OPINION

On Siemens, RES, PSI, IKA fraud, political parties, Karatzaferis, military spending

Re: Siemens deal on bribery

Perhaps now Siemens execs will make public how much and to whom they paid these kickbacks. As a Greek, I view their culpability as insignificant compared to the culpability of Greek officials. The Greek people have no business with Siemens. Their business is with the officials who betrayed them for money. And they are still at large and unaccountable.

Nick Kanellos

Renewable energy

Even though Mr. Lithoxopoulos writes in quite harsh words he has a point in his comment.

The way renewable energy business is done in Greece right now is not very ?sustainable,? to speak with the words of a middle-class-blonde-save-the-whales North European.

But unfortunately it is the way business is done with almost every other product in Greece as well. Greece simply imports too many things, that means big parts of the ?value chain? are missing compared to countries that produce and export.

You could complain as well about all the foreign cars, TVs, mobile phones etc. that Greeks buy. A lot of money is spent on foreign products and minimum value for Greece is created with that.

Mainly just some profit from sales and repair shops stays in the country.

Also it doesn?t matter if you install wind power plants or coal plants because almost none of the parts that you need to build these units will be produced in Greece.

So, in both cases (coal and wind) you just benefit a bit from the so-called ?after market,? which is mainly operation and maintenance. And in the case of wind power, the ratio of persons needed to maintain one MW is higher than at coal plants. So you create more jobs in the end, even though electricity might become more expensive as well.

Of course if you have coal, use it! If you have wind and sun, use it as well.

The point that the Greek government has to attack is how they can attract companies not only to sell their products in Greece but also to start producing in Greece.

In the case of wind power it is just a matter of a reliable legislation framework, investment and political cleverness to grab bigger parts of the value chain.

Make international companies bid on big-scale installation licenses and one premise for getting the license should be that at least 30-50% of the final product has to be produced in Greece.

Opposite to the opinion of Mr. Lithoxopolous he might be surprised to hear that the leading countries in wind power installation are China, the USA, Germany, Spain and India!

Of course all these countries still meet large parts of their electricity needs with coal or other kinds of traditional power plants, but nevertheless they understood that wind power is worth investing in. Believe me, China is far away from a ?save the whale? attitude, but nevertheless by today every third wind turbine worldwide gets installed in China. Soon Chinese turbine manufacturers will be the biggest in the world. India?s Suzlon, still the biggest turbine producer in Asia and the third biggest worldwide, employs 13,000 people and just some years ago bought German turbine manufacturer RePower. The so-called ?emerging nations? China and India have obviously much better understood the signs of time and have already developed a sustainable renewable energy market while in Greece we still fire oil through the chimney to produce electricity for our islands.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

Re: ?PASOK, ND and the left?

Dear Mr. Papachelas

The ship which is called Greece was shipwrecked by New Democracy and PASOK, not because they were under the influence of the Sirens of the left. It was greed and love of self on the part of the business and political elites, who now profess love of country, as Makriyiannis would say. The values you find an obstacle to «modernization» and the current efforts of the present government are not due to some influence of the left. They are contrary to our long-held traditions and not some post-junta ideological influences.

Greece needs to become a legal democratic state, something the current governing parties were unable to do for 35 years. A dysfunctional socio-economic system was very functional for their reproduction as economic and political elites. We need a polity based on the goals of good life not mere life (Aristotle).

The mass of people are turning to defiance, resistance and justice for being humiliated. The people also reject a system of values that is alien to their sense of identity. We are after all the people who believe most of all in ?anthropos? and ?justice? (Seferis 1963 Stockholm) and the «we» (Makriyiannis), not Calvinist possessive individualism and neoliberalism. We are with Seferis and Makriyiannis and classical Humanism, not with Ron Paul.

Fotis Stamatopulos

Debts forgiven: Theft elevated to an art form

This stunt that the Greek government pulled is nothing more than theft elevated to an art form.

The only redeeming grace is that they stole the money from the banks. From here forward, mindless bankers with their Harvard MBAs will have to think before they lend money to governments — albeit that thinking will make their heads hurt.

Spiro Vassilopoulos

Re: ELA

Wherever I look, eKathimerini or BBC or New York Times, it is easy to find out that Greece has a national debt of somewhere between 300 billion and 400 billion euros. Let us say, 350 billion euros.

What is not so clear is whether or not this is the sum of the loans, including the interest; or the sum of the loans excluding the interest payments due.

Under our current banking system, the repayment of loans is the principal + the interest.

If Greece has loans of 350 billion euros for 20 years at 7.5% compound interest, then it has to repay 1.4 trillion euros! If the interest is 3.75%, then the total repayment will be 700 billion euros.

If this is the case, then I am not surprised that officers of the EU banks, and ECB, are still concerned about the position of Greece.

I also think that if this is the case then citizens of Greece must be made aware of the continuing duplicity of their politicians.

If I am wrong, I would be most grateful to be corrected.

I would be most grateful to anyone who could put me right.

J. Kelvyn Richards

Trikala

Critical mass and the default bullet

First, the default bullet has not been avoided — it has been side-stepped on its present orbit, but it will be back again (within a year, as some are already saying). Second, it is feasible to talk of ‘social cohesion’ in many countries, but definitely not in Greece. Greece is hamstrung by several millstones — the present Constitution, politicians, civil servants, media, police, military, justice system, unionists, protected professions, and not least the Greek Orthodox Church. Lip service is regularly paid to the ‘majority’ of hardworking and honest Greeks, but can it really be a ‘majority’?

Amazing how in a few months of this coalition government so many stones have been turned, and so much rot has been found beneath them — scam after scam after scam — after scam. Tax dodgers, illegal pensioners, corrupt civil servants, and so on — all of whom must have been protected from above until the present government took office — and will continue to be protected by the hopeless judicial system. Many have sheltered under the totally hopeless systems, such as the absence of a land registry, the proliferation of pension funds (with records still in manilla folders — in 2012!), the appalling administration of health service and other payments, and the list should go on and on. Whenever a scam is uncovered, no action can be taken because it is ‘not clear’ who was responsible.

It is a tragedy that the next elections are set to come so soon, and that they will be run under the same ground rules, with mainly the same people, as produced the present mess. The coalition needs more time, and Greece needs a completely fresh start — good to see that a much reduced civil service is already being planned, but other essentials are a new constitution with effective controls; a parliament of about 80 MPs with no immunity, and far fewer hangers-on; a much smaller military; a clear-out of the present judicial fodder.

There is no social cohesion in Greece, and nor has there been for many years. The ‘critical mass’ may be reached fairly soon — only stoicism and a feeling of hopelessness are keeping it at bay at present.

Robert Skailes

Greek CACs and swap

I’m an Italian individual investor. I bought Greek bonds at the price of 99 in 2009, so I’m not a speculator. The Greek government and the institutional EU are happy but I’m not, because I’m not a thief and I had to work hard to buy Greek bonds.

Giuliano

Re: ?Probe into massive social security fraud widens?

Bingo!

I said it a couple of days ago. No fraud could have been perpetuated without help from within the system.

Hopefully we will see justice done and the investigation complete since Kallithea cannot be the only office that thought about and carried out this fraud.

Monica Lane

Florida, US

Re: ?LAOS leader: Victims should be able to shoot robbers?

A few weeks ago there was talk of legalising drugs so that the prisons are not filled with people arrested for dealing or using them. Now this…

Secure streets and communities should be the responsibility of the authorities. Although it is true that the streets in some communities are not safe and people get hurt, the suggestion that we should arm ourselves and start shooting at anyone because we believe our personal safety is at stake, is irresponsible.

What would happen if a store keeper, fearing for his safety, shoots and kills someone who enters his shop to ask for directions or beg for money?

We have all heard of shopkeepers who were killed when robbers came into their shops. Although these are tragedies, this is no reason to arm ourselves.

The government officials should have the responsibility to hire police to protect us and send security to our borders to stop the influx of illegal aliens. Then deport all who have been involved in criminal activity. We had cases where criminals were freed to only go out again and commit more crime. Police and the justice system should be the ones responsible for our safety.

At the risk of being accused of simplifying the complicated issues of running a country, I believe that we should demand better protection from those charged with our safety than turning our country in the «Wild West».

Most of the year I live in a country where anyone can walk into a store or a gun show and buy arms, regardless of mental issues or ability to handle guns. Children shoot other children at schools and we have had more than one case where government officials from a president to a senator and others in between have been shot at.

The point is to try to make our country more civilised and safe, not to descend into a freefall we will never be able to recover from.

We should demand from those representing us a little more thought before they come up with such outrageous statements.

Monica Lane

Florida, US

PSI

It may take some time, but future economic textbooks will refer to this date as a watershed moment. The day that the collective actions of the Troika and the Greek authorities unnecessarily provoked a European unprecedented credit event and with it completely undermined trust in the eurozone and its policymakers. Next Portugal, Ireland, Spain…

Steve

Ireland

Re: Probe into massive social security fraud widens

Corruption in Greece is so deep within and among Greek politicians, civil servants and unionists that it is impossible to wipe it out.

There is no future in Greece anymore; there is no hope for a good life in Greece anymore. Greece is not a country to live in anymore. The only winners in this situation are the politicians, the civil servants and the unionists who together looted the country’s wealth for so many years and now they are asking the poor to pay for politicians? past, present and future mistakes — mistakes that caused some people to commit suicide, mistakes caused some anarchists to kill innocent people, mistakes that have caused the breakup of families, mistakes which have created slavery in the 21st century.

Under the dictatorship, Greece was in a better position. Law and order were respected. Now law does not exist and orders are not respected. Drug dealers are in the streets under the watchful eye of the police selling drugs without being apprehended, prostitutes walking up and the down the main roads selling their services illegally, also under the watchful eyes of the police, criminals from other Balkan countries roaming the streets freely, stealing from old people, raping women, selling drugs and weapons, all this under the eyes of the police and no real action is taken by the authorities.

This Greek government is not in contact with reality. The implications of politicians not understanding what?s important about the economy lead to a decline in morals and values, a decline in public health for ordinary people, an increase in political corruption, a rise in unemployment, high inflation, urban decay, inferior technology, increased military spending.

These were several reasons that lead to the fall of the Roman Empire and they will lead Greece to default.

Peter Panagiotopoulos

Administrative help?

Why on earth would the rest of the EU think that Greece needs help to improve its administrative systems?

I am one of those people who have spent part of my working life in the UK paying National Insurance and part of my working life in Greece paying IKA. Under EU rules I am entitled to a pension from both the UK and Greece in proportion to my contributions. In 2011 I turned 65 and applied to both pension funds. In the UK my first pension payment was made 10 days after my 65th birthday. In Greece I am told that, eight months after my 65th birthday, IKA has all necessary paperwork, all the information is in order but it might be another six months before I receive my first pension payment. Obviously Greece is in no need of any help at all.

Warwick Gibbons

Chania

Military spending as a symbol of impotence

Intellectual impotence first of course. Diplomacy is supposed to be an art, however if that art is artificial and no one trusts your word, you are likely to be a failure as a diplomat. So, good diplomacy involves a vision that goes beyond that of your own borders, a genuine vision that finds common ground. It involves intelligence — a rare quality in humans.

Lack of vision is what makes a good soldier. He gets an order and he is not supposed to think but to advance. Exactly where does the Greek military want to advance? Where they would be massacred in three days at most? Are they intent on marching like Alexander first to Egypt, then Asia Minor, Persia,and up to India?

Wasting one cent on silly recurring hallucinations when Greece, while totally bankrupt, is part of NATO and the EU does show one thing: The Greek diplomatic skills are twin to the intellectual impotence demonstrated on the economic front.

Marc Sursock

Geneva, Switzerland

Your website

I would like to thank your publication for being very helpful for us second-generation Greeks who live abroad. I love the country and every year with my family I visit Methoni in Messinia and Aetos in Florina. The information on your website about the crisis in Greece has been informative and helped us stay in touch with events. It was unbiased and fair.

Well done.

I would like to see more information on all the good parts about being Greek — our cooking, our culture, villages, history — start making us feel good about being Greek again. It has to start with publications like yours. Enough bad things and ridicule have been said, time for a change.

Greeks should be proud of their past and rely on their history to move forward to the future.

Peter Georgopoulos

Very generous, Christine Lagarde

Christine,

Very generous of you to recommend another IMF slice of $28 billion for the Greeks.

And for what? More ambitious government programs to restructure the economy?

Are we Americans going to pay for that also?

You really need leave Washington because you must be drinking Obama’s Kool-Aid at the White House.

Spiro Vassilopoulos

Ending the illegal fuel trade

Ending the illegal trade in fuel and other sectors will start by first eliminating corruption within government sectors, reviving the justice system, then proceeding with harsh punishment for offenders. Greece is a corrupt country and this must end in order to look forward to a better life.

Peter Panagiotopoulos

Re: ?Probe into massive social security fraud widens?

This scam was known within the department but unfortunately some civil servants turned a blind eye for fear of reprisal by the system. This act is still going on without any sign of elimination simply because politicians are involved in all, including looting the wealth of the country. Greece will remain the way it is without any changes despite the numerous requests by the EU and, since there is no justice system, Greece will remain without any sign of prosperity.

Peter Panagiotopoulos

Re: New tourism zoning plan opens up investment options

Oh dear, golf courses are not the way forward — they are so boring and use vast amounts of water. Think outside the box; try more eco- tourism Greece!

Virginia Cath

United Kingdom however, they can endure an 84-day patrol at sea as opposed to the 50-day patrols of the older submarines. These newer submarines can also stay submerged for 14 days at a time versus less than 24 hours for the existing boats, and can engage eight targets at a time versus one for the older boats. Essentially one of these boats replaces at least two of the existing boats, if not more. Then the most pressing need for these new boats is that the oldest Greek submarines are almost 40 years old, which is too old for them to remain safe for the crews to operate them. The oldest boat has already been retired. Without replacing these boats, Greece would be left without a submarine force in less than a decade, and submarines are an essential element of naval defense for any seafaring nation, such as Greece. With Turkey maintaining strong naval forces and the casus belli still hanging over the Aegean, these new submarines are the linchpin of Greece’s naval strategy. I think that this lengthy explanation of just one weapons purchase shows that it is all to easy to complain about Greece’s defense spending without looking more closely at the details. There are many other purchases that make more sense when one looks closer at the details. Greece is still at a point in its history where it has take its security more seriously than its EU partners, something that too many people quickly forget.

Peter Kates

Illinois, USA

Re: ?Critical mass?

In Germany in the 1930’s 6 million Germans, one-third of the workforce (mostly male workforce in those days), were unemployed. This in a nation with — even then — the most advanced economic infrastructure and productive capacity in Europe, second only in the world to the US.

That one-third was the critical mass that brought Hitler, legally and through the electoral process, to power. Within six years of 1933, Germany was preparing for war, industry was rearming the military, the country was back on its feet after a fashion.

Greece today has 21+% unemployment, with 50% youth unemployment. Given that Greece isn’t Germany, has very little productive capacity, a very basic infrastructure, and a tendency to ‘flight’ emigration, rather than ‘fight’ pull together, she is in a comparatively worse position than Germany in the 1930s.

I would say that critical mass has been reached and passed. It?s just that we are all so blinded by bailouts and PSIs and various other financial shenanigans to cover up the ‘preparations for ejection from the euro’ that very few people seem to have noticed that Greece has actually passed the point of no return — even when someone like a Schauble decides to come clean and admit it?s all pointless, what he says is immediately buried under floods of statement saying, ‘Greece can make it, the Greek economy will begin recovery next year’, etc. etc.

Don’t speak of reality in front of the children.

Philip Andrews

Illegal buildings

We have lived in Crete for a few years now, and as we need to sell our home here we find we have fallen foul of the new laws introduced last year or old laws being re-enforced.

Can someone tell me why the civil engineers can charge anything they want to make a house ‘legal’? We have asked for a price list of perhaps what an illegal pergola would cost per square metre. Also the square metre of a problem with house building etc; no-one seems to have the answer. Our estimates to date are from 10-12,000 euros from one civil engineer and 17,000 euros from another, the latter refused to email or put the estimate in writing! This was the civil engineer who designed this house, so if it was illegal, then why did he sign the house off to enable us to have our electricity for the last seven years?

Why can’t we have a legal form filled in by a civil engineer and take the money ourselves directly to the tax office? Then we would have a receipt for the accountant and know we have not been overcharged by a greedy engineer cashing in on people?s misfortunes.

When we asked why our lawyer hadn?t protected us from these illegalities we were told as we had employed the lawyer to work on our behalf we were responsible.

No wonder Greece is in such a mess!

Please will someone in authority write up a listing of ?fines? per square metre and be honest enough to post it on the internet or in the local tax office for people to have some idea of what they should be charged.

We have e-mailed the relevant Greek Ministry but they do not reply.

Does somebody reading this newspaper have any answers for us? Is anyone in Greece responsible for the job they do?

We really feel we are being held to ransom by a few rogues who are cashing in whilst they have the opportunity. This type of situation just drives out the very people we believe the authorities should be encouraging to come to Greece and spend their money!

We are anxious and angry too!

Mr it has to be an equilibrium based on Germans understanding Europe (they don’t) and Europeans understanding Germany (they don’t want to). If Europe doesn’t find, discover and work out this equilibrium by itself, then the Russians will come in under the radar and impose it socio-economically. That is Europe’s real choice. Russia will not allow a WW3; she suffered even more than Germany from the last lot. She will ‘own’ Europe and ‘dictate terms’ rather than allow another conflict

Everything else, all the financial shenanigans, are merely ‘musical chairs’ and the Venizeloses, the Papademoses and the Olli Rehns merely temporary players. History will soon forget them even while Europe searches for that elusive equilibrium, with Russia ‘refereeing’.

Philip Andrews

Being a bondholder ain’t what it used to be!

What happens when the rules of the game for bond buyers change midstream?

Does that make it more difficult to find buyers for that debt in the future?

In other words, if a rule change could happen to GM senior bond owners, Greece sovereign bond owners and almost to the owners of CDS on Greece debt, what happens to markets?

Michael Haltman

What happened to Corfu?

How nice to see all these new moves to increase tourism, most of which do not seem to those of us who actually work in tourism to actually be of large benefit, but then that is what we have come to expect. But the expansion of cruise facilities, everywhere except Corfu, where we have virtually non-stop cruises — what about us?

Diana Giannoulis