Is Greek Democracy Dead?

In July 2015, after Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected austerity in an historic referendum, the ‘radically left’ Syriza party, led by Alexis Tsipras, agreed to impose upon the Greek people an austerity program that was even more severe than the program which voters had rejected in the referendum.

This capitulation to Greece’s creditors precipitated a revolt within Syriza. The revolt was led by Panagiotis Lafazanis, the leader of Syriza’s Left Platform and the Minister of Energy in the Tsipras cabinet. Mr. Lafazanis left Syriza with 25 other Syriza MPs to become leader of the new Popular Unity party.

During my trip to Greece last month, I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Lafazanis for The Real News. According to Mr. Lafazanis, Greece no longer has a democracy and has become a mere protectorate of the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission.

My interview of Mr. Lafazanis can be seen here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=20427#.WgzLP8B_oBs.twitter

 

Greek Oligarch Evangelos Marinakis Faces Criminal Charges for Match-Fixing

When Syriza first took power in Greece in January 2015, it vowed to ‘crush’ the Greek oligarchy. Yet under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the oligarchy has arguably strengthened its grip on Greek media. In particular, wealthy Greek shipowner Evangelos Marinakis, who also happens to own Greek football club Olympiacos, recently acquired the media empire of the Lambrakis Group. Now, Marinakis faces criminal charges in connection with the alleged fixing of Olympiacos football matches.

In this interview, I discuss with Professor Michael Spourladakis, Dean of the School of Economics and Politics at the University of Athens, Syriza’s failure to reign in the oligarchy. My interview of Professor Spourladakis can be seen here:

Tensions Mount in Greece as the Trial of Europe’s Most Brazen Neo-Nazi Party Drags On

On September 17, 2013, Greek anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas went out with his partner and friends to watch a football match. Later that night, two members of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party got into a verbal altercation with Pavlos in the cafe where Pavlos and his friends were watching the match. The Golden Dawn members called for back up. An organized mob of Golden Dawn supporters soon assembled and isolated Pavlos. One of the hooligans, Giorgios Roupakias, then stabbed Fyssas to death.

Roupakias was arrested at the site of the murder and eventually admitted to the crime, but was released from pre-trial custody in March of 2016 after spending the legal maximum time before legal proceedings in jail. The leader of the Golden Dawn Party has since admitted that Roupakias was a follower of Golden Dawn, and that Golden Dawn was ‘politically responsible’ for the murder, but he denies that Golden Dawn is criminally liable.

Based in part on the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, Greek prosecutors eventually charged various of Golden Dawn’s leaders with criminal offences. However, the Golden Dawn trial has degenerated into an endless exercise in legalistic wrangling.

In this interview conducted at the University of Athens last month, I spoke to Professor Michael Spourladakis about the trial of Europe’s most brazen Neo-Nazi party. Professor Spourladakis is the Dean of the School of Economics and Politics at the University of Athens. He was called as an expert witness at the Golden Dawn trial. As Professor Spourladakis explains, the stakes for Greek democracy are high, and yet Greece’s corporate media are largely ignoring the trial of this vile organization. My interview of Professor Spourladakis can be seen here:

Can Syriza’s Use of Soft Power be Reconciled with the Values of the Radical Left?

Since first coming to power in January 2015, the ‘radically left’ government of Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras has deepened Greece’s ties to the apartheid regime of Benjamin Netanyahu. These ties have included joint military exercises in Greece and the development of joint offshore fossil fuels projects. The Tsipras government has even gone so far as to advise Netanyahu that it would defy an EU directive requiring the accurate labelling of products made in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements.

Prime Minister Tsipras has also sought closer relations with the dictatorship of Egypt, which Human Rights Watch has accused of crimes against humanity, and with the U.S. administration of Donald Trump. 

On my recent trip to Greece, I had the opportunity to interview Syriza MP Costas Douzinas. Mr. Douzinas is the Chairperson of the Greek Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Defence. In this interview, I explore with Professor Douzinas whether Greece’s efforts to deepen ties to governments that have shown scant regard for human rights can be reconciled with the values of the radical left. Our discussion can be seen here:

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For Ordinary Greeks, Has Greece’s Battered Economy Turned the Corner?

This is my first report for The Real News on my current trip to Greece. At the gates of the Athens Polytechnic, site of the November 1973 uprising against a U.S.-backed military junta, we ask people living in Athens to respond to Greek government suggestions that Greece’s austerity-battered economy is improving.

Quote of note: “What the government is talking about is that people got used to the idea of being poor. That’s very different from saying that things are getting better. The thing is that this whole thing happened obviously for them to manage to keep wages as low as possible. And they’ve obviously managed to do that. The minimum wage now is, I think, 540 euros a month, and there’s no way someone could live in Athens with this amount of money in his pocket. And this is especially hard on young people and older people. These are the people who’ve been hit more than anybody else from this situation.”

My report can be seen here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=20260

As Tensions Rise Between Greece and its Creditors, Is Grexit Back on the Table? (3/3)

This is the third and final part of Dimitri’s interview of Costas Lapavitsas, a Professor of Economics and former member of Greece’s Parliament who defected from the governing Syriza party when its leader decided to ignore an anti-austerity referendum and to impose upon the Greek people even harsher austerity than his right-wing predecessors had imposed. In this part, Costas responds to arguments that the costs of Greece’s exit from the Eurozone would be unmanageable:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:18370:As-Tensions-Rise-Between-Greece-and-its-Creditors%2C-Is-Grexit-Back-on-the-Table%3F-%2833%29

As Tensions Rise Between Greece and its Creditors, Is Grexit Back on the Table? (2/3)

In Part 2 of Dimitri’s interview with Costas Lapavitsas, Costas explains why so many Greeks continue to cling to the Euro, and why Greece must exit the Eurozone in order to rehabilitate its battered economy. Costas is a former member of Greece’s Parliament who quit the ruling Syriza party when the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras decided to ignore a referendum in which the Greek people voted overwhelmingly against a brutal austerity plan demanded by Greece’s creditors. Part 2 of the interview can be viewed here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:18357:As-Tensions-Rise-Between-Greece-and-its-Creditors%2C-Is-Grexit-Back-on-the-Table%3F-%2823%29