OPINION

On German behavior, Papandreou’s mistakes, eurozone exit and Greece’s political system

Politicians of the drachma era

Certainly there can be no arguing with your theme regarding the lack of moral fiber in our spineless current political ?leaders?. In ascertaining the causes of our current predicament however, you should have included, in my view, our arrogant EU partners who have dictated the wrong prescription and refuse to acknowledge such and change course, the majority of our news media that have failed to start an honest dialogue relating to the pros and cons of bankruptcy and a return to the drachma and instead just label such action ?catastrophic?, and, finally and more importantly, the lack of moral fiber (nepotism, tax cheating, disregard of laws etc)among a significant portion of our fellow citizens.

Alex Chronis

Bad political class

It’s fantastic! They have the face as their backside.

Greek political leaders want to ask for legal advice from the Supreme Court and Council of State.

Why didn’t they do it when they fixed the accounts to get into Europe? Why didn’t they do it when they made an absurd pension system? Why didn’t they do it when they supported the corruption and tax evaders and so on?

For a start, they can do one thing: cut their wages.

Honourless people don’t pay their own debts.

Giuliano Satta

Ex-minister banned from leaving country, has property seized

Although the title of this article states that the property is seized, reading the details, it mentions that the bail was set at 150,000 euros and that the property would be seized.

I just sincerely hope the government will go through with seizing the property and digging a little deeper into Mr Tzochatzopoulos’s finances and the companies he controls offshore.

If I remember correctly, the transfer was made in the last days before the law expired, under which members of a family could transfer ownership to spouses, children, and siblings with no added fees and taxes. Then the property emerged as owned by a company owned and controlled by the ex-minister.

Let’s be honest and understand that he is not the only one. He already was sent home before when he requested that others from the inner circle also be hauled into court to testify.

Let’s just hope that a breath of fresh air will blow in and expose the biggest culprits of this ongoing saga.

If the government officials have the desire to expose them and seize their assets while they send them away for a few years, perhaps the next wave of politicians will think twice before putting their hand into the cookie jar.

Monica Lane

Florida US

Prescription-happy doctors targeted

Isn’t it a shame that the computers that sit in ministry basements have not been used in at least the last ten years?

If there was a willingness to monitor and police ourselves, we should have known long ago that no doctor can write 100 prescriptions a week and declare perhaps 10,000 euros income a year.

On the other hand the officials at the Health Ministry should have known a long time ago that we are not such a sickly nation and the expenses on medicines for those covered were exorbitant.

Then again we are just now discussing the issue of areas where even the taxi drivers are ?legally? blind and collect under the social security scheme and 120-year-olds still collect pensions, even after their relatives surrendered their identity paperwork to the authorities to be allowed to bury their dead.

Still the developments are a couple of steps in the right direction and must be applauded.

Lastly since Lipitor appears in the picture that accompanies your article, let me tell you that I have been prescribed the statin and my co-payment for years was $90 a month. As of December 1, 2011, the company’s patent expired. Currently they are still the only company that still manufactures Lipitor under the generic name of Atorvastatin for a $40 a month co-pay. By June all other pharmaceuticals will be able to market it under different names with the same ingredients and we hope to have our co-pay reduced to perhaps $10 a month.

No side effects, no difference, no lower quality. Same product as before to control high cholesterol at a much lower price to the consumer and insurance scheme since one company is no longer the only one who has the monopoly on the drug.

Competition is good and the consumer always wins if the market is left to act on its own rather than harnessed for reasons that do not always make much sense.

Monica Lane

Florida US

The view from across the ocean

Each day, I read ekathimerini and I watch the news here in the US and each day I have tears in my eyes. I had the privilege of helping to build a business in Athens in the pre-Euro days. Like any other nation it was was not a perfect system. But, at least the Greeks had control over Greece. Now you are caught up in forces that are not yours to control. A friend of mine in India once told me, ?When elephants do battle it is the ants that die.? In this case, the ants have names, families and loved ones.

David Gobey

Columbus, Ohio USA

Your crisis and the supposed recovery

Upon the eve of the fiscal well-being of the Greek people being sacrificed in the name austerity to save the Euro, I hope that you will provide and publish a day-to-day account of how this action lifts your nation from its current state of impoverishment to prosperity.

Let the world know, especially the ?elites?.

Walter Waddell

Greece should leave the eurozone

It’s a well-known fact that Greece should have never been allowed to join the euro zone in 2001. The structural reforms were never there and the then Simitis Government falsified the figures. Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy has admitted this. The Germans for their part knew that Greece was not ready or suitable but they still persisted. The Germans are just as guilty as the Greeks on the euro zone fiasco.

In the most recent survey in Germany, 53% of Germans want Greece out of the euro zone; is Angela Merkel listening? There are 27 EU nations and only 17 in the euro zone. Main economies like Britain, Sweden and Denmark do not want to join. You have to ask yourself what kind of a Union is this? This is like saying two-thirds of the US states use the US currency and the rest their own.

Lending money to Greece is a huge mistake; they will never pay it back. Going back to the drachma will force them to restructure their economy and tax system, Argentina did it. It’s not all doom and gloom and most economists agree that Greece should leave the euro zone.

George Salamouras

Australia

Reply to Stefan Meiar’s ?Greek Crisis? article

In reply to Stefan Meiar, the reason the Greeks are so angry at the Germans is many feel (wrongly) that Germany should pay war reparations to Greece for the damage and looting of the country in World War II. So, if Germany pays all the damages/reparations for this, then maybe they won’t be so mad. Not sure if the German press tells you that?

Foo Kurades

Singapore

Political dishonesty and the ostrich effect

George Papandreou must have a skin as thick as an elephant’s. He has broken every one of his promises, destroyed Greece’s reputation, stolen from the Greek people and yet he still has the nerve to appear on TV to offer more lies. If I were him I would disappear quietly and go and sit in the back row. It is better that you cut off your right arm than lose your reputation. If it were only his reputation it would not matter much to the Greek people, but it is their reputation and the credibility of Greece that he has destroyed.

Greek friends of mine have said ?Don’t forget, John, that the Greeks are a proud people.? This is commendable. I am British and proud of the fact. But our country has a political system and economic integrity which is the envy of the world. It is not perfect, but when dishonesty occurs, those committing crimes are bought to book. No political immunity for British MPs.

When I bought a new car in Greece from a Greek dealer, the Greek company I bought it from insisted that I insure it with a British insurance company. They were 100% right. They didn’t trust Greek financial institutions. I do trust the Greek National Bank — my pension is always available for me on the first of the month, though I hope this will continue!

Lord Archer, appointed by Margaret Thatcher as Chairman of the Conservative Party, went to prison for fraudulent claims in court. He was a very good fundraiser, but this didn’t help him avoid justice.

Come on Greeks. Give yourselves something to be proud of. Hubris precedes Nemesis.

Don’t be ostriches. There is still much that is good about Greece. The inherent kindness of the people, the food, your ability to enjoy yourselves! Don’t be ashamed to admit your failings and face up to the truth. ?Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive.?

Read this article from the British Daily Mail: ?The Big Fat Greek Gravy Train: A special investigation into the EU-funded culture of greed, tax evasion and scandalous waste.?

http:www.dailymail.co.uknewsarticle-2007949The-Big-Fat-Greek-Gravy-Train-A-special-investigation-EU-funded-culture-greed-tax-evasion-scandalous waste.html#ixzz1lrhczu9D

John Foss

Realities of the Greek Revolution?

Dear David Cade

Thank you very much for responding to my letter — much appreciated!

Firstly I’d recommend reading a book by David Brewer ‘Greece; the hidden centuries.? Mr Brewer is a staunch Philhellene but also likes to ‘tell it as it is/was’. Many Greeks dispute both his scholarship and his conclusions but I find his work enlightening.

I am not given to argument. I will simply say what I know and wait until someone else either confirms or disproves it.

I grew up as an ‘Ellinopoulo,’ believing the Greek nationalist version of history; although my mother and granddad were Greek and very nationalistic, they were also realists.

My mother escaped from Greece in 1944 with my British father and with the KKE on her tail. Once in this country she began to understand her own people with a new reality.

Most of the nationalist history I picked up was through my own reading. Mother was always cautioning ‘beware of Greeks…’

Now at the tender age of 56 I understand what she meant. And why I feel that Mr Brewer is mostly realistic in his assessments.

It is well known that before the European Classicists began their Grand Tours and made Greece a Classicist’s paradise most Greeks in Greece were completely unaware of any ancient heritage. They may have known of Byzantium through the church, but they had only known the Ottomans for the 3-400 years after Byzantium before the Europeans arrived.

They had also known relative stability under the Ottomans up until about 1820, with the only major (failed) revolt having been the Orlov Revolt. It is true that Greek Diaspora intellectuals applied European nationalist ideas to Greece, but with very limited success in the general population of villages and regions.

It was only when the Europeans began to search for solutions to the perennial Eastern Question that money began to find its way to Balkan esp. Greek nationalist movements. Even then there were the revolutionaries and the evolutionaries. Revolution was in the air amongst the intellectuals, but none of them knew how to run a country, finance a revolution, or fight the Ottomans single-handedly. Wasn’t in their experience…

So the British financed the revolution and a few Greek revolutionaries such as those you mention to establish a rump state in the Rum(eli) area. Codrington helped kick the door in, but then as usual the Greeks started squabbling, so the European Powers sent King Otto in to take charge (of the money…).

That’s the version I’m going with until I hear something persuasive to change it.

Best wishes, Mr Cade.

Philip Andrews

Greek citizens politically bankrupt, not their government

Greeks do have the power to rein in their politicians. Thousands of years ago we invented direct democracy. Greeks today can and should rewrite the constitution, where all MPs are elected, but not paid a salary. Where every major law, including budgets, must be passed by referendum. Where no law can be passed without a plebiscite. Where we hold government to account for every penny of ours, just as we do when we manage our own personal finances. The fact that the Swiss have built a democracy based on ancient Athens is telling. What stops us? Were we just the prototype? It is too easy to blame someone else than to grow up and demand political accountability, from oneself and one’s fellow citizens. Can modern Greece seize this opportunity? From what I see in the press and television, no, but it is worth dreaming.

Anthony Bizos

Building the Rotterdam of the south

Thanks for running this very well-researched piece on the Thriassio logistics project. It shows that Greece can make it, given the correct development/investment policy mix and the right level of determination to overcome the obstacles, most of which are man-made. Some of us have been watching Cosco and Thriassio quite closely and thus appreciate greatly the investigative reporting and effort involved. Keep it up!

Alec Mally

Second chances and sitting on high horses

Yes, it’s true that there is a certain wave of arrogance in German media and politics towards Greece these days and I am noticing with concern the comments left from everyday people in German newsletters.

On the other hand I see the Greek media, politicians and people reacting to every kind of critic from Germany with the Nazi argument.

Many countries in Europe obviously learned in the past decades that this was an appropriate answer to shut down every critic, request or suggestion from Germany right from the start.

Among the Greek media and public this behavior has reached a state of hysteria and rhetoric that makes German newspapers looks like gardening magazines.

The German economy minister, born nameless in Vietnam and adopted by a German family, is called a German-Japanese Nazi.

Merkel is shown in Nazi uniform, the Brandenburg Gate is decorated with a swastika, and Horst Reichenbach is assigned the position of a Gauleiter while the most important question that Greek journalists obviously have for him while the country is going to ruin is what he thinks about his last name.

On the other hand we see Greeks deeply enraged about a stupid cover in the Focus magazine and trying to sue the magazine for money for the abuse of national symbols.

Have you ever heard about Germans suing Greek media for all the tasteless, untrue and insulting comments and images we have seen on Greek TV and the country’s newspapers about Germany and German politicians?

No, you haven’t because we thought that Europe doesn’t yet consist of Islamic-style countries where people burn down flags and embassies because of some Mohamed caricatures.

Every country deserves a second chance and I could not agree more with the comment that the world has granted also Germany this second chance after WWII.

The problem though is that inside Greece politicians and big parts of the public have not even realized until now that this second chance started two years ago while outside Greece everyone has already realized that Greece is not willing or able to grab that very chance.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

Greek mentality

It is an enigma to me. Minimum wages in Greece are far above those, e.g., in Portugal. The jobless rate has just recently surpassed that of Spain. Greece has got tons of money from all kinds of programs from the EU. Indeed, one could almost talk of a kind of Marshall Plan having been applied to Greece with European money. What was the money used for? You know yourselves. You have a civil servant apparatus more than six (!) times as big as that of Germany, in relation to population numbers. Wages and pensions went up out of all proportion to productivity. Were there any Syntagma demonstrations protesting against a party being paid for by others?

And now you’re broke. So what? Almost all of the Eastern European states were broke after the end of the Soviet Union, and after the trade system of Eastern Europe suffered a complete breakdown. Wouldn’t it be of interest to you just to have a look how much help money they got, compared to you? Almost nothing. There were no demonstrations in Warsaw, with protesters blaming foreigners and burning their flags. Instead, the Poles, the Czechs, and many of them have worked their way out of chaos.

They have turned their economies around not by denying their own responsibilties, but by discipline and hard work. It’s certainly worth trying.

Heinz Stiller Berne,

Switzerland