OPINION

On Papandreou, Samaras and Japanese gratitude

If I was Greek

We have a small house in a village on Crete. The economic situation has been explained to me many times. The last time by the garage owner who services my Greek reg car. He said: «The trouble is, Greek people are bad! The will not pay their taxes. They look out only for themselves, not for their neighbours and the rest of Greece. If the Greek people paid their taxes and stopped cheating the rest of the Greek people we would not have any problems.» I believe that what he said is correct. I then asked him how much I owed him for the job he’d done and he said «forty euros.» He did not give me an invoice or any paperwork. He is obviously part of the problem. I see little hope for you unless you agree to help one another and to start doing that, commit to getting rid of corrupt politicians and pay your taxes!

Jim Pratt

Re: An ill-fated heir

Mr Iordanidis stated that Papandreou was «viewed at home and abroad as having lost all political reason» when he announced plans to hold a referendum. Well, au contraire, Costaki, the New York Times Business Page (November 4) asked in an article why Greeks should not be asked their opinion. Mind you, the timing was all wrong, but why should the EU decide a democratic action was wrong? I will tell you why: they had been brought to the point of complete nervous breakdown by the Greek national personality, long famed for drama and dialogue, and at the point of Papandreou’s outburst of drama and dialogue a legion of European bankers had just hysterically and reluctantly agreed to a shave and a haircut and were quivering in their Salvatore Ferragamo boots. Even «Casanova» Berlusconi was cancelling dates with teenage hookers.

There are, sadly, similarities with Barack and George: both are derided as «foreign», to great shame to both nations. The main truth in both cases is that overwhelming debt accrued in previous administrations. George explained that in Parliament this Friday. He also explained something I have never heard discussed in the Vouli, corruption. Corruption needs to be discussed and shamed at every level in Greek society. Good luck.

Unless, it chooses the philosophy of Mr Iordanidis, the Ottoman one. Mr Iordanidis is expert on the Ottomans, and perhaps that is what brought him to conclude that «there is not a single sane person who does not believe that Greece will be destroyed if Papandreou and his goverment remain in power.”

I find his opinion juvenile and for a moment not worthy of Eleni Vlachou.

George Dillon Slater

Greece?s growing pains

 

 

When someone’s poor and powerless, their survival mechanisms kick in. This is the case with Greece. Goldman Sachs helped us in ‘fixing’ our books so that we could get into the EU. Then, the EU gave us all sorts of funding packages to assist our country to EU standards. This funding was grossly mismanaged — chiefly due to a lack of experience. Why did the EU financiers give us these funds and not ask for accountability? Because they were naive and simply wanted to help us, perhaps being Philhellenes attributing to us romanticized notions of our ancient Greek heritage? Or is/was there something less noble occurring? Like them knowing we were eventually going to dig our own grave, but in the meantime spend this money on German goods such as BMWs, electrical products etc, helping Germany’s economy — which we have done? Now, since we are in the EU, it is only fair that our wealthier, better organized and more efficient manager fellow EUers help us out. And now, they realize there must be accountability by Greece. All will be well. George Papandreou is the man to lead us into the civilized world, and guide us towards a sense of community rather than keep up the Turkobaroque and tribal mentality corruptions of the past. Greece is growing up.

 

Kathy Karageorgiou.

Agi Anargiri, Athens

Dangerous landscape

After the confidence vote, received by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the political landscape in Greece is characterized as fluid and dangerous. 

Papandreou proposed the formation of a transitional government of national unity up to February 2012, while the leader of the opposition, Antonis 

Samaras, asked for the resignation of the government and early elections.

During the next few days, it is expected to begin negotiations on the formation of a transitional government of national unity. But the distance between the two political leaders of the PASOK and New Democracy political parties seems to be unbridged. Therefore, it is doubtful they will finally manage to overcome their personal aspirations and agree on a political solution. Both seek to ensure their political survival and this is leading the country into a political deadlock and endangers Greece’s eurozone future.

Nobody knows if Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is the new interim prime minister of Greece. Nobody knows if a transitional national unity government will be formed next week. Finally, nobody knows what will happen during the next period of time. Currently, the Greek people are facing major challenges, while the political parties refuse to undertake responsibility in practice. The only positive development is the cancellation of the planned referendum.

Given that the Greek debt crisis is not only a national issue because it?s keeping the global community anxious — last week, this issue had dominated the agenda at the G20 summit in Cannes — the rumors that Greece might leave the eurozone is an alternative scenario. Every day Greece moves away from the euro and closer to bankruptcy, while the Greek people have been discouraged.

Giannakopoulos Vasileios

Geostrategic analyst 

Samaras?s mistake

It’s my belief that Mr Samaras is making a major mistake here as most voters are tired of this bickering and selfish mentality. My family and friends are all supporters of ND but they have all said that if he forces elections they won’t vote for ND due to his handling of the present situation. This would have been an opportunity for ND to have had a voice and we feel that it would have proved that ND was a responsible party, putting aside their political views to help the country in this emergency. None of us wants elections at this time, we want to work our way out of this disaster. Nor do we want to leave the Euro as we feel it will be a disaster especially for the poorer sections of this country that are already struggling. This is a bad political move that will not benefit anybody as we are all very much afraid that if we hold elections now in December, our business sector will suffer, the economy doesn’t need this additional strain, and that Parliament will be split with small parties gaining votes. We need calm and sensible dialogue with our EU partners. The other point is that Greeks must learn to take responsibility for each other, and to help neighbours and friends in need. Less politics, we are all in this together.

Ann Baker

The hour of truth

What I saw (from some distance) as a European, living in your country for five years:

1. Papandreou comes home with a vast reduction of the Greek debt.

2. Samaras, ND and other politicians realize that this means the end of their game and of the old system; they will have to support from now on a diifferent, changing Greece.

Question:

How come everybody agrees Papandreou is not doing a good job, and even may have to step down right now? (He has to do — to the people — what the troika tells him to do).

(Do you expect ND to bring you reforms, modern thinking and less corruption?)

In my opinon, Papandreou/Venizelos and Loverdos did up till now an incredible and quite impossible job.

What I saw is that Papandreou asked for a confidence vote because he felt that politicians and ‘the people’ were directing their anger clearly at him. It was a matter of self-defense, namely who strikes first…

E Reisz  writer/former film editor

Athens/Amsterdam

Shame on Greek politicians

Being Prime Minister is more important to this guy than the Greek people’s welfare, he has been exploiting the crisis to further his own personal agenda for months on end… he conveniently forgets it was under New Democracy’s watch that the fiscal debts were covered up and PASOK inherited the mess.

When are the Greek people going to wake up to the pursuit of «ego agendas» by their politicians and install persons of national responsibility? The longer they take, the more suffering there will be.

Kostas Fourtounis

Australia

Samaras must never become PM

I am not a great fan of PASOK. Not since another PM from that party, decades ago, refused point blank to liberate enslaved Northern Epirus from its Albanian tyrants.

But at least this Papandreou is doing his level best to save the Hellenic nation, other than reducing the number and the pay of politicians which I openly argue is essential.

Samaras, on the other hand, seeks to better not Ellada but Samaras. His favourite image is what he sees in the mirror. His loyalty is to his own hopeful power.

He has opposed time after time and come up with nothing that makes rational sense as a viable alternative to what Mr Papandreou has put forward.

What will Samaras do about the multitudes who do not pay taxes, and I include those who live in other lands but who own rental or business properties in Ellada and who do very well from them?

What will he do about the hordes of illegals streaming into the country across all borders?

How will he encourage investment in Ellada? Greater tourism, because that potential is still to be tapped, more industries?

I am yet to read anything positive from this so-called leader and I hope that he is never allowed the seat of power. If he gets it, I fear that Ellada will be in even greater dire straits than at present.

Angelos Eleftherios Kenos

Australia (ex Tsamandas, Epirus)

Exposed roots

Let me firstly thank you for having an English edition of your newspaper. It is a valuable tool in trying to understand the situation in Greece.

I am of Czech background and live in Australia. I have been to Greece and have some Greek friends. I love Greek music.

I agree with you that many foreigners see the Greeks as cheats and lazy. But I know that most Greeks don’t have it easy and are not rich. The 350 or so billion euro that Greece has borrowed is not visible when one drives through the country. It is staggering just to think what happened to these mountains of money, wherever it is.

Regarding politicians — we in Australia have the same problem. Politicians are the lowest kind of people and they aren’t ashamed of it. They probably don’t even realise how low they are. They are supposed to lead the country to prosperity and govern for all people, but in fact they govern for their cronies, for their short-term interests.

I am looking to Greece to lead the way for mankind to find a better way of governing nations for the benefit of all. The current «democracy» is not working for the benefit of all. Hopefully, your President has the wisdom and constitutional power to install a government of true patriots, and get rid of the rats of all political persuasions. Your people have survived many bad turns in their history, I am sure you will survive this one. I wish you the best of luck.

Josef Franek

Eurozone, GFC, IMF and all the other spin

We, from the other side of the world, gave Europe some credit of being closely aligned to social issues more than most parts of the world. It demonstrated over years gone by that it did have some social conscience. The events of recent times demonstrate that it is no different to its neighbor across the Atlantic. Over there, where greed reigns supreme, they got themselves into strife by lending to the unemployed to buy homes which were highly overvalued. The European experiment extended itself in this regard where the unemployed were replaced by sovereign states which did not have the capacity to pay.

What this demonstrates is that greed has no boundaries and a major rethink is required as to what a real economy should deliver. One that relies on the value of a pretty piece of yellow metal is obviously thousands of years out of date.

But then again the all-suffering plebs will again need to foot the bill.

George Samios,

Australia

Greek crisis, what crisis?

I got this story from a friend in Holland:

It’s a beautiful day in a small Greek village. All the streets are empty. These are bad times, everyone has debts and all live on credit.

On this day a wealthy Dutch tourist visits this Greek village and stops at a small hotel.

He tells the owner that he would like to see the rooms, maybe he will stay one night, and as a deposit he puts 100 euros on the desk.

The owner gives him a pair of keys.

When the visitor goes upstairs, the hotel owner takes the money, runs to the butcher, his neighbor, and pays him his debts.

The butcher takes the 100 euros, walks down the street and pays his own debt to the farmer.

The farmer takes the money and pays his bill to the guy who has the cold storage.

The man then takes the money and runs to the pub to pay his bar tab.

The bartender moves the money to a prostitute sitting at the bar, to whom he was indebted.

The prostitute runs to the hotel to pay the hotelier 100 euros.

The hotel manager puts the money back on the counter.

At the same moment, the tourist comes downstairs, takes the money from the counter, says that he does not want the room and leaves.

No one has produced anything.

No one has earned anything.

Everyone has paid his debts and faces the future with optimism.

So, now you know how it works.

It’s so simple this rescue package!

Hans van der Schaaf

I am English and go to the Greek islands every year, and have noticed

how depressed the locals are becoming. Last year a Greek lawyer was

speaking on BBC radio and he forecast the troubles occurring in Greece

now. He said top earners were paying hardly any tax.

I just hope and pray that your leaders can sort out their problems.

Michael Willis

Cannock

England

Japanese thank the Greeks

When I was at primary school, it was about ten years after the end of the Second World War. Japanese industries were bombed and completely destroyed during the war. We were poor. We learned at school that only the shipbuilding industry had been reconstructed at that time. This information greatly encouraged the Japanese. And we were proud of the Japanese shipbuilding industry. Shipbuilding was a light in the darkness for the Japanese people. However, we, the common people, did not know who had bought the ships that were constructed by the Japanese shipbuilding industry. Firstly, today, I understand who aided us by buying our ships in our difficult time. We thank you Greeks heartily. Time passed. It was about twenty years after the end of the Second World War, a courageous young Japanese man traveled around the world and published a book about his travels titled «I Want to See the Whole of the World». That was a best-seller in Japan. In the book, we learned that Greeks and Turks were very friendly to Japan. More time has passed since. I believe all of the Japanese people love the Greeks and Turks, and sympathise with you, the two great countries, Greece and Turkey, which are both in difficulty today, financial problems and an earthquake. I personally think we, the Japanese, ought to buy merchandise from Greece and Turkey to demonstrate our friendship.

Aki Amano,

Yokohama, Japan

 

Greece?s butterfly effect

The drama currently being played out in the Greek parliament is political, not just economic. Observers are wondering why it is not possible for the two main parties to put aside their differences for a few weeks and cooperate for the country?s good. On the surface, Pasok are promoting the view that Opposition leader Samaras and his New Democracy party are putting petty political considerations above the country?s interests. What they cannot understand is that decades of distrust, exclusion and double-dealing cannot be put aside overnight. Although both parties have been guilty of blatantly advancing the interests of their supporters, the New Democracy party has been in power for only eight of the previous 30 years. Since the State has always maintained a stranglehold over Greece?s anaemic private sector, this ?split personality? government has resulted in a whole generation being systematically excluded from all levels of government and public institutions, and even from access to EU funding. The country urgently needs better social cohesion.

The current Pasok government came to power on a misrepresentation: while New Democracy promised ?sweat and tears?, they told the Greek people ?there is money? in the State coffers. They lied. They assured the Greek people there would be no further austerity measures. They lied again. Two years on, the mood in the country has changed. Although the Prime Minister just scraped through a confidence vote with the help of his own MPs, his party no longer enjoys the confidence of the Greek electorate. So it is no wonder Mr. Samaras prefers to call for snap elections.

Add the global financial crisis on top and the mix becomes explosive. Greece has been described as a butterfly whose wings are creating a hurricane around the world. This little butterfly must be feeling very crushed right now: leaning heavily on the Greeks are not just their own problems but also the weight of the troubled financial system, the Euro?s congenital defects, perhaps even the fate of the European Union. The bailouts intended to save Greece are really intended to save Europe. But the Greeks feel it is all about getting them to pay for their leaders? omissions by forcing them to work more years for less pay and lower pensions.

And the price for being ?saved? in the latest October 26 bailout agreement? More austerity measures and loss of national sovereignty; a thinly disguised attempt to create, unelected and by stealth, a United Federation of Europe under Germanic governance. The stakes just keep escalating; now it is democracy itself, not just the fate of the Greek economy or the Euro. How ironic that little Greece, where it all began, is in the pivotal role.

Pressured by the European powers, a National Unity government in Greece, quickly cobbled together without snap elections, would constitute a collusion of all the Greek parties, and the European Union, against the Greek people. Italy appears to be next. Spain, Portugal and perhaps even France will follow. The European powers should not only be afraid of the ailing Greek economy contaminating the European financial system, a system over which they failed to exercise any control, they should be quaking at the prospect of the combined rage of all the Yannis, the Giuseppes, the Giovannis and the Jeans.

E. Read

Athens, Greece

Samaras?s demand

If every democratically elected prime minister or president had to resign when the leader of the opposition asked for it, this would be the end of parliamentary democracy as we know it in Europe. Mr Samaras’s demand that Mr Papandreou resign, after the latter had just won a vote of confidence in parliament, is completely irrational and undemocratic. The solution to the present crisis in Greece is a referendum on or before 4 December, not four months of an undemocratic interim government. Has Greece lost its taste for direct democracy where the very idea was born?

Dr David Green

Athens