A storm was unleashed between the press offices of SYRIZA and Eurobank EFG in Greece this week because the radical Left accused the bank's management of "ordering" its employees not to vote for the party.
"Abrupt and unlawful interference of the management of Eurobank in the election. Managers of the Bank organize meetings, at which they talk of the imminent threat to employees if they vote for SYRIZA because a Left government will close the bank and they will lose their jobs. They invite their employees to inform the customers of the bank that they risk losing their deposits if SYRIZA fulfils their political promises. This is not a matter of political controversy, but an action by the bank’s management, which should be punishable because it causes panic." So reads the message from the SYRIZA press office requesting that the Ministries intervene in the issue. The Communication does not indicate the source of information on the activities of the bank nor does it mention any legal action against the financial institution.
Eurobank EFG’s response was swift and the same day they issued a rebuttal to SYRIZA’s accusations. The management of the bank called the allegations of interference in the electoral will of its employees “false” and stated that SYRIZA’s statement is meaningless. "Since its foundation Eurobank EFG is strictly neutral when it comes to the political process and it respects all democratic rules. This is a fundamental principle of our management and employees. Any contrary assertion affects the ethics, professionalism and substance of our institution and its employees."
According to some opinions in Greece regarding the statement of Dimitris Stavroulis for nationalizing the banks and the use of private deposits for public investment, SYRIZA is making its own bed, in which it now has to lie. His statement came two days after the triumph of SYRIZA on May 6th and it made many people run to the banks to withdraw their deposits. So for less than a week after the admission of the left party member, the Greek financial institutions suffered withdrawals of about 1.3 billion Euros. The party quickly denied it will freeze civil deposits and Stavroulis said his words were taken out of context. However, in its pre-election campaign SYRIZA insists on state control over banks and compulsory credit for citizens, who have over 20,000 Euros revenue, in favour of the state.
Developments in Greece interest the whole Eurozone. The growing wave in the country, which pressures for the relaxation of policies related to fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, is beginning to seriously worry creditors. Direct warnings have shifted the diplomatic tone familiar from the past and this is evident in the latest statement of Bundesbank’s management. According to the statement it is preferable for Greece to leave the Euro, rather than giving the country a light regime for the implementation of its commitments in accordance with the Memorandum of financial assistance.
The German Federal Bank describes the status of Greece as particularly worrying and insists that there is no point in extending international assistance to the country if it is not ready to perform its duties. In other words, one of the largest German financial institutions defines Greece as a "loser" and is starting lobbying for the isolation of the problem before it spreads to the rest of the Eurozone. Bundesbank insists that relieving Greece from its obligations will shake the confidence in all transactions and arrangements, undertaken by leaders of the currency union. "If Greece fails to comply with its obligations, it should bear the consequences," Germany insists.
This week the leaders of the European Union gave a direct response to the electoral ambitions of many Greek parties regarding the modification or complete cancellation of the Memorandum of financial aid given by Brussels. After the G8 summit, EU leaders gave a general written statement, which says that Europe will make further efforts to stimulate the economic growth in Greece, but it refused to loosen the belt of the recovery programme. "We will ensure that European funds and instruments will be mobilized to take Greece along the path of growth and to create jobs", but it is vital for the country to meet the agreed structural reforms. This is the only way for the debt to reach more sustainable levels and for the country to become once again stable and attractive for foreign investment.
The next summit of European leaders is scheduled for the week after the elections in Greece on June 17. Until then, however, all Member States of the Union must have created individual programmes for action in the event that Greece leaves the Eurozone, Reuters reports. Information indicates that Brussels is summoning a European working group, which will create an action plan for the exit of Greece. "Until now nothing has been prepared for fear of leaks," a senior official in the European hierarchy told Reuters, as quoted by Greek media.
The Ministry of Finance in Athens said this information is untrue and stressed that such publications do not reflect reality and are dangerous to the stability of the country.