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German Parliament member, Sahra Wagenknecht slams Merkel’s arrogance when dealing with Greece

German MP and Left Party deputy chair Sahra Wagenknecht destroys Angela Merkel, speaking uncomfortable truths about Western Europe’s destructive policy on Ukraine, Greece and Russia…causing war and suffering to please American policy in Washington.

Alex Christoforou

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Video is in German. Transcript in English below, translated by Fort Russ blog.

Mr President, honored ladies and gentlemen, Frau Chancellor.

At your best times, German foreign policy had two priorities: Unity for Europe and a good neighbor policy with Russia. It should give you food for thought, Frau Merkel, if you would listen,

[Volker Kauder: That’s rude!]

that nationalism and strife in Europe, during your ten years in office, are thriving like never before, and as regards Russia, a policy of outreach has given way to a new Cold War.

[Applause from the Left]

Not long ago, the head of the influential think-tank Stratfor, with striking bluntness, explained the US interest in Europe: The chief interest of the United States is to prevent coordination between Germany and Russia, since, literally “united they are the only power that can threaten us,” i.e. threaten the US.

This perceived threat to US interests has been achieved successfully for the foreseeable future. That started as the EU tried to get countries out of their economic and political cooperation with Russia in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

[Claudia Roth, Greens: That’s absurd!]

Frau Merkel, naturally this was aimed at Russia, but it was also contrary to the interests of the countries involved. You, not Russia, pushed them to the either-or.

[Applause from the Left]

Resultantly Ukraine has lost the great part of its industry. Today, the country is a bankrupt state, where people go hungry, shiver, and have salaries lower than people have in Ghana.

But the confrontation with Russia has not only destroyed Ukraine, it has damaged all of Europe. It is, in fact, an open secret that the United States is stirring the conflict with Russia on economic grounds. When the US administration talks about Human Rights, they’re actually meaning drilling rights or mining rights. Right now in Ukraine there is in view a hell of a lot of shale gas to frack.

[Applause from the Left]

If now, in the framework of the Energy Union of other pipeline routes, we’re talking increasing independence from Russian gas, then you should tell the people in honesty what that means: increasing dependence on much more expensive and ecologically devastating US fracked gas. I do not consider that a responsible view.

[Applause from the Left]

The list is long, Frau Merkel, of earlier chief politicians who criticise your Russia policy. In that list we find the names of your predecessors Gerhard Schroeder, Helmut Kohl, Helmut Schmidt, and even Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Perhaps this is what led to your backing off. In any case, it is correct, that you, with French President Hollande, took the initiative: Minsk II has really led to significantly fewer deaths there in recent weeks than in the weeks and months preceding; the door to a peaceful solution has been opened.

[Applause from the Left]

This is naturally an important new situation, and you, Frau Bundeskanzlerin, and the French President deserve recognition.

[Tino Sorge, CDU/CSU: Then say so from time to time!]

However, the person that the peace and security in Europe depend on must now go forward, with follow-through, and with backbone. This is naturally a problem, since follow-through and backbone haven’t exactly been your strong suit.

[Applause from the Left; grumblings from CDU/CSU]

Of course, it is not acceptable, when the shooting persists from the ranks of the insurgents,

[Tino Sorge: Not acceptable!]

but when Ukrainian troops — or the Nazi battalions fighting for them — keep right on shooting, then it is quite less unacceptable, and no critical word from you is heard.

[Applause from the Left]

Why do you not come forward with words of censure when the Ukrainian regime, notwithstanding its foreseeable bankruptcy, budgets four times as much for arms as it did last year? This doesn’t assure us that the road to peace has any actual support in the Ukrainian regime!

Furthermore, the US and Britain sending military advisors and delivering weapons is not a matter of supporting the peace process, but of torpedoing it. But do you now envision sanctions against the US and Britain? I believe that this whole business of sanctions was a huge mistake through which Europe shot itself in the foot. The sanctions should not be extended.

[Applause from the Left]

We do not need any more tanks. We do not need a 3,000-man NATO intervention troop in Eastern Europe, that protects nobody, but instead puts all Europe further at risk.

[Applause from the Left]

Helmut Schmidt got it right when he warned already in 2007, that, when it comes to world peace, there is far less risk from Russia than from America, and that NATO is only a tool for maintaining US/American hegemony. And if that is correct, then we are left with one set conclusion: that Europe must finally make policy separate from, and independent of, the United States.

[Applause from the Left]

Mr Juncker has put forward the thesis, that we need a European Army to show that we are in earnest about defending European values against Russia. This shows just one thing, how very far we have come from what the founding fathers of European Union wanted.

[Applause from the Left]

Back then it was all about — as you yourself have often said — peace, democracy, and solidarity. Never again should nationalism and hatred separate the lands of Europe. But to defend these values, no armed battalions are needed!

If you want to defend democracy, Frau Merkel, then see to it that the lands of Europe are at last ruled by elected governments rather than financial markets, not by the one-time investment banker Mario Draghi, and, further, not by you.

[Applause from the left; interjection from Michael Grosse-Bromer: Disassociate yourself from the violence right now. That would be a big step!]

If you want democracy, then stop the so-called Free Trade Agreements, stop the TTIP that would make elected governments just a farce.

[Applause from the Left]

That would be the defending of European values! That would be a defence of democracy, exposing these unspeakable TTIP negotiations and comparable dealings.

If you want to see a unified Europe, then stop humiliating other countries and imposing programs that rob the young generations of their future.

[Manuel Sarrazin, Greens, “You’re right with Greece!”]

Stop prescribing so-called structural reforms in Europe, that only lead to growing inequality and an ever growing low-wage sector.

Here in Germany meanwhile, in consequence of these policies, three million people, in spite of having a job, are so poor they can’t stay warm, haven’t enough to eat — let alone afford going on a vacation! Instead of trying to explain this export-bashing policy, it is high time — and very much in Europe’s interest — to correct it. And it is not least the German wage-dumping that is stifling the other countries of the monetary union.

[Applause from the Left]

Finance Minister Schaeuble has recently instructed the Greek government: “Yeah, governing is always just a rendezvous with reality.”

[Michael Grosse-Broemer (CDU/CSU): Right! Max Straubinger (CDU/CSU): And so it is!]

So one can only say “That would be good” well, that would be a good thing when the German government could only experience its own rendezvous with reality. Because it was not Syriza, but instead, the sister parties to the CDU/CSU and SPD that over the decades stacked up the huge deficits, so that they and the upper crust could stuff their pockets.

[Applause from the Left]

The reality is also that under the protectorate of the troika that you still treasure so much, whose criminal activities you can see in the documentary by Harald Schuman, the Greek debt just got bigger and the Greek billionaires got richer.

And you want to keep it up? Then I can only say “Good night!”

And if you want our money back, get it from those that took it, and that was not the nurses, nor the Greeks on pensions: it was the international banks and the Greek Upper Crust. It’s from these you could help the Greek government recover its money.

Who advances credit to one already overloaded with debt will never see his money again, but the responsibility is on you, Frau Merkel, and you, Mr. Schaeuble, and not on the new Greek government which is now hardly two months in office.

As for the whole debate over possible reparations, I can only say that, no matter how the question gets juridically evaluated, the least one should expect from the German State is some minimum of sensibility in dealing with the issue.

[Applause, Left; laughter, CDU/CSU]

I must say, you still laugh. That is sad. In view of how German occupiers ravaged Greece, and that a million Greek men and women lost their lives in this dark chapter of German history, I find the flip remarks from you, Mr. Schaeuble, and from you, Mr. Kauder, simply disrespectful, and I am ashamed.

[Applause from the Left as well as from Juergen Tritten, cries from CDU/CSU: Oh!]

In order to recall that the unrolling of history also goes the other way, may I, in closing, quote from the speech of Richard von Weizsaecker on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Liberation — I am just finishing, Mr. President — the speech concerned principally Russia and Eastern Europe, but it naturally also holds good for Greece:

“When we think about what our eastern neighbors had to suffer during the war, we understand better that balance, easing up, and a peaceful neighborhood with these lands abide as the central given of German foreign policy. What matters, is that both sides remember, and that both sides have respect for the other.”

Yes, only when we remember, and only when we respect each other — only then will we get back a policy of being good neighbors, both inside the EU, and with Russia.

[Sustained applause from the Left]

References:

http://fortruss.blogspot.ca/2015/04/wagenknecht-eu-policy-has-destroyed.html

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After Embarrassing Defeat, NATO, EU and the West Try to Alter Reality in Macedonia

Amidst all the faux cheer and public displays of confidence of the pro-NATO/EU crowd, a palpable sense of unease hangs in the air.

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Authored by Aleksandar Pavic via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Although the September 30, 2018 name-change referendum in Macedonia, which was supposed to set that ex-Yugoslav federal republic on a path to (certain) NATO and (blithely promised but much less certain) EU membership, failed miserably, with only 36.91% of the voters turning out, well short of the 50% + 1 necessary for it to be valid – one would never know it from the reactions of its Western proponents and impatient beneficiaries. Indeed, a new term may be needed to adequately describe the reactions of the key pillars representing the reliquiae reliquiarum of the Western-led post-Cold War unipolar moment. Fake news simply doesn’t do them justice. Fake reality anyone?

The US State Department was firmly in denial, releasing the following statement“The United States welcomes the results of the Republic of Macedonia’s September 30 referendum, in which citizens expressed their support for NATO and European Union (EU) membership by accepting the Prespa Agreement between Macedonia and Greece. The United States strongly supports the Agreement’s full implementation, which will allow Macedonia to take its rightful place in NATO and the EU, contributing to regional stability, security, and prosperity. As Macedonia’s parliament now begins deliberation on constitutional changes, we urge leaders to rise above partisan politics and seize this historic opportunity to secure a brighter future for the country as a full participant in Western institutions.”

EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn wasn’t to be outdone in his contempt for the 63% of the Macedonian “deplorables” who stayed home in order to voice their disagreement with renouncing their perceived national identity and country name (it was to become “Northern Macedonia”) in exchange for the double joy of a) becoming NATO’s cannon-fodder in its increasingly hazardous game of chicken with Russia and b) the EU’s newest debt-serfs: “Referendum in Macedonia: I congratulate those citizens who voted in today’s consultative referendum and made use of their democratic freedoms. With the very significant “yes” vote, there is broad support to the #Prespa Agreement + to the country’s #Euroatlantic path. I now expect all political leaders to respect this decision and take it forward with utmost responsibility and unity across party lines, in the interest of the country.” He was seconded the following day, in a joint statement, by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission.

Understandably, as the most direct public stakeholder, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was particularly (hyper)active. As the disappointing results began to roll in, Stoltenberg went into immediate damage control, tweeting“I welcome the yes vote in Macedonia referendum. I urge all political leaders & parties to engage constructively & responsibly to seize this historic opportunity. #NATO’s door is open, but all national procedures have to be completed.” He reinforced his delusional missive the next day, releasing a similar statement co-signed by EU President Donald Tusk. And the day after, during a news conference, Stoltenberg even offered lightning-quick NATO accession to the unwilling Macedonians – January 2019, to be exact – if they would just be so kind as to urgently implement the very agreement that they had just so emphatically rejected. When NATO says it promotes democratic values – it means it!

But that wasn’t the end of the “democracy mongering” surrounding what may well prove to be NATO’s, the EU’s and the rest of the end-of-history West’s Balkan Waterloo. For example, the EU Parliament’s Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, although “regretting that the turnout was less than 50%,” nevertheless hailed the referendum’s results and “call(ed) on the opposition to respect the expressed will of the majority [sic] of voters.” The Group’s leader, Udo Bullmann, while also maintaining that, somehow, a voter turnout of under 37% still represented a “majority,” additionally used the occasion to chastise Macedonia’s President for having the nerve to call for a boycott of the referendum (he committed the crimethink of referring to it as “historical suicide” during his UN General Assembly address), as well as to decry – what else? – “reports about Russian interference in the electoral process.” It goes without saying that Bullmann offered absolutely zero proof for his assertion. On the other hand, according to numerous media reports, as September 30 approached, while no high Russian official was to be seen anywhere in the vicinity, a veritable procession of Western political bigwigs made the pilgrimage to Skopje in order to reveal to the natives their “true” best interests: Sebastian Kurz“Mad Dog” Mattis, the indefatigable StoltenbergFederica MogheriniJohannes HahnAngela Merkel. No meddling there, obviously…

Speaking of Angela Merkel, she also joined her fellow Western democrats’ show of unanimous disdain for the Macedonian voters’ majority opinion, urging the country to “push ahead” with the implementation of the majority-rejected accord, citing voters’ “overwhelming support” [sic], and arguing through the mouth of her spokesman that the required 50% + 1 turnout was actually “very high,” as voter registers purportedly included many people who had long since left the country.

Coincidentally (?), the same argument was used by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who opined that the “yes” votes cast in the referendum do, in fact, “represent the majority despite the low turnout because Macedonia does not have the 1.8 million voters entered into its electoral rolls but just 1.2 million since 300,000 people have left the country since the voter lists were last updated 20 years ago.” The fallacy of his reality-challenged claim is easily exposed if we just take a glance at the results of Macedonia’s last parliamentary elections (December 2016), in which voter turnout was just under 1.2 million (1,191,832 to be exact) or, officially, 66.79%. If we were to believe Kotzias and Merkel (who lodged no objections at the time), that would have meant that the turnout for the 2016 elections had been 99% – a figure that would make any totalitarian dictator blush with envy. On the other hand, since those elections did produce the “desired result,” enabling the current heavily pro-NATO/EU government led by Zoran Zaev to be formed, that automatically made them “valid” in the eyes of the high priests of democracy in Brussels, Berlin, London and Washington.

Needless to say, Zaev joined his Western patrons’ charade, hailing the referendum as a “democratic success,” and announcing that he would seek the Macedonian Parliament’s support to amend the constitution and get the agreement with Greece ratified (according to the so-called Prespa Agreement, the Macedonian Parliament must adopt the necessary constitutional amendments by the end of 2018) so that the Greek Parliament can do the same, which would seal the deal. However, Zaev and his Albanian political partners are currently well short of the necessary two-thirds majority (reportedly, they can count on 71 deputies, or 9 short of the needed 80), and will have to call early elections if they don’t soon succeed in securing it.

Yet, let it not go unsaid that Zaev was singing a rather different tune prior to the referendum, assuring that “citizens will make the decision,” and that Parliament would vote on the necessary constitutional changes only if the referendum is successful. But that was then, when confidence was still high that the usual combination of Western pressure, money and overwhelming domination of the media spectrum would get the job done. And then reality struck on September 30…

Still, amidst all the faux cheer and public displays of confidence of the pro-NATO/EU crowd, a palpable sense of unease hangs in the air. As a Deutsche Welle opinion piece put it, the “low voter turnout for Macedonia’s referendum is a bad starting point for the country’s future development.” And, according to DW in Serbian, a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commentary warned that “politicians who otherwise ceaselessly talk of democracy as a ‘special value’ should not call on the parliament in Skopje to accept the voting results.” In other words, Macedonia’s people (read – a large majority of the majority Slavic population) have “voted with their feet” and rejected the agreement, and no new parliamentary election, no matter the results, can change that unpleasant-but-immutable fact. That alone will delegitimize any Western-led effort to “manufacture consent” by ramming the agreement through the present or future Parliament – although, as we know, NATO doesn’t put too much stock in referenda anyway, while the EU is not averse to making citizens vote as many times as needed to obtain the “right” result.

But the West has lost more than just legitimacy in Macedonia – it has damaged its reputation, perhaps irretrievably. In the words of former presidential advisor Cvetin Chilimanov, “The West has humiliated us… Macedonians have rejected this media, psychological, political and propaganda aggression against the people, and that’s the tragedy of these days, that a large percentage of a people that had been genuinely oriented towards the West has changed its mind and stopped looking at the West as something democratic, something progressive and successful… That is the reason for the boycott. Pressure was applied against Macedonia, a country that had always been open to ties with the West, but which did not want to make this disgusting compromise and humiliate itself before the neighboring countries, before Western countries. We did not understand why that humiliation was needed so that we might become a member of Europe. What’s worst, perhaps that is now the thinking of a silent majority of the people, that they won’t forget this insult and this attack on Macedonia.”

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Greeks Owe A Stunning €182 Billion In Tax Arrears To The State

Greece repeatedly raised taxes during its international bailouts between 2010 and August 2018.

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Via Zerohedge


Data from the Independent Authority for Public Revenue show tax arrears totaled 182.5 billion euros ($214 billion) on Aug. 10, according to a note sent from the agency to parliament last week and seen by The Associated Press Wednesday.

“The Greek government is owed so much in tax arrears from households and companies that it could pay off more than half its massive public debts if it collected it all,” writes AP, adding “unfortunately for the government, that’s unlikely to ever happen.”

However, as KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, more than 80 billion euros of that represents interest and fines on delayed payments from debtors that include companies that have been out of business for decades.

The arrears come close to Greece’s total economic output, estimated at 184.7 billion euros ($217 billion) this year, and Greece’s total public debt is worth about 180% of these arrears.

Eurozone-member Greece repeatedly raised taxes during its international bailouts between 2010 and August 2018.

Some 3.7 million Greeks – about 60 percent of the total – are behind on tax payments, and while the EU governments have attempted to crack down on the so-called shadow economy, black market activity still thrives in Greece.

As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notesexamples of black market activity are pretty common, whether it’s a warehouse worker driving an unlicensed taxi between shifts, an electrician accepting cash payments without declaring his earnings or a simple drug deal in a shady alleyway.

However, the level of black market activity, also defined as the shadow economy, depends highly on your country of residence. Generally defined as businesses and individuals engaging in inappropriate practices without complying with certain legal obligations such as paying tax or maintaining acceptable standards of employment, the shadow economy costs governments around the world trillions of dollars every year.

According to the IMF, heavily regulated economies with weaker administration tend to have well-established shadow economies. It’s far smaller in natons with strong, well-regulated and efficient government institutions. Back in the late 1990s, this was readily apparent in former Soviet states like Georgia where the shadow economy was estimated at 64 percent of GDP.

Today, the shadow economy is booming across southern Europe, though the scale of underground activity can only be measured indirectly.

You will find more infographics at Statista.

According to a new study published by the Institute for Applied Economic Research at the University of Tübingen in Germany (IAW), Greece’s shadow economy is estimated to average 21.5 percent of GDP. In the United States, undeclared cash transactions seem to be rarer with IAW’s study placing U.S. shadow economic activity at 5.4 percent of the country’s GDP.

 

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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