Les tyrans ont toujours quelque ombre de vertu Ils soutiennent les lois avant de les abattre.
(Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them.)
Frenchmen, our brothers!
On the 19th of February, your President, François Hollande, visited the capital of our country, Athens. “Our message to Greece is a message of friendship, support, trust and growth” stated your President and asked the French corporations to invest… to invest in land and water.
Hollande and Samaras (Greek PM) talk about “investments” in the sector of water resources management, resources which are protected by the Greek Constitution, and belong to none, nor the Prime minister, to trade them in.
We are very well acquainted with your struggle to protect the social and common goods and your sensitivity to water management. After years of private management and despite the fact that the two bigger players, Suez and Veolia are of French interests, Paris, Brest, Varage, Durance-Luberon, Castres, Cherbourg, Toulouse and others vindicated and succeeded to return water into public hands. And they did so after they experienced the consequences of water commercialization, the surge in water prices, the inequality in access to water services, the reduced investments in network maintenance and expansion and the monopoly practices. Even though in Greece the citizens have forgotten the distant era of 1925, result of the international audit of that time, where water in Athens was at the hands of the American Ulen, the younger of us, by reading and studying, we share with you the exact same worries for the forthcoming privatization of EYDAP and EYATH (Athens and Thessaloniki water companies) and other, as the rumor has it, municipal services.
And our agony gets intensified and transformed in rage, when we read the answer of Oli Rehn’ Directorate to the civil society groups that confirms that the European Commission intensively pushes for the privatization in all troubled countries that receive loans, despite the fact that this is directly opposite to the Directive for neutrality when it comes to public or private property of water services management (article 345 TFEU and article 171 Directive 2006/123/EC on internal market services) but also on the Protocol on Public Services of the Treaty. At the same time, the Commission and the Greek government ignore to their knowledge the fact that it is the Commission itself that conducts a research on Suez Veolia and Saur monopolistic practices and practices of conduct harmonization.
In this country therefore, in the brink of default, that loses daily its sovereignty and independence and where citizens’ voices and reactions against the colonial sell-off of its natural resources are drowned under the dogma of “zero tolerance”, the Greek government, that stole the Greeks’ vote to “renegotiate” the memorandum, thinks it is urgent to cash in with anything that can be sold, and it seems they have for sale not only its heritage but also a part of its soul. We, the Greek citizens, return humiliated to an era of protectorate, forced to privatize our water, which will become thus not safe and expensive.
After the grand Italian referendum for the water on 2011, the remunicipalization in many French cities, the legislating from the Netherlands in 2004 of compulsory public management of water services and the existing protection of water in the German Constitution, we cannot help but wonder: Does the EU still considers us Europeans? And we are sad, exactly because we are indeed Europeans, not only for us, but for the event that we will become, against our will, the Trojan horse for the creation of a water market everywhere in Europe. We know that the French people will become not a euro richer, even if French water corporations expanded their action to the last of our islands and that is why call on you to stand on our side. We do not want such “investments” that mean privatization of profits and socialization of costs, which will hold our country indebted for eternity.
We want to shout at you with all the power of our souls that water privatization in Greece is a matter of all Europeans that have for many years now resisted vigorously the commercialization of water services. It is a step backward in our common struggle for commons and human life. For all of us, water is more than a common good, it’s a symbol of justice and freedom, a collective heritage that we have the duty to safeguard and deliver safe and free to the next generation.
In conclusion, Greece’s destiny is also Europe’s destiny, a Europe behaving as an undemocratic oligarchy, installing a new type of feudarchy of the 21st century, where decision making is reserved for the market lobbies.
Frenchmen, our brothers, we the Greek citizens ask you to stand on our side on this struggle for the democratic management of our water resources, against a troika that decides and commands and a government enchained, sometimes to its pleasure, to the memorandum clauses. It is time we give together a new impetus to the triptych liberty – equality – fraternity.
Το εναντιούμενον τω δυναστεύοντι δήμος ωνόμασται.
That which is opposed to the tyrant has the name “demos” (people)
Thucydides, 460-394 B.C.