A freshly released IMF’s World Economic Outlook brings (yet again, for the sixth year in a row, and for the third time this year only) no comforting picture to anyone within the G-7, especially in the US and EU. Neither is comforting the latest pre-Davos summit released Oxfam study. It hints that 1% is fat and furious, as some 99% of us are too many on this planet.
Will the passionately US-pushed cross-Atlantic Free Trade Area save the day? Or, would that Pact-push drag the things over the edge and mark an end of the unionistic Europe? Is the extended EU conflict with Russia actually a beginning of the Atlantic-Central Europe’s conflict over Russia, an internalization of mega geopolitical and geo-economic dilemma – who accommodates with whom, in and out of the Union?
Finally, does more Ukrainian (and Eastern Europe) calamities pave the road for a new cross-continental grand accommodation, of either austerity-tired France or über-performing Germany with Russia, therefore the end of the EU? For whose sake Eastern Europe has been barred of all important debates such as that of Slavism, identity, social cohesion (eroded by the plunder called ‘privatization’), secularism and antifascism?
Why do we suddenly wonder that all around Germany-led Central Europe, the neo-Nazism gains ground while only Russia insists on antifascism and (pan-)Slavism? However, the inner unionistic equilibrium will be maintained only if the Atlantic-Central Europe skillfully calibrates and balances its own equidistance from both assertive Russia and the omnipresent US.
Any alternative to the current Union is a grand accommodation of either France or Germany with Russia. This means a return to Europe of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries – namely, direct confrontations over the Continent’s core sectors, perpetual animosities wars and destructions.
Both Russia and the US has demonstrated ability for a skillful and persistent conduct of international affairs, passions and visions to fight for their agendas. It is time for Brussels to live up to its very idea, and to show the same. Biology and geopolitics share one basic rule: comply or die.
Conclusively, we should today be grateful to Greece for offering us an essential lesson of democracy, and very importantly; of socio-political and economic inclusion. It is deeper than the choice between austerity and prosperity, between Rain and Tears and those fat and furious.
Be it a street cry of indignados or TV-fame of (hereditary) promies, arguments of Podemos or ignorance of oligarchs – all is pointing at the same direction: Europe used to bear more solidary, above all used to be far more pragmatic and foresighted.
Some 65 years ago, the continent reflected upon and clearly understood the twisted logics of its monetary-fiscal talibanisation in the interwar period. Then acting preemptively, Europe prevented yet another weaponisation of financial instruments (to say; enrichment of financial plutonium and other toxic derivatives) and their utilization as the weapons of mass destruction that are causing death and life-changing injuries to many (like any other WMD). Consequently, already in 1953, Europeans managed its best ‘F-WMD non-proliferation treaty’ ever – the so-called London Agreement on German External Debts (also known as the London Debt Agreement or Londoner Schuldenabkommen).
By the letter of this accord over 60% of German reparations for the colossal atrocities committed in both WW were forgiven (or generously reprogramed) by their former European victims, including Greece. Besides Yugoslavia (another debt-relief participant in London), Greece was the most saturated country outside the Russian front. On the other side of table, Germany – the overbearing Mitteleuropear that dragged world into the two devastating world wars, as a serial defaulter which received debt relief four times in the 20th century (1924, 1929, 1932 and 1953).
Back then, with memories of Nazi bestialities still fresh, Europeans showed more visdom and courageous leadership, and managed to close the deal in less than 6 months (from February 27 to August 8, 1953) – a stark contrast to the ongoing disheartened and irrational purge of Greece that is cryptically and cynically labeled the ‘talks on Greek debt’1. The price will be beyond the shift in geostrategic orientation of particular EU member states. The EU is at the critical crossroad: either Syriza-ating reconciliation or Syria-anitzating escalation.
- Anis H. Bajrektarevic is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Vienna, Austria. His previous book Geopolitics of Technology – Is There Life after Facebook? was published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers. Just released is his newest book Geopolitics – Europe 100 years later. Contact: email@example.com
1. Dra(h)ma. Clearly, Greece itself has so little to do with the crisis that holds its name. By far, it is more to the (ill-conceived) architecture of European banking and misplayed convergence criteria of the Eurozone. To confirm the above, the best is to track the money flow, and who stash it. This leads us to yet another fallacy, by which the bailouts were for Greece. There were only bailouts-on-the-quite for Europe’s big banks. (Remember: ‘too big to fall’ mantra of late 2000s and early 2010s!). Hence, the crisis broke out only when Greeks refused to pay the bill for others who syphoned nearly all (out of bonds) and bank on it. Despite the media heat, it seems that up to 90% of entire ‘loans to Greece’ has never reached that country at all (it is estimated that only 27 billion, of the roughly 230 billion allegedly disbursed to Athens, were really injected into the financial veins of Greece). Argentina, Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, dozens of African nations – all claim nearly same patterns. Thus, it is not as oversimplified as the TV picture of an indolent islander behind sunglasses versus a hardworking Swabian with screwdriver. Admitting the charade, even the former German Bundesbank Head Karl Otto Pöhl stated that this is about protecting the big and strong: big banks of the big EU states – Germany and even more of France from debt write-offs. Banks lavishly exposed themselves to the Ponzi schemes and casino economy, and only few were punished for the crash ever since 2008 (besides the bright example of Iceland). Greece is currently satanized, while the ECB is violating its own statutory obligations (acting more political and punitive than technical and neutral), while big banks are domineering and expecting to make yet another profit on this newest calamity. (Since latest moves of the ECB, the costs of new borrowing for Greece and payback-risk insurance for the existing ones are getting higher, which means that the ECB practically acts as a fundraiser for big banks). Since Mario Draghi took over the ECB in late 2011, he poured around 1.2 trillion euro of public money – not into youth, jobs, education and R&D – but into the European banking system. Therefore, our difficulties to understand Greece, since we have repeatedly rejected to grasp the crisis for what it really was – an ongoing series of bailouts for the financial sector that started in 2008, and are far from over yet.