World Politics

Greece Launches Debt Commission to Audit Odious Debts

The Speaker of the Greek parliament launches a debt audit commission

The Speaker of the Greek parliament, Zoé Konstantopoulou, has announced during a press conference on 17 March 2015 the creation of a commission to audit the Greek debt. The scientific coordination of the commission will be led by Eric Toussaint, Spokesman for CADTM and a member of the Ecuadorian debt audit Commission that sat in 2007-2008. “The purpose is to identify any debts taken on by the Greek government that may have an illegal, illegitimate or odious nature,” the Greek people “has the right to demand that any part of the Greek debt that may eventually be shown to be illegal – be erased,” declared the Greek Parliament’s Speaker.

20 March 2015

Also present at the press conference was Sofia Sakorafa, SYRIZA elected MEP (since 2014), who accepted to be the newly formed committee’s liaison with the European Parliament. Sofia Sakorafa quit the PASOK party in 2010 when George Papandreou pushed through the memorandum signed conjointly with the Troika. Already in December 2010 as a Greek MP she was favourable to a proposition to create a debt audit. In 2011, she took part in launching a committee for the citizen’s audit of Greek debt (ELE). In 2012 she was the the Greek MP, all parties considered, elected with the highest number of votes. Georges Katrougalos, Minister for institutional reform was also present at the press conference to bring his support to the Parliamentary Speaker’s initiative. Georges Katrougalos had also participated in the launching of ELE. Finally, the Parliamentary Speakerhailed the presence of ELE members: Moisis Litsis, Sonia and Giorgos Mitralias ( CADTM Greece), and Leonidas Vatikiodis (one of the authors of the films Debtocracy and Catastroïka).

The Greek, as well as French and Spanish, media have widely reported this press conference:(Le Monde, Le Soir, L’Echo, L’Avenir, Agence France Presse...), as well as publicly run radio stations in Belgium and Romansh Switzerland. The one o’clock news on the Belgian public radio and television service broadcast an interview with Eric Toussaint live from Syndagma place in Athens just after the press conference (can be seen here).

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Sofia Sakorafa, Zoe Konstantopoulou and Eric Toussaint at the press conference

In all, about thirty Greek and International experts will take part in the commission and a preliminary report is expected in June. “Either when the 20 February agreement comes to termination or when a new round of negotiations will start”, says Adea Guillot, permanent correspondant to Le Soir and Le Monde. Not all of the names of the commission members will not be known until the first meeting in early April. From April to June is not much time but that will only be the beginning. Eric Toussaint said in an interview given to the Belgian financial newspaper L’Echo “We will make a preliminary report in June mostly concerning the debt claimed by the Troika, now called the ’Institutions’, but the whole audit will probably take until December 2015. The goal of the commission is to show to the Greek people, by deep reaching analysis, the nature of the loans made to Greece. This matter is urgent, the Greek people are being stigmatised”.

Zoé Konstantopoulou is already being accused by different Greek political parties (New Democracy, PASOK and Potami) of fanning the flames of dissent. But this woman, who has an enormous capacity for work ( ), will keep going. “A whole people has been pushed to its knees and we cannot accept to be subjected to such propaganda (…) We have a duty to act or this debt will burden our future generations.”

In any case the Debt Audit Commission is not a substitute for the Greek government who will decide which debts should be paid and which debts should be erased. Again as Adea Guillot remarked: “Once the result of the audit is known, and should it conclude that a part of the Greek debt is illegitimate, nothing will oblige the creditors to accept pure and simple write-offs of their loans. But ’the Greek government could take the sovereign decision not to pay’, says Eric Toussaint. ’Our commission seeks to provide solid and rational arguments to support the Greek government should it take this course of action’, he added”.

Translation : Mike Krolikowski