We have been in Athens for six days now, and life has shrunk: the political situation of the country has dominated our thoughts, our reading, our discussions, our communication with friends and family, and in my case, my sleep. I am experiencing the situation as being in trauma, and the thought of what lies ahead fills me with dread.
The deal that was agreed in principle between Greece and its creditors on Monday means never ending economic, political and social depression in Greece. Greek assets totalling 50 billion euros are to be held as a hostage to ensure the Greek government carries out the draconian measures demanded by the creditors. Every 'red line' the government had maintained has now been crossed, from pensions cuts to VAT increases, whilst the pace of spending cuts mandated guarantee continual misery.
The leaders of the Eurogroup, European Commission and European Bank have dogmatically followed economic prescriptions which have nothing to do with making people's lives better. They are concerned with protecting the interests of their own financial sectors. European leaders have employed the myth that Europe's taxpayers are funding the unsustainable lives of the Greek people. However, Jubilee Debt Campaign has shown that at least 90% of the 'bailout' funds to Greece have not gone to Greece at all, but to shore up the European banks that lent the money in the first place. They stand to make between 10 billion and 22 billion euros profit out of lending to Greece. The 'bailout', in other words, is a bailout of the banks, not of Greece. Whilst bankers are off the hook, taxpayers in Europe are notionally placed on it. The events in the last week have shown how this is a political, not an economic problem, aimed at subverting a left wing government and ensuring everyone dances to the neoliberal tune of the EU.
European leaders have been hell bent on humiliating and destroying a government which has dared to expose them. Now the Greek government is committed to attempting to implement its side of this economically catastrophic deal which will turn this crisis into a total catastrophe for Greece. Worse still, the deal contains two measures that strip Greece of its sovereignty. Firstly, the 50 billion of government assets which will be held as surety against the country's future 'good behaviour'. Secondly, the deal demands that the Greek government 'consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament'. Total loss of sovereignty, and Greece becoming a colony. This is the kind of deal forced on a nation defeated in war; no wonder that Yanis Varoufakis has compared it to a 'second Versailles treaty'.
As we were driving back home this afternoon, our hearts sank. This is what we saw. A huge cloud over the Hymettus mountain, moving slowly towards the sea. Strong winds and high temperatures fanned the fire: we could not see the source, but we knew it was over Helioupolis, a district very near where we live.
Listening to the news when we got home, we found out that the fire was indeed in Helioupolis. A local playground has burnt to the ground and the flames have surrounded the local church.
We read on the online version of Kathimerini that 'wildfires burned through rural land on the island of Evia near Athens and in the region of Laconia in the Peloponnese where one fire-fighting aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing... State television reported the fire's front was over 15 km long and one health centre in the region was preparing to evacuate patients. A police source said a 58-year-died after inhaling fumes and suffering respiratory problems'.
Six hours after these photographs were taken by Elisabeth, we can still hear the fire-fighting helicopters droning over our flat, going back and forth as they fly to the sea to fill up with water.
How much more can this country take?
Update, two hours after originally posting:
There are 52 fires raging all over Greece. Experts are confirming that it's the work of arsonists.