Europe’s rulers are continuing to blackmail Greece’s Syriza-led government in the latest round of “crunch” talks two months after forcing it into a humiliating compromise.
They don’t want to release £5.2 billion in bailout funds until they’re satisfied Greece is willing to push through more attacks on workers.
A meeting of eurozone deputy finance ministers on Wednesday of this week was supposed to be a deadline for a new reform plan. Finance chiefs plan talks on Friday.
But bigger deadlines are looming. Greece is due to pay £700 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May.
And in July and August the European Central Bank (ECB) will demand almost £5 billion.
Syriza vested much hope in finding allies against the powerful German government—from the ECB and IMF chiefs to France and Italy’s Labour-type austerity governments.
But they are united in calling for Greece to hurry up with neoliberal reform.
Syriza has ruled out defaulting on the debt, which was racked up by bailing out the bankers who gambled on Greece’s economy and lost.
But the alternative may be defaulting on its campaign promises, or even on public sector workers’ wages, as it struggles to pay everyone with nothing.
Joint training with US military
Major joint military exercises between Greece, the US and Israel began in the Aegean Sea on Monday of this week.
The sea separates Greece and most of Turkey.
The military exercises follow a £369 million contract with arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin for upgrading military planes.
This is more than twice the estimated cost of humanitarian measures agreed in Greece’s parliament last month.
The deal had been pushed by defence minister Panos Kammenos, leader of Syriza’s hard right coalition partner the Independent Greeks.
Cops raid student occupation
Police ended an Athens University student occupation on Friday morning of last week. They arrested all 14 students inside.
While small scale, the raid marked an important shift. Police have generally not entered university premises since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974.
It followed right wing pressure over Syriza’s ability to maintain “order”.
The occupation was called in support of anarchist prisoners, and had lasted for more than two weeks.
March against new gold mine
Thousands marched in central Athens on Thursday of last week against the planned opening of the Skouries gold mine in Halkidiki in northern Greece.
They included supporters of the anti-capitalist left coalition Antarsya.
A demonstration in favour of the mine also took place. It was instigated by the bosses.
The mine would be an environmental disaster and faces wide opposition.
But Syriza is under pressure to show it isn’t blocking “investment” in Greece.