Greek Parliament : Iraq Debt Forgiveness Ratification

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Originally published on 07/07/2013 at WikiLeaks-Press Website here: http://wikileaks-press.org/topic/greek-parliament-iraq-debt-forgiveness-ratification/?preview=true&preview_id=5470&preview_nonce=ed787a3a8e

‘The basic principle for reciprocity in international relations is not observed.’

On the 4th of June 2013 The Greek Parliament debated and voted on principal the ratification of Agreement between the Greek Republic and the Republic of Iraq. During the discussion Greek Parliamentarian Olga-Nadia Valavanis stated:

The agreement for ratifying the forgiveness of $ 133,000,000 -more than half of Iraq’s debt to Greece-and repayment of the remaining forty-four installments starting in 2019 and ending in 2044, was signed by Finance Minister of the government of New Democracy Alogoskoufis in October 2008 in New York, with his Iraqi counterpart.

On April 7, 2011, Newspaper “Kathimerini” published a series of secret telegrams from the American Embassy in Athens that had come from Wikileaks.  Telegram «08 Athens 626»* of 2008, signed by the then Ambassador Daniel Speckhard, stated: “In May 2008, during a routine meeting, American diplomat of the Embassy in Athens, met with officials from the Foreign Ministry and the issue of the Iraqi debt to Greece settlement was raised.The Greek diplomat explained that the Foreign Ministry and the Greek Embassy in Baghdad was in favour of debt relief as a vote of confidence to the new government of Iraq, but it was hard to pass, due to internal political wrangling in Athens. ”

The Speckhard telegram concludes that the political will for debt forgiveness exists in Greek government, but the problem “is complicated.” Five months later, Alogoskoufis signed the agreement that today we ratify.

I would like to say …that in a recent report by Deutsche Bank on 18 January 2013 the foreign debt of Iraq was found to be “sustainable” . Greek debt on the other hand is not “sustainable”.  Following the  Club Paris 2004 decision, Iraq debt fell from 500% of GDP in 2007 to below 80% of GDP in 2012 and 2013 is expected to fall below 30%.

We [Greece] currently have 175% debt.

And the basic principle for reciprocity in international relations is not observed.

Commentary:

I thought it was very interesting use of US Embassy Cable 08Athens626 as a resource for Valavanis’ argument on the lack of reciprocity in international relations. It also illustrates how US policy on debt forgiveness in occupied Iraq has been implemented in Greece gradually over a period of years and how unfair that agreement has been considering the current economic predicament of the country.

Another interesting point is the way Kathimerini’s article conceals the name of the Greek politician who was briefing the US Ambassador.

Resources:

Hellenic Parliamentary Session 04/06/2013 Notes:  http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?sessionRecord=e7c0f4f6-337f-4514-aa9c-f9de86278312

Valavani’s complete speech can also be found here:  http://nantiabalabani.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/28513.html

The related ‘Kathimerini’ article on Iraq Debt Forgiveness http://news.kathimerini.gr/4Dcgi/4Dcgi/_w_articles_columns_2_07/04/2011_438462

Iraq: Greek MFA on ICI and Debt Forgiveness Politics: http://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08ATHENS626_a.html

* corrected from 55626 to 626