Open letter by Sahra Wagenknecht to Angela Merkel, published in BILD on 10 July 2015
Europe is in a bad condition. All over Europe it is the hard-working people with ordinary wages who pay most taxes while the rich people duck away. Many wage-earners are not able to live off their job income. Also in Germany. After a life of hard work, often enough, a miserable pension looms. The wealth of millionaires, however, has reached new peaks. In all of Europe the states are highly indebted because they have taken over the losses of irresponsible bankers and speculators. Greece´s debt is particularly high. Here, a corrupt political class together with Greek oligarchs and the international banks has shamelessly accumulated wealth for years and years. Since the introduction of the Euro especially, the party was on. Many small and medium-sized enterprises on the other hand were swept from the market by the new currency which was way too hard for Greece.
In the year 2010 Greece was bankrupt. It was clear already then that it would not be able to repay its debt. Yet despite that, Madam Chancellor, in 2010 you set the course for Germany and the other Euro countries to accept the liability for the Greek debt. By so doing you protected banks and hedge funds from losses in the billions. For the European tax payer who was never asked, however, this decision was a fatal error. It was clear from the beginning that a high amount of our money would be lost. Together with other parliamentarians of the Left I pointed this out to you in the Bundestag. You would not listen to it.
In the meantime Germany has more than 60 billion Euros at stake in Greece. Ever more credits were handed out in order to enable Greece to pay old debts – only because you, Madam Chancellor, did not want to acknowledge your mistake. That way the illusion of Greek solvency was upheld. In an enterprise this would be called delaying bankruptcy. The credits were given on conditions that led Greece even deeper into the crisis. The small people suffered, the Greek oligarchs became even richer. Today production in Greece is 25 per cent less as compared to 2010. There are no investments, the young generation has no perspective. Even though the Greek state has cut its expenses by almost a quarter which is more than any other European country has done, the debt has not shrunk. It is higher than it ever was. Still, Madam Chancellor, before the Greek referendum you wanted to spend another 15 billion Euro of European taxpayers´ money to have Athens pay for old debt. By taking on a new debt. The only condition you had was to oblige the Greek government to continue with the policy of the last years. The taxpayers in Germany, too, can be grateful to the Greek people that this proposal was swept from the table by their sovereign “No”.
It is time to come clean with the people. Stop burning more and more taxpayers´ money in order to disguise that a major part of the money we have already spent is gone. One day the truth will come out. The later it is the more expensive it is going to be for all of us.
Greece does not need a new “aid package” only in order to pay off old debt with new debt. Greece needs a haircut. It must be relieved, at least for three to five years, from the pressure to pay interest and repayment which it cannot shoulder by its own means anyway. Greece also does not need more social cuts but investments and a hefty levy on wealth at the expense of its oligarchs. What is necessary is an unbundling of the Greek economy in which today roundabout 800 immensely rich family clans hold solid monopolies and dictate the prices. Those are the reforms that would set the country on track, and not more pension cuts, VAT increase and privatizations.
You ought to remember: also the German reconstruction became possible by means of a generous debt haircut. After the Second World War Germany was granted a reduction of two thirds of its old debt. Only that way the economic miracle could have a full start. At that time we were indebted also to the Greeks, a debt that was never repaid. Madam Chancellor, change your policy. Before it is too late.