OPINION

On Osborne, the debt crisis, tourism, mosque debate

Chancellor George Osborne

Thank you Mr Osborne for your faith and support in a new restructured Greece. If people like you continue to cast doubt of our recovery, then it is probably best that you take your Euro dollar and we will default on our loan and set up a strategy to pay the EU and the IMF back over a 50-year period and be done with it. Even a mere mortal as myself with a minimum education could have predicted this would happen back in 92 and all the smart economists continued to give Greece the money knowing very well that the infrastructure lent itself to corruption and not stability. This is exactly what the EU knew would happen and it did. Our soverignty and integrity is not for sale, Mr Osborne. I would rather borrow the money at a higher rate from outside the EU, even from China, than sell our soul to the EU. I have hope even though it may be too late for Greece.

John Tzelepis

MPs sue for back pay and pensions

When will someone «out» these 280 politicians? They should all come forward or are they ashamed to let their former constituents know how greedy they are and how little they think of their fellow citizens?

Renee Pappas

Medicine or poison?

It looks like the concoction brewed by the Greek government under the direction and with the blessing of the troika has failed to be the magic elixir that will cure a sick Greek fiscal situation. Instead, they have concocted a poison that is taking the life of the victim, the Greek economy, with the higher taxes that have been imposed upon it, without curing the cause of the illness, the cancerous bureaucracy. Perhaps taxes should have been left alone, or there should have been a lowering of the corporate tax rate sooner and not making such deep spending cuts. Meanwhile, measures should have focused primarily on a more gradual cutting of the deficit through spending cuts, streamlining the bureaucracy, reforming the private sector, and improving tax collection. Instead, the poisonous medicine has not really solved anything but is killing the patient slowly, with unemployment at around 15% and the value of Greek stocks dropping by 2 billion euros in just the last few months. The emphasis on such drastic cuts in spending combined with the increased taxes are poisoning the patient. 

 

Peter Kates

Editorial re tourism 9/5

The biggest hinderance faced by the hospitality and tourism sector is EOT [the Greek National Tourism Organization]. This is an ineffectual and in most instances obstructive force in the industry.

The starting point to a vital tourism recovery is an energetic, positive and supportive government instrumentality for the industry.

Unfortunately EOT fails all three tests.

Nick Geronimos

Better class of tourists!

As someone who has spent two months every year for the last four years traveling in Greece, let me just offer my observations. There have been times when vendors have tried to cheat me by charging higher prices for goods and services than a Greek would pay. Most people are kind and friendly but when you get surly and nasty service it is really a turnoff. But my biggest peeve of all is the antiquated plumbing and public washrooms, especially those on the islands (Paros comes to mind) where you must crouch down over a hole!

Most «better class» tourists who have the money to travel are elderly. Most of us have had new hips or knees or are just too old to do that. Until these problems are corrected you will only see a younger crowd who don’t have our disposable income to spend. Even China got rid of those antiquated fixtures.

Rositta Buracas

RE: Don’t blame the Greeks!!??

I am an Australian citizen that has come to Greece with my family (wife and 2 young sons aged 5 and 7) to try and make a life for ourselves here. We arrived in July 2010. My wife was born here, my sons and myself born in Australia are waiting to become Greek citizens.

You, Ange, sound like the majority of Greeks I have dealt with both socially and professionally; they have this concept that the economic situation they are dealing with was/is some else’s fault.

I’ll ask you the same questions I ask them:

Whose fault is it?

Who lived the extravagant life in the 80s?

Who rorted the country by not paying taxes?

Whenever the government wanted to reform the tax system, who went on strike?

For decades the Greek people have got their way, and the government desiring political popularity and survival would cave in to the demands of the voters.

I don’t know if you have lived in Greece before or how much family you have here or if you know how the Greek ideology works, I’ll give you a brief rundown.

The public service employs approximately one fifth of the work force. They work from 8.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and only see the public until 1.30 p.m. That is 6.5 hours of work a day. They get paid for an 8-hour day.

I am in the construction industry and what a shock it was to find the tradesmen work the same hours for full pay. In Australia we work 8.5 hours a day 2 hours extra a day. That is an extra 10 hours of work a week. So who is to blame when in a tax office you have 5 employees that get paid for a full week but lose 50 hours of production a week and yet when the Government wants to change this situation the public service unions and employees threaten to bring the country to its knees with general strikes?

There are about 3-4 million people who are registered as working, you do the math, work out one fifth of this and multiply this by the lost production of 10 hours a week per employee that they get paid for.

This is just one example of the way the Greek public service operates and one of the many reasons why the Greek governments of the past and the Greek people are to blame.

Jorge G

Mosque or no mosque

According to the US State Department?s International Religious Freedon Report 2010 the Muslim community of Athens has a population of more than 200,000, primarily from the Middle East, South Asia and East Africa; nearly all have come to Greece illegally and the vast majority are not Greek citizens.

 

In February 2011 a debate organized by Intelligence Squared in Athens asked whether a mosque would be good for Athens. Tariq Ramadan, Anna Triandafyllidou and Chadi Ayoubi spoke in favor of a mosque while Douglas Murray, Melanie Phillips and Dimitrios Floundas spoke against it. The arguments for the mosque were that Athens is the only EU capital without a mosque and that a mosque is needed in a pluralist society. The arguments against were, a mosque in Athens would preach hatred towards infidels, Jews and America, radicalize local Muslims and that the PASOK government was rewarding illegal immigrants who have come to Athens uninvited and undocumented.  

 

The PASOK government has agreed to build a mosque in central Athens (Votakinos) to the tune of $20-$30 million euros at a time when Greece owes 340 billion dollars and the unemployment rate is over 15%. The Turkish PM Mr Erdogan has also called for a mosque to be built in Athens — a situation he created by sending illegal immigrants over the border to deliberately Islamicize Athens. Saudi Arabia the home of Islam, has also called on Athens to build a mosque; ironically the Saudis have a ban on Christianity and not one single church exists there.

 

Mr Papandreou did not take the opportunity to ask Turkey to open up Hagia Sophia, spiritual home to the world?s 250 million Orthodox Christians which is now a museum. Mr Papandreou also did not ask Saudi Arabia to open a church for the 1 million Christian guest workers who live and work there as a sign of good will. In recent surveys 2/3 Greek Athenians said they do not want the mosque and they want the illegal immigrants to be deported, but is PASOK listening?

 

George Salamouras

Australia