former Ambassador to Poland, Canada and Armenia, former Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC)
Allow me at the outset to congratulate the Schiller Institute and its Director, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, for trying to make the world better for humanity. I wish us all success in this important conference and hope that the outcome will be beneficial for us all.
The theme of our conference is very appropriate and comes at a moment when humanity is not only facing its worst economic crisis since the depression of 1928, but also the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, due to the aggressive policies of the United States in the last decade, that have destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The EU is continuing to gradually collapse, as it destroys its member states, forcing some to consider leaving, while its democratic deficit is increasing and far-right parties are closing in on power.
The world economy cannot get out of a vicious circle that it has been in since the outset of the crisis in 2008. We are witnessing global demonstrations against austerity measures that enhance poverty instead of growth, and against greedy financial systems that lead to extreme social inequality. The demonstrations in France are a good example. Until now, nobody has been listening to the people. It is due time that decisions be taken on priorities beneficial to the interests of human beings. We should no longer ask the question of what the markets are saying, but what our people are saying.
The EU not only has become an incompetent organization, but is also in disarray as more and more is being heard every day about political parties with rightwing programs, and exiting the EU. The UK referendum of Thursday demonstrates the case.
In Greece the situation is deteriorating. After the legislation adopted by Parliament on May 22, Greece has ceased to exist as a state, having given the economic management of the country to the lenders and to the EU for the next 100 years. It is the first time in history that a country has dissolved itself. Parliament will no longer have any role to play in this area. In May 2010, the Greek government was forced to sign the Loan Agreement so that it could, through austerity measures, reduce the public debt which in 2009 was 129% of GNP or 299 billion euro in absolute numbers. After three memoranda and the mistaken policies of the EU, the IMF, and the Greek governments, not only was the public debt not reduced, but it has increased to 180% of GNP.
The Syriza government was elected on an anti-austerity program, yet betrayed the Greek people by doing exactly the opposite. It did not even take into account a referendum in which 62% of the people voted against the austerity measures. In spite of the fact that they had acknowledged their mistakes, the EU, the European Central Bank, and the IMF continue to insist on the implementation of the same ineffective policies that are destroying a member-state of the EU and its people. Unemployment is up to 25% from 9% in 2010, Greeks looking into garbage bins for food is a common sight, overtaxation has paralyzed the economy, and the health system has collapsed, while more than 5,000 people have committed suicide.
But it is not only that the measures are erroneous, they have also violated the Lisbon Treaty as well as the human rights of the Greek people, something that is also mentioned in the report dated February 29 of the UN independent expert, Juan Pablo Bohoslavski, to the UN Human Rights Council:
The U.S.-provoked war in Syria with the participation of some EU states has created the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Almost 5 million refugees have left Syria to ask asylum mainly in the EU. Germany has 484,000, Sweden 108.000 and more in other Member States. Turkey is currently hosting 2,748,000, Lebanon 1,500,000 and Jordan 1,265,000.The EU, once the champion of humanitarian assistance, was incapable of managing the refugee flow. Greece, a country that had no participation in the Syrian war, was inundated with an increased number of refugees while many of its Central European members refused to accept them. Though the movements into Greece were gradually reduced after the shaky EU-Turkey Agreement of March the EU has still to live up to its previous decisions, according to which 60,000 refugees from Greece and Italy would be resettled in EU member-states. Today, Greece has 56,000 refugees, all of whom want to depart North. It is, however a shame that the US has accepted only 4,000 refugees.
Another threat facing humanity is the U.S. animosity towards Russia, as if we were still in the cold war period. A missile system is being set up to encircle Russia and, of course, Moscow is preparing a defense shield to counter it. The EU embargo on Russia after the Ukrainian crisis is not at all helping the situation. Also, threats have been recently made by Obama against China with references to the need to restrict her economic power.
With a collapsing EU and a United States looking for confrontation with Russia and China, a solution for humanity can be the BRICS’ initiative. This is an initiative of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa to pursue a policy of economic development for the benefit of humanity. They created their own Development Bank to invest in necessary development projects. China has also established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, joined by over 20 Asian nations as founding members, and has set up a Silk Road Development Fund. Within the BRICS, China has proposed the creation of a Free Trade Area of Asia and the Pacific. The Chinese proposal was quickly rejected by Obama, who created his own free trade organization. The incorporation of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement to the BRICS could create a formidable power, which—if remaining out of the control of the bankers—could be decisive so that humanity reaches global peace and ends poverty through economic development.
From what was previously mentioned, we can see that there is a crisis of civilization that is impeding humanity’s progress. I totally agree with the Schiller Institute’s viewpoint that we need a renaissance of Classical culture, as we see measures being taken to prevent it from happening. Not only is the educational system in Greece doing everything possible to make Classical culture disappear,— it seems to be following steps taken in the United States and in other EU countries. It seems that Classical culture, which also encompasses humanism, philosophy, the sciences, and art, creates fear among the ruling classes who do not want to see the people thinking again. We should resist any such tendencies.
As for the dialogue of cultures,— yes by all means this should take place, and perhaps we could get on board the UN dialogue of civilizations and make it even better. Both dialogues are useful efforts to enhance efforts for a permanent global peace.
In conclusion, and after having criticized the EU and the United States, allow me to propose some solutions that would be beneficial for humanity.
For Greece it is imperative to denounce the Loan Facility Agreement of May 2010, on the basis of Articles 8-52 of the Vienna Convention concerning the Law of Treaties. These articles anticipate the invalidity of a treaty, if there was error, fraud, or coercion of a representative of a state. The cessation of payments with the denunciation of the Loan Agreement and the nationalization of the Bank of Greece, will allow Greece to repair the damage done and instigate true development. Adoption of a national currency will follow. The Unified Popular Front (EPAM), a political party not in parliament yet, supports such a policy.
There must be a transformation of the EU into an efficient organization, having as its sole priority the safeguarding of the interests of its people. A new charter is necessary, drafted by movements of citizens of member-states who will submit their proposals to a European Assembly composed of representatives of these movements. The existing EU must be dissolved.
The United States
It must stop its policy of destroying nations, and Obama must return to the Nobel Committee the Peace Prize that was awarded to him, since he did nothing to deserve it.(The same applies to the EU, which also received the Peace Prize.) The United States must adopt a more friendly policy towards Russia and the rest of the world, for the benefit of humanity.
The deletion of the global debt, which is about $600 trillion, will allow humanity to restart on a new and healthy basis. In history, we have examples of debt deletion, from the ancient Greek Sisahthia to the Jubilee of ancient Hebrew communities, where every 50 years all debts were cancelled. Even during the 1970s, the developed countries of the West deleted the debt of the Non-Aligned Movement, thus allowing the economic boom of Yugoslavia. The BRICS’ movement can promote this while the decision must be taken by the G-8. Humanity as a whole will benefit, because it will be able to restart on sound and healthy principles.
In order to implement the previously mentioned proposals, it is necessary to have politicians with imagination, vision, and courage—politicians who care about the progress of humanity and who can control the greed of multinational companies by restricting their power. Such politicians do not exist today. So we have to create them.