A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Communists and Caviar

Communist propaganda on a wall in Rhodes. Picture by Piotrus.

And so the crisis in Greece rumbles on. It never actually stopped: it just slipped off the radar a while. On Thursday, a fleet of luxury cars and motorcycle outriders rolled into the blocked streets of central Athens; the leather seats were jam-packed with official representatives from the 'troika' of creditors. The EU, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund all sent in their delegations, only to find them blocked on the steps of the Finance Ministry by a united front of government staff. One thousand three hundred and fifty of them, from seven government ministries, had formed a human chain around the building, preventing officials - including Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek Finance Minister himself - from entering. The meeting was eventually rescheduled for the Deputy Prime Minister's office.

The new developments come at a crisis point. It is impossible to stress how dire the situation is, but I'll give it a go anyway. The mass-strikes have left the government crippled. The Ministry of Finance is virtually closed; the functioning of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior Affairs has been seriously impaired, and almost all the other major institutions are affected. The capital, which is home to half the country's population, had no public transport on Wednesday, and the Deputy Prime Minister says that the ability to pay more tax has been 'exhausted.' Nothing to do with the tax office being on strike - there's so little money left that any taxes raised would not cover the budget gaps. The Finance Minister says that the sixth installment of loans to the indebted nation is 'assured.' It had be be. Without it, Greece will run out of money to pay salaries and pensions by the end of the month.

The Finance Minister officially thinks that talk of a default is 'naive.' The markets and the Communists occupying government buildings throughout the Greek capital think otherwise, however, and they are in full agreement: it is the only sensible option. Which is all too well, considering that is now the most likely option, too. The longer the Greek government and the European Union insist on maintaining the fantasy that Greece's debts are somehow repayable - all the while forcing more debts upon it - the bigger the problem they will eventually create. What happens when the money runs out? There has to come a point where European leaders will eventually say 'no' to the constant bankrolling: their electorates have already done so. What does that mean for a Greece that is wholly dependent on their loans to pay the wages of almost half of its workforce?

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