Monday May 25, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Turkey and the tunnel of time

By Nikos Konstandaras

The images from Turkey in recent days have shown how much the country has changed. The explosion and underground fire at a coal mine in the town of Soma in western Turkey, where the number of dead reached 282 yesterday and another 100 are still missing, is the worst such accident the country has recorded. Until last Tuesday, the worst occurred in March 1992, when 263 miners were killed in an explosion at Kozlu, on the Black Sea coast. Then, as now, worried relatives gathered at the mine, and anxiety quickly turned to grief and rage. Today, dynamic protests and strikes have sprung up across the country, and two days ago the prime minister came under withering attack from relatives who accuse him of supporting his crony mine-owning friends at the expense of workers’ safety. In 1992, the miners’ relatives were alone and torn between the pain of their loss and the knowledge that if the mines closed the region would sink into poverty.

From 1992 I remember the cries of families, when they learned that the mine would be sealed with cement while many miners were still underground, because it was the only way to stifle the fire. Desperate relatives clashed with police a short distance from the shaft that would be closed with their sons, fathers and husbands inside. I remember bodies, under blankets. Tears had dug channels through the black dust on faces of silent men who had carried only dead colleagues into the winter light. I remember the grief and apprehension on the face of the main opposition party leader when he looked over at the relatives before getting into his limousine – I remember how shiny his black shoes were, like his hair.

I visited a mountain village lost in the clouds, submerged in grief, snow and mud. It had lost 15 men in the previous day’s blast. “It is dangerous, but we have to work there. No one wants the mines to close,” said Ali Demirce, a 32-year-old survivor and father of two, with burns and cuts on his hands and face. Mine union officials said the same. They were afraid the government would grab the opportunity to shut down the heavily subsidized mines where more than 32,000 people in the region worked. An average miner’s salary was 500 dollars, about double the national average. The life expectancy of a miner was 46, compared to the national average of 68.

The people were poor, with few opportunities. The state’s power was absolute and harsh. This paternalism still exists to a great extent, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan its chief proponent after his decade-long domination of the political scene. But now the average wage is much greater than in the past, and, thanks to many of Erdogan’s policies, the country has enjoyed a rapid rise in living standards. Today, a vocal part of the population demands that government and state officials be held accountable for their acts and omissions. They might be a minority but they are determined. People may still be dying in the bowels of the earth, but today their lives have a greater impact on their country and their government. This is real growth – far greater than any rise in GDP.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday May 15, 2014 (18:51)  
Greece needs a second election
No more ´quick and dirty´ fixes for Greece
The good news and the bad
Geopolitical threats
Greece to keep repaying creditors – as long as it can
Struggling Greece will keep on repaying its EU-IMF creditors for as long as it can, with some 300 million euros due next week and no deal in talks over the country’s remaining bailout funds,...
Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey join hands to fight migration
Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey agreed on Monday to set up a common border police and customs centre to combat a surge in illegal migration. "This agreement guarantees closer cooperation of the ...
Inside News
Finance Ministry lines up changes to car taxation
The Finance Ministry has announced plans to change the way that cars are taxed in Greece, creating what it says will be a “fairer” system. According to the ministry’s statement, vehicles wil...
Luxury Pentelikon Hotel in northern Athens closes down
Guests and staff at the Pentelikon Hotel in northern Athens were informed this morning that it was closing down due to financial problems. Visitors were advised to find alternative accommoda...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Berg brace gives Panathinaikos four-point lead
Panathinaikos beat Atromitos on Sunday and took advantage of the goalless draw between PAOK and Asteras Tripolis to open a four-point gap from PAOK at the top of the Super League play-off mi...
SOCCER
Reds add Cup to league trophy with 3-1 win over Xanthi
Olympiakos completed a league-and-cup double on Saturday by beating Xanthi 3-1 in the Greek Cup final at the Olympic Stadium of Athens, that was more balanced than the final score suggests. ...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Greece to keep repaying creditors – as long as it can
2. Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey join hands to fight migration
3. Finance Ministry lines up changes to car taxation
4. Luxury Pentelikon Hotel in northern Athens closes down
5. Sakellaridis hopeful of deal with lenders, dismisses talk of capital controls
6. Euro weakens on Greece as emerging stocks, Spanish bonds decline
more news
Today
This Week
1. No more 'quick and dirty' fixes for Greece
2. ND's Bakoyannis fears capital controls over long weekend
3. Greece calls on creditors to compromise as IMF payment nears
4. Brussels Group talks to resume Tuesday with VAT, pension topping agenda
5. Tourist dies in rockfall on beach in Crete
6. Greece needs a second election
Today
This Week
1. The Greek-German breakthrough that didn’t come
2. Conspiracy madness
3. Greece came close to not paying IMF
4. National self-awareness put to the test
5. Albanian demarche raises concerns about possible territorial claims over Greece
6. Greek endgame nears for Tsipras as bank collateral hits buffers
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.