COMMENT

On PASOK, justice, Ephraim the diaspora, Greeks, employment, Cyprus, pharmacists, state assets

One thing that should be evident to all by now, is that hereditary leadership of any kind has been disastrous. The same names are recycled and «leaders» are chosen on the mere fact that their fathers or grandfathers somehow became part of the political landscape.

The choices were wrong, the decisions counterproductive, the measures half-baked with an eye on the next election. We are at the point we are right now because the leaders so far never thought of the country and its citizens but their position in power.

It is high time we all decide it is not about them -- it is about the survival of our country as a sovereign nation -- and actually throw all the bums out.

It is about time that the Greeks decide for themselves what is good for the whole, not for well-connected individuals who always skim the cream, leaving behind 99% of the citizens.

PASOK should be dismantled. No politician who was in a post of power in the last 15 years should be allowed to accept or be offered a position in the government. If past performance is a telling sign, these people should be ashamed of themselves and should be kept away from all government positions.

The political doings of the last 30-odd years have been shameful and irresponsible. Greeks voted the same two parties based on promises never kept.

Let's get rid of all of those who drove us over the brink. Let us base our hopes on those who can do something to get us out of the tight spot we find ourselves in.

Mr Papandreou and his cronies can hold off decisions or take whatever roads they see fit for themselves, and let us choose leaders who have our best interest in mind and can do something positive for a change.

We need leaders who can think and know how to solve problems. God knows we have many problems that need solving.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Ephraim: The Russian surrogate

Ephraim continues to play a major role in the Russian master plan to have Moscow become the Third «Rome.» It is through the financial deceit and the securing of secret funds that he acts as a conduit in this master plan, which include funneling money to his brother in «crime,» elder Ephraim in the US, to undermine the Patriach and the Greek Orthodox Church of America. At the same time, he received a few 10s of million of euros to rebuild Vatopedi. Whey doesn't he keep his monastic pledge and stop masquerading the world politician.

Peter Chresan

Greek exceptionalism is a myth

In response to Alexis Papachelas?s piece on the Greek diaspora, I suggest that the place to begin is by dispensing with ideas about ethnic, genetic or cultural traits which ascribe to a group certain innate characteristics (such as ingenuity or hard work or hospitality or in the case of northern Europeans? Protestant chastity).

Greeks from the diaspora succeed elsewhere because they (like all immigrants to rich countries) arrive in nations rich in resources with a substantial industrial base. A Greek who leaves Greece for a country without such a base will be much, much less likely to succeed. This goes for Indonesians, and Latvians and Peruvians.

In Europe it seems it's a sport to consider one group lazy and profligate while another is chaste and organized. Yet, Germans, for instance, work 35 hours a week, have great social welfare, and that's largely due to its wealth and resources. If profligacy were truly an inbred characteristic, then Germany would have never recovered from the 20th century that saw it alone among all nations as the biggest debtor in history. Biggest defaulter too! Yet Germany survived and flourished. Why? Because of its industrial base, its resources, the Marshall Plan (which in Greece was converted to reinforcing its military primarily), debt forgiveness, etc.

All people can be productive everywhere if given an environment that prioritizes investment and wealth distribution. Greece (I know people hate hearing this) is a victim of history as it careens from one war to another, one self-inflicted wound to another, never stopping long enough to breathe.

What you'll find in many poor and small countries without natural resources or industry is the same culture of corruption and lack of productivity that you find in Greece.

People are the same the world over.

Dimitri Anastasopoulos

Greek stereotypes

For anyone who thought that Greece doesn?t have national stereotypes, today, Wednesday, December 28, there are two Greek stories on the front page of the BBC news website showing that, whilst the general population here is not all spending the festive holy season striking or rioting, some of their religious representatives are only too happy to take their place this week.

One item concerns Greek Orthodox priests protesting against the pre-trial jailing of their abbot in a case involving massive financial fraud; the other shows Greek Orthodox priests fighting their Armenian priestly rivals in Christendom's most holy church in Bethlelhem

A video of the latter item is currently the day's most viewed BBC news item.

Happy New Year and Peace to all in 2012.

Geoff Hughes

Kifissia, Athens

Re: Ministers play down prosecutors? claims of interference

One only needs to look at the «results» any and all investigations of corruption produced.

So far no politician or well-connected individual has been brought to justice.

It becomes boring to harp over and over the same issues and wonder why simple citizens have figured out that the powerful are covered and protected while the government employees wonder where the «innuendo» is coming from.

Look at the illegal structures built. The humble-one story cinder block structures were demolished to prove that something is done, while the mini-mansions are left standing.

Look at the penniless politicians who came in with nothing to show for and left owners of prime properties and inflated bank accounts.

Look at the forms filed recently, where all 300 MPs are straightforward in their tax returns and no one has assets transfered abroad, under assumed names or corporations they control.

Even if discrepancies are discovered no one will be prosecuted. Everyone, regardless of party affiliation, looks out for the others since they all belong to the same group.

Once upon a time there was something called «filotimo,» which no longer is a trait any of them will claim. Any discovery of wrongdoing will be swept under the rug and we may see the backside of someone in handcuffs but will never know who it was or what happened to the case.

Those of us who have something still left inside and hope for a better future in this country we should never again vote any of them in. Experience and service should be anathema rather than a credential.

They showed us what they can do and this should be enough to kick them all to the curb.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Re: Winning back the diaspora

I read the ekathimerini on line everyday before I begin my professional day. I read with great interest your article on «winning back the diaspora.» It is easy. For the reasons set out more fully below, in my Hellenic view there are no diaspora.

The diaspora left from Hellas and were and remain and are Ellines or Hellenes -- the people left behind in Greece have become Greeks. (A Latin word, not a Hellenic word.) A product of being absorbed into Europe without a business plan. Hellenes left with little by way of luggage but had a heart full of the Hellenic Spirit represented by ?Sira Ithiki kai Taxis?. This good order and ethics was pulled out during each struggle to aclimatise to the new environs yet retain Hellenismo at its apex. While back in Hellas, being a Hellene was sold for a foreign cow producing capitalist milk and dairy products including wild spending and corruption in government akin to a mad capitalist cow disease.

Go back to your pure roots of free thinkers, logical human beings and ethical people. Please be Hellenes in Hellas and abandon the «new» old ways littered with xenomania. Then you do not need to win back the respect of the Diaspora.

There is no such word in my dictionary -- a Hellene is a Hellene worldwide. Unity is power and there is nothing like linking all the Hellenes together. The de-linking of Hellenes must stop.

I am a proud Hellene born abroad and living overseas. I reject any notion of being labelled in spirit as a Diaspora or Australian or a Greek Australian. My Hellenic ancestors would not have seen it any other way.

Reflect for a moment on Odessa in the early 19th Century and suspend yourself in the oath of the ?Filiki Eteria?.

This was not flapdoodle but a most successful movement of Hellenism.

Call on the Hellenic spirit and embrace our Hellenic unity and you will see with wonder how Hellas will miraculously mend by repelling the vice of being Greeks in Greece as part of the EU. We should all stamp our historical gravitas -- Hellenes from Hellas as part of the rebirth of the nation in the EU. Be house proud of your Hellenic Spirit and never ever let it leave your shores again. Whether in Hellas or abroad, we should all call each other brother or sister Hellenes.

That is the start -- never again should a Hellene in Hellas or elsewhere refer to any of us abroad as Diaspora, ?xeni?, American-Greeks, Canadian-Greeks or anything else Greek.

We are all Hellenes. God bless the Hellenic Spirit, God bless Hellenic unity, kai Zito Hellas.

Andrew Kostopoulos

Re: Winning back the diaspora

The issues are simple -- the total lack of civic consiousness in Greece distrurbs the Diaspora -- I have lived in Athens and worked in Athens, and while I love Athens, I could never understand the absence of social and civic responsibility of most Greeks.

I love the excitement, the joy of life and many other things, but from around the mid-90s onwards, Greeks lost any sense of propriety and became their own worst enemies.

The 'darker angels' of the Greek psyche took over, hubris and ego. Greeks became xenophobic and lazy, yet were happy to exploit migrants to do the work they did not want to do.

They complained about the Diaspora, especially from North America and Australia, as being dopes, 'Americanakia', etc, yet we were the ones who could see the decline of Greek society.

So many Greek Governments talked about bringing in Diaspora to build the nation, as did Isreal (our closest relevant example), yet they never did, Greeks in Greece saw us, the Diaspora, with suspicion.

We in the Diaspora have little empathy with Greeks in Greece now, we are ambarassed and ashamed, we feel the «dropi» of seeing our fellow Greeks sinking due to their own profligacy and corruption. We are the ones taunted by our peers in our host societies, yet we still defend Greeks in Greece, but we know the truth.

Greeks are all to blame, from the 14-year-old who cannot be bothered to place the empty can of Coke in the bin so he drops it on the ground, the 54-year-old pensioner who is building a new home in the village but leaves it unfinished to avoid paying taxes on it, the plastic surgeon who claims he makes 15,000 euro a year, the middle-aged business owner who has not paid income tax since 1993 -- every one is to blame, not just the governments and the rich. (All the above examples are real and connected to people I know.)

I met and befriended many talented, educated, multilingual Greeks who were simply wasting away in unproductive government jobs or running bars and clubs for cheap tourists.

I saw many extraordinary opportunities such as value added organic foods, high-end cultural and educational tourism, and entrepreneurialism in technology and science hubs, yet none came to fruition because the government was more concerned about maintaining political fiefdoms. Each political party extended the civil service with their own for no reason at all.

The Greeks? focus on trying to be 'European,' which has dogged them since the mid-19th Century, is also party responsible. Instead of being marvelous conduits to trade and culture between East and West, they tried to emulate the French, the Germans and Italians.

As bad is the political naivity of Greeks, one of the most politicised people in the world. Since the late 1970s the insane and histrionic anti-Americanism has produced a nation which tried to marry the Swedish welfare state with a third-world economy, so we ended up with something like a bad marriage between Cuba and Calabria in Southern Italy -- corrupt and inept socialism.

Maybe this crisis is exactly what Greeks need. Austerity, frugality, simplicity and endeavour, most of all cohesion, unity and hard work! Only if we see some genuine change will the Diaspora really assist.

Lambis Katsavos

Melbourne, Australia

Greek nouveau riche are mocking me

When I left Greece in the 1970s I did so to escape a relatively poor, corrupt state.

In Britain I worked hard and became prosperous.

Today, my Greek friends and relatives have better standards of living than I do, bigger homes, smarter cars, newer computers; they take more holidays to exotic locations, and their children go to expensive private schools and foreign universities.

My Greek friends and relatives continue to moan and groan about their future.

I am sick of my Greek friends and relatives. They are spoiled beyond belief, living off my taxes, and more corrupt and arrogant than ever.

So arrogant, indeed, that they repeat to me the sayings of Karatzaferis, that if Greece doesn't receive trillions in our taxes, the country will become the Cuba of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Let them become Cuba, I say.

I'm sick of my arrogant Greek friends and relatives, who think everyone owes them a living.

Today, I trust Turkish politicians more when they talk about Greek-Turkish issues than I trust the pompous Greeks. I have also started to listen carefuly to the arguments of the Skopje Macedonians and the Albanians and Bulgarians.

I no longer think that Greece is a victim. I believe it is a bully. It has also become a coward, ready to enjoy the rewards of the Western alliance but too frightened to accept the responsibilities of such membership.

I've told my greedy friends and relatives that I will no longer be bringing them gifts from abroad as they are rich enough today to buy their own things.

But I do feel sorry for Greeks at the bottom of the pile. They have been exploited by the greedy Greeks and continue to pay the price.

Fanis Koliopoulos

Hamstead, London

New state assets set to go on sale

How about getting rid of the military base in Kechries and building a nice affordable hotel and public golf couse? Not one of the wannabe country clubs that are popping up around the country... I'm sure it would attract many people...

Richard Callahan

Panorama/Xilokeriza, Korinthias

Pharmacy profit cut raises ire

Don?t support strikes but support the reimbursement program... Bravo Loverdos....

Rick Callahan

Justice once again compromised by politicoeconomic intervention

Bravo to Mr. Peponis and Mr. Mouzakitis for bringing the truth about the Greek judicial system to light. Actually no one should be (or is) surprised by this as our MPs continue to act as if it is business as usual. Well, in case they haven?t noticed, it isn?t. Record unemployment, taxes, and displaced families, some of who are homeless and hungry, a rise in preventable deaths due to a lack of medical care and/or pharmaceuticals, ongoing protests about the seemingly daily new austerity measures, a divided and dysfunctional Parliament comprised of narcissistic and thieving public officials whose main aim seems to be to take all they can while they can at our expense, corrupt religious leaders who sell absolution in exchange for cash, land, or ?influence?.

In short, we appear to be one step away from a Greek social revolution. Given that the political and judicial status quo are unlikely to change without some type of intervention, let?s encourage every citizen to speak up using traditional and the more global social media outlets to expose our corrupt officials who have knowingly and willingly caused our current state of affairs. Enough is well and truly enough already. We need new ideas and a social, political, and judiicial structure that will enable those ideas to flourish without any further political-economic-religious interference.

Jonathan Reynik

Re: Winning back the diaspora

Mr. Papachelas is so right. As a Greek-American who has lived in Greece for the past twenty years, I have witnessed, first-hand, the enormous difference between the majority of diaspora and native-born Greeks. In the case of the former, the operating motivation is «what can I do to help Greece», while with the latter it seems to be «what can I take from Greece». I am the first to agree that in the 1970s Greece needed to evolve from a paternalistic, traditional society to a modern European democracy. However, the baby was thrown out with bathwater. All of the good things of old Greek society, such as hard work and responsibility, were chucked out only to be replaced by a self-centered, grab-whatever-I-can society. People collecting pensions for dead relatives... or my favorite, the unmarried daughters? pension... all this freeloading and cheating needs to end. A very wise Greek gentleman once told me «I wish I could bring all the Diaspora Greeks here for ten years and send all the native-born Greeks overseas for the same period. At the end of that decade, I would send everyone back to their original country and Greece would be the most glorious country on earth».

Renee Pappas

Pharmacies in Greece really need medicine

Wow! A state-guaranteed margin on medicines of 18 percent!

Greece is really a paradise for pharmacists: High consumption and high margins. And by that a lot of pharmacists. And Greece is paying and paying. And the pharmaceutical sector kept on sleeping.

I hope they can only dream of margins of 18 percent after some years!

In my country one pharmacist serves for five times more customers, so he can run his business with margins of 4 percent (or less)! The services are ?state of the art?: The pharmacy is online with general practice and hospitals and gets the prescriptions that way; there is an interaction-check concerning the consumption of other medicines and the new prescribed one(s); all medicines can be delivered at home without any charge; and when the client has to pay something, he gets his bill from his insurance company. And so on.

So the Greek pharmaceutical sector better wake up and learn what is going on concerning their profession. Today?s reaction is the one of a spoiled child. And another symptom why Greece is having problems in a euro setting.

Hans van der Schaaf

Return to the drachma

Why doesn't someone in the Greek MM have the courage to start writing articles on what it might be like to return to the drachma?

Wouldn't it be better to begin educating readerships to what looks like an increasingly inevitable outcome? Surely this would be a more positive and practical approach rather than merely bleating about how terrible it would be and ?oh we [Greeks] should not even begin to imagine it??

Greeks are now between the rock of staying and suffering increasingly and horrendously under the euro in the blind faith that somehow someone somewhere will pull a rabbit out of a hat, and the hard place of recognising the inevitable.

Please can someone in the Greek media simply take the bull by the horns and begin to write articles accepting this possibility and advising how a return to the drachma might unfold and what this might mean for Greeks in severly unemotional practical terms.

Please do your readerships this service...

Philip Andrews

Once again, our 'political establishment' will erase all evidence....

What further proof could anyone ask for? Our economy has collapsed, corruption is so rife that even Zimbabweans are talking about it... Unemployment is sky high... What more do politicians need to wake up and surrender their seats to more capable people?

Are we going to continue seeing these same politicians over the next 10 years again? Best then to shut our business, sell everything and leave.

Lionel Luthor

Greeks of the diaspora...

Thank you for mentioning the Greeks of the Diaspora.

Personally I am Greek from abroad, I came to Greece, tried for 17 years to make a 'life', and finally I decided to leave Greece and live with her nostalgy.

I do not want to criticize Greece and what is going on, but what I want to say is that Greeks are not very helpful, especially those connected with the government and its representatives, such as the Greek consulate abroad.

They oblige us to travel to Greece to renew our passports, our Greek passports. They treat us like they are doing us a favor in the embassies or consulates.

I have met so many people who have had the same problems, even had calls from my friends and relatives who live also in other countries, and they are facing the same problems.

We are all getting the same response from the Greek consulates: ''Go to Greece. You will get your passport faster,? or ?The responsible person is not here. Call back in a week,? or ?We are too busy,? or I?f you have someone in Greece, let them do the application on your behalf,? or they never reply to any email or phone calls, it take ages to answer.

Indeed, from the UK, I went to Greece to renew my passport; it took 72 hours. At the police station, I met with so many other Greeks from different countries: the UK, France, Lebanon, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates.

Is that serious?

I do not want to say more, nor criticize, but not even the Ministry of Interior replied to my letter and clarification on this matter.

How is it possible that our Government ignores us?

Thank you for your kind attention and please accept my best wishes for a successful 2012.

Dimitri Laspas

London, UK

Maybe Cyprus can loan Greece some funds...

Since our politicians are so useless, crooked and arrogant, stupid too, they could maybe ask our neighbours for some cheap funding to save ourselves. Then again, these funds will be used to write down, write off the worthless junk bonds they bought from the Greek state, whose bonds were made useless by its very own useless politicians!

Lionel Luthor

Re: Winning back the diaspora

Mr. Papachelis: The reason the Greeks of the Diaspora tend to excel (especially those who live in N. America, Europe a mindset that's quite different than the one that still exists in their country of birth.

Bill Mitchell

Ohio, USA

New jobs

Like in all western countries, ?care? is a booming business. And especially important for youngsters and countries with many old people like Greece. Greece has few nurses, most of them work in hospitals and are nothing more than assistants to the doctors. When programs are started to educate (more) nurses, especially in primary care (general practice, home care, etc), and when they are able to work as a professional and not as an assistant, Greece will be able to give youngsters some future here again, the quality and effectiveness of care and cure will improve, while the costs of cure and care will be less. For instance, in my country, general practice care (including practice nurses) tend to 95 percent of the complaints people present for 5 percent of the healthcare budget. Compare this to Greece and everybody will understand how much more and better can be done here for less money!

Hans van der Schaaf

Online