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SYRIZA government in Greece would veto CETA

BBC reports, “The EU-Canada deal, clinched in October after more than four years of hard bargaining, still has to be ratified by the parliaments of all 28 member states, each government and Canada’s 10 provinces. So the deal is unlikely to take effect until 2015 at the earliest. And trouble is maturing in the Greek parliament.”

Hellenic parliament


The article explains, “Feta cheese makers and many politicians in Greece feel sour about an EU free trade deal with Canada which they believe threatens the uniqueness of the protected brand. …Canada argues that ‘feta’ is a generic name and under the trade deal Canadian producers can still market their cheese as ‘feta’. …(But in Greece) feta is a national symbol… A court ruling in 2005 gave Greece a monopoly on the name in the EU. …The feta industry accounts for more than 70% of Greek cheese exports and – unlike much of the struggling Greek economy – it is expanding. …Michalis Arvanitis, a feta producer running an export-oriented dairy near Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, says his genuine feta should not have to compete with Canadian imitators.”

“The leftist SYRIZA bloc (the Coalition of the Radical Left), the main opposition group, rejects the EU-Canada deal. ‘A SYRIZA-led government will veto the agreement’, says Thanassis Petrakos, a SYRIZA MP.”

“Many analysts expect that Greece will hold snap elections in 2014, and recent polls suggest it will be a close race between SYRIZA and the ruling conservatives, like the last polls in 2012.” SYRIZA currently holds 72 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. The two-party governing coalition is currently led by the New Democracy (ND) party with 127 seats along with the 27 member Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

Skouries mine

Greek media has previously reported that SYRIZA ‘would cancel the (Skouries) gold mine contract if it comes to power’.

And that would provide them with another reason to veto CETA.

That is because if the Canada-European Union ‘free trade’ agreement were ratified with the investor-state provision intact, Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold, the company behind the controversial Skouries mine in northern Greece, could sue Greece for millions of dollars in lost profits should a SYRIZA government revoke the company’s license in defence of the right to water, the land, and forests.

Kriton Arsenis, a Greek Member of the European Parliament, has been an outspoken critic of the investor-state provision in CETA. He has written, “The adverse effect of investor-state dispute settlement clause on environment and public health laws is already evident. In recent years, investor-state arbitration has become a powerful tool giving standing to private commercial entities to bring actions against states in order to circumvent any law restrictions. This clause if finally included in the EU-Canada trade agreement will end up to being an easy way to bypass democracy.”

Water privatization

Our allies SaveGreekWater.org, Movement 136, SOSte to Nero, Watervolo and numerous other organizations have been campaigning to stop the privatization of the water utilities in Athens and Thessaloniki, EYDAP and EYATH.

A Blue Planet Project report concluded, “There is no separate justification for the privatisation of the two water companies. Government uses the general rationale of needing to sell public assets to pay off the debt burden, because otherwise we won’t have ‘money for salaries and pensions’. This line is repeated as an excuse for every measure that the government, the Central European Bank and the IMF want to impose. We believe that privatisation will have the same results and impacts experienced elsewhere – namely, it will result in decreased access, higher rates and lower quality of service.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “The European Commission and the European Central Bank are using the financial crisis to promote an ‘austerity’ program that includes privatization of water services in a number of countries, including Greece.”

In this respect, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has stated, “We deem that public commodities such as water or energy must remain under state control. The record of privatizations in other countries is quite negative. It encouraged profiteering in pricing and a dramatic decline in the living standards for the weaker members of society. But this undeniable fact tends to be omitted from public debate. What we need is public, economically sound and efficient public utilities.”

Once a public utility is privatized, it would be costly and difficult to remunicipalize with CETA in place.