The memorandum era of harsh austerity and strict surveillance for Greece is approaching an end, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an article published by the enikos.gr website on Tuesday. He contrasted the difficult years Greeks had experienced since entering memorandum programmes in 2010 with the period after August 2018, when the country will exit the third financial assistance programme and strict supervision.
Among others, the prime minister referred to the policies pursued in that time at the expense of Greek society, such as higher taxes, spending cuts and the dismantling of the social state, as well as the overpricing of medicines and an “orgy” of kickbacks.
“The memorandum period which started in 2010 was further strengthened the following years. In the period 2012-2014, an effort was made to turn a state of exception into the rule and a model by the same political forces that had led the country into that difficult situation. New taxes, new cuts, a dismantling of the structures of the welfare state, 25 billion euros in additional austerity. By the end of 2014, within a five-year period, the austerity measures totalled 65 billion euros, there were one million new unemployed and the country had lost 25 pct of its GDP in total. This was a time when some people were wagging their finger at ‘lazy Greeks’ and accused them of participating in the wasteful spending, even as they continued the ‘party’ of kickbacks and overcosting undisturbed,” the prime minister said.
As if the country’s economic woes were not enough, this period also saw the rise of the far right in Greece, “which spilled out into the neighborhoods with its murderous hatred, and after 2012, was also represented in Parliament,” the premier added.
While this was one side of the coin, Tsipras noted in his article, the flip side “were the great social and political struggles, in which the Greek people played a leading role and shook a political establishment that had for years considered itself invincible.”
The prime minister stressed that “the vindication of this twofold request has served and still serves the government since the first day. Through a hard struggle on many fronts, with difficulties, with compromises but always with our eyes turned on the final goal — Greece leaving behind harsh austerity, suffocating surveillance, and economic stagnation in order to become a modern, privileged country that respects the European rule of law and exploits the enormous potential of its people, who have been marginalised for years.”
“We implement this goal every day. And today we are getting closer to the most decisive turning point, to August 2018: The day when Greece exits the memoranda and can rely on its own strength and make use of its real potential,” Tsipras said.
He added: “We are well aware of the difficulties of the project. But we have covered much of the distance and overcome many obstacles. Obstacles raised by those who have an interest in keeping the country mired. Political forces that brought the country and society to their limits, as well as the representatives of an economic elite who, in addition to their other activities, attempted to subjugate public opinion to their ends by controlling the media. I am sure there is no historical precedent in the country of such an utterly militant, gray propaganda targeting a political force, such as SYRIZA… But it is no surprise to us. We knew from the outset that in our efforts, the many would be by our side while and the few, supposedly powerful, would oppose us.”
“It is a badge of honour for us to steadfastly stand up to the representatives of a vicious establishment, which for years operated in a selfish and provocative manner. These same people who are in a panic today as revelations are made daily about the pathways of bribery and the looting of public money. And they know very well that they face people with morals, who will do their duty so that the truth is revealed and justice is served,” the prime minister underlined.