In a European Parliament debate on last week's European Council meeting, GUE/NGL MEPs Neoklis Sylikiotis and Kostas Chrysogonos criticised the Council and Commission for their role in the “financial extortion” of Greece.

Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis said: “The Eurogroup, the European Commission, and the European Council should all stop this financial extortion of Greece. An elected Greek government has demanded an end to the destructive policies of the Troika and the adjustment programmes, let them implement their own programme so they can tackle the humanitarian crisis and help the Greek people.

He added: “We should only implement reforms that aim to help the real economy and sort out the serious issues of corruption and tax avoidance. It is quite clear that an end to the memorandum programme does not mean an end to austerity. This is also happening in Portugal, Cyprus, Spain, and Ireland, all countries that are supposedly no longer under a programme yet the same policies continue: austerity, privatisations, the repossession of houses, rising unemployment and more poverty for citizens.”

Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos said: “The President of the European Council talks to us about the need for structural reforms. To bring back growth we all accept that there should be reforms but the crucial question is what kinds of reforms are we talking about? The Council wants deregulation of the labour market so that labour is disorganised and defenceless vis à vis capital. This will certainly not bring growth, only recession.

“Destroying social rights and increasing destitution for the most vulnerable is a step backwards. Instead we should focus on the fight against large-scale tax evasion and corruption by big multinationals.

“For Greece, it is clear that the Troika policies were toxic and created a humanitarian crisis. They need to be changed. This was a decision taken by the Greek people at the general election. We must respect the fundamental social rights of all EU citizens, including those living in Greece.”

MEP Sylikiotis also spoke about the Commission's new Communication on Energy Union and Energy Security.

He said: “The Council conclusions echo the Commission's Communication by talking about use of member states' “own natural resources” yet there is an omission: there is no mention of the deposits of natural gas in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. We need more pressure put on Turkey to stop illegally harassing Cyprus when it tries to exercise its sovereign rights to use its natural resources. There is no pressure on Turkey, and in this way Turkey influences the energy situation of the area and the energy security of Europe.”

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