“It is a challenge to withstand these colonialist practices”

Interview in L’Humanité with Pierre Laurent, leader of the French Communist Party and president of the Party of the European Left.

François Hollande welcomed that the Grexit was avoided. Has France done everything it could?

Pierre Laurent: No. France stepped in the negotiations very late, after letting Greece alone to face the creditors’ blackmail for months. It then acted to avoid Grexit, this is true, but without preventing an agreement with draconian conditions that harms Greeks’ sovereignty. The Germans had wanted a Grexit from day one, and realising that this wouldn’t happen, they wanted to punish the Greek people. France should have much more rigorously protested against these conditions that are a disgrace to democratic Europe.
Is this agreement viable, whereas it exacerbates the austerity trap? 
PL: This agreement dismisses the Grexit and maintains, under conditions, Greece’s possibility for refinancing. But it also provides new austerity measures and places Greece under guardianship. All this runs counter to the country’s necessary productive and social reconstruction. The measures are unfair, economically counterproductive and democratically profoundly disputable. The Greek Prime Minister, who resisted the Grexit blackmail, put a stop to Germany’s ambitions on this issue. Let us not underestimate the nightmare it would have been for the Greek population and Europe as a whole. It is not for nothing that the extreme right rubs its hands in glee over the potential completion of this catastrophic scenario! On the other hand, and as a balance, Germany demanded sacrifices of inhuman and outrageous price. It is a challenge to withstand these colonialist practices for all peoples of Europe.
What will we be the communist MPs’ position on the agreement? 
PL: Our parliamentary groups are gathering this morning to decide[1]. This choice will take two requirements into considerations. First, solidarity with the Greek people, our comrades from SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras. But it must be clear that we cannot support an agreement designed by German leaders from A to Z in order to humiliate the Greek people. At the Parliament, we aim at making this message as clearly as possible by calling upon the French people, France and – beyond – all European democratic forces to redouble their efforts for the democratic re-founding of the EU and the emancipation from the unbearable guardianship of the financial markets.
European leaders wanted to teach a lesson to those who think that another way than austerity is possible. Against this background, how can the struggle for a solidary Europe go on? 
PL: Teaching a lesson to the peoples who are raising their heads have been the obsession of the European leaders for the past six months. The never really sought a genuine agreement that would have taken the Greek people’s vote into account. A powerful commitment of the peoples of Europe and the confluence of all political, unionist and social forces are crucial to create the necessary balance of power for a social re-funding of Europe. With this agreement, these European leaders hope to shut down the Greek experience. But, on the contrary, the European struggle has only just begun and we have to realise that, in order to be won, it requires the construction of a European social and political front of an unprecedented scale. It is in this spirit that we will take new initiatives and that we will make the “Fête de l’Humanité” a huge gathering for the struggles of all European against austerity.

Interview conducted by Julia Hamlaoui, 15 July 2015, L’Humanité
Translation from French by Maxime Benatouil

[1] The communist groups at the Parliament (Assemblée nationale) and the Senate decided to oppose the agreement.