nettime's avid reader on Sun, 23 Aug 2015 22:00:24 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Germans begin the looting of Greece

[Mind the source. Marketwatch. Not Jacobinmag.]

By Darrell Delamaide

Published: Aug 21, 2015 3:30 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) â To the victor goes the spoils.

The ink was not yet dry on the new European bailout accord for Greece
before German companies started their plundering of Greek assets.

Per provisions of the âagreementâ imposed on Greece, the Athens
government awarded the German company that runs the Frankfurt Airport,
Fraport, a concession to operate 14 regional airports, mostly on the
islands like Mykonos and Santorini favored by tourists, for up to 50
years in the first privatization of government-owned assets demanded
by the creditors.

The airport deal had been agreed upon last year by the previous Greek
government and then suspended by Prime Minister Alexis Tsiprasâs newly
elected government this year as part of his pledge to prevent the fire
sale of valuable public assets at bargain-basement prices.

The airport deal gives Fraport the right to run the facilities as its
own for 1.2 billion euros over the 50 years and an annual rent of 23
million euros. The German company is also pledging to invest
significantly in upgrades for the airports.

Under the terms of the new bailout accord, which provides 86 billion
euros of new debt to a government already vastly overindebted, the
country must sequester 50 billion euros worth of public assets to sell
off at distressed prices to mostly foreign bidders â with German
companies first in line.

In the end, Tsipras had no choice but to buckle under to the
creditorsâ demands if he wanted to fulfill his other pledge of keeping
the country in the euro..

But the plundering that has now begun unmasks the whole euro charade
for what it really is â a war of conquest by money rather than by arms.

Privatization is a standard feature of the neoliberal policy mix
seeking smaller government, less state intervention and more
free-market competition. (Privatization, of course, leads just as
often to crony capitalism, while some services, such as electricity
and trains, are arguably more efficient as government-owned monopolies.)

But privatization in the context of the bailout accord is tantamount
to expropriation, like forcing a bankrupt to sell the family silver in
order to pay off debts.

After piling more and more unsustainable debt onto the Greek
government in two previous bailouts â most of which went back to banks
in France and Germany â the victorious Northern European governments
are now inviting their companies to partake in the spoils.

Fraport, which ironically is majority-owned by state and local
governments in Germany, has cherry-picked among Greeceâs network of
regional airports to take over only those that make a profit. It is
happy to leave the 30 other loss-making airports in the hands of a
bankrupt state.

Greek Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis told German television
that this deal to take away the profitable airports and leave the
ailing government with only those requiring subsidies âis more fitting
for a colony than for an EU member state.â

The official memorandum of understanding approved this week
specifically mentions the airport deal and that it must be made with
the buyer already agreed upon, even though the bulk of the
privatizations that Greece must make will be finalized only in March
of next year.

Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament who
represents the environmentalist party, the Greens, called this
isolated provision âbizarre.â

Even with the announcement of the concession by the Greek government,
however, the German company indicated that it might seek better terms
than those previously agreed upon.

This same pattern of taking over profitable assets at depressed prices
will no doubt become evident in the other sales mandated by the agreement.

Other assets to be sold will include the ports of Piraeus and
Thessaloniki and valuable waterfront properties for hotel and casino
development. State-owned electricity and train operations are also
targeted for privatization.

How anyone can view this blatant profiteering as furthering the
process of European integration is a mystery. How any European can
look at this naked German aggression with equanimity is also baffling.

The irrepressible Yanis Varoufakis, unbowed after his resistance to
capitulation ended his brief tenure as finance minister, notes in an
annotated version of the MOU that the Greek government in May had
proposed an alternative path to privatization that would have
leveraged the public assets to promote more investment and growth.

Under that plan, Greece would upgrade the public assets, fully
utilizing aid available from EU sources like the European Investment
Bank, to help drive growth and then privatize them at its own pace at
a much higher price.

Like every other suggestion from the Greek side, this proposal was
dismissed out of hand by the German-led EU negotiators.

The war is over; let the occupation begin.

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