OPINION

On military purchases, the Greek left, Ottoman rule, German tourism, Bild lawsuit

Blind violence?

Surely you are wrong to include ‘heckling politicians’ in this? I agree that harassing and assaulting politicians as they go about their lives should be taboo, but they should be robust enough to cope with routine heckling. This is another example of the sort of mollycoddling which makes Greek politicians (and other categories) so extreme in their behaviour.

Examples are the ultra-sensitive privacy laws (which forbid the positive uses of CCTV, but allow all sorts of slander in the media); immunity for MPs; civil service jobs for life; protected professions; absence of regulations about unions and strikes; need for past and present politicians to have ‘security’; and so on.

Robert Skailes

Military purchases

Not only has the Greek government purchased that amount from EU countries, they have also purchased from the US and other countries.

And now, with the further purchase of French frigates and German submarines, this insane defense spending continues. Given the illogical nature of this spending at a time of severe economic crisis, you have to question the connections to the international bailout and also the financial motives of those making the decisions.

How can the country justify these billions being spent on unnecessary military spending while a significant portion of the population is struggling to feed itself, get healthcare and education? Is this being done to serve other countries? strategic interests?

How can the government spend this money when they cannot afford to maintain or operate the equipment they have now?

Margret Fowler

The Greek left

After reading an article by Mr Iordanidis, ‘It’s too late to beat the left’, I was left amazed. Now we have an article from Mr Papachelas ‘Pasok, ND and the left,’ which states quite plainly exactly what the majority of the private business sector has known for years. Having operated my own business in the UK and 35 years ago opened a business here in Athens, with Greek partners, I can assure you this country has been run by the communist element in Greece for the past 35 years. I agree with him entirely that PASOK has operated throughout all its years in power as a standard bearer for the left. When Greeks voted for Karamanlis before the Olympics, it was for the very reason that ND promised us change. I believe that PASOK only won the last election because ND supporters were disgusted that pre-election promises made by ND were never implemented. Greece is in the exact situation that most of the USSR satellite countries were in. We are to all intents and purposes a bankrupt, third-world country. We have widespread corruption. We have left-wing unions dictating wages and additional perks to the private sector. We have teachers actually encouraging students to participate in demonstrations, closing schools and universities, and protecting hooliganism. We have no public structure or computerised systems for pensions, health, public employees etc etc. The business sector in Greece, whether it be tourist-orientated or production, is regarded as the elite that cheat the country, although we are the very sector that pay our taxes and insurances to support the overblown, disorganised public system. Whereas a favoured few companies receive all the government support for their 30% rake off. Our law courts decide whether or not a law passed in the House is legal, when we all know that the legal system itself is the most corrupt system of all. MPs cannot be prosecuted, and with our present laws it’s impossible even to fire corrupt public workers, which is why, if/when they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they are simply asked to retire with their enormous 95% of wages pensions. Now, if that isn’t communism, tell me what is. We are sick to death of this system, we in the private business sector are all close to bankruptcy, we listen and read absolute rubbish relating to our EU partners and watch demonstrators burn our city, and head in hands weep for our lost tourism. Why oh why can’t we show just for once a strong stance against these unions. Employ teachers that want to teach our children 8 hours a day like other EU countries and teach our students modern Greek history instead of the garbage that they are fed in many Greek schools today.

Ann Baker

Bild may be right, for once

I never thought that I ever would concur with anything the loathed Bild tabloid writes, but this time I agree with them. By unilaterally adding a retroactive clause to a contract (a bond is a contract!), Greece weakens the rule that pacta sunt servanda — contracts must be honoured.

Of course, many countries have broken this rule in history, many times. But usually those were no countries ruled by law. This time, it should have been different as the rule of law is the most important rule within the European Union. I know of many cities in European countries which are literally breaking down, but still paying certain dues or similar, to follow the law. A precedent stating that you may get a free lunch by ignoring the rule of law for your city or province might lead to a situation where the central state is dissolved — a good example (except for the fighting, I hope) is Yugoslavia, where the final straw leading to breakup was the way Serbia started to finance itself by breaking federal financial rules.

In the case of Greece, I believe a clear statement, «We are broke and need to leave the Euro zone,» would have been better than the current «We will obfuscate the law and try to get away with that». Also, I believe a debtor who still is an owner of large properties and also a creditor (against tax withdrawers) must put these values as collateral against their debts. For a private debtor, this would have been enforced by the state, only shielding the bare necessities for survival.

I know it is not easy for the Greek people, and they do a great job in organizing themselves to ensure survival, but for the Greek State, to bend the rules lays the groundwork for bending the rules by others, too. I wonder when the Cretans or similar will look to Cyprus and see that the Cypriots fare much better than they do, and then wonder why they have to send their hard-earned money to Athens?

Juergen Schwarz

Secret Greek school in Dimatsana

One of the silly myths in Greek society is the idea that the Ottoman Empire banned the teaching of the Greek language everywhere and at all times.

Both my Grandfather and Great Grandfather lived under the Ottoman Empire, and not only did they have a Greek primary school education but a few years at a «Gymnasio», which was partly funded by the Ottoman Government.

Nowhere in Europe or the rest of the world did the common people have access to even a basic education until recently. Often it was the Greek establishment that opposed Greek schooling for the common people.

We Greeks need to be ruthless about our history and face the truth.

Everywhere in the realm of world history books are being burned and the whole world is rushing to creating myths to suit vested interests. The rush to cleanse history is astounding in an age where information is supposed to be readily available.

Greek interests lie in facing the truth even when it affects our egos. The spineless attitude by Greeks when viewing modern history has delivered today?s problems to Greece.

When we fail to see the real world and go along with myths others want us to follow, it should not be a surprise when they lead us to a cesspit to drown.

Greek and Turkish silliness about our common history and the myth creation in both societies undermines both societies. The ruling class in both societies have an interest in preserving stupidity.

Talking to people in the past who have lived the years as far back as the late 19th century, what comes out can be a shock and painful about ourselves and our history, but as was written in one book, «The truth shall set you free».

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Greek stupidity again

Greece is very short of a Drachma!

Why are billions of Euros been spent on the most expensive form of energy production?

Renewable energy units that are merely a transfer of Greek wealth to foreigners is a sin that Greek stupidity does not see.

All the countries that do not have debts do not waste their wealth or gift it to others.

In these hard times when people in the millions are going to be very hungry or even be forced to leave Greece to end up as toilet cleaners to the world, every Euro spent should be about improving productivity.

All rich countries depend on coal to generate electricity because its the most economical.

Greece has a plentiful supply of peat that can be used for electricity generation and to generate Greek jobs. Even buying coal for generation is still cheaper than the windmills to generate electricity, ask China, India and USA.

The sooner those windmills get turned into scrap and the subsidies end, the sooner Greek suffering will end. If the middle-class blondes in the North of Europe want to save the world, they should do it with their own money and not take bread from starving Greek children.

What is it going to take before Greeks find out where their true interests lie?

Is there no one in Greece who cares?

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

On the lunacy of the left

Once again, another brilliant article by Mr Papachelas.

Let’s hope that at the end of this national debacle we are in as a nation and not just the state of Greece, that the left is obliterated from Greek history.

Carl Yorke

Melbourne

On the revitalization of the Greek economy

As we certainly must realise, history’s conquering civilisations have arisen and been dashed to pieces like so many forgotten playthings. So it was with Ancient Egypt, then Rome and even the red-coloured globe of the late British Empire. Such is the woe which has now befallen the heretofore omnipotent United States. Decades of wasteful mismanagement and dishonesty have conspired to topple the armoured rider from his destrier; his shattered corpse will shortly be reclaimed by the soil of the battlefield.

My point is this — the Messieurs Sarkozys and Strauss-Kahns of the world wish to punish Greece for her fiscal recklessness in this time of enforced austerities. Who can anyone turn to for stability and prosperity amid such fearful ruin? Surely not ravenous Red China, which is only too happy to feast upon the open sores of the weak and helpless. Proud Greece requires a champion, a Colossus which will guide her recovery and promote order, rather than chaos. Certainly, it is no longer fashionable for a potential saviour to barge in uninvited, as would a common boor; that is precisely why the German economic miracle should be welcomed past the threshold.  

Consider it merely as a friendlier Operation Merkur, but of the manufacturing variety. It is no secret that Teutonic ideas and technologies always happen to be on the leading edge of innovation, so why should the situation be any different if those very same concepts were to be exported to Greece? The Greek polity shall not be disappointed. And why should the nation even have to settle for simple stability when a new Byzantium might be created from the abortive stumblings of the recent past? The Adler and the Kianolefki should march onward together with the azure Aegean as witness to a revolutionary transformation, one unseen since the boom of that greatest of golden ages — the 1950s and ?60s. There is absolutely no reason why that phenomenal age of the Greek «tiger economy» cannot be revived. However, there will likely be no need to bring back the harsh oppressions of the Apostasia and Junta, or even the moderating presence of the former King of the Hellenes.

I personally have walked upon the lonely cobblestones of Ammochostos and seen the dusty shops with their forlorn merchandise. The time has arrived for a present-day Megale Hellas to seize that which rightfully belongs to her citizens and emerge from the ashes of its phoenix nest, for a successful civilisation cannot rely so heavily upon tourism alone. The outside world will soon learn to see Greece as more than a two-dimensional skeletopolis of photogenic rubble and crumbling temples to nonexistent pagan deities. But before all else, that which is of the utmost importance must once again be recognised by all self-respecting Greeks — the peoples’ loyal devotion to the Holy Christian Faith must be renewed. That ingredient alone is far greater than any earthly assistance which could ever be rendered by human governments, corporations or agencies (and one which is just as necessary in Germany as anywhere).

P. F. Ettelschutz

E-tax statements

High earners start at 15,000 euros a year? Even in wage-cut Greece they must be joking!

Ian Swindale

Rethymno, Crete

German tourism

Northern Europeans have always been welcomed here in the land of the sun and sea. Germans have been put on the block by the Greeks for reasons we all know and agree. But there?s a lot to be said about our negative attitude toward any EU countries opposing Greek rehabilitation. First of all, we are the alpha of Europe. Which means no one or any group of people can say or alter this fundamental truth. Truth is like fire: It could set you free or it could burn you. Our truth as Greeks has been a scorching reality that continues to burn and rip at everything we understand of who we are as Greeks. Tourists coming to Greece for vacation this year may encounter some resistance from proud, demoralised natives. We seek to heal through our words of protest and not to lay blame. Germans coming to Greece have always been well looked after and this year will not be any different. This land is not the Greeks? land, it?s Europe?s, the German people are considered European here in Greece; it belongs to them too. Just remember and know your facts before judging a whole country for the incompetance of its leadership. Yes, we are partially responsible for allowing these criminals to be at large, but look at your backyard. There is no conspiracy or scandal concerning German politics. The truth is that you’re stronger than us. You found us weak. And your politicians have been taking advantage of the situation, especially here in Greece. Besides all the animosity we have been cultivating between our societies, we love you and you love Greece.

Hari T

Fuel taxes

Has it ever occurred to the intellectual midgets in the Greek government that promulgate tax policy to reduce the taxes on fuels? A small tax would increase collections and amount to a disincentive to the black market to engage in the trade. It?s called arbitrage, be it legal or illegal.

Spiro Vassilopoulos

Wake up, Mr Schaeuble

‘He noted that even after recent cuts in Greece’s minimum wage, salaries were no lower than in Spain and said that Greece’s situation was «totally unique» in the euro zone.’

I assume he means the people who are actually receiving a wage! I think Mr Schaeuble needs to acquaint himself with other parts of Greece besides Ekali and Kolonaki — why not try coming up to Epirus and seeing poverty and no wages? — despite people (who have jobs) working! Most of us with shops are making zero on a daily basis! Those that still have ‘jobs’ are not getting paid! Will someone please speak up for the workers instead of those that are comfortably well off? There are people like my family that have always lived hand to mouth — unfortunately the hand now is empty!

Jane Crow

Reforms

Over the past two years Greeks have endured a number of initiatives, ostensibly to improve Greece?s stagnant economy and keep it in the Euro. However it seems to me that all the reforms actually implemented are the wrong ones.

What the Greek economy needs is a drastic reduction in the number of public employees, along with a drastic reduction in government red tape and a reformed tax system which encourages entrepreneurship, investment and growth. 

Along with this, the country?s education system needs to be reformed and streamlined in a way which supports a dynamic economy and promotes civic duty.  

The political system also needs to be reformed by cutting the number of MPs by at least 100, cutting MPs? pay and perks, eliminating the immunity law and enforcing transparency in government dealings. The masses must be shown that the pain is shared by all. 

These measures would cause some ripples but would reap benefits quite quickly and give Greeks hope and perhaps even enable Greece to remain in the Euro (I still believe the Drachma is coming back). 

None of this has been done to date.

What have Greece?s venal politicians done instead? They have implemented the severest form of austerity ever inflicted on a modern economy. They have raised or created an array of taxes while at the same time enforcing pay decreases even on the private sector. 

Their decisions and subsequent actions have done nothing but spiral the Greek economy into depression! Yes, depression, a word this newspaper is loathe to use, however the numbers don?t lie. Worse yet, there is no end in sight to the pain and suffering and no hope for the future.

If they really cared about reforming the Greek economy they would make the right decisions but all they care about is maintaining the status quo and their power base, while the troika only cares about saving their European S.S.R  project and ensuring the banksters are paid.

But what else do you expect from the likes of dithering Jeffrey and slithering Andonis and the cabal of vultures that surround them? Certainly not leadership!

 

John Dimitropoulos

Two options for Greeks

I am moved to write after several very depressing months viewing your letters page.

Firstly I would like to state, I like Greece and her people, having spent many happy years visiting the lovely island of Crete before and after you joined the euro.

The relaxed lifestyle and indifference to a productive structured state made me very jealous (holidaymakers like to relax) and absolutely appalled me.

How could a people live and participate in a society that condones universal tax evasion, corruption at every level of government and civil society, and cartels for every profession and service?

Well, after recent events it appears it cannot, somebody must pay the piper.

The Greek people blame both their politicians and potential saviors for their current situation, while I agree your government and president should shoulder the responsibility, so should the Greek people. The German government and people should not, nor should the Dutch, Finnish, Austrian, French or the Scottish.

I think the Greek people have two options available:

 

1. Accept change to a broken and corrupt system, ask for and gratefully accept help from your friends and neighbors.

 

2. Don’t change, remain mired in the good old Greek ways of Fakellaki, indifference and pure interest to self.

 

If option 1 is chosen, bite the bullet, take some responsibility, even if only to say by my inaction this has happened, thereby acknowledging the problem. Find some honest Greeks that can read and write and most importantly be committed to reform and Greece, ask them to stand for election, elect them, repeal immunity laws retrospectively for all state officials elected or employed, pursue miscreants and publicly enforce swift and harsh justice. Investigate and punish all tax evasion retrospectively and swiftly impose justice, investigate all external capital transfers from January 2008 till the present to expedite the former. Investigate 40,000 fraudulent pension claims, illegal fuel cartels etc etc etc.

That would demonstrate to your saviors that you do want to change and are not helpless. Use international help to reform and cleanse your systems — judicial, tax, social security, transport, employment, education, etc etc etc — thereby generating a can-do culture and cultivating a worthwhile environment for investment.

But, most of all, believe in yourselves and stop blaming everyone else! As a Scotsman working and living in Germany, it really grates to help people who seem unwilling to help themselves.

If option 2 is chosen, re-elect your current politicians, don’t pursue reform and, most importantly, keep blaming everyone else.

I am rooting for Greece and her people (please choose option 1), I am one of the few outside your country that truly believes you can make it, may your god bless you all.

 

Ronan JA Cormack

Dusseldorf

 

PS Like your cheese.

Tsipras sues Bild newspaper

If Mr. Tsipras is so sensative as to sue a foreign newspaper over remarks regarding his character, perhaps it’s time that he asserted more control over his party supporters, especially teachers and those that consider it necessary to visit our senior schools.

Our Greek media must be most relieved that Ms. Merkel, EU heads of Government and their Economic Ministers, Christine Lagarde and the IMF, the Troika team and EU technocrats are all made of sterner stuff.

Now I have seen and heard everything.

Ann Baker