On imports, Athens, Venizelos, elections

Re: Minister, mayor aim to clean up Athens

Kathimerini has been reporting on the sharp decline of central Athens for years now. Your reports have highlighted, in absolute clarity, where those problems stem from. Unfortunately, you have also highlighted promise upon meaningless promise our self-absorbed, inept politicians have made in the past few years to clean up Athens. The people of central Athens know better. Those that can have been moving out of central Athens in droves thus permanently changing the city's demographics forever. These people know firsthand what the rest of us are finding out. When it comes to crime or any important issue involving public safety, nothing will be done.

John Athans

Re: Greek food imports

In my opinion, the article «Why does Greece import so much food,» doesn't tell the whole story. Unfortunately, this is typical of journalism today.

For example, the author states that Greece imports 5,650 tons of oranges. Journalists always do this. They state a raw number without providing context, which makes the number sound alarming. Sure, to the average reader 5,650 tons sounds alarming when Greece can produce oranges itself. But how many tons of oranges does Greece produce? Isn't that important to know? Shouldn't we know the percentage of imported oranges in the Greek market?

According to the US Deptartment of Agriculture, 2011 Greek orange production was estimated at 910,000 metric tons, and Greek orange exports were at 382,200 metric tons. Whereas the import number for 2011 was estimated at 8,500 tons. Kind of puts things in a different perspective, no?

And writing that consumer behavior is at fault for a «high import bill» makes the Greek consumer sound guilty of something. First of all, is the «high import bill» really that high? High in relation to what? What are domestic production/consumption and export numbers? Don't we need that information to arrive at a logical conclusion?

Secondly, what is wrong with wanting an out-of-season fruit when it's not in season? It's not exactly a Greek phenomenon; that's what consumers worldwide want. We live in a free market, do we not?

The article would have been more constructive if it provided context. For example, what percentage of Greek food consumption is imported? What are other similarly situated countries' numbers? Giving the reader raw numbers of imports without providing the full story does not address the issue fully.

Konstantin Kokolis

Re: Venizelos's battles lines

Mr. Venizelos has been an integral part of PASOK's leadership since the 1980s, and one of the architects of the clientele- and corporatist-driven political machine that fostered nepotism and corruption, and then drafted the laws that absolved many of its members of any wrongdoing. This leadership has lost the moral authority and the political legitimacy to lead. This group has driven Greece into the ditch and into a predicament where there are options or any good choices, and the loss its sovereignty.

If the current poll is accurate and is any indication of the possible election result, the new PASOK and the deep PASOK may be assigned to the dustbin of history. Venizelos's claim that this corrupt clique represents the centre left is ludicrous. They are simply no longer wanted, or needed. It is hubris to claim, as Mr. Venizelos and his cohorts do, that they are indispensable.

As a key member of the crew that shipwrecked Greece, together with the members of the deep PASOK who now form the Social Compact, Mr. Venizelos should just sit and watch the ship that has set sail without them. There are enough forces in the ranks of liberal democrats (Democratric Alliance), social democrats (Democratic Left) who may not share ideological orientation, but have a Eurocentric approach (the solution to problems of Europe is to have more Europe), (and others), seek democratic and structural reform, and a tendency to fine-tune the second bailout as indicated by New Democracy, that there is a potential for a co-operative parliament without a formal coalition, for a fiscally disciplined but socially responsible and growth-oriented public policy direction.

A parliament based on party co-operation without the one party (blue or green) dominance will put the brakes on the cycle of reproduction of the system of clientelism and corruption, lack of transparency and accountability that has driven Greece to ruin and the Greek people to poverty and humiliation. How can Mr. Venizelos make the claim that he and his party, having brought so much shame and suffering, are the ones to restore the people's faith in the political system, and provide the moral leadership and strength to restore our pride and dignity? Greek tradition and identity is based on truth, justice, and community, not selfishness, values violated for 35 years by PASOK. How can Mr. Venizelos claim in good faith that he is the one to lead the Greek people in the restoration and reform of our political culture?

Fotis Stamatopoulos

Re: Venizelos draws battlelines for general elections

With the old guard on top, things will not change much in the long run I am afraid. The country needs new younger faces, inspired, idealistic, honest, disciplined and commited 100% to the progress of Greece. My opinion is that elections are being held too early and that it would perhaps be more advisable to postpone them to a later date, in order to give the situation a chance to stabilize a bit.

Barbara Oskanian

Beirut, Lebanon

2009 deficit miss and other what-ifs

There's no use crying over spilled milk, but a little more bickering and accusing are nice distractions.

What I'd like to see are what-ifs and extrapolations of these. For example, what if PASOK had pulled the emergency brake in 2009, immediately started reforming finances, spending, budgets, the public administration and everything that went (or goes) with it? What if no bailout had been needed because reforms were done quickly and efficiently? What would the debt and interest levels be now? What if Goldman Sachs hadn't befuddled everyone all those years ago? What if Greece had kept the drachma instead of joining the euro, even though it sounded really sexy at the time? How much has the financial sector (including countries) earned off this whole misery? What if someone had actually done their job years ago instead of watching Greece's debts pile up and up? What if labour unions didn't act like spoiled brats or chase investment away?

If we go back to scratch and where all the problems started, if we are to believe that Greece fudged their figures (with a little help from their GS friends), why were these figures accepted at face value by the EU? Did no-one actually go to Athens and audit, double check and confirm or amend? Or are the EU auditors brain-dead?

I don't have access to all the information, but I'm sure K could gather all this and make a project of it. Everyone is so euphoric about Greece being «saved» and total disaster having been averted, but no-one's mentioning how many more years and billions are being added to your debt every day, and that worse is still to come. To use a very old quote, «In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king» -- so everyone bobs around like robots and believes everything the troika says, all this positive news, but the blind are not being told what it's really costing them and the future generations.

And here's my personal favourite, the unicorn: What if governments and politicians told the truth? Before and after elections, of course.

Mary-Ann Faroni


Re: German hatred

It's a pity that Ms Buracas and her German guests will not be returning to Greece as tourists anymore because of all the hatred of Germany that she sees in Greece (Letters March 16th).

The hatred for Germany that some Greeks express because of the crisis is real enough. But Ms Buracas should also consider that before the Greeks took any notice of Germany, the German press, starting with the scandalous Focus cover and the relentless anti-Greek hysteria of Bild and other tabloids, drew first blood with crude representations of the Greek people as ungrateful thieves and barbarians who do not belong in the European «family.» A popular chat-show on German TV even showed two cartoon figures on a board with the character designated with the Turkish flag graphically raping from behind the character holding the Greek flag while the host and the studio audience, and presumably the people at home, screeched and howled with delight. And that was only the very beginning.

Today's edition of the Financial Times and other papers reported that to date, Germany has earned over 380 million euros from the loans she has made to Greece so far in the present crisis. In the meantime the Greek economy has collapsed, unemployment has skyrocketed and thousands of Greece are homeless, hungry and destitute because of policies dictated by and insisted upon by the leading EU country.

If Ms Buracas and her guests ever change their minds and return to Greece, perhaps some of that German booty might come back home as well.

Peter Kyriakeas-Kirk

Stoupa, Messinias

Re: ?For whom the drum rolls?

This really is a greatly written article with just one small flaw. He says: «Clearly, there are many people in Greece who have a right to protest their treatment. They have had little, if any, part in causing the crisis but are paying the cost."

Unfortunately the vast majority of citizens are responsible for this predicament and unless we start admitting it nothing will ever change, because people don't even seem to be aware of or flat out ignore what they are doing wrong.

It is common practice to pay someone something to get ahead of someone else. It is common practice to pay a doctor under the table to get better or preferential treatment. It is common practice to report less for a house one buys just to avoid the correct amount of tax. It is common practice not to pay VAT to anyone who comes and does work at your house (repairmen, electricians for example always ask ?Do you want to pay VAT or not?? and guess what the answer to that question is?). These are just a very few of examples where everyday people contribute to how we got into this mess in the first place! Cutting corners wherever possible just simply because such activities usually have no consequences. Shouldn't we develop a discipline just simply not to do things we know are wrong even if nobody stands behind us with a hammer?


Greece?s future

We have proved to the world that we Greeks cannot run even the basic requirements of a modern state. No part of the Greek economy functions, no part of government administration functions and the populace has no understanding of the Enlightenment that took root in Northern Europe that had its origins in Classical Greece.

From 1821 Greeks have dived into the Dark Ages.

Only now I really understand my grandfather?s despair over leaving the Ottoman Empire and ending up in Macedonia, «the land in which even God is too ashamed to make his presence known."

The Ottoman corrupt did not pretend to be running a democratic country.

The failure of any Greek to dare to ask for a democratic constitution and a legal system that guarantees the rule of law means Greece will remain a failed state forever.

When the murder of the innocent, and open stealing by robber barons is excepted as a way of ruling a country, the Central African refugees in Athens must feel right at home.

Anyone who served in the Greek Parliament in the last 10 years should be jailed for failing in their duty to avoid the catastrophe. At the very least, they should not be allowed to enter Parliament ever again. Every political group that had people in Parliament should be banned from fielding candidates for ever.

All new parliamentarians must not have come from any of the Greek universities that have bred the last two generations of subhumans without logic or some degree of humanity or concern for their fellow citizens or country.

The running of the Greek economy should be taken out of the hands of the Greek Parliament, until a new generation climbs out of the Byzantine sewers. Our local atheist and honest shop keeper will do a good job of counting the money.

The priority has to be to make all Greeks truly literate, and, all Government income and expenditure is shown on the internet to the very last cent.

All government businesses must be privatised to take them out of the hands of the thieves and vile scoundrels.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos


The politicians who governed Greece are responsible for the crisis; the opposition which failed in its duty to check on the government is equally responsible.

All must step aside and be subject to investigations.

None of them should be voted back into office next month.

S. Xannas