The UK arms industry, underwritten by the taxpayer via the Exports Credit Guarantee Department has – with other European exporters - saddled the Greek people with debts for military hardware. Greece will now be required to hand over the country’s airports, ports, motorways, water and sewage systems to enrich the corporate world and its political allies.
EKathimerini (English Edition), the online edition of a daily newspaper published in Athens, tells us:
“Thousands are living on the streets, doctors in Athens hospitals are handling only emergencies, bus drivers are on strike, schools are still short of textbooks, thousands of state employees are demonstrating against their dismissal, and every householder has endured a 20% surcharge on electricity bills. But the military has survived unscathed . . . thanks to Franco-German pressure. A table in the FT shows that the size of the country’s military establishment per capita is second only to that of Russia.”
It is reported that official figures show that EU countries sold Greece over €1 billion of arms at the same time as negotiating its first bail-out back in 2010. Several sources have alleged that the EU bail-out was explicitly tied to these arms deals. In particular, there is alleged to have been concerted pressure from France to buy several stealth frigates. An aide to the former Greek leader, George Papandreou, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuter’s news agency: “No one is saying ‘Buy our warships or we won’t bail you out.’ But the clear implication is that they will be more supportive if we do.”
UK sales to Greece
Earlier in March EU Observer noted that the UK has supplied Greece with aircraft and ground vehicle parts, electronic equipment, missiles and over €13 million of chemical or biological toxic agents, riot control agents, radioactive materials – and the University of Plymouth has rejoiced online at forming an ‘exciting international partnership’ providing academic training to the Greek military.
Paul Hayden commented in the Guardian: “One cannot help but speculate that if Greece’s military spending had been reined in sooner, it would not be experiencing the dramatic crisis it is going through now. And the Greek people, instead of facing austerity measures that have reduced living standards by 30%, might have been able to take a more moderate and sustainable route to reform.”
Human welfare has been sacrificed to the diktats of the financial system
Nick Dearden, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, wrote that “By forcing Greece to speed up its €50 billion privatisation programme, all sorts of goodies – from airports, ports and motorways to water and sewage systems – will come up for sale to be snatched up by the financiers of the countries imposing the policies. Human welfare has been sacrificed to the diktats of the financial system . . .”
Do Argentina, Ecuador and Iceland show a better way forward?
Mr. Dearden noted that after the Second World War Germany received massive debt cancellation and its repayments on the remaining debt were explicitly linked to the country’s growth – but no such generosity is being shown now. He observed that when governments default, audit their debts or insist on their own terms for repayment – from Argentina to Ecuador to Iceland they have fared better:
“. . . they have made some attempts at regaining their sovereignty from the whims of an unstable financial system.”