'Fiscal Waterboarding' Let My People Spend

The leader of Greece's Syriza party, which is running on an anti-austerity ticket ahead of elections, makes his case for more spending. Europeans will suffer if Greece is not allowed to recover, he warns.
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Since 2010, Greece has not been able to repay its debts.

Unfortunately, Europe believed it could solve the problem through the largest loan ever issued, along with a structural adjustment program. The parties acted as if imminent bankruptcy of the Greek state was simply a liquidity squeeze.

It only takes common sense to realize that an “extend and pretend” strategy will only pour oil on the crisis, instead of stabilizing it.

That’s why we in Greece's Syriza party spoke out against the credit agreement in May 2010. We warned that it would not resolve the debt problem, and our partners would inevitably shift the burden to their own citizens. The German government knew this, but kept silent.

In 2012, more credit was issued. While the money of our partners was used to finance a system of self-enrichment and personal gain, the agreed-upon “haircut” mostly impacted the assets of social-insurance funds. Many Greeks fell into joblessness and homelessness.

Our goal is to stabilize our country, to balance the budget and stop the bleeding of German and Greek taxpayers.

Recently, some observers have said that Greece is stabilizing. They talk about growth and claim the policies in place are now bearing fruit. This is a twisting of the facts: The recent increase in real national income of 0.7 percent does not signal the end of recession but rather its continuation. During the same period, inflation was minus 1.8 percent.

So national income has actually fallen, and the mountain of debt continues to grow. We are faced with a shameful sugar-coating of statistics in an attempt to demonstrate the effectiveness of the policies pursued by Greece's three main creditors and to deceive Europeans again.

The truth is that Greece’s debts cannot be paid back as long as our economy is constantly being subjected to fiscal waterboarding. The insistence on this futile and denigrating policy and the denial of mathematical facts are costing German taxpayers huge amounts of money and causing conflict between Greeks and Germans.

German taxpayers have nothing to fear from a Syriza-led government. Our goal is not to fight with our partners, or be awarded more credit, or get permission to take on new deficits. Our goal is to stabilize our country, to balance the budget and stop the bleeding of German and Greek taxpayers.

I know many people fear that Greeks could carry on like before if agreements are not adhered to. I have great understanding for that suspicion. I would like to make it clear that it was not my party that created this system of corruption, personal enrichment and self-aggrandizement.

We have declared war on this kleptocratic system and intend to undertake a comprehensive reform of the country and its public administration, to achieve transparency and fairness in taxation, and to adopt tough measures against money laundering. This is the reform agenda that is being presented to the electorate later this month.

Our goal is to come to a new euro-zone agreement that allows the Greek people finally to breathe, unchain their productivity and live in dignity – with restoration of debt sustainability and a way out of recession through growth financing.

On January 25, a new opportunity for all of Europe will be born. May it not be left unused.


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