OPINION

On choices, Merkel, Angelopoulos, MPs, PAME, debt, party funding, Chrysochoidis, Samaras, credit cards, wages

Caution: Falling wages

Probably tourism is not the best sector to compare competitiveness, but if I was someone who chooses a holiday destination based on the price, I would compare the cost of spending one week at a seaside holiday resort in Greece with the same in Turkey.

True, Greece cannot compete with Germany in car manufacturing, but it can compete with Poland or Slovakia. Why are there new car factories built in Poland and Slovakia and even Turkey? (I mention Turkey to show that geographical distance from Germany is not the decisive factor.)

We Hungarians constantly compare our competitiveness to the other new member states; maybe it’s time Greece and Portugal did the same.

Subai Gaspar

Financial Times

?An IMF official denied the fund was pressing the ECB to take writedowns on the bonds. But eurozone officials involved in the discussions said the pressure to earmark potential gains to fill Greece’s financing hole was being fiercely resisted by the ECB.?

I do not see a chance. None.

Teodora Chasse

The minister who couldn?t be bothered

I cannot believe that a minister would have the gall to admit something like that: dropi. Just another example of dead weight that has a say in government issues and cannot be bothered. I do not know if I should laugh or cry. What is to become of our patrida with the likes of fools like him?

Aristea Kampitsis

Credit cards

I would suggest that credit card use has dropped because banks are refusing to issue or even re-issue cards. I have been refused cards at all my Greek banks yet the foreign banks where I have accounts continue to issue me with credit cards. I gather that it has been the practice of Greek banks for some time as part of their policy on restricting borrowing.

Patrick Warwick

Putting pressure on the troika

Here’s a novel idea: if Mr. Samaras has a sustainable economic plan to avoid default while enabling Greece to remain part of the Eurozone block and the EU, then why doesn’t he present it to the troika so that they will stop dictating non-workable unliveable terms to us? In the absence of a sustainable plan, an election in the coming months, whether it is April or August, will not change our economic circumstances any more than maintaining our current MPs and their do-nothing attitudes. To that end, if our PM, Mr. Papademos, really wants to serve our country in this time of crisis, he should stop pussy-footing around and join Italy and Spain in their defiant stance towards the troika explaining that:

a. Further cuts in wages and pensions without a corresponding reduction in the cost of living is pushing Greek families to breaking point, shortly to be followed by widespread civil unrest. Simply impose a wage and pension freeze at liveable levels until the structural reforms have been given time to work and put an end to this competitiveness nonsense.

b. Any type of real structural reforms cannot be implemented with the current crop of MPs and the supposed coalition government. Therefore it is time to stop the charade and grant him the authority to appoint citizen legislators to get the job done. As to the 300 legislators, let them try to find work in this ?depression? that they have created and join the austerity party.

c. End the speculation about the PSI and announce the central bank’s terms since these will be the only ones accepted by the majority of bondholders and finalize the March bailout terms. Then with the reforms in place and 12-24 months of time for those reforms to take root, our country has a shot at a sustainable future. Then and only then should elections be considered.

Dare we hope that our PM has the courage and conviction to do his duty?

Jonathan Reynik

Ignorantia juris non excusat

By admitting his failure to read this crucial piece of legislation before voting on it, Mr. Chrysochoidis has publicly demonstrated his dereliction of duty under the laws of our Constutition and hence has proven to all of us that he is unfit to serve in the Parliament let alone challenge for the leadership of PASOK. Furthermore, his comments about saving the country prove how out of touch with reality he really is. Our country is far from being saved. In fact, we are worse off today than we were before the bailout agreement on a multi-billion Euro Ponzi scheme for the central bankers was voted in by our apathetic and it appears, ignorant, MPs. Do we need any more evidence to substantiate the growing number of voices in this forum that our Parliament has to be dissolved? The sooner the better for ignorance of the law excuses no one.

Jonathan Reynik

Changes to party funding considered

That sounds so amusing! The political parties will submit proposals on how to reform themselves and their financing?

Collectively, they cashed in on average 52.1 million euros per year, for each of the last 10 years. One wonders why the government (ie the taxpayer) has to finance the political parties.

In addition, another 4.2 million euros a year was paid to them for election expenses.

Since all these infusions of cash were not enough to keep them in the style they have been accustomed to, they amassed a 245-million-euro debt.

These are the people who run the parties, pose for reformers, governing elite and problem solvers. They are the ones who fight amongst themselves but when it comes to cashing in, they are all working in unison, milking the system they established.

One wonders how soon and in what fashion they decide to reform themselves and tighten their belts.

If we assume that we should try to get our money?s worth out of those who one way or the other got in, we should demand that they only collect the minimum salary of 751 euros a month.

We can all agree that based on results, no one is worth more than the minimum wage.

If this is not enough, they should look for donations from their cronies and those who benefit from the laws they enact.

Monica Lane

Greek debt

One has to hope that common sense prevails in these negotiations. The bond holders have to accept that 2% is better than nothing. If they refuse to negotiate, then the Greek treasury will be unable to pay the principal plus interest.

At the same time the bondholders are playing games with the Greek Treasury. The debts are covered by credit default swaps. This means that the bond holders cannot lose if there is default. If the debts are paid in full the only people to lose out are the Greek tax payers. The bond holders do not lose!

Kelvyn Richards

PAME at the Hilton

The same 20, paid, apparently communist, troublemakers appear again. The ?shop window? of the KKE has again displayed the same selfish and irresponsibe actions that disrupted tourism, cost many jobs, and made our country the last place people would visit in Europe.

Grow up!

Nick Geronimos

Talking vs demanding action

More foot-dragging by our do-nothing MPs over something as simple (and ridiculous) as the liberalization of pharmacy opening hours. And to no one’s surprise, they continue to vote against opening the closed professions. Mr. Papademos shouldn’t just speak to the tripartite coalition. Rather he should demand that they get on board or find new jobs. Today. Our Constitution gives him and our President the right to mandate policy in times of national crisis. In the almost 3 months that Mr. Papademos has been our PM, he has been patient and considerate, giving our MPs the benefit of the doubt regarding their political grandstanding. In return, they have forestalled legislation that is required to not only meet the demands of the troika, but more importantly, put our economy and national psyche on a sustainable path toward recovery. Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that they are incapable of performing their sworn duty? Can there be any more doubt in anyone’s mind that they are putting their self-interests above those of our country? Instead of protesting the troika, we should invest our time and energy in proactively demanding their immediate resignations — effective immediately. We can survive this crisis but not with their laissez-faire or ?leave things alone? approach to governing our nation.

Jonathan Reynik

For whom the bell tolls

Finally an editorial about the circus-like state of our government that does not mince words. Yes, we are facing a national crisis that demands strong leadership. And yet not one single MP has willingly and unselfishly supported our PM to institute (that is vote on and implement) the necessary reforms. It would appear that all they can do is engage in inane political grandstanding and insist on elections while saving their individual political skins so as to stand for those elections. This is not how democracy is supposed to work. Therefore, in the absence of any reasonable alternative, the only solution to prevent social catastrophe is for our PM and President to stand together and dissolve the Parliament in the name of national security and then appoint citizen legislators to the task of governing our nation through this critical time in our history. Now more than ever we need energetic, curiouser, creative, and honest people representing our country and her citizens. To do nothing is to be complicit in the crimes of the MPs.

Jonathan Reynik

Theo Angelopolous

So the most respected cinema director in Greece is run down by a cop on a motorcycle ferrying a woman on the back. And two days later the police announce they will launch an investigation. I wonder why it would not have been possible to ?launch? an investigation at once. It does not, after all, take days to ?launch? a boat. You pull a pin and it is ?launched.?

Oh yes, I forget. Theo was not wearing an illluminated vest. Supposedly a film crew was present, and unless it was a black and black film, there was lighting in the extreme, but the police volunteer the theory that he was not wearing a luminous vest. Well, I suggest to the police of Greece, his reputation was luminous enough, and had they done their jobs with a modicum of propriety this man would not be dead, and certainly not by those paid to protect him. I know of no country where film crews film without paying the police and other authorities.

This is an outrageous condemnation of all that Greece has condoned for too long. Not to worry. We will launch an investigation tomorrow. Or the next day.

Well, I suggest Greece starts immediately, and strip all police in power from the top to the bottom, now, at once, responsible for the area where Angelopolous was killed. And replace everyone with responsible individuals, and take all of the rest to jail to await trial for impeding the law and protection of citizens. Greeks should be ashamed and outraged.

George Dillon Slater

Merkel on Greek aid at Monday Summit

European leaders at their summit next Monday will not deal with the second aid package for Greece, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday at a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Echoing remarks made earlier today by a senior government official, the chancellor said that in all likelihood the progress report on Greece by the troika of the ECB, the EU Commission and the IMF will not be ready by Monday.

Teodora Chasse

The tragedy of the commons

Dear Mr. Papahelas,

You show a great ammount of optimism in the altruism that you assume drives the greek political discourse.

Sadly this moment in time, as Greece makes its choices, has one benefit and that is that it provides unique transparency into the self-righteous efforts of political opportunists too busy focussing on gaining some advantage for themselves that they have lost all sight of the cataclysm that lurks on the horizon.

Is it the time to argue for a date certain for elections?

Is it the time for PASOK members to be attacking George Papandreou?

Is it the time to obstain from voting on the restructuring legislative reforms?

Is it the time to vote against the restructuring reforms?

The answer to all these questions is: Yes, if you are thinking only about your political gains and not at all care what your reckless indiference to the ?facts on the ground? will mean to the country.

?Can Greece change?? then becomes the natural next question. The answer is yes, but the Greeks must want to change which requires them to decide to move away from the political patronage system that relies on ?votes for favors? and where the common good is a primary goal. Of course this is not a rhetorical question anymore and it is here and now that it will be decided by the Greeks themselves, through the actions of their elected leaders, as to whether Greece deserve to stay in the Eurozone or has earned its place between Bulgaria and Turkey.

Kostas Alexakis