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To the victor, the spoils: Germans begin the looting of Greece


Darrell Delamaide writes an opinion piece for MarketWatch that details the rapid private sale of Greece’s public assets as part of the nation’s bailout deal. An excerpt below, the full piece on Marketwatch.

To the victor goes the spoils.The ink was not yet dry on the new European bailout accord for Greece before German companies started their plundering of Greek assets. Per provisions of the “agreement” imposed on Greece, the Athens government awarded the German company that runs the Frankfurt Airport, Fraport, a concession to operate 14 regional airports, mostly on the islands like Mykonos and Santorini favored by tourists, for up to 50 years in the first privatization of government-owned assets demanded by the creditors.

The airport deal had been agreed upon last year by the previous Greek government and then suspended by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s newly elected government this year as part of his pledge to prevent the fire sale of valuable public assets at bargain-basement prices. The airport deal gives Fraport the right to run the facilities as its own for 1.2 billion euros over the 50 years and an annual rent of 23 million euros. The German company is also pledging to invest significantly in upgrades for the airports.

Under the terms of the new bailout accord, which provides 86 billion euros of new debt to a government already vastly overindebted, the country must sequester 50 billion euros worth of public assets to sell off at distressed prices to mostly foreign bidders — with German companies first in line.In the end, Tsipras had no choice but to buckle under to the creditors’ demands if he wanted to fulfill his other pledge of keeping the country in the euro.

But the plundering that has now begun unmasks the whole euro charade for what it really is — a war of conquest by money rather than by arms.Privatization is a standard feature of the neoliberal policy mix seeking smaller government, less state intervention and more free-market competition. (Privatization, of course, leads just as often to crony capitalism, while some services, such as electricity and trains, are arguably more efficient as government-owned monopolies.)But privatization in the context of the bailout accord is tantamount to expropriation, like forcing a bankrupt to sell the family silver in order to pay off debts.After piling more and more unsustainable debt onto the Greek government in two previous bailouts — most of which went back to banks in France and Germany — the victorious Northern European governments are now inviting their companies to partake in the spoils.

*Image of Thessaloniki airport via Marketwatch.