OPINION

On Cyprus, Chrysochoidis, elections, Helios project, immigration

Mr. Chrysochoidis just needs some fine-tuning

Incredible, we see a Greek politician showing action.

Mr. Chrysochoidis just needs some fine-tuning, in my opinion.

Instead of accusing immigrants of being a public health risk, he should:

– accuse public workers that leave rubbish to rot for weeks and months in the streets of being a public health risk

– accuse people that dispose of their waste in gorges and river beds of being a health risk

– accuse police, communities and people that leave dead animals to rot for weeks along the streets of being a health risk

– accuse companies which don?t follow emission regulations of being a health risk

– accuse the police who don?t even implement basic traffic rules of being a health risk

and so on and so on…

I just have to assume though that none of the above would bring him even a single vote in the election.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

Partition and get on with it

Greek Cyprus needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Cyprus is two distinct societies now, with two distinct states. This has been true for decades. The majority of Turks in the north aren?t even Cypriot. Any chance of a reunification passed when the Annan plan went down.

Better to face reality and move toward a peaceful partition of the island, including some negotiated return of territory (the north is open to this), followed by mutual recognition. Then the two countries can negotiate a joint oil-and-gas exploration program.

Today?s generation of Cypriots, on both sides, are no longer interested in asserting old prerogatives. They want to move forward and build the countries they live in now, and they want peace. Reunification is a dead dream, and they know it. It?s the older generation that can?t let go.

Young Cyprus needs to speak up more, and push the old guard aside. For their future.

John Stathakis

Greek elections

We hear that one-third of Greek voters will either not vote or will submit a white slip. Why are any of our political parties surprised and urging us to make a decision? At the present time we watch as a responsible Canadian company, which attempts to mine our gold reserves and employ 1,800 people that are desperate for work, becomes a target for demonstrations. We hear that although we have 6,000 islands, of which only 227 are inhabited and 78 of those with less than 100 residents, planning permission which would enable any of these islands to be developed has been refused. Logically, many of us consider that 5 or 6 of them could well be granted 100-year lease and developed as VIP resorts with guarantees of 90% Greek employees. Most Greeks will be lucky to visit more than 10 in their lifetime, so why do we need 6,000 of them? Now, we have seamen strikes which will hit our tourism.

Tourist establishments that were waiting for economic breathing space will suffer. Greek workers with elderly relations will be left stranded in Athens as they are unable to afford air fares even if there are flights to their islands. So for those of us that want no part of any of our present politicians or their parties, can we have an additional name of Mr Papademos, the EU and the IMF and pass these laws which are logical, complete the infrastructure of our public services and give those of us that want to work and pull Greece through this crisis without blaming the rest of the world for our problems, a party to vote for? Why do I not know one person that wants elections? Not one neighbour, one shop worker, one shop owner, one bank employee, one past employee, one business associate, one relation. There is more respect for Mr Papademos than for any of our heads of parties, past or present.

Ann Baker

Immigration

Is Greek society fundamentally racist?

Today (Friday 29th March) in central Athens I witnessed a staged media event for Greek TV. It involved the rounding up of people who the authorities think may be in Greece illegally.

The method employed was to use small snatch squads and then herd the detained persons towards waiting buses and TV cameras using large aggressive attack dogs to further intimidate those detained.

Those detained will be ?processed? and then sent to ex-military bases, predominately in the north of Greece, which have been turned into concentration camps for ?illegals?.

It is worth noting that these ?illegals? have not been claiming benefits and have been doing jobs which Greek people view as demeaning.

Recently it was discovered that 700 Greek nationals were claiming a disability allowance on Zakynthos; when this was questioned it transpired that 660 of them had made a miraculous recovery, surely testament to the superior healing powers of the Orthodox faith over that of the Muslim religion of the vast majority of those detained as illegals! Just an aside, but Athens is the only European capital city that does not have a mosque, again testament to the power of the Orthodox Church.

One might legitamately wonder why the authorities have chosen now to ?address? the problem of Greece?s porous borders. Could it be that an election is due in the next 6 weeks? Will the narrative from the political elite really be that all Greece?s problems are down to illegal immigrants?

It is perhaps worth reflecting that on Oxi Day (28th October), a key national day for Greeks, the senior Orthodox archbishop for Piraeus blamed the Greek crisis on a Zionist conspiracy. How long before a modern-day Kristallnacht is visited on the unfortunate xenons of Greece?

Greece is a beautiful country and I have many wonderful, open, enlightened Greek friends: Are they enough to save this country from the spectre of fascism that hangs over Greece as it faces desperately difficult choices?

John Terry

Immigration and the economy

Dear Mr. Malkoutzis,

In the midst of the hysteria, racism and exploitation of this issue, your contribution offers a refreshing, lucid and rational view. As a son of immigrants, and a volunteer in a publicly funded service centre offering assistance to thousands of illegal Greek immigrants to Canada in the early seventies, many of whom were admitted and made significant contributions to the community and society, I could not agree more with your proposals.

Fotis Stamatopoulos

Toronto

Illegal immigrants/health/deportations

Health Minister Mr Andreas Loverdos correctly stated that illegal immigration has cost the Greek health system 400 million Euros in the last 10 years. We have thousands of uninvited, undocumented illegal immigrants living in squalor in the centre of Athens.

We are talking about a health risk to the population such as pandemic flu, SARS, viral hemorrhagic fever, cholera, diphtheria, active tuberculosis, plague, smallpox and yellow fever, as well as malaria. The EU has now agreed to pay Greece to provide treatment and health checks. I don?t know why the left and human rights organisations are so critical; have they thought about the Greeks? human and civil rights, or do they want the Greeks to be infected as well?

I hear some people asking what will happen to the illegal immigrants after they have been apprehended. Most will be deported by using the EU repatriation fund provided by the EU for non-EU member states. In fact, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom has suggested Greece use the above funding to deport them if it is proven that they have no case for asylum or refugee status. Ms Malmstrom also told Citizens? Protection Minister Mr Chrisochoidis to do more to safeguard Greece?s borders. The vast majority of Greeks want the illegal immigrants out, given Greece?s current economic crisis. Illegal entry is against the law.

George Salamouras

Helios project

For God?s sake, isn?t there anybody capable to perform a technical-economic and environmental analysis of the Helios project? While the sun is considered to be renewable, the solar panels are not. They need to be replaced about every 20 years. Disposal of the panels involves hazardous materials that need to be recycled at a contained industrial site. Each panel will use 1/3-1/2 of its life time energy production to pay back the amount of energy that was spent to make it.

Solar panels need to be cleaned every 2-3 weeks as the dust reduces their performance. Also, each panel needs to be exposed 100% to the sun, otherwise it does not produce any power. Any shadow by bird droppings, frost, rain and/or snow leaves them with produce zero power.

In other words, the capital and the operating costs are enormous. The subsidies needed are also enormous. The income is minimal. I don?t think the Germans will finance it because they know better after trying for 25 years without success. In any case, if Greece goes ahead with such a dream, I predict that it will end up losing a lot of money. Energy conversion is my profession here in Canada. If needed, I can help you for free, to learn all the ins and outs. Otherwise just ask Spain why they have stopped the subsidies to their solar industry. Also ask the Germans to tell you how many solar companies have gone broke in the last 6 months. How much subsidies do they pay for their solar power?

Cosmos Voutsinos

Canada

Non-repayment of stolen money

It is disgusting that those people who have stolen, embezzled etc, money should not have to repay it. You say that there is no law to make them do this, well the government should make a bloody law — they soon made one with regard to our O.A.E.D payments, ie reducing it by over 100.00 euros a month. We have heard a lot of our friends? monthly salaries are being reduced by 50 percent, like it or lump it, because their employers can do it because their employers have jumped on the bandwagon and misconstrued the government?s policy, to their own benefit, once again. They say, ?We can get foreigners to work for this with no stamps.? What chance do the honest people have? The students (!) who are bought in every year, 22-25-year-old students — it is obvious they are not students, but are a source of cheap labour, so why not reduce this influx and the money they send back to Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Albania etc, and pay decent wages and let the young Greeks have a chance in the labour market, who would be contributing to I.K.A, A.F.M etc, and thereby keeping the money in Greece. How can the Government say that 500.00 euros is enough to live on? Rent on this island, in this village is anywhere between 350.00 and 520.00 euros per month. What do they want us to live on, or even in? We have lived and worked here for 20 years, but are, like a lot of others — Greeks included — getting fed up with being trodden on, while the rich get richer, the poor get poorer; this old saying still stands the test of time I?m afraid.

Kay Winser

Rhodes

Heating oil tax to increase

Increasing the tax on heating oil to compensate for the government?s inability to efficiently collect other legitimate taxes? How ridiculous is this proposal? Penalizing citizens, at least some of whom meet their obligations to the country (there are some, aren?t there?), trying to heat their homes in the winter despite all the other taxes they are forced to pay?

On top of reductions in salary and benefits, to make up for apparently total political incompetence? Greece has truly become a madhouse!

James Smeader

Who defines what is a migrant?

So, what about Americans who live in Greece? Are we considered migrants and will have to carry around the health certificate? Who defines what is a migrant? This is very vague.

Moe Howard

Newark, New Jersey

Third bailout?

Greek Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis says Greece will not need a third bailout if it sticks to the terms of its second loan agreement (Kathimerini).

This is another way of saying ?Greece will definitely need a third bailout? — the present ?amendments? craze shows how desperate the politicians still are to pander to their clients, even in the present context. And this will lead to inaction and backsliding during the election period, and during the certain post-election chaos, which will involve a long period of haggling and horse-trading — or in other words, ?a failure to stick to the terms of the second bailout agreement?, which insists on speedy implementation.

Ideally the much postponed announcement about the election date will be that there will be no election until the terms of the second bailout have been complied with.

Robert Skailes

Re: Council of State — illegal building

A few years ago a very eminent retired judge, pushing 80, who has done a lot for Australia, made the silly decision to say to the police via a ?Statutory Declaration? that he was not driving a car that was speeding. The fine for speeding a few kilometres above the limit of 50 K. was merely $77, but he was embarrassed at the idea that he got caught.

He was jailed for three years. His previous good life and his many acts of courage for the country could not save him.

Knowing of his fine life, I would have taken his place in jail; as a citizen, I felt indebted to people like him. I still feel it may have merely been a case of old-age ?silliness?.

The courts took the view that he as a former judge should have had more respect for the law, but the punishment handed out was what any other citizen would have got under the circumstances.

When Greeks so freely lodge false documents to government bodies they undo all the posibilities that the country will ever climb out of its third world status. The corruption of nearly every citizen has meant the cancellation of the attempt to bring the Greek property laws into the 19th Century, let alone the 21st Century.

I find it amazing any business can operate in Greece under these circumstances.

Whenever I go to my local Melbourne police station to have them witness a ?Statutory Declaration? that I have sent notices of the proposed development to all adjoining land owners and the local government, I am reminded every time that any omission or false information will be punished by two years in jail, and I am asked if I need time to check my documentation.

Every Australian application to the government warns that providing false information will mean heavy fines or imprisonment.

Greece needs a legal system that has the respect of its citizens. The endless forgiveness of crimes and even debt by the government must end. Civilisation and real economies do not function in chaotic fields of stupidity. Undermining Greek civilisation means we undermine ourselves and our children?s future.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

An Austrian responds to Philip Andrews

Dear Mr. Andrews,

You suggested in a letter to the Ekathimerini that Greeks could learn a lot from Austrians. Undoubtedly so! The first thing which Greeks could learn from Austrians is to package things the right way. Let me explain.

By now, it is probably known even in the most remote island of the world that Greeks are corrupt; that Greeks work with fakelaki. Now that is really poor form on the part of Greeks. Austrians would never engage in blatant corruption like this. Instead, Austrians will talk about Mozart and Beethoven when they visit a dentist in Salzburg. When the dentist has his cost estimate ready, he will ask sort of between Mozart and Beethoven whether he should do it in black. Now that is gentlemanly! Greeks should learn from that! If you are a gentleman, there is no way that you cannot accept the offer of the dentist to do it in black! By golly, you might offend him if you didn?t go along!

The EU does not allow import tariffs. Austrians would never violate EU treaties! That?s for people like the Greeks to do. Austria doesn?t manufacture cars and it hurts to pay so much for car imports. So Austria, the world?s trendsetter as regards environmental concerns, implemented an environmental charge on cars. Of course, there was no discrimination against foreign cars. The rule applied to all cars. But when all your cars are imported, you understand what I mean. And that is, I believe, about 20% per car.

Greeks don?t pay taxes; in fact, they openly cheat. Now, Austrians would never do that! However, in Austria there is a thing called neighborhood assistance. This means that if you help your neighbor to build a house and he helps you, you don?t have to pay taxes on the mutual earnings. And one is amazed to see that apparently all Austrians are neighbors! And many of the suppliers of building materials are neighbors, too! Estimates are that up to 30% of the economy bypasses official books that way (it is called Pfusch). Members of the Austrian government have repeatedly stated over the years that without Pfusch there would be far fewer houses in Austria (thereby implying that Pfusch was good).

I could go on but let me now be serious. Almost 50 years ago, we had a teacher in Gymnasium who explained the Austrian economy to us the following way:

?Children?, so he called us teenagers, ?we [Austrians] don?t have oil and we don?t produce cars, but we need oil and want to drive cars. Thus, we have to import a lot. Since we need foreign currency to pay for those imports we must find ways to obtain foreign currency. Thus, we have to try to export as much as possible but, as a small economy, we cannot export enough to pay for all the imports. So we have to find other ways to obtain foreign currency and one of them is tourism. The more tourists come to our country and the more foreign currency they leave here, the better our chances of closing the hole between the imports we need and the exports we have. And since that hole cannot be closed even after tourism, we need to be a very attractive place for foreign investment so that foreign investors bring us their money and the government needs to keep its household in order so that it can borrow money abroad?.

This is exactly the challenge which Greece needs to get serious about. Why, when there is now the Euro? Because the Euro is a foreign currency to every EZ country (none of them can print it on their own). The amount of money which Greece spends abroad (imports, etc.) is phenomenally greater than the amount of money which Greece earns abroad (exports, tourism, etc.). That is what living above one?s means is all about. There are many things which Greece must import because there is no local availability: oil, cars, smartphones, etc. But there are many other things which Greece should not import and, instead, produce domestically. Above all, Greece should not import agricultural products. That is like Cuba importing sugar. Greece should become one of the premier exporters of agricultural products!

And then there is another thing. Austrians, like Greeks, have a complex history. The idea of an Austrian nation stands perhaps on similar grounds as the idea of a Greek nation descendant from ancient Greeks. Austria decided to become a nation after 1945 when it was prudent to disassociate oneself from the terrible doings of Germans. I hope I do not offend anyone when I say that, 200 years ago, only few people living on the soil of today?s Greece were convinced that they were direct descendants of ancient Greeks.

Populations moved all over the European continent in the last couple of millennia. I don?t know how many different ethnic groups moved through Austria (a lot of Slavs!) and there is no reason why this should not apply to Greece as well.

All Americans except native ones are immigrants. They come from all geographic areas and from all ethnic origins. However, they are Americans! Austrians have had a very tough time finding their own identity after 1945 because basing your identity only on the grounds that you were not German is not really good enough. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the new role of Austria as a bridge towards the East gave Austrians a new identity. It has dramatically changed Austrian self-confidence. Greeks should urgently attempt to find an identity which is oriented towards the future instead of creating illusions about a past which are not supported by facts! ?Know thyself? is one of the first things about ancient Greeks which we learned in Austrian Gymnasium.

Greeks, under Ottoman occupation, missed some of the key developments which shaped Central Europe (Reformation, Enlightenment, etc.). But it is never too late! Greeks should make every effort to follow the spirits of ancient Greeks: know yourself; accept yourself; and deal with the world as it is (instead of complaining and asking why the world isn?t the way you think it should be).

Klaus Kastner

Austria