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Dark Days for Democracy in Greece

13/07/2015 14:07 BST | Updated 13/07/2016 10:59 BST
THIERRY CHARLIER via Getty Images

These are dark days for anyone who believes in democracy. Against the will of the Greek people, and in spite of the plain economic facts, EU ministers and the IMF are inflicting ever more pain on a country that's already been utterly devastated by austerity.

The latest announcements from Eurozone chiefs make for grim reading. A deal has been reached - but it sees the Greek Prime Minister sent back to his country with his own Government's sovereignty stripped away. The measures which he'll present to his Parliament - further privatisation, the curtailing of workers' rights and the liberalisation of the economy- make it plain just how little power was wielded by Tsipras in these negotiations. He went to Brussels hoping to save his country from austerity, and he lost.

It's easy to pour scorn on the Greek prime minister but, let's just be clear: the oldest democracy in the world has been subjected to a coup. The Greek Parliament is being asked to debate this package in just a couple of days. The emergency legislation, which will entirely restructure the way the economy of the country is run, can't possibly be properly scrutinised in the time available yet, once again, elected Greek politicians are having a gun held to their head by the forces of darkness - the IMF, the Eurozone and the ECB. It's particularly depressing to see EU member states, all of whom having signed up to a charter which promises a Union "based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law", denying Greek people the right to have a proper say in how their country is run.

Greece is a poor country that's likely now to get poorer. Further needless cruelty is being inflicted on a country with child poverty rates of over 40% and youth unemployment of over 50%. It's hard to imagine what life is going to be like for Greeks in the coming months and years. It's highly likely that the basic dignities of food, shelter and a decent job will be taken away from more people than ever - adding further injury to a population already stripped of its right to self-determination. The debt of Greece won't be dropping either. As the BBC's Robert Peston pointed out this "this is not a deal that will cut Greece's debt burden - or not for years."

The Governments of Europe know that a credible solution to Greece's woes does exist. European countries must come together to discuss ways to cancel at least some of the debt. It's been done before - when Germany's debts were forgiven after World War Two - and it should be done again. Back then, in 1953, the Greek Government was part of the group who forgave Germany some of its debts and gave it a fighting chance of being able to rebuild itself. There's been no promise of debt relief from this weekend's talks - only a pledge for further discussion: that simply isn't good enough.

Over the course of 17 hours of talks, the will of a nation has been superseded in favour of relentless, economically illiterate and socially destructive austerity. The next part of this sorry saga will see free market economics being masqueraded as democracy in the Greek Parliament. This crisis in Greece makes plain just how urgently we need reform of the EU. That reform won't happen with Britain sitting at the sidelines: instead we need to ramp up efforts to bring democracy back to the heart of the EU project - and open up decision making processes to ensure that the voices of the millions of Europeans are heard inside the negotiating rooms in Brussels.

Caroline Lucas is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion