Swoboda: Europe must give Greece a chance – Troika is still a ‚Destroika‘

Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, today concluded his visit to Greece, where he met with government representatives and progressive party leaders as well as the mayors of Athens and Thessaloniki.
Hannes Swoboda argued for a socially balanced programme of reforms for Greece:
„It becomes increasingly clear that only a new and truly European approach can solve Greece’s economic, social and political problems. There is an alternative to the present crisis management of the EU: a growth policy based on joint efforts, combined with a social pact.
„Europe must embark on the path of growth and safeguarding minimum social standards. Unfortunately, the current Troikas – with the backing of the European Commission – are still leading the way towards recession. They are destroying the social fabric of the countries they’re meant to be helping and ignoring Commission President Barroso’s stated commitment to the European social model. The Troika is still a ‚Destroika‘!
„In the coming days eurozone leaders must find an agreement with Greece on extending timeframes and additional financial support to continue and reinforce the economic, social and political reforms needed. The Troika should support these efforts through a more economically and socially balanced approach in the package that the Greek parliament will vote on.
„After six years of extreme austerity and recession, we see no end to the economic crisis here but we do see increasing social deprivation and a corrosive effect on Greek society. What the Greek people need above all are structural reforms that will help build an efficient state administration, capable of paving the way for new investment and new jobs.“
He called for increased efforts in the fight against tax evasion and corruption, and for sustainable labour market reforms:
„It is particularly important to make the tax system more efficient and crack down on tax evasion. To this end, agreements need to be reached with Switzerland and other tax havens and a strong anti-corruption policy must be established. Furthermore, specific financial facilities for small and medium enterprises need to be created, to overcome the current credit crunch.
„Greece needs sustainable labour market reform, which cannot and must not be imposed from the outside but developed by social partners in co-operation with the government. All economically successful European countries have demonstrated the usefulness of sound social dialogue and respect for the interests of the working population and labour rights. Labour market reforms must not destroy the social fabric of a society but strengthen it as a motor for growth and development.“
Hannes Swoboda continued by urging Greek and European partners to join forces against extremist violence:
„The social conditions we are witnessing are closely linked to worrying developments in Greek society and politics. The strain imposed on Greek society by the blind austerity policies of the Troika is taking a heavy toll on the democratic dynamics in Greece. The escalation of political violence and intimidation promoted by Golden Dawn and neo-Nazi groups, and the increasingly complacent reactions are consequences of despair and the loss of trust in Greek and European politics. This is not only a Greek problem, it is a European problem.
„Democratic forces in Greece and in Europe must not underestimate this trend. Strong action must be taken swiftly to support all groups in Greece that are fighting against these developments.“
Speaking at an economic conference in Athens, organised by S&D MEP Anni Podimata, Hannes Swoboda called for continued co-operation:
„Greece has started to implement the necessary reforms, but more support for Greece is necessary, on the condition of continuing reforms. This is not only in the interests of Greece, but also of Europe and the stability of the eurozone.“
Greek MEP and European Parliament vice-president Anni Podimata concluded:
„In spite of the difficulties Greece is facing, progressives within the country and in Europe should join forces to implement alternative policies for growth, job creation and social justice.“