The referendum of 5th July will stay in history as a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.
Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached. It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms.
Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.
I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.
And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.
We of the Left know how to act collectively with no care for the privileges of office. I shall support fully Prime Minister Tsipras, the new Minister of Finance, and our government.
The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning.
Our NO is a majestic, big YES to a democratic, rational Europe!
On the 25th of January, dignity was restored to the people of Greece.
In the five months that intervened since then, we became the first government that dared raise its voice, speaking on behalf of the people, saying NO to the damaging irrationality of our extend-and-pretend ‘Bailout Program’.
- spread the word that the Greek ‘bailouts’ were exercises whose purpose was intentionally to transfer private losses onto the shoulders of the weakest Greeks, before being transferred to other European taxpayers
- articulated, for the first time in the Eurogroup, an economic argument to which there was no credible response
- put forward moderate, technically feasible proposals that would remove the need for further ‘bailouts’
- confined the troika to its Brussels’ lair
- internationalised Greece’s humanitarian crisis and its roots in intentionally recessionary policies
- spread hope beyond Greece’s borders that democracy can breathe within a monetary union hitherto dominated by fear.
Ending interminable, self-defeating, austerity and restructuring Greece’s public debt were our two targets. But these two were also our creditors’ targets. From the moment our election seemed likely, last December, the powers-that-be started a bank run and planned, eventually, to shut Greece’s banks down. Their purpose?
- To humiliate our government by forcing us to succumb to stringent austerity, and
- To drag us into an agreement that offers no firm commitment to a sensible, well-defined debt restructure.
The ultimatum of 25th June was the means by which these aims would be achieved. The people of Greece today returned this ultimatum to its senders; despite the fear mongering that the domestic oligarchic media transmitted night and day into their homes.
Today’s referendum delivered a resounding call for a mutually beneficial agreement between Greece and our European partners. We shall respond to the Greek voters’ call with a positive approach to:
- The IMF, which only recently released a helpful report confirming that Greek public debt was unsustainable
- The ECB, the Governing Council of which, over the past week, refused to countenance some of the more aggressive voices within
- The European Commission, whose leadership kept throwing bridges over the chasm separating Greece from some of our partners.
Our NO is a majestic, big YES to a democratic Europe.
It is a NO to the dystopic vision of a Eurozone that functions like an iron cage for its peoples.
It is a loud YES to the vision of a Eurozone offering the prospect of social justice with shared prosperity for all Europeans.
Yanis Varoufakis is a Greek-Australian economist. He is the former finance minister of Greece as of July 6, 2015, after the NO Vote in the Greferendum won by a landslide, July 5. Follow him on Twitter: @yanisvaroufakis.