Συνέντευξη Πρέσβη Χρυσανθόπουλου στο “a-specto” Βουλγαρίας : “Η Ελλάδα έχει πάψει να υφίσταται ως κράτος”.
Julia Vladimirova for “a-specto“
Mr. Chrysanthopoulos, you’ve been a Director General of EU Affairs and Director of the Direction in charge of Third Pillar and Schengen issues in Greece, also Ambassador of Greece in Yerevan, Warsaw and Ottawa. You are one of the important persons, who have worked a lot for the Greek membership in the EU and the country’s future in the Union. Today you want Greece to break up with the EU. Why? What’s happened?
Greece joined the EU for three reasons. The first was to guarantee democracy in a country that had come out from a seven year dictatorship. The second was to get some kind of protection from Turkey that had invaded Cyprus in 1974 and that was also raising the issue that some Greek islands belonged to Turkey. The third reason was to achieve the economic development of Greece.
These were valid reasons at the time. The EEC as it was then called, had fought the Greek dictatorship, along with the Council of Europe. The EEC had frozen the financial protocol and the Association Agreement with Greece. It had also helped many political prisoners to be released. After joining the EEC in 1981, it was easier to prevent the recognition of the so-called State of northern Cyprus, when it was unilaterally declared by Denktash in 1982. Greece, as a member-state of the EEC, through the use of EEC legislation was able to force Turkey to repeal a law that deprived all Greek nationals of the right to inheritance. In the area of economic development we reformed our agriculture, by reducing the farmers working in this area, and we reduced our olive oil production, we dismantled gradually our steel industry, since there was an overproduction of steel in the EEC and we were left with tourism as a main source of income. Of course EU funds were also misappropriated by various Greek Governments.
I started to become a eurosceptic in 2004, when I participated at a General Affairs Council after a long time. I was shocked with the way the meeting was held. Ministers were reading their positions on all the items of the agenda and then leaving for bilateral talks without hearing the positions of their colleagues. And the final decisions were essentially adopted by the bureaucrats. In the 80’s the Ministers of Foreign Affairs were resolving all the issues concerning agriculture, finance, the EU budget by themselves without the presence of experts. And they were solving the problems.
While the EEC of the past was caring for the people, it slowly, particularly after the adoption of the euro in 2000, transformed itself into a EU of the bankers, placing thus the interests of the citizens into low priority. At the same time the democratic deficiency of the EU started increasing as democracy and respect for human rights became less and less. On December 19, 2009 “Eleftherotypia” published an interview of mine with the title “Nightmare a fascist Europe”. I was so sad to have been proven right.
Finally the EU of today is destroying one Member-State. Greece was forced to sign a loan Agreement in May 2010, so that it could, through austerity measures, reduce the public debt which in 2009 was 129% of the GNP or 299 billion euros in absolute numbers. After three memoranda, mistaken policies of the EU, the IMF and the Greek Governments, the public debt has increased to 180% of GNP. With the last measures adopted last month, Greece has essentially ceased to exist as a State, having given the economic management of the country to the EU and the lenders for the next one hundred years. Unemployment from 9% in 2009 has become 27% today as a result of these erroneous measures. The taxation of the Greek people is worse now than it was during the Ottoman occupation, the health system has collapsed and the suicide rate has doubled.
But it is not only that the measures are erroneous, they have also violated the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the human rights of the Greek people. This is also mentioned in the report dated February 29 of the UN Independent Expert, Juan Pablo Bohoslavski to the UN Council of Human Rights.
Why the liberal state as we know it has totally failed?
Basically because of human corruption, lack of follow up to important decisions, indifference to the fate of the people and overwhelming prioritization of the banking systems.
You’ve been Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC) and also you have close relation and contacts in Russia, China and the Eurasian Region. How would you comment the West’s demonization of Russia and does Europe lose economic and politically of it?
I believe that it is a big mistake. Humanity needs global peace so that it may develop, not only financially but intellectually and spiritually. Russia has always played an important role in Europe and has the capability of still doing so. With the Partnership for Peace by which Russia is closely involved with NATO, the EU-Russia Agreement, there was lots of room for a close positive cooperation of the West with Russia. But it was not meant to be from the moment that the USA came up with the idea of building an anti missile umbrella to protect Europe and the USA from unknown enemies (meaning Russia). But Russia has never threatened Europe or the USA. On the contrary, it is the West that is threatening Russia by pushing into Moscow’s area of interest. One example was what happened in the Ukraine, where the EU intervened in the internal governing of that country as never before. Russia could accept an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. At a certain moment Germany submitted a supplementary condition for the signing of that Agreement, which was the prior release from jail of former Prime minister, Julia Timochenko. The issue of her release was put to a vote in Parliament and it was rejected. Then the EU announced that it would not sign the Association Agreement. Demonstrations started against the Government with the participation of the then German minister of Foreign Affairs and others, there was loss of life, the Ukrainian president was replaced, Crimea was taken by Russia and the issue remains today partially unsolved. It is easy to see who started it. It was not Russia. The EU embargo that was imposed upon Russia basically had negative effects on the Europeans. Finland lost a lot in the border trade that exists between the two sides as Russia responded with her embargo of agricultural products. The same applies to all EU countries exporting agricultural products to Russia.
Has the West been more logical, a wonderful cooperation in the field of energy could have been established as well as in other areas of trade. This would have saved many human lives and would have made life easier for the people of Russia and the EU.
How would you comment the diplomatic failure in relation to Russia, why there is no diplomacy anymore, no policy, no dialogue?
It is a strange situation. On one hand one sees Lavrov working with Kerry on the Syria war and their cooperation can be quite effective since they managed to establish a cease fire. On the other hand you have the US and NATO approaching and encircling Russias borders. I think that the problem is in the USA where certain circles want a USA dominating the globe. But if these circles read history, they will see that it can never happen.
Do you believe that the alternative political movements and parties could resist to the mainstream neoliberal frames of the West, do you believe that soon there will be new order – we see Podemos in Spain, Jeremy Corbin in England, Portugal’s Left Bloc, Syriza in Greece, but also a really interesting phenomenon, Bernie Sanders in the USA?
Having in mind the experience in Greece, where the people have surrendered and ceased to resist, particularly after the betrayal of Syriza, it will take some time for the alternative political movements to prevail. Much will also depend on the revolt taking place now in France. we must not forget how the 1968 revolt influenced the leftist movement and changes in Europe. Bernie Sanders is indeed an interesting phenomenon. He supports the separation of the funds used by banks. Deposits should not be used by banks for making profits. He supports the Glass-Steagall Legislation of 1933 which separates commercial from investment banking. He is giving a wonderful battle to beat Clinton, but I am afraid that he will be unsuccessful to defeat the establishment of the Democratic party.
You are part of EPAM – a political party founded on the streets of Greek protests back in 2011. You are critical to Syriza’s policy of accepting finally the program of Troika. But was there other option, doesn’t Grexit present a deadly risk, economical, social, political?
We are critical of the fact that Syriza lied to the Greek people and discarded the 62% of the popular vote in the referendum that was against austerity measures. Of course there were many other options. The night of July 13th Merkel and Schauble threatened Tsipras that they would destroy Greece by shutting off all finances to the country if he did not accept the new austerity measures. Instead of walking out and denouncing Merkel to global public opinion and breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany, which would have made him a hero in Greece, he meekly surrendered to become one more collaborator politician of Greece.
If EPAM was government we would have done the following:
- We would denounce the May 2010 memorandum on the basis of articles 48-52 of the Vienna Treaty on Treaties. These articles anticipate when an international treaty is null s and void. If for example the representatives of a country have been threatened, false information has been given etc, examples that cover the Greek case. The denounciation ld would have the form of a letter to the Secretary General of the UN . Upon receipt that the UNSG has received the letter, we stop all payments to the lenders.
- At the same time we would nationalize the Bank of Greece and use its assets to maintain the economy of the country. The funds freed from the non payment of the loans and the assets of the Bank of Greece would suffice to keep the country going for at least a year on its own resources.
- We would be asked, under these circumstances to withdraw from the eurozone and we would accept a gradual withdrawal, within for example a one year period, during which the national currency will be introduced and the euro will slowly be withdrawn from circulation.
- Reduction of taxes, bringing pensions and salaries back to their pre-May 2010 levels which will revitalize economic development.
The issue of leaving the EU would have been dealt with at a later stage.
We are not saying that our program is easy to implement and without difficulties. But at least we will avoid the disaster that has hit Greece by implementing for six years erroneous economic policies. Greece has ceased to exist as a State. And this happens for the first time in history.
How do you see the implementation of the program combined with the left policy, that Syriza pretends to practice today? What’s the situation in Greece?
There is no left policy. There is no policy actually, just following the instructions that come from Brussels. The last legislation that was forced through parliament on May 22 was 7. 300 pages and the members of parliament were given one day to go through it. With the new legislation Greece ceases to be a state, since the economic management of the country has been given to the lenders and the EU for the next 100 years. We have now become a EU colony.
If Syriza fails, who we will see, Golden Dawn?
Syriza has failed. Golden Dawn is a possibility. EPAM is still out of Parliament. We have the solution but the people only now are beginning to listen. The problem is that the mass media are supporting the parties who are in parliament and all who were government have failed.
What does the dirty refugee deal with Erdogan means for the EU? How would you comment this strange EU cooperation with a neo-ottoman dictator?
The EU-Turkey agreement is a part of the problem but not the problem. The problem essentially is the USA which since 2001 has been engaged in destroying countries under the guise of combating terrorism. The USA has destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and almost Egypt. These countries have been destroyed with the assistance of NATO and EU Member-States. The vicious circle of poverty in Africa has not stopped because of erroneous policies of assistance to these countries by the West. In order to stop refugees from leaving their countries, there should be no hostilities there. In order to stop economic migrants, correct economic development schemes must be established there. But what is unacceptable is the fact that the EU is refusing to accept refugees coming from devastated lands. And we are speaking about countries that had been subject of having their citizens refugees, like Hungary and Czech Republic. I would really like to see one day the EU citizens rushing to Africa for asylum for reasons created by climate change and Africa building fences to prevent them from coming.
You characterize, in your question, Erdogan as being a neo-Ottoman dictator. But what about the others. The EU is using similar methods, preventing the freedom of speech, withdrawing funds from anti-european media and even formulating the chic words of illiberal democracies to describe totalitarian regimes. So the illiberal democratic EU made an agreement with a neo Ottoman dictator. For the moment it is working. The refugee influx into Greece has stopped but many refugees continue to come through Libya and many are drowned. This agreement, however, makes no provisions for the 55. 000 refugees trapped in Greece. The June 2015 summit had anticipated that 60. 000 refugees would be transferred from Greece and Italy to the other countries of the EU. Nothing has been done. Greece could put these humans on a ship and give them a laisser passer and distribute them to countries who participated in the destruction of Syria. It is a shame to note that the USA has accepted only 4. 000 Syrian refugees. So by stopping wars, we stop the creation of refugees. It is so simple.
Last week the Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Athens. You have experience with diplomatic relations to Russia and the region. This meeting seemed important and positive for the cooperation between Greece and Russia. How will you comment the visit of Putin in Athens and its importance?
If Greece existed as a country, the visit would have been important. But unfortunately what exists now is the Former Hellenic Republic of Greece. Tsipras in the press conference mentioned about the positive economic situation in Greece which is good for investments and Putin replied by saying that we understand of the difficult economic difficulties facing Greece. I think that this says everything. Greece of course, if it existed, could prevent the continuation of the EU embargo against Russia but no such thing was mentioned by the Greek side in the bilateral talks that were held.
How do you predict the development of Russia-EU relations in next months, most European countries are suffering economically and politically because of the sanctions, but not many are courageous enough to say it. (In the same time we see more and more NATO bases in Eastern Europe and former communist countries).
If the Germans decide to lift the sanctions, then they will be lifted. But Merkel recently said that the sanctions will not be lifted. If however the UK referendum result is in favour of leaving the EU, then there is a high probability of the sanctions being lifted.