OPINION

On new austerity measures, border patrols, soft drugs legalization and war reparations

Soft drug legalization law may be withdrawn

Can you spell insanity, boys and girls? The prisons are overcrowded, so if we decriminalise certain offenses we make sure we do not add more prisoners in the already crowded jails?

As if the spread of drug use did not prove to be destructive and our youth’s exposure to illegal substances did not destroy lives! PASOK and SYRIZA suggest just a bit of drug use is OK so we become more «European» in our attitudes?

We have an explosion of homelessness and among those are drug addicts. We have illegal immigrants with no legal way of supporting themselves and drug trafficking is one of their ways to «earn» a living. With an 18% unemployment rate we can encourage our young to go and peddle soft drugs?

Besides in their infinite wisdom, I am sure the politicians calculated a 21% VAT tax on all sales to rake in a few euros here and there from the «trade».

Instead of preventing a «cancer» from spreading we want to cover it up so we are not bothered with details of how to handle the problem. So typical of our shortsighted «leaders».

We have no issue with 300 do-nothing lawmakers crammed into the Parliament, but we cannot find room for those who break the law?

What’s next? We have no room in prison for tax dodgers and crooked politicians so we send them to Switzerland and the Cayman Islands where they can spend their ill-gotten gains and are out of sight?

Monica Lane

Florida, US

Haircut, rescue package

I think things are coming to a close. Qatar is obviously stepping back from an important Greek deal, the EU meeting of finance ministers on Monday is postponed, Greece denies that Papademos has stepped down, Schaeuble says that no more German public money will be sent to Greece, party leaders are putting pressure on the Prime Minister because of planned wage cuts, several Northern European finance ministers say that there will be no easing of reform pressure on Greece.

If I were to bet, I would bet that Greece does not get the second bailout package. This country will go the way of Somalia.

Heinz Stiller

Switzerland

Minister stresses the need for more border patrols

Caramba! Now the minister of justice wants to reduce the charges for human trafficking! Add this to the law pending about decriminalising «soft» drugs and we are heading towards the cliff at a breathtaking speed.

Why don’t we just say to one and all that we will allow anyone and everyone to come in and wreak havoc while we just sit back and watch. We will not bother them as long as they do not force our lawmakers to think and take take action. This would be above their pay grade.

The politicians are safe, they are escorted by police and we cannot say that the occasional case of a flying yoghurt or bag of flour constitutes high crime.

We can descend deeper into chaos and let everyone do whatever they please.

As long as we elect the same idiots again and assure them a comfortable life, who cares about those who have to navigate the streets of their neighbourhoods at night? The graffiti-laden walls, the rubbish, the unsafe sidewalks will all be part of the landscape and the times we come back home in one piece with our wallet still intact would be classified as a miracle. However, one thought comes to mind. There is a beautiful island in the Aegean, Yiaros. It served as a prison during the Junta years and I am sure the accomodations will not offend our uninvited guests and assorted criminals.

If Europe, the High Commission on immigration and others are offended, they can come over and take all these individuals to more appropriate detention centers.

Monica Lane

Florida US

Arrest over debt in excess of 130 million euros

There it is! If she owed 1,300 euros instead of 130 million, she would have been scooped up and her business closed down a few years ago.

We are on the scent of everyone who tries to scrape by but somehow, I wonder how come, we always «miss» the big fish.

Now if those who hacked into the Justice Ministry web site could only check and let us know what is going on with all those «pending» cases, we would greatly appreciate their help.

Monica Lane

Florida US

Protecting Greek borders The best way to protect Greek borders is to come to an agreement with Turkey from where most refugees come.

Greece may need to send bags of of American dollars to members of the Turkish Government that can take care of this problem.

Australia has the Indonesian armed forces «secretly» pushing refugees into Australia as revenge at what Australia did to Indonesia a number of times.

Turkey is doing the same to Greece. Revenge.

If a little bribery does not work, Greece can consider placing some of the millions of useless people in the armed forces and the public service to do some real work. Guard the borders, but then again are they not the people without any morals or regard for their country.

The Greek armed forces have only 10,000 people who are capable of doing anything, the rest are merely in the armed forces to lower the figures of the unemployed youth, and as political favours and jobs for helping politicians.

The pathetic nature of the Greek armed forces can readily be seen as one travels around Greece. At times its heartbreaking to see their complete ineptitude. They truly reflect the political system. On one occassion I was reduced to tears at what I saw.

Then again nothing has changed since 1941, when some relatives, fearing for Greece’s survival, had to shoulder their axes and walk to Albania to meet the enemy aircraft.

Chariloas Lithoxopoulos

All on the line or political kung fu

Sadly it comes down to a make-or-break meeting between our appointed PM and his supposed coalition government who, if you will recall, were brought together to facilitate the reforms so that our country could avoid a hard default. Is anyone really surprised that Mr. Papademos is tired of having to make excuses for our do-nothing MPs? Clearly members of the troika are, as they have cancelled their meeting on Monday as a precaution in the event of his resignation. Well here’s a thought — Mr. Papademos is the PM and he could, therefore, turn this showdown to his advantage simply by telling the three party leaders ?Agree or I’ll appoint my own cabinet, like Monti did, and we’ll put an end to this madness.? Let’s hope he has the courage of his convictions because the troika is not going to look kindly on Greece if he resigns. Proposed wage cuts will then be the least of our worries.

Jonathan Reynik

The Thessaloniki mayor

Anyone who talks about cleaning up Thessaloniki has my vote at once.

If [Yiannis Boutaris] wants to encourage tourism he needs to rid Thessaloniki of the big angry dogs that roam the streets or fly out of backyards or balconies as one walks the streets.

It’s the only city I ever felt I should be walking with a 12 gauge automatic shotgun.

Most foreigners like to walk in cities, which I understand is a complete mystery to Greeks.

Mr Boutaris also needs to get street cleaners in uniform and supply them with modern tools.

They look weird at the moment, they remind me of the Melbourne Jail for children under 12 years old, where children were made to sweep vast areas with tiny brooms to keep them busy.

Very bad children had to use toothbrushes to sweep the jail floors and the external yards.

Chinese from Shanghai or Beijing will get a shock at the filthy conditions of the commercial areas of Thessaloniki. In China they do not have mud in the main streets of the new big cities like Thessaloniki does in winter.

The new bus terminal is so dirty one has the impression it has been in existence for 100 years and never cleaned. What is this mania for keeping dirt in Greece?

Why are they afraid of clean environments?

The more I think about it, Mr Boutaris is mad.

Only a real madman would have such high ambitions for Thessaloniki.

There is 20 years of hard work to clean Thessaloniki.

The people there take taxis to travel 200 metres; I do not think they have the energy for work.

The Albanians have left so there is no hope.

The song says it all: «Vromios agapise Vromia kai Thessalonikia»

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Greek politicians

I believe your statements published in your newspaper about these creatures, the Greek politicians, are a gross insult to the Greek people and their inteligence. How could you possibly remind your readers that these well-trained thieves are still calling the shots in Athens?

You see, the average Greek citizens are so hungry that they do not even have the strength anymore to be reminded of these con artists.

Please do me a favor. Call these politicians and urge them to ge a passport and leave Greece forthwith. Thank you.

John J. Ress

Greece’s elite must build a positive momentum

The Maybrit Illner Talk Show (ZDF) last evening [in Germany] included a Greek entrepreneur — Mr. Athanasios Syrianos, the owner of Hellenic Breweries of Atalanti S.A. The most impressive German participant was the former Governor of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber. The other participants would not have been missed had they not been there.

Mr. Stoiber correctly pointed out that the issue which Greeks needed to decide on was their standard of living. The Greek standard of living is still very much a function of Greece’s being a member of the Eurozone (easier access to foreign funding). Should Greece default in a disorderly manner and/or leave the Eurozone, Greece would face a dramatic drop in her standard of living (an orderly default could avoid that).

On the other hand, Mr. Stoiber said, staying in the Eurozone will require of Greeks continued and very significant adjustment pains. That cannot be avoided. Mr. Stoiber stressed that Greek society would need to reach a consensus on which of the two paths they wanted to follow. And he expressed hope that Greeks would opt to stay in the Eurozone.

The surprise came from Mr. Syrianos (perhaps because he is an entrepreneur and not a politician). He didn’t talk about sovereign debt, budget deficit, PSI, etc. Instead, he talked about the progress — however minute — which Greece was already making. He talked about the increase in exports, the lowering of costs, etc.

Most importantly, he referred to the EURECA project and the «Greece 10 years ahead report» (to be complete, he should also have mentioned the EU Task Force, but nobody is perfect).

Any Greek opinion leader — from politics, business, academia, media, etc. — should feel called upon to get a momentum going. A momentum which shows the battered Greeks that there can be a positive future. Any Greek opinion leader should feel called upon to propose ways out of today’s mess (politically, economically and spiritually). That’s what a country’s elite is there for!

I have zero sympathy for smart people explaining why Greece cannot compete in the world because she is a poor country.

I have zero sympathy for smart people explaining why it is all someone else’s fault. That is plain immature!

Greece has never really made an effort to develop her potential. Greeks have never really experienced how much fun it can be to develop one’s potential. Bring some motivated Greeks together for some brainstorming and it won’t take long until they can see Greece as the future economic tiger of the Eastern Mediterranean.

JFK had appealed to the American youth at the time. In Greece today, the appeal has to be made to the Greek brain power, the Greek opinion leaders, the Greek elites of all walks of life: «Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!»

It seems to me that if people like Mr. Syrianos made that statement their «battle hymn», positive momentum could indeed be generated in Greece so that Greeks are motivated to help themselves.

Footnote: I am fully aware that when the main power centers of a society — like political parties, business leaders, professional guilds, public sector unions, the media, etc. — are fighting to preserve their privileges, it is almost a mission impossible to overcome such resistance. However, it can be done if there is unstoppable momentum backed by the people.

Klaus Kastner

Austria

Giving the kids hope…

Thank you for your excellent articles.

I hope you don’t mind me using [your] articles in my English classes, they really help to give the students some much needed understanding of their situation and what they can do to improve their future.

Christine Stephanidou

Ano Nea Smyrni

Nazi occupation of Greece 1941-44

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica the Nazi occupation of Greece cost the lives of 300,000 Athenians mainly through starvation. The Nazis stole all the food supplies, money and gold from the Greek banks in financing their occupation. There were also an additional 17,000 summary executions. In today’s terms the damage inflicted by the Nazis on Greece is more than 70 billion euros. In addition, what cost does Germany put on the lives of over 300,000 Greeks? Today Greece would have had an additional 1.2 million people in its population.

It’s okay for the Germans to describe us as lazy and incompetent, but they are very touchy on the above issue. Greece should pursue war reparations. Greece may be bankrupt but Germany is morally bankrupt.

George Salamouras

Australia

Poor reporting on supermarkets

Your reporting shwcases very poor journalistic practices. Juct come out and name the companies. The case you are trying to make or hint at are just not supported by the facts you state. Is it a matter of poor interpretation from Greek? On its face the practicies as you state are not illigal or improper. Maybe you just dont’ understand how multinationals operate. Research you topic, state clear facts. Let the facts make you case. You missed the mark with this article.

Dimitrios Tsarouhtsis

Compliments and a request

First of all, allow me to express my great appreciation for the outstanding, first-class newspaper that you produce day after day despite the difficult times that Greece is going through as well as my profound admiration for your editorial writers, especially Alexis Papachelas and Pantelis Boukalas. Every day I go to your online site to see if there’s a new editorial by Mr. Papachelas; in fact, I can hardly wait for some new article of his to appear. His «Winning back the diaspora» perfectly expressed the sadness and frustration of so many of the Greek emigrants and their children who live here in Santa Barbara and are heartbroken to see what’s happening in Greece. Both Mr. Papachelas and Mr. Boukalas are like modern-day prophets, decrying the sins and shortcomings of the politicians with absolute clarity and candor and urging them to put aside petty personal interests and ambitions and do what’s right for the country. Recently Mr. Boukalas caught my attention with his article «Do you know who I am?» and with the follow-up article. His biting irony and references to Aristophanes made those articles an absolute pleasure to read.

I’d like to request that you include a picture of your editorial writers along with their articles. After reading so many superb editorials by them, I almost feel as if I know them. Would pictures be possible so that your readers could see what these wonderful writers look like?

Finally, I want to thank you for publishing these editorials both in Greek and in English. I took a course in first-year Modern Greek at the university, but there are seldom second-year classes because few students sign up for them, and there’s no second-year textbook available. Thanks to your editorials that appear both in Greek and in English, it’s almost as if I have a second-year book. By reading what you write, I’m not only learning what’s happening in Greece, a country that my husband and I love, but I’m also learning Greek. You might want to consider producing a second-year reader for English speakers who want to learn Greek. Your archives are full of excellent material that could easily be made into a textbook.

Kathleen Roig, Ph.D.

Santa Barbara, CA

German reparations

Why continue to bring up this topic when in reality its a non-issue. There are no reparations to be had. Time has moved on. More importantly, the Greek government through treaty obligations has waived its rights. It long ago lost the moral high ground to pressure Germany to pay. Given the state of affairs today, this action only further tarnishes the image of Greece. The politicians who portray that there is hope are only playing into nationalistic fervor. If the government and the people wanted to demonstrate their displeasure with German action they could begin by rejecting German goods and refusing financial assistance today.

Dimitrios Tsarouhtsis

War reparations

Demanding war reparations from Germany in the present situation is a very good idea.

Justice must be done. Will Greece also demand reparations from the Dutch, the Finns, and other donor states? Or will Greece, on its part, pay reparations to Balkan states or Turkey for the attacks based on the «megali idea» around 1912 (under Venizelos) and 1922?

Heinz Stiller Berne,

Switzerland

Re: Heinz Stiller’s article

Thank you Heinz Stiller for writing the truth. I am fed up by the Greek people not wanting to see their own share in the mess and taking responsibility themselves instead of only blaming the politicians. Where were you on the streets demonstrating after the list of 4,000+ tax dodgers was published? By the way with the number one topping the list with his ridiculous amount. Don’t you ask yourselves: How can the state have let that happen? It does not build up overnight. Why don’t you let your voice be heard then? No, instead you are only on the streets for protesting against DEI and the Troika when they are trying to do something about this mess you are in. Where were you on the streets when it was known that 60,000 people (you can multiply that by two probably…) have been coming to collect money for their dead family members? You do not want to show your voice then to the politicians? Oh, no, maybe then you are not so brave, and think maybe in a way I am also culpable for part of this or maybe you do not think it is so wrong, because in the end you are all fighting for yourself, not for this country. Please, demonstrate against the right things that can provoke the right measures to build up this country, together…

Peter Jansen

Troika turns up the pressure on party leaders

How much longer can and will the people of Greece accept the humiliating visits of the so-called troika?

Every time the troika visits Athens new measures are discussed. Surely a great deal has to do with the inept and clueless Greek politicians. Without any of their own plans they seem to welcome their guests from Washington, Brussels and Berlin. For the people of Greece it is humiliating while nothing seems to go well in their country and secondly and perhaps more painful, the Greek politicians are not able to counter the arguments of the troika. Until now no single plan has been produced by the Greek politicians to fight the crisis. Great countries differ from mediocre countries by producing a great leader when the time is empty and big decisions have to be made (Churchill, Thatcher from UK).

Until now however, Greek politicians are squabbling about who will form the next government or who will lead the party. But none of them is considering leading the country. In fact Greece is already run by foreigners. The PSI bailout was conducted with great help from the Germans. The possible ECB bailout has come on the table due to some German MPs who raised this subject.

Greek politicians are acting as executors of the IMF. The IMF has invented a plan to make Greece poorer (to be more competive, they argue) and the local politicians blindly tell these messages to their people. Whoever will govern from the ultra-left to ultra-right-wing parties, they all will end up as executors from the IMF.

Greece can only free itself from these chains when they act boldly and make a paradigm shift by abolishing the Euro. Of course this will lead to a short-term nightmare scenario but Greece will be able to emerge from the ashes with dignity. Based on newly defined strengths of the Greek economy this country will be in the long run far better off than remaining in the Euro zone.

Besides Greece will be better in sync with its neighbors. Due to the epidemic EU funds Greece has received in the last decades has turned Greece into a special case. Sadly this money didn’t go to the public, but to corrupted politicians and their private sector friends. For which the ordinary people have to bleed. By abolishing the Euro it will also give a huge blow to the Euro partners. It will hurt the Euro in the short term gravely. And Europe must find a new balance. Europe must decide whether it is a coherent solidarity union or a union for economic cooperation.

Staying in the Euro zone, Greece will always be treated like a ‘special case,’ meaning loss of dignity and sovereignity. And by continuing the bailout, Greece is losing it more day by day.

Hans Worst

Greeks, permanent revolutionaries?

There is an article in the Greek section today entitled; ‘The Revolution of the Cafenion’. It reminds me very much of another article earlier in the week about a university employee in Thessaly who refused to do a job because he was against a particular law that obliged this job to be carried out; therefore he refused to do the job, but he would still be paid as an employee!

He said he was within his ‘revolutionary rights’ to protest the law by refusing to carry out the task. Similarly, in the Revolution of the Cafenion, the perpetrators were more interested in breaking into this public facility (illegally of course) as a revolutionary protest than in benefiting the persons in need by taking them to already established public help facilities.

The underlying notion here is that Greeks, like certain ancient ancestors love philosophy and revolution, but seem to despise or shirk the nuts and bolts of developing ‘evolution’ from the ground up.

Up to 1821 according to at least one historian of the Tourkokratia, Greeks simply were uninterested in revolution. Then presumably some foreigners (probably the British, the Rothschilds or both) offered them substantial funds to revolt against the Turks and create a revolution. They did this more or less successfully with the help of a little grapeshot from a certain Admiral Codrington and his Royal Navy warship anchored off Piraeus.

After that the Greeks received more funds in order to a) continue fighting the Turks and claim more of Greece and Greek speakers back (active revolution) and b) to quarrel amongst themselves about this new Greek entity.

From 1821 to 1912 they were paid by foreigners to create a new Greek state and to squabble and argue. But not to develop the nation, institutions or infrastructure to any significant degree.

From 1914-18 they were paid to fight the Germans/Ottomans in the Balkans, together with the British and French, and to continue fighting and squabbling about revolution amonst themselves. Still no significant progress within the country.

After WW1 they were paid to invade Turkey in pursuit of the Meghali Idea; more revolutionary sentiment. It was a disaster but no one claimed responsibility. This led to refugees bringing Bolshevism to Greece; it was a socio-economic catastrophe that led to more internal conflict (Bolshevists vs Nationalists/Royalists) with Soviets and Germans footing the bill. Definitly no significant progress.

This went from 1922 to 1950. The end of this revolutionary phase brought the revoltion of Nato, the Marshall plan and other wealth through Cold War necessity. Greece was (relatively) important so much largesse went her way. Still no significant national development of institutions and only some strategic infrastructure development, plus a lot of people becoming wealthy and the KPG still trying for revolution.

The 60s to 1974 saw this revolutionary phase end with the establishment and fall of the Junta (the ‘Ellas Anesti’ revolution) and Socialism ‘the Utopian Revolution’ take over from it. Much money (borrowed, and from the EU) went to some infrastructure projects, but the institutional system remained largerly intact from the 19th C.

Finally, from 1981-2000 we had the EU revolution. This combined the ‘Ellas Anesti’ theme with the Socialist Utopia theme aided by 58 billion of German largesse and a huge EU ‘blind eye’. Lots of infrastructure development but all other systems went comatose. This was to paraphrase, ‘a Revolution too Far’.

The nation began to collapse under the weight/burden of 200 years of ‘Revolutionary Promises,’ none of which had involved working on developing the nation from the ground up. So the 19C institutional structure simply couldn’t take the strain, and is collapsing into free fall.

And still it seems a significant number of Greeks seem to think/believe they have the right to ‘revolutionise’ at the drop of a hat, while letting ‘someone else’ do the hard work and pay them for revolutionising!

The final revolution will be the Greek looking into his soul and asking, what now, and where next…? Time to stop revolutionising and start growing up…

Philip Andrews

On mistaken identity, compliments and other issues

I must claim authorship of the letter that was attributed to another poster.

Many thanks go to the nice gentleman from Sydney.

For the record I do not know the writer of this letter and the comments are appreciated although not solicited.

With regard to some comments about Europe being advanced, modern, organised and efficient 500 years ago, I must humbly and with all due respect disagree.

In Prussia, and what became Germany later, as late as the mid-1800’s sanitation and hygiene were in such a dismal state that the plague killed millions. Same with England a decade or so before.

Western Europe was not the La La land some make it sound like. It still is not and all of the countries carry unsustainable debts and have big problems of their own.

If we are going to beat up on anything and anyone responsible for the current financial catastrophe in Greece we can deal with current issues that brought us to this point.

Socialism cannot work in a country with few resources and the PASOK leadership has done more harm than good. It created a class of people who were under the illusion that everyone can have a piece of the pie, a large one at that, without contibuting. All the political grandstanding and promises made, matched at times by Nea Demokratia so they too have a foothold, were empty promises.

Many joined PASOK so they could be guaranteed positions in government and an easy way to collect a salary and pension. There is enough blame to go around. From crooked politicians, to a citizenry who either joined the fray reaping rewards or staying out thinking that this illusive entity «Government» will always be there.

Politicians signed treaties and agreements with the EU knowing full well we could not protect our borders and based on the treaties we would be saddled with illegal immigrants who have no realistic way of earning an honest living or being productive in society.

The EU, which at times seems like a half-baked idea created to satisfy the egos of the then leaders with motives not so clear, decided to «bring up» economies of poorer countries to create markets for their products without regard to the ability of these nations to pay the debts and be lifted to their standards. There was no control, no oversight and these «enlightened» individuals who came in were told by their leaders that «Corruption is needed for progress» and they were happy to oblige them.

Now we find ourselves being insulted on a daily basis by individuals from other countries who lump the entire problem in one badly packaged «Greek» problem.

We have always been a poor country with not so friendly neighbours surrounding us. We never had heavy industry, we always had porous borders.

However we have always been a brave proud people who emerged from a 400-year Ottoman occupation with our language, religion, customs and pride intact.

Thanks to the politicians of the last 36 years we now have all that made us proud taken away.

Monica Lane

Florida US

Re: ‘Choose any color you want,’ by Nick Malkoutzis

An extremely well-written article that one would hope the politicians leading Greece would read. Unfortunately, I do not believe they have the foresight and humility to reach the right decisions for Greece. As an outsider observing the developments in Greece, my thoughts and prayers are with all Greeks. I pray that I am wrong and the politicians free Greece from the stranglehold that the EU has. If not, Greece will be slave to the overlords of the EU for generations and anarchy will reign.

God be with you Greece, God be with you.

Ken C

Troika insist on changing labor terms

I just read that the Greek leader’s brother is part of J.P. Morgan, so of course the bondsmen and the banks will be paid at the expense of Greece citizens and no bankruptcy will ever be considered. Oh, if only people could have learned from Sweden and Iceland: Throw those bondsmen and banksters to the wolves or the will eat you every time….

Jerry Bacon

Private sector wages

According to the New York Times the proposed cut in the minimum wage would affect fewer than 300,000 people.

Has it come down to this? Greek leaders can’t take action unless it’s imposed on them for the sake of a few. Why only examine income when the flip side cost of living is also an issue?

“But consumer prices in Greece are comparatively high — gasoline is more than $8 a gallon — owing to cartels that have historically controlled the distribution of consumer goods.»

Protecting entrenched interest while the ship goes down. How nice!

Dimitrios Tsarouhtsus

Potato production

I live near an area that produced one of the biggest crops of potatoes in the world. When it came into competition with Canada, the land was turned over to cattle grazing, producing top-quality beef.

Some of the farms were so large they were really like villages with most workers living on the farms, yet they could not compete in a market place where most people ate at least one potato-based meal a day.

Time and time again Greek farmers try to compete in international trade where they have no advantages and ignore the areas of natural advantage.

In a conversation with a Greek farmer many years ago who raised goats and sheep for meat production and competed against Australia and New Zealand, he told me he was losing.

I tried to explain to him that his product needs to shift out of the market place that New Zealand was in and create a product that New Zealand did not supply. He had to learn new skills.

He did not want to learn anything new; he wanted a bigger tariff against imports and to punish the Greek consumer.

I explained to him that New Zealand was exporting «organic» lamb to Europe at 30 times the price of standard lamb, and, could not meet the demand. He could not see himself and his village being able to get the paperwork together and staying