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Zoe Konstantopoulou: "The greek debt is illegal and should not be paid"


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Zoe Konstantopoulou: "The greek debt is illegal and should not be paid"

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On 6 February 2015, after SYRIZA’s victory in the January 2015 election, she was elected as the youngest Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament with 235 votes.

Zoe Konstantopoulou was one of the most controversial figures over the first governing period by the coalition government led by SYRIZA.

She finally spoke against the Greek government’s agreement with the European troika regarding the political and economic countermeasures to the Greek government-debt crisis after the results of the bailout referendum in 2015 and left the party following the left-wing members of SYRIZA who created the party Popular Unity which finally didn’t enter the Parliament.

As a President of the Greek Parliament she took the initiative to convene a committee which has claimed much of the country’s debt of 320bn euros was illegally contracted and should not be paid.

Euronews/ Efi Koutsokosta:
I would like to start from the greek case. You were constantly opposing to the leadership of SYRIZA that you were a member of, for the third bailout agreement with the creditors and you finally left the party. Do you think that finally there was another solution, an alternative to what finally SYRIZA and the previous government decided?

Zoe Konstantopoulou/ former President of the Greek Parliament:
Human history is full of examples of alternatives and Europe is all about alternatives. Europe itself was construed and conceived as an alternative to atrocities to war to fractions between the states. It is totally absurd to go back to moments in time when people were faced with dead ends and where misery was presented as the only solution. I would like to underline that it is really more than cynical to baptize the memoranda and the loan agreements bailout agreements. There are no bailout for the greek society nor for any european society. They are death sentence agreements. They basically provide for more austerity, more misery, more unemployment and more marginalisation of the societies.

Euronews/ Efi Koutsokosta:
But the thing is that they voted (greek people) again for SYRIZA and for parties that agreed to this bailout agreement. And the thing is also that they sent a clear message to Europe that they want to stay in the Eurozone and the European Union.

Zoe Konstantopoulou/ former President of the Greek Parliament:
I am absolutely appalled with dilemmas posed to any population such as with us or without us, either you are with us or against us. Especially I am appalled with european institution representatives taking a role of those who basically blackmailed populations in order to stay.
The greek people did not really vote on the 20th of September. On the 20th of September we had the biggest abstention in contemporary history. This basically means that an almost 50% of people not voting. And this was the result of people being totally discouraged by seeing that their vote during the referendum was totally disrespected and was bluntly violated.

Euronews/ Efi Koutsokosta:
We saw that many people outside Greece, people in Europe were saying that the greek government is asking from us fresh money and they don’t want to pay their debt. They don’t want to work hard or they don’t want to implement the necessary reforms so that they can repay us.

Zoe Konstantopoulou/ former President of the Greek Parliament:
First of all being greek yourself you know there is a huge defamation of the greek people through this propaganda. The greek people are among the most hard working people in Europe. And it’s a complete disrespect to these people to present them as people who don’t want to pay their debt. What we did at the Hellenic Parliament was that we formed a commission to audit the debt and to really see how it was created and what it constitutes of. And this commission called the debt truth committee, the truth commitee and public debt found first of all that found first of all that 92% of the money given to Greece has not been at all used for public expenses rather it has been returned to creditors. And the committee also found that the basic bailout of these agreements was a bailout for the french and german banks which were holding greek bonds. No bailout was ever offered to Greeks, no bailout was ever offered to the greek socitey, no bailout was ever offered to the greek economy. A bailout was offered to the french and german banks which has a two year time to get rid of their bonds before the first restructuring. No bailout was ever offered to those who lost their money from the restructuring but a bailout was offered very conveniently to the greek banks.

Euronews/ Efi Koutsokosta:
So, what you suggest or the committee suggests is not paying the debt?

Zoe Konstantopoulou/ former President of the Greek Parliament:
The committee is clearly saying that this debt is illegal, illegitimate, it’s unsustainable and odious. This basically means that the debt cannot and should not be repaid. This also means that the debt has been paid time and again through the years if you look at the interest rates that Greece has been repaying through the loan agreements concluded during tha last decades by governments which were proven to be corrupt and were proven to be in tansaction with other corrupt governments but also with corrupt companies like Siemens, ThyssenKrupp, HDV e.t.c.

Euronews/ Efi Koutsokosta:
You follow this debate in Europe and the IMF Nof course that say openly that we are going to discuss, to put it on the table and see how we are going to reprofile or to restructure the greek debt. How this report could serve? I mean how the government could use it and if you are in discussions with the greek government.

Zoe Konstantopoulou/ former President of the Greek Parliament:
The government unfortunately did not use our report and did not use the committee, did not use the conclusions and did not use the evidence included there in. Because the IMF has only been obliged to admit that the greek debt is unsustainable after this report was issued. This report was issued on the 18th of June 2015 showing for the first time in public that there are documents of the IMF dating March and May 2010 and showing that the IMF knew ever since then that the greek debt was unsustainable. It has been proven that public expenses during the last decades were below the european average except for armaments expenses, except for defense expenses which by the way entailed large scale corruption with european and international companies. And by the way these expenses are not cut according to the so called reform programme rather pensions of 300 euros are being cut, expenses in public educations where schools are operating without heating, without books, without teachers are being cut. And there, there is a real question to be answered.

Euronews/ Efi Koutsokosta:
How would you see Greece after three years. This is the timeline for this memorandum, for this bailout programme, because for many people, many officials and people in Brussels, Berlin and other countries it’s the last chance for Greece to go out of the crisis and recover and of course stay in the european family.

Zoe Konstantopoulou/ former President of the Greek Parliament:
Well, there is no family which cuts the legs and arms of their children and then tell them, let’s see if you are going to bleed to death or survive, this is your last chance. The greek people are being exterminated and this is not an exaggeration. We have a humanitarian crisis which amounts to social genocide. I would say this is a real chance for Europe to really show what it is about. I am very sorry to have experienced that so far the european institutions’ representatives have acted towards a completely anti-european direction because to penalize a population and violate democracy has nothing to do with our european values. And I would say this is probably the last chance for Europe to save face and to become again an attractive home for all.

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