by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph. D
Now that Syriza party (Coalition of the Radical Left) won legislative elections in Greece on Sunday, January 25th., 2015, a new path is opening for Europe. Spain with the growing popularity of the very young movement "Podemos" ("We can", 2014), is more ahead than France on that point.
Anyhow, this may not lead the Socialist party in France to come back to its roots, beyond measured and polite congratulations to Alexis Tsipras (born in Athens, on July 28th., 1974), Syriza's leader. But, it's already something appreciable to break autism "infierno".
Since Monday, January 26th, he became Prime Minister of Greece, after a quick agreement with the movement of the Independent Greeks of Panos Kammenos (born in Athens, on May 12th., 1965).
The support of this Right Wing sovereignist little party which got 13 MPs, was necessary to reach absolute majority : as a matter of fact, Syriza which got 149 seats was missing two for that purpose.
This Left-Right alliance may seem strange from outside, if people don't take on account the enormous sufferings of the Greek people since 2010 : the unemployment rate is now 25% which is already huge, but the bar of 50% young people on the dole has been overcome !
A new hope is rising in Greece as Alexis Tsipras promised to rise minimum wages, the wages of civil servants and equalilly retirement allowances, by stepping back from the hard measures of austerity imposed by EU and IMF.
"Catastroïka" as is nicknamed the troïka of the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF has to accept this new and staggering experiment.
From the "Elyseum Fields", Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC), who gave an immortal glory to Greece, must feel at last extremely happy !
Greece seems to be writing anew the history of the World with its new Prime Minister, and that's something incredible ! Still more strangely, on last January 26th. and 27th., an historical tempest called Juno (Roman equivalent of Goddess Hera, Zeus' wife, for the Greeks), was swirling on New-York, Boston and all the North East of America.
Coming back to economics and finance, the ECB plan of 1.080 billion Euros to buy back the public debt of its member-states was not presently forecasted to be opened to Greece. This plan will start on next March and will normally end up in the end of September 2016. And every month ECB will be able to buy back a member-state debt with a maximum of 60 billion Euros, knowing that the maximum buy can only represent 20% of its national debt.
The problem - or the advantage ? - is that Greece has a bunch of other creditors beside ECB and IMF, and after Germany (56.5 billion Euros), and France (42.4 billion Euros).
The total amount of the Greek debt is at the moment around 315.5 billion Euros, which is representing around 177 % of the Greek GDP, against 125 % at the end of 2009 - before the EU and IMF help of 2010. This plan of 110 billion Euros, initially on 3 years, has been spread into small and irregular payments, to oblige Greece following a schedule of drastic reforms : the last one (7.2 billion Euros) was still owed, and should have intervened normally by the end of February 2015,...without the refusal of New Greece, rejecting at the same time the "troïka"'s control.
As a visible result over the last five years, the Greek GDP contracted by 25% !
Will Greece be able to pay back 10 billion Euros as forecasted, by next summer ? Or will it want it ?
The elections of last sunday induce that the country is needing more time...or simply more freedom.
Negociations have probably already started discretely for more efficiency, especially with Germany.
If some people in Germany are suggesting that Greece should leave Eurozone and come back to drachma, it seems that the position of the government is more flexible presently, and opened to proposals of common sense. A rescheduling of the Greek debt has got the preference on a restructuring of the same debt. As a matter of fact, such option would pull a partial discount of the Greek debt. It seems a reduction in the interest rate on the Greek debt is envisaged, as well as a payments possibly deferred, but not a cancellation of the debt - even just partial.
If France has a more general message of help and support towards Greece, concretely nobody explained how things would proceed. France is not up against the wall, but in the back of the wall in fact ! Alexis Tsipras has to meet President François Hollande (born in Rouen, on August, 12th., 1954) - who didn't want to receive him in 2012 - before next February 12th. : the Greek Prime Minister can appear like a real challenger, as him, he is daring to confront world finance, when his counterpart has been critized for not having even tried three years ago, by Yanis Varoufakis, the new Finance Minister of Greece since January 27th.. And the enormous advantage of eternal Greece, the mother of Democracy, is to benefit from its terrific aura of light-carrier since the Antiquity !
Anyway, France is in reality on the same line as Germany, with perhaps paradoxically less flexibility...at the moment !
And Goddess Athena, who is watching the scene from Olympus Mount (Greece)...and Notre-Dame of Paris also with the Palladium - Pallas Athena statue, said to be in its underbasement -, is aware about it !
Anyhow, what is remaining is that the victory of Syriza - a party of Extreme Left wing - is appearing to be in fact the one of the whole country, Hellas. Hellas is the eternal Greece which invented Democracy and brought its everlasting light to the world for so long !
This message of Hope has got a tremendous importance, to try ending up austerity !
If we really want to stimulate growth in Europe...and in the World, it is time to be logic, proficient, and imaginative - as it seems. But it is totally possible, as finance itself is an important field of a kind of creative Magic, and this since the time of Babylon. The new Greek-Australian Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis (born in Athens, on March, 24th., 1961), proposed himself an innovative way to pay back the debt : it would be modulated after the growth of Greek GDP, so then everybody would do everything for the country to grow !
Europe has to master its destiny, with the partial u-turn of ECB. That's why negociations are also involving Mario Draghi (born in Rome, on September, 3rd, 1947), its President, and his country, Italy. Italy is counting a lot in the world Financial leadership as far as the time of the Venitian Marco Polo (1254 - 1324), who helped the Black Nobility to expand worldwide. So the support of the latter could most likely be decisive.
And then Euro can be saved too. Anyway, the Greeks in general and Syriza or the Independent Greeks in particular, by themselves, absolutely don't want to leave Eurozone, if you ask them !
Paradoxically, with the new assertive Greece, Europe is counting anew in the world.
Greece want to be as bold as Alexander about our common destiny, for the sake of the Occident he created 2349 years ago !
Let's think about what Megas Alexandros could think and expect of this fantastic move, from the Elyseum Fields of the far Occident ("Champs Elysées" in French), in the kingdom of Hades (Pluto) !
His refreshing point of view could be that if we take the right decisions, formidable opportunities are ahead and not just a glorious "souvenir" of our far past !
As soon as a government was formed in Greece, on last January 27th., Alexis Tsipras decided to block several important privatizations of the national economy, among which the highly symbolic selling of Piraeus and Thessaloniki harbours. Everybody knows that Greece was at one time the most important thalassocracy of the world. And it wants to still count for the sake of the country.
Where some others would have said hesitatingly in the end, "we wouldn't dare !", new heroic Greece is saying loud and clear : "We dare to say no, because we are the bold Greeks of your Antiquity !"
The Prime Minister Tsipras also announced he will rise significantly minimum wages.
Anyway, an astonishing serial of measures will certainly be taken to combat poverty, which developped so much over the last five years, and the ones who still enriched despite the Debt crisis.
It seems strangely that the Gods of the Olympe have over suddenly awakened now, and that heroes are definitively back, with Alexander the Great as well.
Amazingly, Greek mythology is very present in the last book of Yanis Varoufakis, untitled "The Global Minotaur" (a 2013 revision of a book initially published in 2011).
This brilliant economist, who was a professor in Sidney (Australia) and Austin (USA), is considered as one of the most creative and innovative in the world.
For him the "Minotaur" is America, which is using the system of double deficits (trade and budget), to recycle the huge excedents of Germany and Japan and finally enhance its own growth - and since China overcame the latter in 2010-2011, the enormous excedents of Germany and China.
According to Yanis Varoufakis, this system which showed in 2008 it was not viable, by causing a terrible financial crisis through subprimes, is continued unwisely. He also notably critized the progressive vassalization of France.
There is an idea emerging in this controversy, that Greece is like the hero Theseus with the Minotaur and its labyrinth. But strangely, some French commentators are taking the image of "Minotaur" for EU, and not America.
About the coming of Yanis Varoufakis to Paris to start talks, we hope it is really understood that the main point of Greece is not only money, but also a respect of its dignity !
So ordinary disdain is not the good choice, as a Greek Default, even partial, is remaining an option !
The astonishing strategy followed by the duo Tsipras-Varoufakis is now starting to be unveiled : presenting the bill to Germany (between 160 and 280 billion Euros for the Nazi war crimes during the Second World War). But Germany refused immediately any debt write-off for Greece.
About France, Greece is studying if it can get its real support, and in the contrary case, it will quickly adjust its strategy. Hence, its Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis has Advanced talks with Paris today, instead of tomorrow. And then, on next Wednesday, the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet François Hollande for a straight discussion.
At the moment, Greece adopted a very manly style of negociations, far from a "Lexomil" one, holding its Default as it was the stick-lightning of Zeus. And it didn't present yet to France any surprising invoice concerning royalties for the daily political use in speeches of "The Republic" of the venerable Greek philosopher Plato (in matter of copyright)... or any other original demand alike !
It looks very much like Alexander the Great's strategy of the "Scythe and the Hammer". And in that way, the observed convergence with Russia is logic, even it's not anymore communist.
The dynamic duo Tsipras-Varoufakis is both hot and fresh with the "Troïka", and the world as well.
Let's remember the prayer Alexander the Great was addressing to the preferred daughter of Zeus - who had Angel-hair -, Athena as Athena "Nikè" or "the victorious", before an impossible battle to win :
"O Athena, immortal Goddess, holy Goddess wearing a white peplos !
Thou who give to the men guile and reason ! Thou by whom every wise man is wise !
Thou by whom every moderate man is what he is !
Receive my praises, o very high ! Receive my prayer with benevolence !
The sculptor will offer thee a statue, the orator a speech, and the peasant a sheaf of wheat !
About me, let me offer thee those verses !"