On Samaras, Mitropanos, intervention, strikes, Tsochatzopoulos, businesses

Thank you for the article on lifting restrictions on business and life in Greece.

As a small skinny child selling newspapers to the wharf labourers and the «business? people surrounding the wharfs, in the winter rain and cold, and heat of summer, I was convinced by my «wharfie? friends that the Communist Party was the only way to dignity and freedom.

The «wharfies» were very kind people, and on days when I was wet to the skin and trembling or dazed by the heat they would come out of the pub and carry my heavy newspaper bundles across the road to a nook in the pub wall that had shade and shelter from the rain.

I was determined to take every penny I made home to my mother, and even on the hottest day I would not buy a drink. When the wharfies saw me struggling into the pub with my newspapers, they would shout to the bar maids, ?For God?s sake, give him a drink before he collapses?.

I do not make the comment that the wharfies were wrong lightly.

As the years rolled on and small changes were made and restrictions removed, the economy and the lives of ordinary people improved beyond our dreams. It was all about letting anyone who wanted to work and pay taxes the freedom to do so.

Even allowing religious freedom helped the economy.

It was beautiful to see factory workers on basic wages become millionaires, with the freedom to control their lives, merely by having the banks treat them as people with a future.

All change will have its opponents, no matter how small the changes, but we all must keep reminding those around us that a free society is the one that will do the most good for all.

It will never be perfect, it will be an ongoing job, but free societies have time for even the weakest member, and someone will always be brave enough to say no to an injustice.

Unnecessary poverty is an unforgivable sin that is still too common in the world, and it troubles me greatly that it is again growing in Greece.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Opportunity for Greeks to toughen up

In 1980 I was on a business trip to Thessaloniki. I went to a restaurant in the evening to have dinner. Across from me sat another businessman, non-Greek, who was also having dinner and was ready to order dessert. He asked the waiter what was on the dessert list. The waiter responded with the Greek word for strawberries (?fraoules?). I could see that the man did not understand so I offered my services as a translator. I told him that the dessert was strawberries and he ordered them. He then asked me if I would like to join him, which I did. It turned out that he was a Turkish businessman exporting dried fruit from his homeland. He was from Ankara. He was returning from a trip to Brussels and stopped in Thessaloniki to see the home where the first modern-day Turkish leader, Ataturk, was born.

In the course of the conversation we discussed Turkey's financial problems which the country was then undergoing. He told me that they had regular power outages and there was a lack of fuel oil, forcing people to live in cold homes. But then he said something that has stuck in my mind for these past 32 years. He said he did not mind the hardships because in the end it would make the Turkish people tough.

Until I hear those same sentiments uttered by the Greek people, change for the better in this country is illusory.

Takis Leventis


Tsochatzpoulos remanded in custody

Justice has finally been meted out to one politician who had the audacity to steal not thousands but tens of millions of Euros from the taxpayers? honeypot without any sign of fear that one day he might be apprehended and put in prison. This lowlife person who brought the country to the brink of catastrophe had no shame in him and deserves the utmost punishment that could be handed out by the court. What annoys me, though, is the fact that no other politician who stole money like this trash ex-minister, who are many, are still enjoying the honey they put their hands into over the years and are still as free as a bird laughing at us, the normal people who have to currently grapple with the financial uncertainties and return to poverty status. All of these ex-politicians who devoured millions from the state coffers must be brought to justice; this country will not have a future simply because one ex-minister was selectively brought to justice. I am for punitive sentences for all of those politicians who stole, irrespective of their status or position. Not to mention the tax officers, judiciaries and town-planning officials who prospered excessively at the expense of us normal people who struggle to make ends meet. These should also be brought to justice and the law should strip them of all the kickbacks they received which brought the country to its knees. And after all this is done, we need to start applying the law afresh and catching those lowlife people such as the driving license checkers who take a kickback of 300 Euros to pass people who are a danger to others when allowed on the streets to drive. I for one was flunked intentionally, although I passed the exam, because I didn?t pay a ?Miza?. Shame on the politicians who know all the tricks and still do nothing. These politicians are either stupid (which might be the case) or are sharing the mizas that are given.

John Elkass

Easter travel down as austerity takes its toll

A lose-lose situation for all involved.

Those who could not get away, I suppose, suffered the least.

The islanders who expected the influx of tourists to start the season were left with empty rooms and supplies they will have to discard. The producers of foods that would move to or from the mainland saw their possible profits go down the drain.

The ferry boat owners who raised the ticket prices to balance the expenses were left with half-empty boats going back and forth.

We got another black eye with the headlines that the seamen actually went through with their two-day strike. If anyone plans to come to Greece for the summer, they will think twice before booking a holiday here.

However the seamen were adamant and went on strike. It is unclear what they accomplished by this.

Striking in Greece is no longer a sign of protest or an honest fight for one?s rights. It has become a form of blackmail and the average person is always the loser.

Monica Lane


Staying in the camp

What Alexis Papachelas says is all true, but he misses a vital point; you can?t blame geopolitics forever. The real blame must be placed with each and every citizen of this amazing country. ?Den ftaio ego? is not an adequate excuse anymore. As a foreigner (with 20 years here) I have often asked what is wrong with Greece. Invariably the blame is put towards the government/Berlin/Troika.

After a while (and a few drinks) most of my friends start to talk about the corruption, the nepotism and the clientism. It isn?t a question of changing the system. The mindset has to change.

Christopher Humphrys

Military intervention -- the great taboo?

One thing I notice about the wonderful contributions made in the letters page of K, is that hardly anyone seems to mention the possibility of another military intervention.

It seems to me that, despite the overwhelming nature of the catastrophe that is facing the Greek people and nation at the present time, and the overwhelmingly inadequate response from those groups and individuals who should be responsible and in authority, the possibility of bringing in the military to create conditions of stability within which some fundamental reforms can be carried out seems to be so taboo that no one, but no one has breathed a word about it.

Even when that poor writer in the magazine Forbes speculated on the possibility of such an intervention, he apparently raised such a furore a amongst the Greeks and their liberal supporters that he was forced to amend his article title.

Okay, as I mentioned in my previous contribution, no one in the military likes to be in government. Soldiers prefer to take orders from civilians, not to give them. However it seems that during the last 30 years of what one might call socialist conditioning, any solution to the political crisis, including outright anarchy and chaos, and dreaming about any kind of socialist revolution, however fantastical, has come to be considered preferable to even mentioning that the military might have to intervene. There is an almost pathological avoidance reaction to any mention of this possibility. Even as we collectively go over the cliff...

I think some people might call this attitude living in denial. Not just Greeks, but everyone in Europe is apparently shaking with apprehension that the great European experiment to produce permanent democracy and eternal well-being after two great world wars is about to unravel gradually with the prospect of countries that are failing economically possibly going into some kind of less than democratic state system in order to cope with the consequences of socio-economic fallout.

It seems no one wants to grasp the nettle and admit that we?ve been deluding ourselves for so long about the permanence of our democracy and eternal well-being that we can?t come to grasp the reality that some other form of state authority may take over if we do not get our act together as a continent of nations. It seems that Greece being well in the lead in the disintegration stakes may well be asked to show the way in this respect by producing a military intervention as an alternative to absolute anarchy.

Might the ?controlling powers? be saying to Europe, ?We will produce a military intervention in Greece in order to show the rest of you what may happen if you don?t all fall into line with our policies (no names no pack drill)?? Or are they saying, ?If we don?t pull together democracy will end and chaos will ensue and only authoritarian (technocraticmilitary?) administrations will then be able to save us?? These possibilities being mostly unmentioned but somehow suggestively implied...?

This is merely a possibility though increasingly rumoured as plausible. The reactions from commentators to the Great Taboo are generally hysterical, to put it mildly. It is when humanity learns to grasp reality and to live with it that crises are most effectively resolved by whatever means necessary. When humanity continues to cling to illusions of permanent peace and prosperity e.g. the EU, rather than working with reality as it is, however distasteful this may be, humanity will eventually bump into that reality in a somewhat more painful and distasteful way than it may have anticipated.

Military interventions represent this kind of reality for those who have lived too long in illusion. Surely it is better to accept the lesson of this reality and move forward with it however painfully but positively to a better reality and future than to cling to illusions from the past that have not served us well and continue to call this kind of reality taboo?

Philip Andrews

Death of Dimitris Mitropanos

In July 1983 I came to Piraeus on business -- shipping business, what else? Early that evening I saw and heard a singer on TV and although I couldn?t understand a word of what he was singing, something in his voice struck me.

That same evening we were invited by the people I was doing business with to a well-known club along the beach and to my surprise that same man was singing there. Again his voice, his performance, his whole act, struck me. That man was Dimitris Mitropanos and ever since that day I have been a great fan and admirer of his. In my opinion his voice only became better over the years.

His death makes me very sad and I wish his next of kin all the strength to cope with their great loss. I will always remember him. This morning I went and lit a candle for him. May he rest in peace.

Theo Horsten


Singer Dimitris Mitropanos, 64, dies

May he rest in peace.

For all of us who enjoyed his music and admired his talent, this is a big loss.

My condolences to his family.

Monica Lane

Comments from ND?s Samaras

?We are asking for a clear mandate so that we can be a responsible government and can apply our entire program, without having to compromise with those who brought the crisis about,? the ND leader added in reference to the previous PASOK government, rejecting the likelihood of a coalition government.

Bottom line: Greece, a country with 10 million people, does not collect taxes from its citizens while racking up $500 billion in debt. What responsible government would allow this to happen? All political parties are illegitimate and need to be flushed down the toilet.


Maryland USA