It can be seen from far away. Columns of smoke rise over the city, black-dressed, masked people running across the streets of Frankfurt, torching police cars and getting involved in fights with the police. There is chaos, disturbance, fury and fear. We are situated in neither a war zone nor a country where there is civil war. We find ourselves in the heart of Europe. To be exact, in Frankfurt on the Main, in Germany. After the election victory of the Greek leftist party Syriza, Blockupy, an anti-capitalist, globalization critical, leftist alliance composed of social movement activists, alter-mondialists, migrants, industry workers, party members, unionists and many more coming from over 90 organizations from across Europe, set the 18th of March 2015, coincidentally the day of the official opening ceremony of the new building of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, as a date to protest and rebel against the austerity policy of the European Union. The German alliance is supported by many well-known organizations, such as the interventionist left, Attac, Occupy Frankfurt, the party DIE LINKE and several trade unions and youth and student organizations. Their aim is to create a European movement of opposition against the so-called “European crisis regime” and, furthermore, to declare hostilities against any kind of racism and the rise of the extreme right. This Wednesday, they called upon everybody to disrupt the opening ceremony of the ECB through peaceful sit-ins. During the afternoon people were mobilized for a rally and subsequent a demonstration. The agreements for the protests of Blockupy, which were arranged beforehand, included plans for expressly peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations, rallies and sit-ins and the majority of people came to protest peacefully. But, already in the early morning hours, the situation escalated as several anti-capitalist protesters torched police cars and engaged in street battles with police men. The usually peaceful and placid Frankfurt turned into a battle field.
What is wrong with the policy of the ECB?
The European Central Bank (ECB), based in Frankfurt on the Main, is an institution of the European Union. Founded in 1998, it is the common monetary authority of the member states of the European monetary union. Its primary objective is to reach and guarantee the stability of prices. Furthermore it is its assignment to determine and conduct the monetary policy for the Euro currency area and to support a frictionless functioning of the payment systems.
The European Central Bank (ECB) plays a significant role in the current euro crisis as well, and is an essential part of the Troika, a cooperation between the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission. The role of the Troika in the European policy and economy is to negotiate with the member states of the euro zone, particularly with the ones in complicated financial situations. Concerning this matter, Blockupy accuses the ECB of aggravating already bad conditions in the crisis-hit countries with its austerity policy. Together with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, they implement a policy, which leads to dramatic consequences in the crisis-hit countries. As a result of the Troika, 400 000 people were expelled from their homes in Spain, almost a third of the population in Greek no longer have access to the healthcare system and over 40% of the Greek population are officially declared impoverished. The facts given above are all verifiable associated with the Troika policy. How Greece’s minister of finances, Giannis Varoufakis, said, the austerity measures take the breath not only out of the Greeks, but out of everyone affected by the measures.
How can the situation in Greece be changed?
Well, beyond question, this problem will not be easily changed and, apparently, the perfect solution hasn’t been found yet. But the main problem is that, caused by the austerity policy and the rising poverty in the affected countries, companies are no longer capable of financing investments. I think, instead of giving the money of the rescue fund to the banks, which would try to reduce the debts, the money rather has to be given to the people and to the actual owners of the bank accounts. While several euro rescue packages were passed, the money never reached the actual population. And that fact has to be changed, because investments are the foundation of an efficient and profitable economy. Other than that Greece has to make its way to the land registry office, combat corruption and establish tax justice for the whole population. Furthermore there is a great requirement to invest in education, tourism and the ship industry, as these three are probably Greece’s most important sources of income. Overall, besides all these measures, the reestablishment of the Greek state will take time, lots of it.
What do you think: how can the situation in the crisis hit countries be changed?