NEWS

Crafty property buyer forced to honor deal

A property buyer who tried to avoid paying the agreed price, arguing that the contract only named half that figure, acted wrongfully, the Supreme Court has ruled. This follows the sale, six years ago, of a piece of real estate for 38 million drachmas. Vendor and purchaser agreed that half would be paid in cash and the rest in installments through bills of exchange. They also arranged, as is common practice to save both parties from paying taxes, that the official contract would mention half the price. But the purchaser refused to honor the bills of exchange, claiming the private agreement was invalid – an argument accepted by a court of appeals. The Supreme Court ruled that although there was no legal raison d’etre for the bills of exchange, the purchaser’s behavior «exceeded the limits of good faith and what is believed to be just and moral.» Should Washington present tangible evidence on the activity of this terrorist group, the Greek government would be the first to celebrate. But the lack of such evidence cannot be covered with lists of intellectuals or politicians who are named as suspects merely because their political views are at odds with US interests. Our American allies should realize that Greece has the right to display the same sensitivity with respect to democratic freedoms as they do when they are dealing with terrorism inside their country. However, the issues which concern Washington’s relations with the EU are settled via the US president’s contacts with the leaders of Europe’s most powerful nations – Germany, Britain and, occasionally, France. Even the issue of relations between the EU’s nascent rapid reaction force and NATO – where differences between the two sides were openly admitted – the positions of Greece, a NATO and EU member, were not taken into account by the USA and Britain during the informal procedure which won Turkey’s consent. These do not mean, of course, that Simitis’s visit was a failure, as he did not intend to raise traditional Greek foreign policy issues on which Bush, as expected, only made some general remarks. However, there were concrete and significant developments and this concerns Simitis’s commitment that there will soon be progress on the issue of terrorism, that is, the disruption of the November 17 terrorist organization. It is needless to say that the outcome of government action in this area will also determine Simitis’s credibility in the eyes of US officials – and not only them. Until presently most of us, liberal-minded Greeks, were convinced that all the trouble in Africa had been caused by imperialism (post- or neo-, whatever the prefix was). Recently, we have been hearing that most of Africa’s errors are homemade.