OPINION

On snap polls, illegal migration, leadership, the EU, Greece?s future

?ND sources told Kathimerini on Friday that as Greece has secured the next tranche of its loan funding, the only goals left for the interim administration are to secure the next bailout and the agreement with bondholders.?

Wrong. There is a great deal more to be done by the interim government. Here’s a short list:

– ensuring that the closed professions will be opened;

– pushing through the privatization plan without further delay;

– eliminating all the bureaucratic red tape to encourage investment in Greece;

– changing the judicial system to ensure that no one is above the law, including past and present MPs and members of the church;

– changing the tax code to ensure that everyone pays their fair share while punishing those that do not or refuse to;

– changing the education system to enable our children to compete in a global world with their peers in other countries;

– exploiting our natural resources (petroleum, gold, fisheries, agriculture, history amongst others) in a sustainable way so as to become a more self-sufficient nation with a surplus for exportation.

In short, doing all the things that ND and PASOK have failed to do since Greece dropped the drachma in favor of the euro. Snap elections are the very last thing we need right now.

Jonathan Reynik

Immigration

Unemployment is currently at 18%, and at 40% for 15-25 year olds. Illegal immigration is costing Greece 15 billion euros a year in illicit street trade controlled by organized crime, and statistically most crimes are committed by illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is also draining the health services and putting great strain on charity organizations.

Greece is a transit point for 90% of illegal immigrants heading for the EU. The Dublin II Regulation treaty which PASOK signed in 2003 is a major problem for Greece. Greece is not the first-choice EU country for most illegal immigrants, but they are stuck in Greece because of Dublin II. The Greek government has two choices: evenly distribute the number of all illegal immigrants among all 27 EU nations or start daily flights from Athens back to their country of destination paid for by the EU.

The Greek government should also deploy the 90,000 Greek Army and the 30,000 Navy personnel along the Evros and Aegean. Troops need to be on the front lines for border protection.

Turkey is deliberately sending these people (mainly Muslims) to Greece to destabilize Greece economically and demographically. Erdogan, Gul and Davutoglu are religious Muslims with an Islamic agenda. If these illegal Muslims are allowed to stay in Athens they will one day form an Islamic political party funded by Turkey. Do you want another Thrace in Athens?

Dublin II is unworkable for Greece and needs to be scrapped. The PM needs to speak to all EU leaders about this. Greece is in the precarious position of being the EU? gatekeeper of illegal immigration. This is not fair.

George Salamouras

Australia

Instant karma

Six years ago who could have predicted the current inefficiency of our European Institutions? A single currency proudly created, free trade and open borders. Wow! And all setting the stage for a large new political and economic world partner — it is important to emphasize political after two world wars that began between Germany and France among others, and also the long presence in half of Berlin and Eastern Europe of the Soviet Empire.

Had it not been essentially political from the start, the current crisis would not have occurred, because nothing was seriously set on that front. Needless to say it needed more brains, though there were institutional examples like the US Fed, whose mandate far exceeds that of the ECB. But, how about a more unified political EU constitution with broad rules stipulating how much public sector is acceptable versus the public sector before it tanks an economy?

Another example is taxes. All we hear about is taxes, yet there are many ways to apply, collect and spend taxes. If it is the central government rather than the region and your own community. your money is heading straight to a black hole in a country that is headed for bankruptcy, inefficiency and bribery.

So, some sort of unified European constitution favoring citizens over governments could and should have been adopted from the start. Is it really that essential for EU members to respect some basic rules of government? For example, should no politician be allowed to spend more than 10 years in government before being obliged to return to the private sector? You will have noticed that I believe politicians should be serving their country rather than their country becoming their servant. Now is clear that it is largely politicians themselves, and, therefore, citizens? lack of checks and balances from a desirable EU constitution to curb them and their overspending that have landed us all in this mess. Who else created the mess?

So, yes, Europe should have immediately applied a common European broad constitution along, of course, with financial and, more importantly, technical assistance for growth in less diversified economies of member states. For from the second there is a common single currency printing its only currency — in other words accepting more debt — this would be decided by the independent board of the ECB, whose only mandate is — as we have been constantly reminded by the always self-satisfied Mr Trichet — to control inflation, which is totally insane! Why? Because inflation is just one aspect of what is implied by the term ?economy.?

Sure, some common economic targets were demanded by the eurozone treaty, but everyone accepted the fact that no rules and regulations were ever followed by nearly all of the new eurozone member States, or even vaguely envisage the end of the euro.

Marc Sursock

Geneva, Switzerland

Patriotic leadership with ?filotimo?

How on Earth can Greece get its act together when the country is governed by technocrats and Greek prime ministers and opposition leaders whose interests do not extend beyond their wallets and their need for fame? Every time there has been a crisis in Greece what have opposition party leaders done since 1980? They have called for elections so they can also «fix and stitch» the country, and then leave Greece in chaos and social anomie so they can enjoy their spoils.

Greece at present is nothing more than a puppet on a string, a bankrupt country with a noose around its neck that is ever-slowly tightening, snuffing out the country’s spirit, pride and history. How Merkel, Sarkozy and Co must be enjoying this!

Greece desperately needs leaders with «filotimo» and pride for their country, conscientious leaders who will lead with integrity and passion, and will enshrine and live by the principle: don’t ask what your country can do for you but rather, what you can do for your country.

John Karamanos

Australia

When pigs fly

Not even in the next 10 years will this be finished. Wait and see. Greek bureaucracy, corruption, and, of course, our esteemed politicians not getting a cut of the action… they’ll just drag the process on, blackmailing the investors who were stupid enough to sign on for this, and then find out it’s too late to back out, they are in too deep, so give into the bribery demands and pay. We’ve all had it happen to us and our businesses. Once you’re ensnared in Greek bureaucracy, try getting out. They can keep it, and shove it down their greedy corrupt throats! I would rather invest in Libya or Zimbabwe.

Lionel Luthor

Re: A more symmetrical union

There is also another factor to be put in into the equation, and that is that the industry nations of the EU have used the crisis as a weapon in the monetary valuation wars going on in the world right now.

The US has been devaluing its currency by what is called Quantitative Easing (or in plain English: printing more money) and the Europeans have countered that by spreading the fear of somebody going bankrupt every time the dollar got to a dangerous low level (take a look at the graphs and you will see that every time the euro was around $1.48 another pig was chased through the village, the last being the ghost of Italian and French solvency).

Having said that: Yes, there needs to be more economic equalization within the EU. But that is impossible without the national governments giving up part of their sovereignty in fiscal matters. The question there is: who wants that? If that is done all might also take the final little step which would be the United States of Europe.

The question is: Are we ready for that?

Alf Meier

Rethymno ?child molester?

Under Greek law, he’ll be out before he’s in booked! Instead of placing him in prison for a week with hardened individuals and brand him a child molester among them, he’ll be sitting having coffee outside the courthouse, free. The trial will be postponed indefinitely as Greece’s judicial mechanism has collapsed, like the rest of the country under graft and bureaucracy!

Lionel Luthor

Special economic zones

Special economic zones are a limited way to achieve growth. In Holland, foreign musicians use special companies at a lower tax rates. This funnels billions of euros a year through Holland because of this special lower tax rate, and supplies countless job.

The economic zone should be all of Greece. If Greece wants to grow it needs to attract foreign investors. The best way to attract foreign investors on a large scale is to make holiday housing more favorable for foreigners. What should be done is for the tax on a new houses to be annulled for five years and all transfer taxes on land and new houses abolished. For existing houses, taxes should be increased when they are sold. This means that it is of advantage for foreigners to build new houses rather than buy old existing houses. This will create new jobs for those that build houses and a boom in the whole economy.

Most holiday houses on sale are second hand. Greece should make it easier to build new houses on Hydra, Myconos, Santorini, etc. By that I mean permits should be given within one month and codes of construction should be less regulated, less strict.

A boom in house construction will lower unemployment, and create more jobs and income for the government.

For this you need a smart government. But I am not convinced Greeks are very smart. Either Greeks become smart overnight and beat the Germans at their own game or they will sink into poverty and eventually leave the euro and sink even further.

Elroy Huckelberry

Choices

Something I’ve come to realize over the past week and why I’m not really commenting any more:

Either Greece will for the first time since 1821 take her fate into her own hands, leave the euro and the EU, and set sail under her own steam and with the drachma, her own currency, the symbol of her sovereignty, into a future that is decided by Greeks alone and not by Great Powers, financial institutions and other external power seekers.

Or she will continue to languish indefinitely as a sick patient on life support, on a permanent program of impossible debt repayments that will cripple her economy and society for generations to come. She will do this while attached to and dependent upon and slave to the milk cow in Berlin, as she was once slave to the milk cow in Constantinople. The Ottomans didn’t give a damn about Greece except as a source of revenue for their empire, and the Germans don’t give a damn about Greece except insofar as Greece can or cannot afford to buy German exports and make Germany wealthy. That is all that Greece is to Germany, a slave market for German exports. That is the only reason why Germany is trying to keep Greece alive on life support.

It is about time that Greeks learn to look after themselves, however low a standard of living they have to start from in order to begin to do this. We all have to start learning to stand on our own two feet from somewhere, otherwise we never grow up do we?

It?s about time that Greeks took the plunge, took their courage in their hands, remembered the poverty from which they rose to defeat the Italians in 1940 (isn’t this after all why Greeks remember ?Ochi Day? with such pride?), and learn to create sustainable wealth by rising from that poverty in their own fashion.

In the process they might also learn to govern themselves more wisely, more effectively and more realistically than has been the case thus far.

Is this really too much for Greeks to demand of themselves?

Philip Andrews

I am sad for my country

Greece’s strength is and must be the people. We have some of the brightest minds anywhere on planet Earth, and I don’t apologize for this statement but they’re working for other countries and I don’t need to mention them because I am one of those who work for another country.

Why, we ask, why has Greece allowed it’s most precious resource to leave and make other’s rich? Why can’t Greece make it a mission to keep those who are bright, and also to go out and recruit, to bring them/us back if you will, and to work to make Greece a world super power, with great minds that will produce new products that the world will use, and Greece will prosper?

One has to look at India and other Asian countries. I am afraid, though, that this is a wishful thinking and so let me get back to work for someone else because my mother country’s politicians do not give a damn.

Sam. P

Texas, USA