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On elections, Tsipras, Chrysi Avgi, civil service evaluation

Re: Tsipras's determination to lift MP immunity 

Wonders of wonders! What excellent news! 

You report today that Alexis Tsipras has included among his five key points for coalition agreement that there be: 

"The immediate abolition of a law granting MPs immunity from prosecution..." 

Finally, it seems there is a chance of someone coming to power in Greece with the will to enforce transparency, accountability and responsibility amongst Greece's politicians by stripping them of the immunity from prosecution behind which they have operated in their own interests for decades. 

Go Tsipras! If you achieve only this, Mr. Tsipras, you will have done the most magnificent thing for Greece. You will have given Greece the chance to finally rid itself of corruption at every level. 

David Cade
South Shropshire, England  

Cash, cash, cash 

Why does a bank in a small town like Kalamata have so much cash? 90,000? 

A 70-year-old illiterate Melbourne friend recently wanted to buy some secondhand vintage furniture from different people who advertised on the internet, and she needed $3,000 in cash. 

A large suburban bank that serviced a big part of the surrounding 120,000 population would not give her $3,000 in cash from her account without 24 hours' notice; they did not want to be left without cash themselves. 

The market place is mainly cashless. Even buying a drink is done with a card. 

As the technology changes and mobile phones become everybody's mobile bank, cash will disappear altogether. 

Can any Greek imagine going into a bank and getting a number to be served, and not waiting for hours to be served? 

Then again, the tax man is automatically notified of transactions above $5,000 in Melbourne, so Greeks will keep the 3,000-year-old system of doing business. 

Are Greeks in Athens with suitcases on the way to buy a car or are they tourists? 

When Greece eventually gets a government, one of the ways to judge its effectiveness will be how much cash is flowing around. The government needs to ban the use of cash in large amounts in its first day in office. Banks that trade in cash need to be closed, and the managers jailed. 

Chariloas Lithoxopoulos  

Greece as a symbol 

Commentators worldwide have been focusing on Greece as a symbol of resistance to austerity measures. While this may make some Greek voters feel like they are heroic and fighting the good fight, there is a potentially catastrophic outcome to becoming a symbol within this European battle. It may be that the forces of austerity may decide that strategically they urgently need to crush this symbol to scare the rebelling populations of France, Spain and Italy. 

Greece is not well regarded due to the incompetence and corruption and self-absorption of its politicians and also a good part of its population. Many may want to just throw Greece into the sea, swallowing whatever pain and cost that might require (much less now then before). Remember that most of the efforts to save Greece did not come from love, but from steely self-interest due to the potential effects on the European and world banking system and the larger EU economy. 

It is a catastrophic mistake to assume that Greece still has that bargaining leverage. Most of the intermediate steps of the bond 'haircut' and other measures have meant that large losses have already been taken and absorbed. As a result, the remaining costs of letting the Greeks go, to where their delusions might want to take them, are now considerably reduced. 

I'm sorry to say that pushing Greece out of the EU or the Eurozone would be popular with many of the voters of the north. Their populism is diametrically opposed to Greek populist sentiment and they too vote. Plus, it is their taxes that fund the endless Greek bailouts, so they too are angry and frustrated and want to lash out. 

Their governments might just decide that ejecting Greece and watching the ensuing chaos there would be politically popular and also serve to push back and frighten the anti-austerity forces. And it might even make the markets happy, as there would finally be a resolution of the never-ending drama.

And in case the election of President Hollande is making Greeks feel they have a powerful ally, they need to know that in the upcoming June elections of the French parliament, the right has a very good chance of making Hollande a lame duck by electing a Conservative majority. Marine Le Pen may have urged her supporters to not vote for Sarkozy, but she will fight tooth and nail for every seat in the parliament. And in the first round of presidential voting the right was in the majority. 

Of course, forcing Greece to leave has to look like the Greeks did it to themselves, something the hapless Greek politicians are very likely to cooperate with, as they bluff and overbet on the very middling hand they hold at this high-stakes poker table. 

Greek voters should heed their own mythology and like Odysseus lash themselves to the mast of reality, so they don't fall victim to the siren calls of the populists and by following them to crash the Greek ship on the rocks. That is not the kind of symbol Greeks want to become. 

Damir Susnjar

I have a great solution on how foreigners can help Greece... 

Can you look at my letter on 

I outline our wish for Greece to remove the troika, offer intellectual visas and make Greece the free internet capital of the world. 

Please have a quick look. 

Colin Semeniuk  

Your mistake about France 

Mr Papachelas, 

You make a big mistake about France and its new president when you write: "Some like to think that the outcome will scare Germany and France into easing their fiscal demands on Greece and, perhaps, sending the country some generous aid package". 

Maybe Germany, actually, and Ms Merkel have this hope or thinking. But I can tell you that is not the French position, from 8 May, that is not the position of Francois Hollande. 

Our new president wants a renegotiation of the last treaty. He wants to save the social and European model. And for this, he wants to convince Merkel of the need for another policy.

If he is alone, his chances will be low. 

But if other countries, if the Greeks, the Spanish, etc, are one with him, he can move Merkel and her certitudes... 

Francois Hollande is an ally for Greece, accept it and him. 

We can win together, but acting alone we will certainly lose.  

Thierry Brene

SYRIZA's Tsipras to make bailout rejection key bargaining point 

Making statements on bargaining points while he is out of government is easy rhetoric. Once inside, however, the rhetoric ends, and reality begins! He won't be like a Saudi king to sign royal decrees; he would need consensus from his partners, and consensus from the European partners, the IMF, and the lenders. He cannot tell them that he won't honor the past agreements, and they can either take it or leave it! If he does, Greece has to go back to drachma! 

Let's face it! Greece is a small and lightweight country, and it cannot pull the big and heavyweight European partners by the nose! Greece need a smart prime minister now, but not a smart ass! The Greek citizens used the May 6 election to take revenge against corrupt politicians. But if whoever governs Greece now tries to take revenge on Europe, he will sink Greece further into instability and uncertainty that he will come to regret. As an adage says: "Be careful what you wish for; you may get it!" 

Nikos Retsos (retired professor)  

The Greeks are naive 

The Greeks and the leftist party are truly naive to think they can dictate better terms with the EU. The EU countries are fed up with having to bail out Greece without any real efforts from Greece to solve their own debt issues. 

After the leftist new government turns down the agreement already made and puts the debt payments on hold, the EU countries will bail out from assisting Greece permanently. 

I hope the new goverment is made responsible for what happens after that as it will be far worse than anything going on right now. Greece will decline into a state unseen so far. Public worker salaries will be unpaid as will pensions. Total chaos. There will not be gasoline or heating oil. 

The responsibility will be with the parties who gave false promises and won the election therefore... 

John Hongis  

Civil service evaluation on ice 

My background is Greek, however I am a born Canadian who is also a civil servant. I am not sure if evaluating civil servants will do anything, unless this evaluation is done by a private firm, not by the government itself. This is what we recently did in the City of Toronto, by KPMG....We too were overspending and nepotism had run wild, not that it will ever go away, however Greece has to start somewhere. I believe the examination would be a good start, however it will have to be executed in such a way that again a private firm has the questions, and no more "Meson" to get the answers, different tests administered in different areas of the country... I was in Greece this past summer, and I saluted the guards at Syntagma Square because for me as an outsider looking in, sadly I feel Greece is over and therefore that was my final goodbye to my beloved Greece where I grew up for many years before returning to Canada. 

Mary Kapogiannis  

Tsipras lays out five points 

Thanks to Ekathimerini staff for giving the outsiders a review of Greek affairs. However, seeing a young man like Tsipras talking about everything except how to make the economy work, really indicates that the average Greek, after years of crisis, still doesn't realize the mess he is in. 

I guess it is useless to remind the average Greek that my country, Slovenia (we are only 2 million), has put up 300 million euros for the rescue package, while at the same time struggling to cut down our own deficit by 800 million this year. 

So it is not only about Germany and its banks but also about other Eurozone countries (without the banks). Slovenia had to go through harsh tests to enter the Eurozone, and now we find that some other countries not only cheated, but we even have to rescue them to save the investment we made by entering the Eurozone. 

Apparently the 600 euros per family we threw away isn't enough. Consider that this is also the average pension in Slovenia. When you add to that the fact there is not even the slightest signal of gratitude from Greece, but the general mood seems to be that of a victim of a worldwide conspiracy, and that we are the bad guys actually owing Greece so much more, the pressure grows. Excuse us, but maybe the time has come to flush the toilet. 

Although the average Greek probably doesn't even know we exist, believe me, we know so much about the Germans and the Balkans, we are ex-Yugoslavs, a mix of both. Please Greece, do not escape into insanity. Just look at Serbia (yes, we tried to rescue them too), even Bulgaria left them in the dust, and Albania is closing in. The choice is yours. 

Greg Kunic  

Hail Alexis Tsipras, new prime minister of Greece 

The people of Greece are fortunate indeed in having the long-awaited appearance of a new prime minister, the dynamic, young star-quality Mr. Alexis Tsipras. All other party leaders in Greece who are no longer beholden to the thoroughly discredited nostrums for Europe proffered by Frau Merkel must now join Tsipras via a resounding vote of confidence in your Parliament. Then Greece can lead in the formation of a new economic-financial arrangement for her sister Mediterranean nations, plus the Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Greece must move swiftly now to restore the drachma, thereby gaining leverage for negotiations over rational terms for discharge of her putative global financial obligations. 

Rhodes Vessels
Lewes, Delaware, USA  

Time to speak frankly 

When I look and see how the situation in Greece has become after the elections and the rise of the far-left parties, I wonder if we are about to witness our last demise and the hefty costs we all have to pay as a result of policies that the far-left parties, headed by a amateur Tsipras, will implement. It's a known fact that Tsipras and all his followers don't believe in what they promise and say; they only wanted to gain the elections under false pretenses and void promises that hold no water and substance. If these promises were to be translated into real actions, not only would the country collapse but the risk of falling into civil war would be a real certainty. People have come to the point of cursing everything that has to do with politics. Corruption had made this country a scapegoat of the few at the expense of the majority. Yes, many Greeks had at some point benefited from hiding certain data, but in no way was this comparable to the millions and even billions that ND and PASOK had stolen over the last three decades, leaving the country in a shambles today. It's not fair to say that we all ate from the honey of this country. The honey had been eaten by the politicians and their subordinates. They left the country struggling to catch its breath, vulnerable to dire consequences from every breath it takes. But despite this entire bleak scenario, it's not fair to take the last plunge into the bleak unknown; one that would destroy us all. The far-left parties are intent on destroying whatever is left of this country by applying their simplistic form of exit from the crisis. For God's sake, what does Tsipras know about economics? He's 38 years old and has been in politics since he was less than 30. He's never worked for respected multinational firms to claim knowledge of things. He's a simple guy who was inflated beyond his abilities because PASOK and ND had finally wanted to salvage the country from destruction. What annoys me are the Greek voters who acted irrationally and with anger by giving this kid Tsipras the ability to destroy whatever is left standing in this beloved country of ours. This country is not for Tsipras; it's for our kids and grandkids and no one should be allowed to destroy it, be it Tsipras or Papariga or whoever. We will stand in the front line and compel these ignorant, young and stupid politicians from dashing our dreams. Greece needs the Troika to fit itself into the Euro zone. It needs to restructure to survive. It needs to come back to its roots to become a successful country. 

John Elkass  

Voting for SYRIZA, KKE moves us an inch closer to becoming North Korea 

I am a Greek Australian and like hundreds of thousands of Greeks of the diaspora, we had to leave our country because of the unnecessary civil war that the left and the political left imposed on us when they decided to adhere to Stalin's orders and order the partition of Macedonia and Thrace to Yugoslavia. 

Whilst I deplore the extremism of Golden Dawn and its racist rhetoric, let's get our facts straight as to who the real and most frightening extremists are. It is SYRIZA and KKE that have for the last 10 years organised anarchists and communists to run riot, burn houses, cars, shops, banks and churches. It is the leftists who have not contributed one single idea to an economic recovery plan and a tax reform and recovery regime that works in every other liberal democracy. It is Mr Tsirpas and Ms Papariga who adorn their offices with pictures of Mao, Lenin and Stalin and whose anti-Semitic rhetoric that calls for the destruction of Israel is deplorable, racist and outright shameful. 

It appears that most Greeks in Greece have fallen foul of the same old populist welfarist language of the 1970s and 1980s that is at the root cause of the problem today. 

While you all now bask in the shadow of Mr Tsirpas and Ms Papariga's election results have you bothered to consider the implications of what would happen if you continue to vote for them? It is very simple, the complete and utter deindustrialisation of the country, a Robin Hood tax on people who build commerce and industry in the country, no more fancy parties and holidays in Mykonos, the loss of the Aegean to Turkey and the loss of our national identity to FYROM. In short, within 10 years Greece will be the backwater of humanity with gulags and North Korean labour camps. 

Carl Yorke

Greek election results & the Greek mentality 

The results of the Greek elections show how much responsibility Greeks are prepared to take upon themselves for the current economic crisis in Greece. Let's not fool ourselves. A large majority of Greeks are ignorant or just lazy and irresponsible. They should get off their asses and start working harder and be prepared to pay their taxable contributions for the country to be able to stand on its feet. The politicians on the other hand should take a tough stand towards the Greek "katestimeno" and strive to change the Greek mentality which for decades keeps damaging the country. At the end of the day it's a matter of attitude and mentality. The Greek attitude and mentality has to change. I left Greece 35 years ago when I was 20 years old and never liked the Greek bureaucracy, or the attitude of a large majority of Greeks. My Greek teachers at high school helped me develop the right attitude and instiled in me the ability to judge correctly. Therefore I became very critical at that age of the Greek "katestimeno" and then I decided that I couldn't live under such circumstances and went overseas. Those good teachers belonged to the minority groups and managed to influence only a few of us. 

I understand that living outside Greece makes it easier for us to judge Greeks and find faults. But we are also glad to see that there are a lot of Greeks within Greece who have the same beliefs or even better and an even better understanding than us of what is required to get the country out of that mess it is in. They are the ones that need to be listened to. But the general Greek mentality doesn't respect as much. Greeks can only blame others for all wrongdoings that happen around them. They can't accept personal responsibilty. Time to change that mentality. 

The general understanding overseas is that Greeks are lazy, corrupt, dishonest and deceitful and these colourful words are written in all international newspapers and websites. They are not wrong in having that perception of the general Greek society. It's up to the Greeks to change that perception with actions, not words. 

On Alexis Tsipras: he needs to mature more and stop talking about voiding the agreement with the EU & IMF. If new elections will be held in a few weeks time he will lose votes. He could even get half the votes he received this time. A unified government can achieve better results. It seems that one of the two big parties will be the winner of the new elections, probably with a substantial majority.  

All the small parties will suffer as a result of the instability that will follow in the next 3-4 weeks. 

Good luck to Greece. 

Kon Kat  

Chrisi Avgi Hitler nostalgists 

What a shame! They should be banned from participating in the next elections. 

Markos Avgoustou  

Re: Civil service evaluation put on hold 

Surprise, surprise! Gosh, we wouldn't want to stress the poor civil servants during this upheaval! They're going to need at least six months to get over the stress of elections and possibly a second round of these. Especially without ND and Pasok to keep the corruption going.

Pray tell, what is "ambitious" about evaluating who does what for the state and its citizens? Surely 1 plus 1 makes 2, and any excess fat needs to be trimmed, end of story. If they're not qualified for the job, tell them to leave. It's a civil service, for heaven's sake, not a 6-star hotel where each guest needs five staff members to wait on them! 

But this study and evaluation has been dragging on for two years (at least) already and will never reach completion. Another round of elections, another put-on-hold, a new parliament, new relatives and friends to employ and, please, yet more new departments to form.  

With the private sector in ruins, jobs have to be retained somewhere. Carry on, one step forward and three backward. Let this chance pass too, to make progress and save money, to finally have a slim and efficient civil service to be proud of. 

Mary-Ann Faroni

Elections 2012 in Greece 

Despite the political orientation of the leftist party SYRIZA, it seems from outside Greece and Europe that the old politicians of PASOK (like Papandreou, who resembles a 'Greek Chamberlain', may be for his Anglo-Saxon education also) or New Democracy cannot help anymore the Greek nation. 

And Alexis Tsipras, with new airs and spirit, may be the only solution to the financial Pandora's mess. 

Dan N.Sluvis
Montevideo-R.O.U.(South America)  

Independent Greeks call for a national solution 

Calling for the reneging of signatures to agreements by Panos Kammenos may sound exciting, however, Mr Kammenos has not offered a solution to the current imbalance in the accounts. Is it that he doesn't understand the problem? 

It is not going away! What is your solution, Mr Kamenos? It is not time for empty promises and desires. We would all love the debt to disappear.  

Nik Geronimos , Wednesday May 9, 2012 (20:37)  
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