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EU-IMF blackmail aimed at Ireland and Greece

The principle of self-determination of nations may, to some, appear irrelevant in the context of the eurozone crisis. The 17 countries signed up to the single currency are all, on the face of it, independent states free to determine their own destiny.

Dig deeper and it’s another story, however. Take the examples of Greece and Ireland, two of the so-called “periphery” eurozone states.

They may be at opposite ends of Europe but they share one thing in common – a clear and present threat to their right to determine their own future.

Irish voters have been told in no uncertain terms to vote “yes” in Thursday’s referendum on whether the country should back the new European Union fiscal union treaty that imposes strict spending controls on member states.

Yesterday, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny went on television to warn voters that a rejection of the new treaty would bring “uncertainty at a time Ireland definitely doesn’t need it”. He attacked the No side for “its politics of negativity, of defeat, of opportunism and of fantasy economics”.

This was a bit rich coming from a political class that helped drive the Irish economy and financial system into the ground in a rampant demonstration of the self-same fantasy economics.

Jim Stewart, senior lecturer in finance at Trinity College, Dublin, points out in the Social Europe Journal, that the fiscal treaty can be added “to the list of flawed policy making that has helped turn an economic crisis … into a national catastrophe.”

If the Yes vote succeeds, the treaty will be incorporated into the Irish constitution and gives other signatories the right to bring a case against Ireland in the event of non-compliance. “It is the same thinking that initially set penal interest rates on Ireland’s borrowing under the EU/IMF Programme.”

In practice, the long struggle for Irish independence is fundamentally weakened by a form of EU blackmail imposed by Germany, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. And this is the case in Greece too.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, has now added insult to injury with a fresh attack on the Greek people who are seen as thankless for daring to hold a general election on the bail-out terms imposed on the country in exchange for loans.

Lagarde said Greeks had to take responsibility for their fate, adding that deprived children in Africa needed more help than people in Greece. "I think they (the Greeks) should help themselves collectively ... by all paying their tax." That’s a bit difficult when one in five is out of work – rising to 50% amongst young people – and the economy is in free-fall as a result of the EU-IMF imposed austerity measures.

Just as in Ireland, ruling class politicians are passing on the threat if voters next month repeat their support for parties like Syriza that want to renegotiate the bail-out conditions. Antonis Samaras of New Democracy said a vote against the loan terms would leave Greece with “no food, no drugs, no fuel. It will have to live with permanent power cuts".

What Samaras is saying in effect is that there is no point in next month’s elections which follow the recent stalemate. You can vote against austerity but in the end, the EU-IMF will have their way. You can vote against the fiscal treaty in Ireland, but ultimately there’s no choice, according to prime minister Kenny.

The struggle for self-determination clearly needs renewing and not just in Greece and Ireland. Working people throughout the capitalist EU will have to create their own popular, democratic independence, working together across Europe on a new revolutionary and equal basis.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
28 May 2012

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