Greece. The year was marked by the country’s efforts to qualify for the European Monetary Union EMU and by protests against the cuts the efforts entailed. On March 14, the currency, the drachman, was devalued by 14% and thus Greece was able to associate the drachman with the exchange rate mechanism ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism) within the European exchange rate cooperation EMS (European Monetary System). According to Countryaah, the capital of Greece is Athens. Prime Minister Kostas Simitis said he wants Greece to join the EMU in 2001. But the country was not ready for accession in January 1999 was clear. In March, the European Commission reported that Greece did not meet the convergence requirements, i.e. the financial goals that exist for EMU countries. In 1997, for example, inflation was 5.2%, which is a large but insufficient improvement.
In February, Parliament gave managers in state-owned companies the right to reduce wage costs by cutting down various benefits. At the same time as the connection to the ERM, new cuts were announced, including in public transport and the postal system, and the privatization of several state-owned companies. These measures led farmers, postal workers, teachers, doctors, airport personnel and public transport staff and the state banks to go on strike.
During the summer, Greece was hit by the worst forest fires in the country’s history. 162,000 ha of land were sweated in a total of about 180 sites. At least six people were killed in the fires, which were suspected of being built by builders.
In April 2013, the government announced it would fire 15,000 civil servants throughout the rest of the year. In June it announced that the state radio and TV station ERT was closed. For the rest of the year, employees in the ERT struggled to maintain their workplace. Also in June, DIMAR announced that it was withdrawing from the government. It now had only a slim majority behind it.
The collapse of the economy was followed by the collapse of morality and security. In April 2013, the chairman shot at a Greek farm against 100-200 strawberry pickers from Bangladesh who had demanded their pay. The number of right wing violent attacks against refugees, asylum seekers, Roma, left wingers and LGBT people increased dramatically during the year.
As the crisis deepened and the Greek population became increasingly desperate, the radical right wing with Golden Dawn became increasingly violent. The party’s thugs showed up for professional and political demonstrations, where it attacked the participants. There was a clear parallel to e.g. the Nazis’ action in Germany during the economic crisis in the early 1930’s, where it made close ties with the security forces and was paid by companies to attack the left. Golden Dawn had close relations with senior Greek police officers. The police therefore failed to intervene when Golden Daggry’s street gangs went into action. On September 18, 2013, a Golden Dawn group murdered the well-known Greek anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas on an open street in Athens. A week later, 50 demonstrated. 000 people in front of the party’s headquarters in Athens and demanded it banned. Police investigations subsequently revealed that the killers had been in close mobile contact with the party’s leadership. On October 3, the party’s leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and several other MPs and leaders were arrested and the party investigated to constitute a criminal organization.
- Abbreviationfinder: What does GRC stand for in geography? Here, this 3 letter acronym refers to the country of Greece.
It was not only academically active people and people on the left who were attacked by Golden Dawn. Its violence also targeted Roma and refugees. Already, the Greek handling of refugees from the Western-created wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria had finally collapsed in 2010, and in that situation refugees and Roma were beaten or killed by DG gangs or MPs.
In January 2014, 11 Afghan refugees died as their fine sank on the Greek island of Pharmaconosi. The boat had been boarded by the Greek coastguard, which at high speed dragged it back towards Turkish territory. The boat sank and the 11 drowned. The authorities, after a short time, stopped the investigation and failed to place a responsibility for the massacre.
The right wing’s violent attack continued to increase during 2014, and the police carried out their own violent actions. Among the more spectacular were the security police’s attack on a peaceful demonstration in Athens in November, marking the 41st anniversary of the student revolt against the dictatorship in 1973. Police forces went with special zeal to attack the photographers and journalists present to cover the event.
The economic crisis in Greece was not resolved. It was only just beginning. The fundamental problem was that in the first 10 years of the new millennium, the conservative governments and the country’s government spent loosing large debt. In other countries, this debt could be repaid over a number of years by redistributing labor income over tax to installments. But this mechanism did not work in Greece, where tax evasion largely does not work. At the same time, the working class has difficulty understanding why it has to pay for the wealthiest Greeks’ consumption party for 10 years. The EU is trying to contain the disaster. Not to prevent a Greek collapse or Greece from leaving the Eurozone, but to prevent a Greek collapse from dragging European major banks into decline.