Monday, 25 March 2013

EU's 4th Reich Collapses Cyprus, Fake Left Played its Part Once More

Stournaras Greek Finance Minister supported 4th Reich against Cyprus

Under AKEL which presided over Cyprus joining the EURO (2008) the common view from the non-Greek Left is that the left parties in Greece and Cyprus are bastions of militancy, very few ever really report on their ACTUAL PRACTICE. The role of AKEL the sister party of the Greek KKE is ignored for political reasons to show that the ‘Left’ when in power, isn’t involved in implementing IMF imposed austerity programmes (since the era of Milosevic…)

Christofias AKELs leader agreed to the Troika coming into Cyprus after running the country for 5 years and now the German dominated ECB wants to control and centralise all banks in the EU (deciding who gets what loans and for what) so it can dictate monetary policy accordingly, thus ending the independence of ALL nation states, so they embarked on a neo-fascist measures of robbing peoples money under the guise of ‘money laundering’ whereas no such reasons apply for Luxembourg, Isle of MAN etc or when Daxia asked for E100b and got it. After all it was a French bank so it has importance. Greek ones can go to the wall.

American interests are about selling oil and gas to Europe and minimising the EU’s dependence on Russian oil and gas imports. Cyprus has tonnes of deposits, it called in Israeli companies (ie the USA) to extract these resources but none has been sold as they are sitting on it and they have enforced bankruptcy on the island by cutting off the money supply to Cypriot banks. Turkey obviously threatened to blockade Cyprus if it extracted these deposits so they had to rely on a superpower for cover, but now this superpower is out to loot them dry.

Now they have to rely to see what they can get from the Russians if the Americans allow them that is as the last time the Cypriots went against the Americans in the Kofi Annan bi-zone neo-colonial occupation plan, they ended up having many problems, from planes dropping mysteriously out of the sky to allegations that the ex-Premier Papadopoulos was poisoned and his body being stolen from a grave.

This is a re-run of Argentina as the trust in banking has collapsed (banks will be closed for the foreseeable future) by the Eurogroup (Greece voted for the measure) and they want the Cyprus banking system annihilated. The NO vote is the start of the break up of the EZ as there are no limits to the extent the ECB will go to prop up banksters and hoepfully the beginning of the first Iceland within the EZ, where a population can annul all foreign debts and start again afresh. But to do that one has to restore a national currency, capital controls etc and control your own resources and sell them if you want to the highest bidder, not be bankrupted by the ECB so they can then buy your resources for peanuts…

Greece's Role

The government of Samaras, a hard nationalist who rejoined the New Democracy party in Greece after his own chauvinist party hit the rocks a few years ago, is toying with unilaterally declaring an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Aegean – in flat opposition to Turkey.

Kevin Ovenden

Such a ‘hard nationalist’ is Samaras that when he fought the last election on the platform of the Euro or the Drachma he supported the …Euro.

Since when does Turkey have rights to the Aegean?
He just voted with the Eurogroup to destroy Cyprus, another sign of ‘hard nationalism’ in that glorious tradition of the Greek ruling class, which allways sided with foreign powers in its history…
He is now trying to flog off Greek importing natural gas companies to the Americans at half the price that they will go to the Russians, another sign of ‘hard nationalism’…
Samaras, PASOK and the ex-members of Syriza in the Dem Left are just EU quislings pure and simple.

British bases…
But there is a British base on Cyprus and taking into account Britains colonial past on the island and its role against Makarios, to believe America will give up the island without a fight, I find it hard to believe. Anastasiadis the current President voted for the Anan plan so did Christofias in Akel (not Akel as a whole) and he is still looking to get the money for the Eurogroup by looting Cypriots national pension pots, restructuring the Russian loans outstanding and possibly selling off gas fields whilst attempting to remain in the EZ. Having de facto imposed a haircut on Russian money they have destroyed the banking sector overnight (knock on effects will be mass unemployment, property collapses, political instability etc). The EZ was a disaster waiting to happen now its just a total farce with a beggar thy neighbour ‘economic’ policy which aims to serve the unelected banksters and their big industrialist friends in the centre and the rest can go to the wall…

Nature of Greece and Cyprus vis a vis Imperialism
As long as imperialism exists and Greece is a neo-colonial muppet Cyprus will always be at the behest of world powers who will do what they want when they want to due to its geostrategic location (spying base for the Arab world). Putin called for the ending of the dollar as a reserve currency at the G20 again and we are in the midst of a currency war and Cyprus is a small pawn in the middle.

 The only positive is its part of the EZ chain and even if a small link is broken in that chain, the link could break.

Update 24. 03. 13
IMF is playing hardball on media reports now asking for a 60% cut in bank deposits over E100k.
Eurogroup meeting been postponed once more this Sunday and will allegedly meet tomorrow now ensuring the whole process runs to the wire or they are waiting to see how it plays out on the stock markets?

They said all Cypriot banks in Greece would be bought for a song by the Bank of Piraeus but this aint occurred as yet and the workers of Laiki Bank in Cyprus said they would go on strike on Tuesday.
Other reports have stated that Putin will confront Berlin if Russian money is touched in Cyprus and strangely enough the oligarch from the Yelstin era Berezovsky who was given asylum by the UK was found dead in his bath.

What is also reported is that Russia would have bailed out Cyprus in totality if it gave them a naval base (as they might lose their only Mediterrenean one in Syria soon) but the Greek Cypriot Finance Minister refused to even discuss this. The Archibishop of Cyprus has called for Cyprus to go bankrupt officially.

Banks have reduced ATM withdrawals now to E100 a day and one cannot see the banks opening on Tuesday without a default/controls being imposed in what one can do with ones accounts in the banks, so this is a trial run to wheel it out across the EZ…as too many banks exist and there is surplus capital that has to be destroyed just like products which cant be sold have to be buried.

Agreement Reached - 25th March Greece Independence Day
Two banks are going to shut down, bank deposits over E100k are to be hit (how much and for whom not really clarified), difficult to see how the banks will open as they used to before if capital controls are introduced and some depositors get hit whilst others dont. Its the beginning of DIY banking, in other words they will make it up as they go alone deciding who to steal from and when with no recourse to any rules or laws as they have destroyed their banking system. AKEL complained after calling in the Troika and Anastasiades who is the current premier voted for the Anan plan, so the agenda is to keep the Russians out, gas to go to the Americans and Cypriots to be bankrupted so they can leave the island to big power interests.The NO vote was just a move to present the scenario as a fait accompli in order to force it onto the Cypriot people.

Update 26.03.13
Banks will remain closed until Thursday again so if they dont open then, it will be around two weeks closed, the longest in post war history anywhere on the planet. Cypriots are supposed to be paid by the end of the week (for those working) and the Cypriot banks in Greece havent as  yet been handed over to some Greek capitalist crook and there are allegations via Reuters that money has left Cyprus at double the rate over the last month via outlets of Cypriot banks abroad (around Euro 6billion)
The head of the Cypriot Parliamentary group Papadopoulos stated that the options of a return to the CYpriot pound still remain on the table and the govt has stated the haircut will be still around 40% of all deposits over E100k (which also includes pension funds, govt instutions like hospitals, schools etc).

So banksters may drag this out until people protest outside the banks and demand their money Argentinian style, until then the bank heist will proceed accordingly and the instability will affect tourism and business in general as we live in a just in time economy and reducing withdrawals to E100 daily affects every facet of modern life.

The Eurogroup chief who yesteraday stated that this is a blueprint for the 'PIIGS' and then re-called it (after the Euro started to slide) is what their real intentions are. The Cypriot economist Pissarides stated unemployment will reach 30% by the end of the year...

Update 2nd April
To ‘save’ Cyprus in the way proposed by the troika is to maintain the current system. Yes, if we follow their tactics, we will eventually recover. But at what social and political cost? Capitalism has its booms and busts. After each boom there is a bust and vice versa
George Venizelos

The current mythology is that capitalism and its crises are like a wheel. They just go round and round and if we wait long enough a ‘boom’ is coming without a major war or a meltdown of society. If only life were that simple or that capitalism was eternal, then surely a resurrection of the old British Empire must be on the cards.

The other mythology regarding Cyprus is that this is about ‘taxing’ Russian money not about propping up Deutschebank in a beggar thy neighbour economic policy from the Franco-German controlled ECB.

Capitalism is bust and its banking institutions have fold, they choose which ones of course and under what reasons. Cyprus was chosen for Greece on its Independence Day (25th March) to show that it cannot go against the Troika, it cannot stand on its own two feet and it cannot negotiate with non-EU countries. Having collapsed the Cypriot banking system they aim to collapse Cyprus itself, looting its gas reserves for a pittance with a scorched earth economic policy ALL the politicians in the Cypriot parliament have given cover to.

How the people of Cyprus and Greece react to this latest Troika assault will be key in the coming months…

Update 3rd April 2013
Details of the Cypriot Memorandum has arrived in the media.
GDP is allegedly to fall by 8% though it may be higher if there were more than 100,000 Cypriots employed in financial services of one sort or another.
E70 million in new property taxes
Business tax up from 10% to 12.5%
Wage cuts 4.5% for those up to E1k
6.5% wage reductions for wages up to E1.5k
8.5% wage reductions for wages up to E2k
Reducing the public sector
Privatisations to bring in E1.4b from 2013-16
VAT from 17% to 19%
Add losses from bank deposits for govt institutions such as hospitals and educational institutions and the hit is even higher.

Finance Minister Sarris after signing the handover of Cyprus to the banksters resigned yesterday to be pensioned off with some offshore bonus no doubt, whilst the Cypriot nation will have to scavenge in dustbins to make ends meet…

VN Gelis

Cyprus: lessons from AKEL’s shame

Submitted on 22 February, 2013 – 11:22
Theodora Polenta

The Cyprus elections come amidst panic about the collapse of banks and the entire economy of Cyprus – and in the midst of a long strike by construction workers.
In these presidential elections the economy took precedence over the national questions.
A big lead was secured by candidate of the (DHSY), Nicos Anastasiadis, who was also supported by the majority of the Democratic Party (DHKO). He will almost certainly win the second round [post-script: he did win the second round].

The current president of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias of AKEL (the Communist Party), who is going to go down in history as the “communist president” who brought Cyprus under an EU/ ECB/ IMF cuts memorandum, did not seek re-election.

Other candidates were Stavros Malas, supported by AKEL, Giorgos Lilikas supported by EDEK, and the ELAM’s Giorgos Charalambous.

ELAM/National Popular Front is a nationalist movement founded in 2008. It describes its ideology as “popular and social nationalism” and promotes Greek nationalism. ELAM’s activities include marches against Turkish Cypriots and attacks against immigrants and leftist progressive students.
It is openly connected with Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn leader Ilias Kasidiaris has described ELAM as the “Golden Dawn of Cyprus”. Members and supporters of ELAM celebrated Golden Dawns electoral results in the May and June 2012 Greek parliamentary elections on the streets of Cyprus.
Golden Dawn MP Polibios Zisimopoulos attended ELAM’s march against the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus on 20 July 2012. ELAM’s announcement of Georgios Charalambous as its candidate for the presidency was made in the presence of two members of Golden Dawn, Giannis Lagos and Ilias Kasidiaris.

The slight reduction in ELAM’s electoral appeal from 4534 votes (1.08%) in the parliamentary elections of May 2011 to 3899 votes (0.885%) on 17 February.

Makaria-Andri Stylianou, candidate for the “Indignant Citizens” movement of Cyprus, scored 1898 votes (0.43% ).

Anastasiadis (DHSY) got 45.46%; Stavros Malas (AKEL), 26.91% – down from 33.29% in the 2008 presidential elections; Giorgos Lilikas (EDEK) 24.93%.

61.35% of the voters turned out; it was 75% in the 2008 presidential election.
Because of AKEL’s treacherous pro-memorandum politics and austerity measures, the people of Cyprus (those have voted) chose to go with an ardent neo-liberal, a fanatical enthusiast for the EU/ ECB/ IMF Troika, and a supporter of a more severe memorandum. Anastadiasis’s electoral manifesto promised that the meagre improvements in workers’ living standards and conditions gained during AKEL’s presidency would be reversed.

He promised to an end to “laziness” in the public sector, and blamed AKEL’s hesitancy and reluctance about the memorandum for the current economic crisis.

His presidency will open the way for the creditors to impose in Cyprus even more destructive cuts than in Greece. But all the presidential candidates, with one or another variant, supported the memorandum framework.

These election results in Cyprus will have very painful side-effects in Greece, whose developments have been heavily influenced by Cyprus throughout the last century.

It is a fact that a sizeable majority of the people in Cyprus are in favour of Cyprus going under a memorandum. Despite being fully aware of the plight of the Greeks and of what they should expect from the memorandum in Cyprus Memorandum, the majority of the Cyprus electorate backed the memorandum.

Christofias and the AKEL leadership have discredited the Left and socialist ideas, and paralysed the left in Cyprus, which normally counts over one third of the voters.

If AKEL had resisted the Memorandum, at least 50% of Cypriots and soon the majority of the Cypriot people would have resisted too.

The coming economic catastrophe of Cyprus is expected to have national implications. “Now or never” was the slogan of the New York Times. The loans that the EU would give to Cyprus’s Government “ought to give Brussels leverage to push the Greek Cypriots into cooperating with the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island to join in a loose federation of the kind proposed in 2004 by Kofi Annan, then the U.N. secretary general … if European countries want to wield some influence, it is now or never” (4 February).

At this stage, the US and Germany have as their first goal future revenues from undersea deposits of Cyprus gas, and the immediate dismantling of the oversized Cypriot banking system, which is the base of the artificial economic prosperity in Cyprus. The Cypriot banks, according to a recent announcement by the Central Bank of Cyprus, have deposits of over 70 billion euros.

22 billion appear officially as coming from non-European depositors, mainly from Russia and Ukraine. Of the remaining 50 billion, several billion belonging to Russians who in recent years have acquired citizenship of Cyprus.

On 11 February, the Financial Times published the thoughts circulating within the eurozone on the Cyprus banking system. The “radical” scenario includes losses for depositors in the banks and for those who have invested in Cyprus bonds. The financial sector of Cyprus, which today is eight times GDP, would be reduced by one third by 2015.

 A more “moderate” option would leave banks half their current size within ten years.
These plans mean sudden recession and economic contraction, disappearance of entire sectors of the economy and massive unemployment (15%, which is a-typical for Cyprus).

 Based on estimates of the Troika, Cyprus needs over the next three years around 10 billion euros for recapitalisation of banks and about five billion for fiscal needs.

The memorandum is expected to be completed after March if two conditions are met:
•First, that the loan will be paid in Cyprus will be sustainable. The IMF does not want involvement in the Cyprus Memorandum if the level of public debt after it exceeds 120% of GDP. Future revenues from natural gas do not enter in the calculations, since, as Commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis states, “the first money from the exploitation of natural gas will flow in 2019.”

•Second, that the demand from the European Central Bank and some northern European countries to investigate allegations of laundering mainly Russian money through Cypriot banks, is met. The issue, according to analysts in Cypriots, although real, is raised in a selective manner, if one considers the practices in the City of London, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein, and even in Germany itself.

After signing the memorandum Christofias declared: “United we will succeed through hard work and sacrifice in getting Cyprus out of this situation as our nation did in 1974.” But ultimately no sacrifices were asked from the bankers, those who caused the crisis and were bailed out.

The only people asked to sacrifice were the workers.
Christofias attempted to present the memorandum as a victory. But in fact Christofias and AKEL mortgaged the future of the people to the banks and the Troika. All Christofias’s supposedly red lines were dropped.

The points of agreement between Christofias and the Troika included:
•cuts in benefits and social and welfare services
•increasing the retirement age from 63 to 65 years (maintaining it at 63 was an election commitment of Christofias in 2008)
•increase of VAT and indirect taxation
•redundancy for at least 5000 public sector workers.

This is the list of the supposed successes of Christofias’s negotiating skills.
Christofias said he would not give the future revenues from natural gas to the banks, but he admitted that he would give them a big percentage. So even the revenues to come after 2019 will be primarily used to meet the creditors needs.

He said he avoided privatisations! But only as long as “the debt is sustainable.” But the Troika policies, enforcing bank recapitalisation, will increase the public debt figures hugely.

Christofias also claimed he had preserved ATA (automatic annual indexation) and the 13th month of pay. But ATA will be frozen for three years and restored only if there is growth – and then only by 50%. According to calculations by trade unions, under the memorandum budget workers will lose an equivalent of two months’ wages per year.

 Since Christofias and the AKEL government signed up for a memorandum last December, a Pandora’s box has been opened for a dismantling of workers’ living standards and conditions has been opened.

For the presidential election, AKEL nominated Malas, who is a technocrat and not a left-winger. That is the culmination of many political compromises and deliberate retreats.

The Christofias government chose a policy of national consensus and unanimity, a policy of management of the capitalist system, a policy of avoiding conflict and confrontations with the bourgeoisie.

The “achievements” of the AKEL government include: acceptance of the memorandum, recapitalising banks without nationalisation, tax immunity of the capitalists and the church.
Now the Left has a duty to focus on the preparation of the only effective weapon available to workers, everyday solidarity and organisation of struggles.

These industrial struggles that are erupting and will erupt are in need of a political leadership. The formation of ERAS is an attempt in that direction.

ERAS did not offer critical support to Malas and AKEL. That stand was based upon the correct assessment that a vote for AKEL cannot be considered a vote for Left policies as AKEL did not put forward even a minimal political manifesto to enable working-class confrontation against the memorandum politics.

ERAS, however, said that it understood that a lot of AKEL voters are still left wing people who voted for AKEL based on their left reflexes.

According to ERAS the main duties of the Left is to dare to do what experience has shown that no Party that intends to operate within the framework of the capitalist system and manage the crisis can achieve – to prioritise ithe reconnection of the combative industrial working-class movement, being fully aware that even the smallest victory requires the utmost determination, rallying and militancy.
For ERAS the main priority is to contribute towards the victory of workers’ struggles that have already erupted and prepare; to lay the seeds for the future struggle to come; to strengthen the ideas and the appeal of the left in a radical direction; to form a united front with all workers, Cypriots and immigrants, the rank and file of AKEL and every fighter and campaigner.

The economic crisis has intensified a pan-European offensive of capitalism against the European working class in all countries of Europe. At the same time, massive movements of class solidarity and resistance are developing especially in the countries of southern Europe where economic conditions are worse.

Amongst them are the Cypriot construction workers who have begun to discover from first-hand experience the impact of the memorandum measures.

On Friday, February 8, the general meetings of the construction workers decided to continue their strike, which had already completed 16 days. The management has not accepted any of the compromise proposals of the ministry. The two union federations (PEO and SEK) are under pressure to call a general strike.

The Cypriot construction workers’ struggle is certainly not something new. Since 2010 their bosses have refused to sign a new Collective Labour Bargaining Agreement.
After fruitless negotiations and 24-hour and 48-hour strikes, it became apparent to the construction workers that more decisive action was necessary.

Cypriot construction companies have found in the crisis a perfect excuse to dismantle labour rights.
Despite the fact that the construction sector today employs the same number of workers as in 2008, Cypriot bosses have chosen to sack Cyprus construction workers (6,000 redundancies according to the Cypriot trade unions) and to hire workers coming from other countries of the EU (10,000) with lower wages and no coverage by the collective bargaining agreements.

The reaction of the bosses to the strike of the construction workers has been swift and harsh, recruiting scabs.

The AKEL government of AKEL, which claimed to speak in the name of the workers, the Left and socialism, not only did nothing to safeguard the rights of workers and enforce collective agreements for all, but on 5 February sent the police to attack the strikers, arresting three of them! The largest union in Cyprus, especially among construction workers is the PEO, which is controlled by AKEL.
The struggle of the construction workers is a struggle for all workers in Cyprus. The construction workers’ struggle should not be seen solely as a fight by one group to maintain their collective bargaining agreements. The workers are fighting for the extension of collective bargaining agreements to every work place and to every worker independent of nationality. Cypriot and foreign construction workers are striking together, giving a strong message of struggle and solidarity
Over the last few months, Christofias has reiterated over and over again that “he had been forced to sign the memorandum” , “there was no alternative” etc! The truth is that the memorandum is the only solution if one wishes to safeguard the interests of the bankers.

The duty of the Left is not to save the bankers and the capitalists but to prioritise and unequivocally protect the workers’ rights. The Memorandum is the end result of the policy of AKEL and Christofias since they came to power.

It’s exactly what Cristofias meant when he affirmed the ruling class at home and abroad – in 2008 after the election – that his intention was to manage the system and not to change it. Especially at this time of crisis, however, any effort of a government of the Left to govern via class collaboration and consensus results to a memorandum with “No Human Face” and makes the Left responsible for the crisis in the minds of the working class.

AKEL’s years of government were based upon disabling instead of strengthening the trade union movement. One of Christofias’s final acts was to invite in the trade union leaders and ask for their collaboration, i.e. no industrial action of any form, in order to smoothly implement the memorandum.
A left government that “does not understand” or “does not want to understand” that the crisis is in the logic of the capitalist system is driven to implement anti working class policies spreading the ideology of defeat and impotence to the working class movement and opening the doors for the original right wing governments to escalate the attacks. At the same time it creates the conditions for the strengthening of the extreme right.

There is an alternative and that is shown daily by the pan European working class movements of resistance against the memoranda and austerity measures and cutbacks of the Greek, Spain, Portuguese, Irish, Italian workers and the re -emergence of the combative working-class movement in the capitalist metropolises of UK, Belgium, France and Germany.

If AKEL were a consistent Left Party, then it should have embraced the following plan of action:
point black refuse for the workers to take the burden of the debts of the bankers and suffer the “support mechanisms” of the EU and Troika.

to nationalise the collapsed banks under workers’ and social control
measures to fight tax evasion and fraud, taxing wealth, capital, banks and church
stop repayment of installments and interest on the debt, as the debt repayments are beyond the limits of Cyprus workers and society.

To the extent that the dilemma is posed, “Payment of the debt versus payment of salaries and pensions”, a Left’s government answer must be: “In order to pay salaries, refuse to pay the debt”
nationalisation of banks, nationalisation of industries in crisis (construction, tourism, etc.) and commerce under a planned economy, under conditions of workers’ and social control and management for the needs of society and not for the profit of the bankers and the rich.
There are lessons for Syriza in Greece.

The results of the elections of 17 June and the spectacular rise of Syriza have stirred up debate on the relationship between parliament and the Left, the Left and the state, and the Left the movements and, especially, the tactics and strategy of the Left.

The route of AKEL has a lot to teach us. The strategy of AKEL, that is the policy of the reformist Left, roughly consisted of the following: the goal of any struggle in the political and trade union sphere was the entrance of the left in government. The goal of socialist revolution and workers’ power was abandoned as a target “for the moment” and replaced with the entry into government.
For the purpose of entering the government and making bargains with the bourgeoisie, control and blocking of the mass movement becomes essential.

The period when Christofias signed the memorandum was not a period of defeat of the working class movement. All around Europe and especially on the South Europe and Greece we witnessed international class solidarity and the re emergence of a combative working class movement that refuses to surrender to the memorandum politics and austerity measurements.

If AKEL and Christofias had refused to enter the memorandum and adopted a program of transitional demands to remobilise the trade union movement (where AKEL has the majority), then it would have triggered a wave of class solidarity and support both from the Cyprus working class, from the Greek workers, from the South European workers, and from all the workers in Europe, who would have seen AKEL’s government as part of their political struggle for a government of the Left to scrap all memoranda and all anti working class laws.

However, AKEL choose the path of compromise and “social peace.” AKEL asked the working class to accept and bear the “brunt of the sacrifices imposed by the struggle against the crisis” with the following reasoning: first Capitalist growth, competitiveness and exist from the bankers crisis and after that, pro-working-class reforms in the state and economy. AKEL took responsibility for rescuing the Cypriot capitalism from its own crisis.

Syriza should be clearly separated from such paths of “responsibility” and “governability” and class collaborationist legalistic politics.

The people who voted for Syriza and the rank and file of Syriza endured an unprecedented campaign of ideological bullying (from inside and outside Greece), and do not expect from Syriza a “responsible” opposition. They want Syriza to offer an alternative narrative – that there is life outside the Memoranda, and to organize the resistance to overthrow the memoranda and austerity measures. For a government of the left dialectically linked to the workers’ struggles, as a first step to social change, where people will not only be “before profit”, but will determine their own lives …

Syriza has a duty to contribute towards the strengthening of the pan European working class alliance from below against the bosses’ European Alliance of austerity and memoranda. This alliance will be built: between the Iberian protesters and the Italian strikers, between the Greek labor movement and the French Peugeot workers, between the Cypriot construction workers and the UK anti cuts movement.

All European Left forces should take the lead in the working class pan European coordination of struggles: with joint demonstrations and organization of international solidarity and support to major labor struggles that will bring closer the goal of a large pan-European general strike.
This criterion determines the programs of the Left which should only speak with the rank and file working class movement: The overthrow of austerity, abolition of the debt, zand war against the national bond holders and creditors would relieve the nightmare experienced by both “North” and “South” workers. “No sacrifice for the euro” will unite all labour movements against the blackmailers of Brussels.

In such an orientation, the left can be a leader, to play the historic role that corresponds to the current conditions of capitalism under deep crisis. The commitment to develop a pan-European resistance movement, the head-on collision with the EU’s ultra neoliberal policy, can create the conditions for a response to the crisis and counterposed to the bosses’ European Union the workers’ red Europe.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Struggle against the National Selloffs in Greece-A Story of Gold (Skouries), Repression and Multinationals


In the Eye of the Storm-Kassandra Minerals

This area has from antiquity had rich mineral seams. So far 33 tonnes have been excavated.

Greek Gold (Ellinikos Hrisos) a company owned by Bobolas (owns media interests and the road tolls) purchased it from the Greek state for Euros 11m. This company purchased 300,000 acres around 300 houses, two underground seams and machinery for drilling, storing and processing mineral extraction and 30,000 sq m of office space. Another forest is added of 4,000 sq m and Papakonstantinou (ex-finance Minister under Papandreou) agrees to hand it over to the company ‘free of charge’. A study of Environmental Impact set up by government agencies is ignored (gross environmental destruction of an area of natural beauty, destruction of underground water routes, impact on tourist industry etc.)

                               This aint Gaza or Egypt but an old lady in Greece 

Greek Gold Corp was bought out by European Goldfields who then go on to sell it to Eldorado Gold Corp for Euro 1.8b, its stock market valuation becomes E2.3b and the reserves in seams amount to E15.5 billion.

The mineral extraction goes against areas designated as of ecological importance (NATURA 2000) (article 6 paragraph 3-4 of regulation 92/94 of EEC) and Greek inspection agencies just turn a blind eye. The company does what it wants without following any building regulations, or regulations regarding mineral extraction such as what is to happen to seams after they have been opened, or restoration of mined areas etc.

In one of the seams they are creating an open pit of 700m wide and 140m under the surface of the sea and over a 25 year period they are expected to mine 380 million tonnes of gold i.e. around 15m tonnes a year. At the $1.5k and 1 tonne equivalent of 32,000 ounces we are talking of an annual return of $7b which, taking into account the initial investment, is just a licence to print money (sorry: gold!). This is without taking into account the fluctuations in the gold price which over a long period of time always goes up in relation to paper currencies.

No provision is made within the Greek state for royalties for this type of mineral extraction. Various universities have carried out studies that this type of open smelting and the nature of the extraction of separating the gold from other minerals is extremely destructive to the local environment and the associated costs (environmental, social, loss of other business etc.) and the fact that this type of gross mineral extraction for a multinational does not bode well for the local populations of this area.

Effects on the Local Populations

There are many knock-on effects in tourism, agriculture, animal husbandry, bee growing, forestry, bio-agriculture, water streams for the use of farming. Here are some of the impact assessments: there are 816 bee growers there which constitute 10% of the bee growers in Greece; there are 100 000 acres of cultivated land and 275 000 acres of land used for grazing. Forests are used for their wood, other areas for natural herbs (medicine etc.). All of this is endangered by the destruction of the forest of Kokkavos. The dust from the mineral extraction will move like a storm in the whole region, destroying plant life and heavy metals entering the food chain from the mineral extraction of such immense proportions.

                                     Stunning natural beaches to be destroyed 

The impact of tourism on the economy of N E Halkidiki is alleged to be in the region of 15-20% of GDP. This type of economic looting will bring about an immeasurable attack on tourism of the area, and will undermine the quality of life. The mountain area of Kakkavos supplies the whole region with water. El Dorado Gold ignores another EC ruling 60/2000EC: ‘Maintaining a framework for common action on water policy’ which was added onto Greek legislation by the law of 3199/2003. The needs of water for mineral extraction will be equivalent to the needs of 40k citizens and it is predicted that water levels which are +640m above sea level will drop to -140m with a consequent massive destruction of underground water tables. Dust will be produced at the equivalent rate of 4,324 tonnes an hour and the whole region will be equivalent to what occurs in Ptolemaida (the area where electricity is generated through the extraction of lignite which covers 40% of Greece’s electricity needs and the EU wants banned!). There will be very large quantities of arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, metals, nickel, mercury etc.


The table shows how far the mineral dust will go and affect a whole region.

Peaceful Resistance to El Dorado Gold by the citizens of Ierissos and Skouries

Timeline of Police Repression

13.03.2011 Ierissos’ First big demonstration in which hundreds took part in this town which is closest to the Company’s activities.

20.03.2012 Skouries demonstration in the mountain area by 30 citizens. 500 of the company employees attack the locals and the police stood by as people were beaten up.

25.03.2012 Big Tree, Halkidiki had a big demo of all the citizens of the district on a national holiday and a very large force of police confronted them, not allowing them to proceed in a public area. Then with no reason the police attacked the citizens with tear gas and stun grenades. People tried to escape but they were caught short and ambushed by another group of riot police who had planned their entrapment when they retreated.

14.04.2012 Skouries Halkidiki. On 14th April six women went in two cars to the public area of the Kakavos mountain range but in the Skouries point there was a blockade with men from a private security company who were wearing masks. They asked the women for their ID but they refused. After writing down their number plates, they were allowed to continue past the roadblock. But then two farming trucks from Greek Gold threatened them, abusing them and stating they will be blamed for any future problems with Greek Gold Corp, 20 women were held hostage for and the private security company called the police.

05.08.2012 Skouries Halkidiki. Another peaceful demonstration towards the Skouries region and strong police forces refused permission to march despite its having a written confirmation by a public prosecutor. During the negotiations the police forces started to tear gas the people, threw stun grenades and even used plastic bullets. The constant use of tear gas provoked fires in the forest and the fire brigade had to turn up to put them out. In the evening the citizens of Ierissos symbolically blocked the road and they warned the oncoming drivers by distributing information leaflets. After a while they were attacked again.

Citizens and tourists under the guise of damage allegedly made to the local town hall were tear gassed and people were shot at directly rather than rounds being fired in the air. The occupation forces left at midnight.

09.09.2012 Skouries Halkidiki Another peaceful demonstration against the expansion of the company and this time there was a helicopter above the offices of Greek Gold Ltd. along with a very big police presence. With the arrival of the first protestors they were attacked directly with teargas volleys, stun grenades and plastic bullets. People retreated and they were chased by the police. Many demonstrators were injured including the MP Vangelis Diamantopoulos of SYRIZA and a German demonstrator. The biggest injury was the trauma a demonstrator received to his spleen from being hit directly by a tear gas volley.

Riot police militarise the conflict with tear gas and plastic bullets
In October 2012 the police officers union lodged a complaint that illegal procedures were occurring through the use by the police for the private interests of gold mining in Halkidiki without any crime having occurred and without them following correct procedure i.e. article 22 of Law 3938/2011.

21.10.2012 Skouries Halkidiki. More than 2,500 people met at the ‘Big Tree’ to demonstrate against gold mining in their area. Around 300 remained in this spot whilst the rest marched in the wood towards Skouries. After 7km of walking the police blocked further movement. Fire occurred in the forest and the police and demonstrators together went to put it out. Whilst there, there was a standoff and the head of the strong police force said that they wouldn’t use tear gas as happened to the first demonstrators. The demonstrators, women, pensioners etc. retreated once more, and many fell on top of each other and were trodden on; those who remained too close to police lines were beaten up by the police.

Many relatives brought cars to the area to remove the demonstrators and those injured. But the police chased everyone for around 7km. The police attacked some of the convoys as well as breaking car windows, throwing tear gas inside cars, beating up injured protestors. During the attacks the riot police cheered on the attackers and there are eye-witnesses who allege their superiors tried to contain the attacks, for any death would have immense consequences for all involved.

Many were arrested for ridiculous charges, one man for losing control of his vehicle after they had fired a tear gas volley in it. They were refused legal representation and charged with ‘attacking the riot police’.

Demonstration in Thessaloniki against El Dorado Gold Corp

25.10.2012 Poligoros Halkidiki. More than 2000 citizens converged on the Ministry of Justice and had a demo in support of the arrested


18.11.2012 Megali Panagia Halkidiki. Demonstration inside the village then a march towards the Kakavos mountain range.


24.11.2012 Thessaloniki Massive demo with more than 8000 people against the destructive mineral extraction in Halkidiki, Kilkis, Thrace. Petitions were handed to the Mayor of Thessaloniki and the Canadian Consul in the city.


Stop the Crime! Stop the Collusion! section of the Thessaloniki demonstration


                                             Outside the Greek Parliament

12.01.13 Athens. 500 citizens travel down from Halkidiki for a demonstration in Athens outside Parliament and the Canadian Embassy.


24.02.2013 Megali Panagia Halkidi. Thousands of citizens from all of Greece demonstrate against the gold mining company once more.


Above is a summary of 26 page bulletin set up by the committee of resistance to El Dorado Gold


'Direct Action' against Multinational Corporate Looting and Destruction of Greece

What happened next is that the offices of the Gold mining company in Skourries were attacked and burnt down. The goverment said 50 masked men did it and that they had broken the cameras. Then they circulated videos of the attack from the same broken down cameras showing a few masked men. This cannot be explained other than it being a provocation by themselves to blame the surrounding opposition.

Experience of Keratea: Lessons Learned or Errors to be Repeated?

When Papandreou was in charge with Pangalos (the beached whale) as Vice President, they used alleged EU rules to impose a dump site next to an established community without even having the decency to ask them. The conflict continued unabated with police brutality. But the citizens, without political party domination, continued on their own. They had nowhere to go. This was their houses, their community and they defended themselves up to initiating direct action (modern urban guerrilla warfare). They got night diggers and without the police realising they dug up a main road cutting it in half overnight which meant their area would be cut off from police reinforcements.

They ceaselessly confronted the riot police, tying them down to breaking point. It was heard that their superiors complained to the government that this is the job for an army, not the riot police! Pangalos admitted after the fall of Papandreou that, due to popular protests, the IMF programme could not work after the defeat in Keratea.

House to House Searches and Arrests

Under the pretext of the attacks they started to storm the village of Ierissos arresting most men and doing DNA tests along with body and house searches.  They terrorised the population, acting like an occupation army (like Hitlers or the Ottomans) that Greeks have become familiar with in their previous history.

Privatisation and the looting of the natural resources of the country for the sake of large multinational corporations is occurring at the same time as a distinct process of militarisation against all peaceful resistance.

Role of the Left-Syriza

Apart from individual participation, the organised forces of the Left are once more unable to provide a correct focus to the issue which in fact emphasises how in practice the looting of Greece is proceeding apace. Government Ministers sign over national land for its mineral wealth to large multinational corporations and they obviously have a wide range of ‘commissioning’ activities in their contract bidding (offshore bank accounts made familiar from the Siemens bribery contracts, then require the local police forces to do the ‘policing’ (enforcing the contracts Cochabamba - Bolivian style) and now they are heading into a Nigerian-Columbia (BP buys army protection) situation where, in order to police the areas surrounding the goldmining sites, there is talk of using foreign mercenaries (ex-Blackwater) or possible use of the army.

SYRIZA is on the pathway to continue where Dimar (Kouvelis-Dem Left) left off is even advertising the GoldMining company in its paper, in the picture below.

Avgi-Syrizas paper advertising Hellas Gold

The advertisement says ‘One of the Biggest Investments which Greece has Known’With Society Next to Us’!!!

Whatever happens next, one thing is sure: the locals have a chance of winning as they did in Keratea. They have nowhere to go and they can block the exits and entrances to the Goldmining facilities. The mass mobilisations and the unprovoked police attacks which reached the level of tear gassing local schools, arresting little girls to enrage their parents, will provoke even more fury. Out of these popular struggles a new order will be built, one that takes into account the wishes and desires of those who live and toil the land.

VN Gelis

8th March 2013