OPINION

On Greece’s wine industry, cremation, Siemens probe

Greek work ethic

In 1989 we visited Greece and my wife and I visited again in 2002. Although my wife is half Greek she will not go back to Athens because it is so dirty. In 1989 we noticed the difference between Greeks who immigrated to Australia and those in Greece. Thank you Greece. Over the years we have received the workers, people who, in most cases, have done better for themselves and their children than the Aussies of British descent.

The real problem as I see it is that the governments of any persuasion hired thousands of people (mates) with little work for them and now that crunch time has come they are crying poor.

In 1989 we noticed an Australian Greek trying to make a go of a supermarket on one of the small islands. Where was her husband? In the taverna next door. Who was helping the woman? A much older cousin. Says a lot about Greek men in the homeland. The taxi drivers are a farce. No way will I ever ride in one and the government officials are just the same. The people I feel sorry for are those hardworking farmers and the few tradesmen who do try to make a living but are pushed down by the stupid tax system and those they have to bribe.

As for the anarchists and communists, get over it, grow up, communism is dead. Give some guts to your police to enable them to put away idiots. Oh that?s right, your judges take bribes. Sorry.

Stav Kappas

Taxi strikes and the woes of Greece — how Greeks see it from abroad

What I see time and time again is that Greeks in Greece will never change. Anarchy rules and no one is accountable for anything. Greece will never move forward! It will end like those corrupt third world countries in which the poor get poorer, the upper class and politicians get richer, bribery and corruption is rife from the lowest end of society to the top levels of government.

I was disgusted, like many of my fellow Greek Australians, at how a group of cabbies can get away with taking over the toll roads, museums, causing mayhem and chaos. Where was the police? Why is the government allowing this to happen? I agree with free speech and peaceful demonstrations but not economic sabotage. The economy needs tourists to spend big and inject money into the economy. These cabbies are sabotaging businesses, jobs and standards of living.

All we see here are strikes and chaos. Our heart breaks knowing that Greece can be one of the best countries in the world. Look at the successes of all Greeks abroad. This proves we can accomplish anything if we want it and believe it. The Greeks migrated because Greece did not give them the systems, the processes and resources to do it.

We are upset seeing our beloved country being destroyed by our own people.

My advice is:

1. Stop the Blah, Blah, Blah and take action.

2. Pay your taxes and think what you can do for your country.

3. Oti fagate fagate! Stop being selfish, roll up your sleeves, and clean up the garbage that has been left for generations.

4. A country cannot live on EU handouts and laziness — you must work and work hard.

5. Everyone should be punished if they break the law — regardless who they are.

6. Enforce all your laws. If you enforce your laws and punish those who break them, things will change.

7. Courage — you must take action and fix the system.

8. Don’t vote for someone because they can give you a cushy job or put you in the public service. Vote for someone who is not afraid to take decisive steps, act and deliver.

9. If you fail all the above — Greece will be on its knees, vulnerable to internal and external enemies. Look at our history — invasions of our country happened when we were weak, divided and selfish, thinking about our personal interests.

New tax on funds transferred abroad

Finally! Finally the government recognizes that official capital flight (i.e. transferring money from Greek bank accounts to bank accounts abroad) in excess of 50 billion euros over the last two years is not just a cavalier?s delict at a time when the country is struggling to obtain funding from abroad.

Incidentally, those 50 billion euros+ which left the Greek banking systems had to be replaced with new funding from the ECB. Put differently, the money of European taxpayers was sent to Greece so that wealthy Greeks could transfer their own money offshore!

The tax on such funds transferred abroad cannot be high enough (10-15% sounds like a giveaway). To make sure that interest income on those funds is taxed in Greece is undoubtedly an important objective but the much more important objective has to be to keep those funds in the country in the first place.

As long as capital leaves Greece faster than new capital comes in, the country is being decapitalized by its own citizens.

Klaus Kastner

Austria

Thank you and please say more

Thank you for reminding the Greek population that Greece would not have gotten the recent support if they had not made the painful changes made to date.

It’s very easy and convenient to play the victim, implying that what has been done already was unnecessary — and that there is no need for any further adjustments.

Please, say what politicians and the troika are still unwilling to say distinctly — that a lot more difficult change is necessary. That Greeks are not going to see improvements for a long time and are simply going to have to be uncomfortable for at least the next two years.

While I hesitate to use parents and children to make my point, the parallels are profound. Kids naturally throw tantrums when things don’t go their way. And the sooner the parents make it clear that the issue is non-negotiable, the sooner the tantrums end.

Just one example of a tantrum is the taxi strike in tourism’s high season. There is no doubt that the necessary changes impose a cost on cabbies, as they do on many others. But this strike is absurdly self-defeating. The taxi drivers are not only shooting themselves in the foot with this airport blockade, they are also shooting Greece in the foot — at exactly the moment when Greece needs to be on its feet, making whatever it can from its number one industry, tourism. Believe me, worrying about essential transportation takes the vacation out of vacation and tourists have many destination options besides Greece.

This is also an example of Greeks resenting outside interference and simultaneously not acting responsibly themselves. It’s terrible that Greece has to depend on outsiders to look after her collective good — but given the rampant individualism that Greeks refuse to outgrow, what do they expect?

Arketa. Time for the leaders to be crystal-clear about reality and manage expectations honestly. You have a great voice. Please prompt them with all your might.

Vanessa/Venetia

Andris

Siemens probe rejected by some MPs

Could someone explain to me how 14 PASOK MPs can stop a proposal from the administration to pursue two politicians on the bribe scandal?

If the Parliament consists of 300 members and a proposal comes from the administration, shouldn’t all MPs vote on it so the majority decides if an issue is dead on arrival or there are reasons to pursue a matter?

Is this democracy or the tail wagging the dog mentality rules?

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Cremation

It is incredible that Greece still does not have facilities for cremation and people are forced to pay a small fortune to send family members to countries like Bulgaria or the UK to have the wishes of their loved ones executed. When is this country going to join the 21st century? Is there ever going to be a separation of Church and State or are we still going to have to live in the dark ages? Change may be slow but Greece gives new meaning to the word.

We may have been saved by the EU, perhaps they can also save us from the same politicians who have been in power since the beginning and are responsible for the mess of the country and the enslavement of the people.

Alexander Parissis

Dubai, UAE

Don’t waste this chance

This comment is a mirror of the common opinion throughout Europe, its people and politicians. Missing is the point that there may be slight chances that the Greek citizens will adopt a change of mind if their politicians show a more realistic view of reality. With all sympathy for the burden and fears of Greek citizens, it is also a common opinion shared by many Europeans that there is still significant lack of self-criticism and undertaking of the responsibilities every single member of a society, here the Greek state, has. Who hasn’t understood yet that the selfish and righteous character of the majority of Greeks has brought this nation to its knees and that there is the golden opportunity to bring this country, and its citizens, to a possible bright and prosperous future when a social factor is added to everybody’s behavior is lost in space. Rights go along with responsibilities, everywhere in the world. And solidarity is not a one-way street. So, please, stop insulting foreigners and their governments now, better adjust yourselves to the standards under which human beings live in the 21st century. You’ll see… it will bring change for the good.

Michael Schilken

Booze to drown sorrows

Alcohol in Greece is so cheap, or even free, that more drinking will take place, to drown the many sorrows.

One variety of homemade «tsipouro» that flows in Macedonia like water from every house, every cafe and restaurant, we call «Makedoniko nero,» as Macedonians drink it in water glasses.

Many a time, when caught in a storm in a cold Australian wilderness area, taking to the sleeping bag in a tiny tent, sipping from a bottle of Makedoniko nero has helped the long night pass more easily, dreaming of the soft flowers of a Macedonian spring.

A dear departed Melbourne friend at last year?s  «25th March» celebrations, on being handed a glass and drinking, said: «This flows so easily into my soul. What is it??

I replied, «Makedoniko nero.”

She replied, «Makedoniko nero for my Macedonian soul.”

I must visit her grave again and pour some «Makedoniko nero» over her grave.

She died unexpectedly and was buried in Melbourne by her extended family rather than in Macedonia, as she was hoping.

A very old Greek problem.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Re: Alcohol and fast food are first to go for Greek consumers

This is not after all a bad thing. Actually it is a blessing in disguise. Greeks cannot afford fast food and liquor? Thank the Good Lord for small favours!

A diet based on low-fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables is a healthy diet.

Here in the US where the poor can only access high-fat fast food and obesity is rampant, the middle and upper middle classes tout the «Mediterranean diet» as the healthy choice.

Vegetables, olive oil, legumes and fruits with low-fat dairy products are the best foods to consume for a long healthy life.

What better time to go back to basics than the summer months, when all these foods are abundant, fresh and reasonably priced. Lucky Greeks!

Monica Lane

Florida USA

Greek wine industry

I think this one article sums up the main problems that we have here in Greece. One, that various trade organizations simply don’t work together, either before or after the fact. The second point being that private businesses do not trust (quite rightly) any of their respective ministries. We have all heard enough scandal involving the Ministry of Agriculture regarding cheap loans and funding whereby farmers have to pay anything up from 10% back in illegal commission to the department concerned. Were both associations involved in talks prior to the funding request to the EU? Obviously not. However, after this happened, why didn’t the private growers? association discuss this further and go first to the ministry? The truth is that most of us in private business know exactly what goes on in Greece, especially when it comes to EU funding; they consider it more to their advantage to complain direct to the EU. For this reason I don’t think the associations should be blaming each other, this is once again the fault of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Ann Baker