, but I have no skin in the game, I live abroad (as you did). I cannot make the choice on behalf of anyone. I despise the Europeans for bringing us to this position. Shame on Germany for killing the European dream.

Sign, live to fight another day and call an election so those who face this horrible choice get to make it.



Golden Dawn Watch

Greek Left Review



Golden Dawn Watch is an initiative to monitor the trial against Golden Dawn, organised by the Hellenic League for Human Rights, the Greek Observatory against Fascism and Racist Speech in the Media, which works as part of the Educational Foundation of ESIEA (Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers), the Antifascist League of Athens and Piraeus, and the City of Athens Migrants’ Integration Council. The main aspect of this initiative is the website, which will be managed by an editorial group. The initiative is already supported in various ways by antiracist and antifascist organisations, foundations, NGOs, citizens’ groups and migrant organisations.


to make public all information concerning Golden Dawn’s actions and to illuminate all aspects of the trial
for every citizen, in Greece and abroad, to have continuous and reliable information about everything that happens inside and outside of the courtroom throughout the duration…

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