Has the Troika destroyed Greece?
In recent days and weeks, we have seen the financial and political elite of Europe humiliate Greece. The country is being destroyed before our eyes. The Greeks feel trapped, with nowhere else to go. But Britain is not trapped, and we must get out of the EU before it's too late
When the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he does not agree with the 3rd bailout plan, but will ‘implement it anyway’, the complete capitulation of a nation is there for all to see.
The so-called Troika, which consists of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank, have enforced terms which also serve as a thinly veiled threat to the rest of the EU. One has to wonder in whose interest the European superstate really is?
In recent days, we have seen the financial and political elite of Europe humiliate Greece. While it is right that debt transgressions should not be looked upon lightly, those who retain their humility would do well to remember the real origins of the crisis.
It is true the far left Syriza is not most people’s idea of a fiscally responsible government, but this is what a beaten-down electorate voted for out of desperation.
Having such a huge mountain to climb in order to repay the €242 billion (£171.4 billion) to lenders, we should question what sections of its economy actually plug this hole? Balancing on the edge of a financial collapse, tourism and shipping remain vital to the survival of Greece.
But the daily bombardment of grim news is already putting off money-savvy tourists from visiting this once popular destination. The tourist industry alone makes up approximately 18-20 percent of Greece’s GDP.
While Greece is known and loved for its sunny resorts and archaeological wonders, other spots in the Mediterranean are now looking more appealing as measures from the Troika are spoiling Greece's competitive edge.
It has come to a point where it is doubtful Greece’s infrastructure can support the intake of tourists. The limits placed on ATM machines have been widely reported, and while these limits do not (usually) affect foreign visitors at the moment, tourists have been advised to take the majority of their spending money in cash.
Now, the fear of being a target for criminals when carrying cash combines with the hazards of public strikes and demonstrations.
Despite claims foreigners will be fine, there have already been some reports of visitors being unable to withdraw money from banks as they run out of Euros, and hotels and restaurants not being able to import enough supplies. Many businesses are simply refusing to accept credit cards.
In addition, the country is being subject to what equates to a cheap German auction of its ‘goods’. Up to €50 billion (£35.4 billion) of Greek government assets will be reinvested or sold off.
Exactly how many investors are willing to pile their money into such risky investments is yet to be seen, but the signs do not look promising.
Trapped into the Eurozone, the ability to devalue their currency is lost. It appears that a seemingly fiscally responsible Germany is blind to the effects of a more competitive exchange rate.
To make matters worse, the Troika has just raised VAT levels by 10 percent on basic goods -- from 13 percent to 23 percent.
Tourists will find comfort more elusive as restaurants, hotels and taxis are incorporated into the rise. Such actions are fundamentally at odds with the interests of Greeks and tourists alike. In what conceivable circumstance will this all help fill the 25 percent unemployment gap?
A great source of pride is Greece’s world-leading shipping industry. Indicative of the counterproductive tax rates just hoisted on the tourism industry, levies are also being raised among ship-owners, with many threatening to relocate to a more business-friendly locale.
Estimated at 8 percent of GDP, shipping proves too lucrative for the EU to leave alone, so yet more innocent bystanders are paying for the Eurozone’s mistakes. Greece needs innovation and private investment, not to be turned into cannon fodder for the destructive Euro.
In a final bizarre twist, German visitors to this traumatised nation are currently increasing. Whether this is down to a subconscious guilt over what their government has done to Greece is anyone’s guess.
In other news, on the Greek island of Rhodes this week French tourists sparked anger when they refused to pay to enter an archaeological site because they said, as taxpayers, they were already paying to bail out Greece.
The group are reported to have objected to ‘paying Greece twice’ to visit the ruins of Lindos. However, the Greek security guards told the French media:
“We are frankly quite offended at their refusal to pay. They said they had already paid our country once, so had a right to enter where they liked. This is an ancient site, and the entry fee is used to keep it preserved for today’s visitors, we hope for a long time to come.”
The French were turned away.
The current state of affairs is astonishing. One would be hard pressed to make it up. Having been forced to accept and spend large amounts of cheap Euro credit, the moment it goes wrong consumers are forced to pay up.
With crying pensioners outside banks, a spike in suicide rates, long term damage to its tourism and shipping industries, and its international reputation in tatters, why on earth would a country want to stay part of the arrogant EU superstate?
The answer, sadly, is that it is because they are trapped, and feel they have nowhere else to turn.
We, by contrast, are not trapped, and we do have somewhere else to turn.
It is clear that the EU project and its failed currency come before the interests of the people. We must Get Britain Out of the EU as soon as possible.
Chris Muspratt is a researcher for the cross-party grassroots Eurosceptic campaign group Get Britain Out
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