OPINION

On Greeks? hardship, property taxes, Turk-Cypriot relations, tax collection

As a Greek living abroad, I am in a much more comfortable position than my compatriots and family in Greece.

All over the news, we hear repeatedly that governments are looking for a way to support Greece, when in effect, the EU is really trying to save the purpose of existence of the eurozone itself. Failure is not an option for the EU heads of states, as it would consolidate the feeling that it was wrong from the start. Although the euro in itself has made transactions easier, it hasn’t benefited anyone other than the central European countries.

If we consider the simple exchange rate from drachma to euro (in excess of 340 drachmas to the euro), suddenly, a product worth 100 drachmas, is now worth 1 euro, which in effect is 340 drachmas, a multiplication factor of 3.4.

This malaise is not solely in Greece, it has been felt throughout Europe. Here in the Netherlands, the multiplication factor was 2.2.

What is striking, is that no one applied this multiplication ratio to salaries! This means that almost overnight, European citizens suffered such steep inflation that it was unavoidable to recover from it.

Now going back to the matter at heart, Greece, what about the people living, working and trying to survive in Greece? What about the Greeks?

I hear stories of pensions totaling 350 euros per month, salaries unpaid for more than a year, a salary of 650 euros per month, people working two to three jobs just to make ends meet.

Where is Europe now? How can anyone compare Greece to Germany for example, or France of the Netherlands?

The overall perception of Greeks abroad is a country of lazy people! I know for a fact that Greeks are hard workers and committed to making things better, but not at a price that is unrealistic.

Our economical powers are not on the same level, so, based on this alone, the integration of Greece and other similar countries isn’t accurate.

Since 1974, Greece has gone down a path of self-destruction, not by the people themselves, but the people who have governed it. Which are the same families, Papandreou and Karamanlis.

The level of corruption is unprecedented, and the worse part is that no one is made accountable for their actions. Did anyone say democracy?

How can financial support be given to a governing body that is renowned for corruption. Would you give your house keys to the thief that stole your car?

Over the last 20 years, students, companies and whole families have left Greece to find a better life. Greece is expelling its children!

I would like to believe that in this time of turmoil, we all find a way to get together, and look at the future Greeks want for Greece and take appropriate action.

So what if we default and leave the EU? Will this change Greece or Greeks? We are already in a state of poverty, the next stage is the inability to feed our children, then revolution or civil war! Is this what we want?

Greece has the opportunity to stand up for itself and to be an example of what can and should be done, and I sincerely hope we do so.

Christos Coutoulacos

Property taxes for Greeks abroad

What about the Greeks living abroad who collect rent in Greece, the income gets deposited in a Greek bank and remains in the Greek bank, and is declared on an annual basis where taxes are being paid but the money is saved in a savings account? Also bear in mind that Greeks who are registered as ?residents abroad? have been paying higher taxes on income received to the Greek government in comparison to their Greek counterparts.

How will this affect the people living abroad?

Does it mean that we will have to pay the exuberant taxes as well?

Maria Georgas

Re: ?Averting a collision between Cyprus and Turkey fueled by natural gas?

A very disappointing article reflecting a perspective of circumstances that shamefully finds solutions in appeasement and virtual surrender. As out of place as this may sound, there are unsettling parallels between events here — with an aggressive and increasingly militant Turkey challenging the sovereignty of a docile Cyprus — and what happened with Hitler and Czechoslovakia.

All that we have here is what Cyprus should do to appease Erdogan, which suggests that if Turkey initiates hostilities against Cyprus the finger of blame would point to Cyprus for not having totally capitulated.

This is just another sterile academic paper not just divorced from reality but suffering from a serious lack of backbone.

It is hard to believe that writing in this vein originates with an intelligent Greek who preferred not to demonstrate more sensitivity to his own country?s history with Turkey.

Arnold Holtzman

Israel

Illegal immigration and the Greek economy

George Papandreou recently said, ?We are not a poor country, we are a mismanaged country.?

How does Greece manage to keep hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in the country at a time when unemployment is 16 percent and the country owes 350 billion euros?

Illegal immigration is bad for Greece, most work in a cash economy and send euros overseas, statistically most crimes committed are by illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is costing Greece millions each year in free health services, most line up for free meals provided by the church, most do not pay on public transport and the centre of Athens has been turned into a third world Islamic ghetto.

Prior to the October 2009 elections, the PM said zero tolerance toward illegal immigration, now his policy is to let them stay and after six to 10 years they can apply for ?Greek citizenship.?

In other words, the PM is rewarding illegal immigration. The PM has also approved a plan to build them a mosque in the cener of Athens at a cost of 16 million euros.

Given Greece?s current economic circumstances, he should deport most of them on EU funds, tighten the borders and fine employers who hire them illegally.

George Salamouras

Property taxes, etc

It is quite amazing how much the Greek government demands of its citizens by way of hardship. Of course, given the mess which they have created over the decades, such hardship can be rationally justified. But that is not how people perceive it. If you tell Greeks that even after all those hardships they are still wasting more money than a country like, say, Austria, they won?t be able to relate to that. What they relate to is what they had before. From that standpoint (i.e. how big the hardship is relative to what one had instead of relative to what others have), Greeks should really be praised. But is government spending in Greece really so much higher than in other countries?

In 2010, according to Eurostat, Greek government expenditures were 49.5 percent of GDP (and GDP was lower than the year before). This figure was 53.0 percent for Austria, 56.2 percent for France and 46.6 percent for Germany.

Tax revenues of GDP were 39.1 percent for Greece, 48.3 percent for Austria, 49.2 percent for France and 43.3 percent for Germany.

If Greece had had the same proportional tax revenue as Austria had, the budget deficit would have been below 2 percent (and lower than that of Austria).

So, here you have it. Send EU experts to Greece not to show them how to cut expenses and create havoc but, instead, to show them how to collect taxes.

Klaus Kastner

Austria