OPINION

On Greek politicians, Papandreou, austerity measures, tourism and the future of Europe

Re: The political blender

Mr Papachelas, I get what you’re saying, but to me, a blender would be something positive. For example, to make a nice cocktail with crushed ice, throw some fruit in for a smoothie, etc., i.e. something good comes out the other end. So, whether it’s Greek or other politicians, nothing good has come out of this blender lately, especially in Europe. I would say vortex is more appropriate here, which can also describe a tornado, and we all know what remains in the wake of a tornado.

But all those Greek politicians who have been through this vortex and become useless corrupt egotists, left their country in ruins, forgot their people and their promises, should hang their heads in shame and vacate their seats for someone who can spell the words honour, integrity, honesty. The new brooms will have to face up to the swarms of bugs and have the courage and strength to make real changes to give Greece even an iota of a chance of recovery in the next decade. I really, really hope the Greek voters will listen very carefully when these same (current) faces promise to wash twice as white next time round.

The bankers and politicians have reaped enough now, they have trodden on their people’s dignity and livelihoods and they must not be surprised when payback comes through the ballot box. Of course, the bankers will just continue raking in the billions; they do not have to look at the homeless and starving Greek citizens.

No, it might not be the best time to get into politics, but surely some of the wonderful Greek people will actually do it for the love of the country and not for their pockets, their relatives or friends or for the next vote? Is this really too much to expect, so the same old faces will land in the same chairs? Plus a change, plus c’est la meme chose.

My next question is: how do these politicians sleep at night? Oh, silly me, they can do whatever they like — immunity pretty much wipes all slates clean. And obviously wipes people’s memories as well.

Really sounds more and more like a horror movie.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Zurich

Immoral Greek politicians and judicial system

I don’t understand why you are not saying anything about your corrupt judicial system and criminal politicians in Kathimerini? How will Greece become a great nation again with these corrupt people still holding positions of power in Greece protecting each other? Read below:

News article from CNN

By Barry Neild and Irene Chapple, CNN

updated 8:13 AM EST, Fri March 9, 2012: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/10/business/greek-debt-crisis/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

What a disgrace that Kathimerini still thinks your ND or PASOK parties will save Greece!

The parties and your corrupt justice system are both part of the main problems in Greece.

When are you «so-called» news editors going to wake up to the sad truth…. Your judges and politicians are criminals!

Robert Powell PhD

Ministry officials held for attempting to bribe hoteliers

Mr Papademos and Mrs Diamantopoulou,

Enough is enough. Do us a favor, please shut down the Ministry of Development. Nobody will miss it, except the aforementioned bribe-takers’ bankers and those maintaining their properties. Greece’s economic growth rate, foreign investment levels and EU funds absorption rates will surely all increase. This is the chance to eliminate not half, but all of the offending organization. This kind of open corruption, directly blocking investment, is an affront to well-functioning civil servants everywhere.

Ricardo Hamilton

What I would like to see on your website

Please bring back Prometheus. Mark Weinstein’s work was inspired. Re-read the introduction in Mark’s book by Nikos Konstandaras if you need any more convincing.

Steve Hansen

Texas USA

The future of Europe…

Just read Philip Andrews’ remarks on the future of Europe etc. Could it be that the gentleman is British? At least his remarks sound like it — British of the imperial variety, that is. British inability to come to terms with possible industrial competion was, after all, one of the major causes of World War I… Even the Russian connection is old hat. I was an early enthusiast about the EU (way back when it all looked so exciting…), and would hate to lose Greece, warts and scars and all, even including her idiotic tendency of voting for idiotic politicians. But to this day I can’t figure out why GB ever bothered to join — or was allowed in. Did they ever contribute anything, except obstruction?

As far as Greece is considered, we’ll be there soon for our annual month. I cringe every day when I skim the Greek papers. I have no solutions for any of the major problems, but my heart bleeds.

Karl Audenaerde

Falmouth, MA

Who believes Papandreou will stay away?

So dithering Jeffrey finally made, or more accurately was forced to make, the decision to formally step down as head of PASOK to make way for a new leader. Must be tough on the poor dear; having to give up the family business and all. But who really believes he’s gone forever? Certainly not me. His family’s scourge will no doubt return in the future when the opportunity is right. But in the meantime good riddance! Not that his replacement inspires anything other than my gag reflex.

Poor Hellas, forever ruled by rogues (or ex-bankers appointed by foreigners)!

John Dimitropoulos

Re: Greece will need more austerity, EC report says

Primary surplus of 1.8% in 2013 and 4.5% in 2014. And I guess unemployment will have to be brought down to 0%, taxes will be up by 75%, tourism up 150%, bank deposits up by 200%, new businesses will flourish because bureaucracy will be nonexistent. And they all lived happily ever after.

The troika members’ thumbs must be pretty painful by now, from all the thumbsucking they’ve been doing. Every week seems to bring new numbers, new fantasies.

More austerity? Keynes must be turning in his grave! How much more blood can the troika squeeze from the Greek stones?

And after forcing all these austerity measures on the Greek people, what are the politicians sacrificing? Less parliamentarians? Reduction of salaries and benefits for, say 6 months at least? Maybe I missed those articles.

The more I read, research, study about the Greek crisis, it is still totally unclear how supposedly intelligent people in Brussels and Athens (and now the Troika) could have got it so disastrously wrong. I don’t only mean the last 3 to 5 years, but rather the last 20. What were they thinking? Tomorrow never comes? Our children can pay for this mess?

Our grandchildren will still be paying for many years to come. One of the saddest things is that the grandparents who worked till they dropped are now having to face even more pension cuts. Is that the thanks they deserve?

A government slapping their nation in the face, and not even apologising for it. I don’t think they even know how to apologise or feel shame.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Zurich

My fat Greek dead poets society

We should make them all recite poetry for a living, because they?re completely useless otherwise. The irony for them is that come April or May, there will be poetic justice dealt to each and every one of those dead fat poets.

Poetry and love letters will be a beginning and then foot messages and long walks on the boardwalk for reprise.

Unfortunately with no holy marys will this well-fed Pasok get my vote. And that goes for all desperate disbanded members. They all had their chance to do good work and show their resolve to lead. Now they will try to go back in time to tell us how things should have been and why now it will be different. It sounds to me like a romance novel gone wrong.

First of all they will pay all their debts back to the people for years of thievery and those who have over-exceeded themselves resign with some dignity (impossible).

For those who are contemplating voting for these poets, beware that it won’t come with nights at the opera and trips to Venice. Take a good hard look at your financial records and if they make sense then vote for fatty.

Hari T

Greek ‘soul,’ dysfunctionality and Euro ‘cool’…

‘Military spending as a symbol of impotence’ by Marc Sursock contrasts interestingly with ‘Re: Military spending’ by Peter Kates, from the US.

Has Greece become a dysfunctional society or was it always dysfunctional? Has it been dysfunctional for the last 200 years?

I was watching some contemporary Greek films off the web recently. They were made in the last couple of years. They made an impression on me. First of all they told me that Greece had exchanged her soul for European wealth or the illusion of such. All the Greeks portrayed in these films were something out of a Greek illusion of how they would like to look, sound and be considered as modern Western Europeans. They dressed like Western Europeans, the language was littered with modern Western slang, and their attitudes seemed to be an uncomfortable mixture of old Greek and modern Western. The streets looked like copies (read ‘imitations’) of Western towns and cities.

It was as if the Europeanised Greek wanted to bury the old-fashioned pre-European Greek inside the anonymity and globalised soullessness of ‘the (smart and cool) Western way of life’. And yet underneath it, in the way they related to each other, there was this Greek angst, this Greek agony of ?do we really want to be here?? Greek films hardly ever express positive aspects of life. They are modern versions of the Greek tragedy. And Modern Greek tragedy echoes and keeps on echoing 1922.

Everything about Greece of the last 30 years looks modern on the outside, and yet on the inside, as soon as you get into Greek popular music what you hear about is Asia Minor, whether it’s Smyrna or Aivali, or the Pontos. The Greek soul tragedy, the modern version, the post-1922 version is always asking why did we leave our homeland in Asia Minor and why can’t we go back to it?

This is what the Greek soul is asking of the Modern Greek illusion of Westernness. The Greek soul is Oriental, it is Ottoman, it is Byzantine and it is Asia Minor. The Greek soul does not belong in Europe, it never has done. Yet the Greek mind was supposed to believe it belongs to Europe because the European elite have been telling it so for 200 years, because Greeks have been invaded by 10 million Western tourists for 6 months every year since the 60s, so they’ve developed a superficial ‘cool’ Westernness without having the first idea how Westerners became what they are. Europe has had its illusions about Greece ever since at least 1453 when the ‘Elite’ began reading about the impossibly fantastical world of the ancients and they were determined to bring the fantasy back to life after 1821.

And after 1981 Europeans have always paid money to the Greeks to pretend they belong in Europe, whether as tourists or as financial institutions. Greeks for their part love to ‘talk up the ‘idea” of being Western. Trouble is they haven’t the first idea how to create the reality on the ground

And the Greeks accepted this European idea in order to forget 1922 and 1944-49. Except that they couldn’t and can’t. Like an addict obsessed with an illusion, they follow the ups and downs of bailouts and PSI’s and banking crises and percentages of GDP with intense and pathological interest, trying not to think of returning to 1922 or 1945-49.

Given that the Greeks never developed social cohesion but always remained in Ottoman afentiko top-down mode, the attempt to imitate the West with its emphasis on individualism within a group-oriented social cohesiveness has instead led to a breakdown, an inertia of the Ottoman model, an anarchy of the anti-social and a socio-economic dysfunction and paralysis. The brightest fly the coop, emigrate, and the rest go into fatalistic mode. And the Turks, well they’re just waiting and watching.

In truth I wonder if the people who instigated the Greek revolt against the Ottomans in 1821 would have continued along that course if they could have seen their nation in 1922, in 1945-9, and in 2012. Or would they have decided that with this foresight in mind that they were better off under the Ottomans after all? The Ottomans gave the Greeks 600 years of stability after many centuries of medieval instability. They even gave the Greeks a tolerance that was remarkable for that period of time. If the Greeks knew the real history of the Ottoman period rather than the rather stupid nationalist version of it, they might want to rethink how they became independent in the first place and why and whether it was actually worth it.

If they managed this rather painful process of revaluation, and that in itself would take a great deal of courage and soul-searching, they might begin to come up with answers that would make sense in a Greek context, answers that dealt with the reality of being Greek and with the illusion of being Western. It’s about time someone in Greece started to go into soul-searching, before the soul that the Greek is searching for becomes irretrievably lost.

Philip Andrews

Illegal street traders and cars without road tax stickers

The illegal street trade would soon be cleaned up if the police (1) did their job and (2) did not solicit bribes from the mostly African traders. I observed, not so long ago, a police car coming slowly down the pedestrian section of Ermou sounding its horn, presumably to warn illicit traders and give them enough time to bundle their wares into sheets and disappear. Why do we as taxpayers pay police salaries when this sort of thing happens?

I frequently take a ten-minute walk in our upscale neighbourhood and notice that at least half the cars, most of them new luxury class, parked at kerbsides do not carry the road tax sticker. If they are roughly 4 million cars in greater Athens that is an annual loss to the treasury of at least 1.2 billion euros. If the police care to take a walk down the streets some time and take note of those without stickers they would more than pay for their upkeep.

Paul Papadopoulos

Kifissia

Time to relax

It would be interesting to know how many current politicians of the present coalition have already placed ?sweeteners’, and where, to secure re-election. It would be even nicer if we knew ?who’.

Bob Scott

Tourism

For the last five years I have been coming to Greece from Canada for two months every year. At the same time I have had visitors from Germany come to stay with us. We have taken many trips to islands and spent our hard-earned Euros in your country. We will not be coming this year and may never come back. We are all collectively appalled at the pure hate directed at the German people, the very same people who have seen their own salaries and pensions cut and whose tax money goes to bail out people who hate us. In case anyone needs reminding, a few years ago Germany was described as «the sick man of Europe» and they went through some painful austerity. Here in Canada we are also facing the same issues with retirement ages to be increased to 67. We won’t be back, Portugal is calling me.

Rositta Buracas