OPINION

On Samaras, politicians, reputations, Papoulias, wine, Kader Abdolah, suggestions, politicians

At this point the letter signed by Samaras is irrelevant.

Germany is adamant that there won’t be approval of a second Greek program before the Greek elections in April, if there is an approval at all.

So this letter is not the game changer Greece is hoping in order to clinch the bailout. Too little, too late.

Roger Smith

Friends of Greece

In March of 2011, we watched as Japan suffered a major earthquake, a tsunami and then leakage in their radioactive power plants. We saw grief for lost loved ones and watched homes and livelihoods being destroyed. Then we saw the people queueing patiently for hours for basic essentials. Homeless crammed into buildings while others risked their lives to save their fellow citizens. We didn’t see demonstrations, looting and burning. The world rushed to aid them, and they thanked their friends.

Two years ago, Greece cried for help. Our EU friends rushed to the rescue, they gave us a massive loan, but due to the fact that we had never spent previous funds on specified projects, they insisted that this time we implement the necessary cutbacks, to public workers and public spending. In return, we did nothing. Then they arrange to cut a very large sum of the money we owe, due to our bad handling of our economy. Then they offer us another loan, but insist that we implement changes. They advised us what to do; they were open to any alternative suggestions, which didn’t come from left or right. Now, we accuse our friends of undermining our democracy, of destroying our economy, of forcing us out of the euro. We are angered because they don’t trust our politicians, when we don’t trust them. They are afraid of general elections because they see that there will not be a stable government in power to carry out the very necessary changes. They are deluged by our own mass media with articles on pensions paid to deceased, pensions paid to citizens in their late 40s and 50s, millions in tax owed and never collected, scandals one after the other relating to our health service, university students in their 30s, poor security against an influx of immigrants, bargains made with foreign companies for Greeks to take commissions, government officials that cannot face prosecution, law courts which simply don’t function, etc., etc., etc.

Then we burn their flag, burn our own city once again, and blame them.

60% of Greeks own their own homes, add another 10% to that for the vast number of Greeks that have transferred deeds of their property to family members, add another 10% that have more than one property, then tell me if you know of one Greek that does not own a plot of land somewhere in Greece. Truthfully, people that have worked for me in the past, friends, neighbours, I do not know one. Now however, we are led to believe that these same people will vote for the various communist parties. Knowing full well that we will be out of the euro and destitute. Is it any wonder that our friends and Greeks living abroad cannot understand where we are going or why.

Many of us are just as afraid of general elections, we don’t want to waste the money or time, we want to implement the measures and work our way out of this mess, once and for all.

Ann Baker

Cut salaries and benefits for all politicians

Our politicians, starting from the president, prime minster, parliament members, mayors, vice mayors, council members, directors of public companies, etc. have failed and dragged the country and every Greek into misery and dishonor. I propose that until we get out of the supervision from the IMF, all salaries and benefits of all these people should be cut in half immediately. This way, making some very rough calculations, we will have savings of at least 5 billion per year, maybe even more. This means that half of the measures that the politicians are proposing as necessary for the people to accept will not need be to be taken.

It is only fair for those who have benefited the most from the borrowing these last 10 years to give up some of their financial privileges for the well-being of the nation. It should be an honor to be mayor, or prime minister or minister and the salary should be according to what the country can afford. The country is bankrupt because of them, their bad policies and inability to think of creative ways to stimulate the Greek economy. It is only fair for them to give up their privileges. I am sure, if we take a poll on this proposal it will be voted by at least 90%.

Let’s hope that the political leaders will for once do the right thing!

George Georgellis

Re: ?Juncker confident of eurozone decisions on Greece on Monday?

Which Monday? 2013, 2014?

Juncker, like Rehn, Barroso and Lagarde plays for the Greeks and France and against Germany, so what Juncker says it is not relevant. The most important is what Germany as the EU paymaster wants, and this is Greece out of the euro. I would not consider this news breaking news as Ekathimerini does; more like deal-breaking news.

Teodora Ivanova Chasse

Maine, USA

Greek wines

Having enjoyed many a glass of nice Greek wines while in Greece, I have wondered why it is so hard to find reasonably priced Greek wines ($4 to $10 per bottle) here in the United States. Greece definitely knows how to produce good everyday wines that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I think they can compete with wines sold here in the $5 to $10 range. Surely there must be a way for Greece to export more of its quality wines to the US market. Why not export more to the United States and help Greece earn some much-needed cash? Plus, more wine exports could help reduce Greece’s unemployment rate. It can be a win-win situation for Greeks and Americans!

Send us your wines, Greece!

T F Koester

The Greek president?s comments

Mr. Papoulias

1. Mr. Schauble’s comments about Greece are harsh, as are those by the Dutch, the Finns, the Czechs, the Austrians, the Belgians, and a few others.

2. Mr. Schauble, nevertheless, did not insult Greece. Greece insulted Germany by burning its flag repeatedly and by depicting Mrs. Merkel as a Nazi.

3. Question by Mr. Papoulias: «Who are the Dutch, the Finns…?”

4. Answer: They are the hard-working people whose money he wants.

Stiller Heinz

Switzerland

Re: Kader Abdolah

I, being Dutch, am really glad that we have Kader Abdolah. An unexpected, pleasant outcome of the repressive regime in Iran.

Paul Tolhuis

Re: German comments rile the Greek President

Sadly, we gave the right to all of them to criticise and ridicule us. We opened the door and let outsiders come into our country and behave as if they own us and everything we have of value. Some in the highest positions insist that our stay within the eurozone is important and the other route would bring us to chaos.

We have been battling chaos since the Papandreou government asked for a bailout. We keep going back, hat in hand looking for more while we are mortgaging our future and the future of the next generations to come.

In my humble opinion Mr Papoulias should have called all the politicians in two years ago and knocked some sense into their heads. The horse left the barn as they say and now we find bureaucrats who pontificate to pacify their own constituency while dragging us through the mud.

East German leaders did not have to sign off before they accepted assistance. When the Americans came in after Germany turned Europe into rubble they did not require the then leaders to sign that they would repay the loans. However, we do and agree to all the terms and promise we will be good boys and girls as long as they give us more money to pay off the debts and recapitalise our banks.

Our politicians have lowered us to the position we find ourselves today, so people like the German finance minister can throw mud along with the other well-paid bean counters.

What more do we need to face before we wake up and realise that we are sinking into servitude? They even are blunt enough to say that Greece leaving the euro will not matter to them today as it would two years ago. The world markets have factored a bankruptcy in already. How much more humiliation do we need to realise they are not on our side, they are not helping us. The foreign politicians help the bankers and sing the songs of those who will vote them in again. The only ones who did not realise it yet are those who fight for more and more euros in loans. Or perhaps they are very well aware of what is happening but do not care to be on watch when the axe falls on us.

Monica Lane

Florida

Greek people

Every day there’s a big misconception over this debate and problem. Don?t cast a big paintbrush over Greek people as a whole. It?s the leaders and politicians who destroyed the country. Not ordinary everyday people who are hurting and losing their jobs by the day. I also don?t want to hear they elected them because if three pigs were running for office one of them gets in. When Germany demands 25% cut in minimum wages how in god?s name is that going to help the economy? The EU is protecting itself and its bankers? bottom line. That?s it in a nutshell. Economic genocide is what it should be called. Leave the euro. Start again. It will hurt for 5-10 years then you won?t have be under anybody’s control. Build a future. Being blackmailed by Merkel isn?t one.

Perry Jano

Re: Illegal immigration into Greece

I also disagree entirely with Mr Schroeder?s arguments regarding illegal immigration into Greece. Ninety percent of all illegal immigrants that come into Greece claim «asylum» and this what the UN and Frontex are saying, not me. Most are economic migrants. The Turkish people-smugglers are telling these people who pay them $1,500 to $3,000 euros each that once you cross into Greece claim asylum and once you do that you are stuck in Greece because of Dublin II. Dublin II does not allow you to move on to their preferred EU destinations.

May I ask Mr Schroeder what kind of a future do these so-called asylum seekers have in a country that is broke, with 20% unemployment? Recent surveys show that most Greeks want them out. The health minister, the interior minister and citizens? protection minister have similar views to the huge cost of illegal immigration to the Greek taxpayer. (These are not my statements)

If one listens to Mr Schroeder?s arguments it?s basically let them all in, believe all their claims of asylum and problem solved.

George Salamouras

Australia

The president and politicians of Greece.

Who is that 82-year-old man who lives in the past? The Germans, Dutch and Finns are hardworking people who are giving there tax income to your irresponsible reactionary politicians! Because you were so inconsistent and cheating those Germans, Dutch and all other European countries, they are a little bit suspicious of Greek politicians.

Even about your president, who is portrayed as a hero in WII, was then 10 years old!

So no more words, but action! No strikes,but work! No fire in the street,but business!

Queter Ernst

Corruption

Today President Papoulias responded to comments from Germany, and not that I disagree with his comments, but President Papoulias needs to open his eyes to the extent of corruption in Greece. This corruption is a major cause of our debt crisis and is rooted in our politics. This corruption is well known and thus forms opinions of Greece in other countries such as Germany.

The suggestion that Greece needs a technocrat government is well-founded as a technocrat government would put an end to the corruption in politics, would work as much for the people as the troika and come with the knowledge far greater than our politicians have for their position within the government.

Furthermore, a technocrat government may be the road to the end of the circle of the «same old thieves in government» and allow for the formation of a government for the people and not for the politicians

Wayne Miller

Legrena

Credibility

If we have no faith in our government why should the Germans?

It strikes me as odd that your editorial over the last two years persistently claims that Greece’s political parties have lost all credibility. If this is the case, one can totally understand why Germany knows that they cannot be trusted to actually transform the country. Greeks know they are incapable of doing so too.

The question I would like to ask this forum, and perhaps the editor could write a piece on it, is that it appears that as always Greece’s government does not run Greece and never really has. The government also appears to have no real control over Greeks or their behavior — you can as a Greek torch a working man?s business with no real consequence. If this is the case, surely a new political establishment is needed — the country is ungovernable and the governors are charlatans, yet the people don’t oust them or propose a new establishment. What is it they are hoping for: Anschluss with Germany?

Anthony Bizos

Greeks and Germans

It is curious to see how the relations between Greece and Germany are karma.

Funnily enough, in spite of the huge economic gap between Germany and Greece, they share some cultural traits. Both Greeks and Germans believe to be the civilizers of humankind and display exactly the same arrogance about it. Also, both countries believe that the rest of planet cannot exist without them, which is absolutely not true. However, regarding this point there is a crucial difference: if the German economy ceased to exist it would be a major shock for all nations. On the other hand, if the Greek economy ceased to exist… well, it would probably be a relief to many people.

I agree that the comments of the German finance minister on Greece were not very elegant but we cannot say that he is totally wrong. For the last decades the Greek governments and politicians have not given much proof of reliability (if any!). Considering that, why would Europe believe that Greece will not misuse the bailout money yet again?

The whole continent is facing a crisis that was severely aggravated by the Greek fiscal and financial irresponsibility, and then the Greek government starts talking about the pride of being Greek? Actually, it was exactly this pride that put the country in such a situation. It was the pride in not complying to the rules, the pride of doing things in the wrong way, in not having any sense of community, in not showing interest in absolutely anything that happens outside your own household that changed Greece into this mess. How could anybody be proud of it? Where are the values of this society? What are the pillars of Greek society? I doubt that somebody could answer this question right now.

Yes, the German minister was not very elegant in his comments but he is far from being wrong. So far the Greeks used the money from European Union like spoiled brats who blow up the credit card limit on parties, crash mom’s car and then send the bill for daddy to pay. Now that «daddy» got angry and decided to suspend the credit people start shouting that this is not fair.

It is immature and shameful. Nothing to be proud of.

John Markopoulos

Proposals

Greeks need an urgent boost to their morale — they feel humiliated, angry and resentful. There is no prospect of growth or economic improvement in the short to medium term. Social unrest is growing dangerously, as we have seen this weekend. The global community needs a proper strategy for Greece — not to punish and subjugate it, but to give the country hope and something to work towards. Here are some proposals:

Make Greece the permanent home of the summer Olympic Games, ideally starting from 2016. This will require substantial investment that will stimulate the construction industry, but then an ongoing revenue stream. Brazil can afford to lose out here.

Overseas-based Greeks, especially the wealthier ones in the US, UK and Australia and the ship-owning families (who we believe don?t pay tax in Greece), should be asked to contribute to a substantial investment fund for new businesses and employment for young people — see next. They should also start immediately a ?buy Greek? campaign in their countries, to encourage exports of Greek produce — wine, olive oil, textiles etc.

A deal should be done asap to sell (to Qatar?) and re-purpose the still vacant Elliniko site to make it a kind of ?silicon valley? for high-tech businesses, mobilising young Greeks with computer and other skills and turning Greece into a mini India.

Tourism is vital to the Greek economy — however, standards must rise and prices become competitive with Turkey and Egypt. A country-wide strategy needs to be implemented. Eco- and agri-tourism have significant possibilities in Greece — it is not just a summer destination, though this should be the priority. Greece should be seen as a priority for international conferences, keeping the major hotels busy all the year round.

Britain should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece immediately, and make the Acropolis Museum a truly world-class venue for visitors. Britain can afford to do this, and it would be a great psychological boost to the Greek population right now when it desperately needs it.

State industries — power, telecoms, state lotteries etc. — must be sold and run privately. This was required by the troika but has still not yet been implemented, mainly, we assume, because of union power.

Encourage Greece and Turkey — traditionally hostile to each other — to form a joint exploration company for oil in the Aegean. This could defuse potential rivalry and aggressive posturing on both sides, and instead secure a potentially massive revenue stream for both countries (and Cyprus) in the medium to long term, encouraging substantial inward investment.

Would it be an advantage/possible under EU law if Piraeus, Patras and Thessaloniki could be made duty-free ports/free trade areas, to encourage what Greece has been for the last 3000 years — ie an entrepot nation, at the cross-roads between Europe and Asia?

Can we please have some positive and proactive strategies from the EU and the wider global economy, to save a country that, although small and weak, has enormous historical value and importance and that millions of people throughout the world love to visit?

 

 

Howard Middle and Hara Garoufalia Middle