Thursday, June 18, 2015

Preliminary Report Of The Debt Truth Committee

The Debt Truth Committee of the Greek parliament published its preliminary report yesterday. The Executive Summary is here. I have read the summary several times. Whichever way I slice it, it seems that the committee came to the conclusion that Greece's entire sovereign debt is illegal, illegitimate and odious.


  1. Mr. Kastner,

    You must have missed my reference to this commitee in a previous post. This is a committe formed by international experts. If you take the time to use google translator you can read more about each of the members.

    By all means, i am Greek, so i would be happy for them to be right. Alas, i have high doubts about what legal value their opinion holds. The report was presented in Athens by Eric Toussaint, who was important member of the committee used by Rafael Correa to repudiate Equador's debt, along with Diego Borja (Equador's former FinMin).

    Syriza, having close relations with Latin american countries, managed to gather them in the same team. See how easy it is to arrive to an agreement when no German is in the same room? They all agreed it's illegal!

    1. If some of today's debt goes back to the time of the junta, Greece might be able to build a case on that. As far as the time after the junta is concerned, the whole thing is a farce. To me it's a bit telling that SYRIZA feels very comfortable with Third World leaders. "Tell me who your friends are and I tell you who you are". But for the sake of argument, let's assume Greece repudiates all or part of its debt.

      Debt repudiation is about the silliest thing a First World country could ever do because it immediately catapults itself into the Third World. Debt repudiation will haunt a country nearly forever. One of the Soviet revolutionaries, I believe it was Lenin, allegedly once said that the greatest mistake they made when taking over Russia was to repudiate Tsarist debt (even though communists could have made a very credible case for repudiating Tsarist debt). Well, perhaps Tsipras will seek Russian advice on that when he visits Moscow tomorrow.

    2. In deed, this is a Syriza farce to cater the revolutionary dreams of the more radical clans inside Syriza, who envisage a small Venezuela in the Mediterranean, ran by Alexis Tsipras a la Hugo Chavez, isolated from the evil capitalist world, living their own socialist dream.

      The junta left a very low debt at the time (as percentage of GDP at least). Also from reading the report, they don't seem to care about the junta, but rather current terms.
      Inside Syriza, there are several groups where third world is fine, as long as they can live their own socialist paradise. Not all in SYRIZA yet understand that they are a real goverment now. Α greek writer, Ramfos, correctly wrote recently, that we are being governed by "psychotherapy groups", because many people in Syriza, were for many years in little parties, that acted like brainstorming groups, where leftists could make their own discussions about ideal worlds and imaginary policies and suddenly they found themselves trapped in a goverment party and still can't wrap their head around this. For SYRIZA, this is also a sort of ideological fiesta. After putting as new ERT director a pro-syriza singer/composer, to sort of celebrate with friends the debt committee's result, the Syriza MPs, invited to the parliament a syriza-leaning music composer, who, true to Syriza style, accepted the invitation and ran to attend the good news. Please, don't miss the photos...

      You need not tell me about syriza and his friends. I have in vain tried to explain you before the elections on why you shouldn't concentrate on the wonderful speeches by Alexis Tsipras, but, i have failed...And God knows i tried...

    3. I found this old article where I explained default, repudiation, etc.

  2. Speaking of latin american friends, here's another one i fished today by accident. Greece is on the brink of default. So what better than a 3 day "Resistance Festival" in Athens, hosted practically by SYRIZA (main speakers from the greek side, as journalists/producers from SYRIZA's radio, SYRIZA MPs and a member from SYRIZA's political board).

    Now that ERT is ours, 1st sponsor is ERT (along with SYRIZA's radio and some pro-Syriza newspapers)

    Featuring the following foreign guests:
    - Alvaro Garcia Livera (Bolivian Vice President)
    - Luis Brito Garcia ("Venezuelan intellectual")
    - Samir Amin ("internationally renown economist and activist")
    - Tarik Ali (writer and activist)
    - Inijo Ereggòn (political segretary of Podemos party, Spain)
    - Erturul Kiutsiu (honorary president of HDP Party, Turkey)
    - Muna Matari (People's Front, Tunisia)

    Because, they are happy like this. Many in Syriza were for years happy making these festivals, away from contacts with eurogroups, capitalists, grexit. A part of SYRIZA has the mind in Brussels. Others, continue their lives like in the years they were a happy party of 3%.

  3. Oh, i beg your pardon, but my memory sometimes fails me. I forgot the main subject of the festival: "Opening roads for the 21st century: Is a post-capitalist world possible?".

    I dare predict, that the conclusion will be: "Yes, it is!".

  4. Mr. Kastner,

    If you want to understand better, what is SYRIZA, you must use your imagination, but this is a good start. This is an interview with Mr. Kouvelakis. He is one of the intellectual brains inside SYRIZA.

    The ending of the video, is remarkable. More or less: "SYRIZA's rupture with Europe, will open new roads for Podemos". Now, imagine for a moment, many brains like him, inside the same party, each of which for years, had similar wonderful talks with friends inside the party, while sipping coffee. At every table, a different brain, with his own followers, agreeing with each other, but usually not with the tables around him. Much like a blog of the right, where all right wingers gather and share their happyness because they all agree or a leftist blog with leftists doing the same. In older eras, blogs didn't exist and parties weren't easy to access, so people would use the kafeneio, to agree or disagree about politics while playing backgammon.

    SYRIZA, for 30 years, was a cosy kafeneio, where many groups of backgammon players could go and spend joyful afternoons making extraordinary political analysis for an alternate world and go home relaxed and continue the day after. Between this, they had occasionally name someone as the leader and try their luck in elections, which they knew were just a distraction, from their every day brainstorming in the "agora".
    But now they must govern. But what about their endless evenings and discussions? Not all of them want to abbandon them for the mundane world of politics and mingling with the enemy...

    There is nothing wrong with any of that per se. Nowdays it may seem like madness, but in reality, it is not much different than what many ancient Athenians were doing for centuries every morning, doing nothing else but make theoretical discussions. Diogenes, the cynical philosopher, would be scorned as a filthy beggar by any modern day politician of the developed world, living in the streets and fighting with dogs over food. And when Alexander the Great asked him what favour he could do to him, he replied to step aside, because Alexander was blocking the sun.

    Unfortunately, the problem arises, when you take Diogenes and put him to rule a country in a world, where the logical reply should be "give me my weight in gold". If you think that SYRIZA's main problem is the current chicken run, wait until they will have to be unpleasant and the multiple brains inside the party, start losing contact with one another and begin feeling the disruption of the troika to their own plans.

    This, is what Ramfos, wanted to mean, by writing "we are governed by psychotherapy groups". Is there anything better, than spending pleasant evenings, talking with a like-minded friend from Venezuela or Tunisia on how to change the world or rule the country? Like a greek poet says "it's is the journey that is important, full of riches, what matters if Ithaca (the destination) didn't fill your expectations"?

  5. This lady, and quite a few of her compatriots, is seriously engaging in mental masturbation.

  6. Dear Klaus,
    you said this report of the so-called debt truth committee is a farce. I agree, and I assume that this must be rather obvious to most people. I am puzzled by the question what SYRIZA hopes to achieve with this.
    Is it possible that they themselves believe this nonsense? Is it possible that they believe this will convince any of their creditors? What impression do they think it will make to their creditors that they come up with the assertion that they can repudiate all their debt, at the very moment that they ask for additional credit?

    I have never agreed with the ideas of SYRIZA, but so far I have assumed that there is at least a certain rationality in their behaviour. But this story to me looks just crazy. Unless, perhaps, in reality they want a Greek default and try to anger the creditors so much that these decide to "pull the plug". Do you think it possible that this is what they are driving at?

    1. Dear Anonymous June 19, 2015 at 5:22 PM

      At the same way that Mr. Kastner makes the error of wanting to find "the Greek" in every Greek, you are trying to identify anyone in SYRIZA as "SYRIZA" and as having the same reasoning, because they are SYRIZA. This committee is a pet project of Mrs Zoe Konstantopoulou, the president of the parliament. I doubt if Tsipras himself or anyone in the cabinet really cared about it and i am certain that she didn't ask for their permission. She has more or less ran this on her own. She is unlike any other president of the parliament we 've had...

      If there is a plan behind this committee, she is the only one to know about it. She is very autonomous, she even denied Tsipras to hand over the reserve funds of the parliament. And Tsipras didn't dare say a word, because Mrs. Konstantopoulou isn't shy with words.

      The situation with SYRIZA is simple: One has to just watch the video i previously posted, to see that they consider the very existence of their party at stake. And from their perspective, this is true. The Thessaloniki program, is in deed gone. Even SYRIZA's own proposals, are proposals that for SYRIZA are hurtful. Tsipras is defending the pensions, not just because it would make him look bad, but because at least 3 ministers plus him, have pubblicly commited that they won't cut them. Varoufakis said "not while i am minister". Tsipras and minister Stratoulis made similar declarations. To make them now cut them, will mean further humiliation. At the end, like the 2 in the video say, the people will ask "so what is the difference between SYRIZA and PASOK's or Samaras' cuts?". And in deed, Tsipras will find himself, in a similar position to George Papandreou, This isn't his (the Thessaloniki) program and he is asked to proceed with cuts he can't mask (VAT is easier to mask) while trying to hold together his party factions from abbandoning the goverment.

    2. Thanks for this information! I understand SYRIZA is less homogeneous and less coordinated than I thought.

  7. Here the mystery! Mrs. Zoe Konstantopoulou, met with Mr. Alvaro Garcia Linera (see Resistance Festival above) and of course... handed him the preliminary report on the debt!

    Here's the best part. Turns out that Bolivia is currenty presiding over the UN Committee for Debt Restructuring of External Debt. Mr. Garcia said that external debt such as the greek one, is illegal.

    Of course, when did the UN resolve anything? But it was a great opportunity for Mrs Konstantopouloy to once more make news and score popularity points inside and outside the party. So, at the end, there was a plan behind this... Usually the presidents of parliament end up becoming bureaucrafts that one forgets they exist. Some say that Tsipras put her there, to stop her from making headlines and opening her mouth. It didn't work...

  8. Since the cabinet is afraid or Mrs Konstantopoulou and would rather not open a front with her, 2 SYRIZA MPs decided to make a subtle attack, because Mrs. Konstantopoulou gathered 49 signatures from SYRIZA MPs that now join her view.

    1) SYRIZA MP Mitropoulos: "the moves required by the goverment are very delicate. It is a contradiction to ask for debt restructuring of a debt that you claim you don't recognize".

    2) SYRIZA MEP Mr. Papadimoulis: "If we accept the thesis that the debt is illegal, then it is like giving forgiveness to PASOK and New Democracy".

    Now they will both end in Mrs. Konstantopoulou's black list.