OPINION

On illegal immigrants, PPC, politicians and tourism

Re: ?Political primitivism?

This article outlines the current political situation, not only in Greece, but also in other countries receiving bailout loans — Ireland for example. Politicians will tell people, ambiguously, what they want to hear in order to be elected. The truth is that no political party has a plan because unless Greece or Ireland leave the Eurozone, the only option is to implement the terms of the Memoranda agreed by both countries with their creditors. The ?plans? outlined by all the parties are just rhetoric and jargon, far removed from the realpolitik of dealing with the Troika. For example, the KKE is ?determined to fight public sector downsizing?. However, public service numbers are being reduced in most European economies, particularly countries badly affected by the financial crisis. This is a ?fight? KKE cannot win.

Politicians in Greece who are campaigning for the next election should be straight with people and outline the facts. Either they are in favour of the Memorandum or not and anyone who opposes it should say how Greece will pay for its public services, as well as the interest on its loans, without receiving support from the EU/IMF.

Undoubtedly growth cannot happen in Greece unless the system is radically altered to create a business-friendly environment, including industrial relations reform, to regulate employer/trade union relationships and the utilisation of state mechanisms for resolving conflict. Who would invest in Greece if the workforce can go on strike at the drop of a hat? It is possible for Greece to emerge from the current crisis if the Government, employers and trade unions can operate a national partnership and agree a roadmap to extract the country from its current difficulties. However, that requires a maturity that does not exist at present.

Jerry Melinn

Ilioupoli

Ex-minister?s family in the spotlight

The ex-minister has no clue as to how the millions found their way into his bank accounts. He says that whatever proof the courts have is coincidental.

His wife says she never got involved with their finances and was never surprised or curious as to how her Swiss bank account statements made their way to her brother?s address.

All of a sudden they all found themselves with cash to spare, owners of luxurious properties, with funds to throw a million-dollar wedding in Paris and a lifestyle many cannot even dream of…

Poof, just like that, from the income of a politician who although one of the founders of PASOK is still by all accounts a mere bureaucrat.

For those of us who no longer believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, all these sound outrageous.

All we have to do is sit tight and wait to find out if the courts are convinced.

Since the crimes of the bribes are more or less erased, thanks to the special laws the politicos enacted for themselves, we are looking into tax evasion. A few millions in fines and she will be able to enjoy the fruits of his hard labours. He may even have to spend a couple of years in prison-issued garb so that the rest of us believe that crime does not pay.

Monica Lane

Florida

Unfortunately the pain ain?t over yet

What a great article by Nick Malkoutzis on April 6 re: the long painful suicide of Greece!

I wonder if the Greek population will learn anything from the tragic actions of this Athens pensioner.

I think not!

While it may serve to help some in the population to take a hard and deep inward look at themselves and what Greek society has become, unfortunately I do not see the political will to fix the causes of the country?s problems and malaise.

With an upcoming election, none of the parties has a real vision for Greece, only more political bribery in order to gain office and maintain the status quo.

I feel sorry for Greece. Not one true leader has emerged after this crisis. No one with vision, or the political will to clean up the mess.

Perhaps the problem is too great to fix.

Peter Kosmas

Melbourne, Australia

Re: ? To love your country?

As usual, Mr Papachelas, another excellent comment.

Wherever one meets Greeks in the world, they have a strong love of homeland and pride in being Greek, which is sometimes enviable. Fully understandable though, as it is a beautiful country and the people (except the kleftes/politicians!) are wonderful.

I think some of that pride has been left by the roadside in the past few years, replaced by greed and arrogance. Rape the country, throw rubble in scenic spots and garbage on its streets. Yes, who cares? The tourists will keep coming and we?ll make lots of money. Why should we market our destinations? Tourists want to come to Greece.

But will they keep coming? Will they continue to put up with anything and everything just to bask in the Greek sunshine and eat delicious Greek food for a few weeks every year? That same sun shines in other countries as well, there are other cuisines to discover, other antiquities to view.

According to an article in K today, no, they won?t — tourism takings have fallen in the first few months of this year. Bookings from Germany are down 30% and about the same from Switzerland.

The Greek tourism industry got used to the good times when everything was booming in Greece, they sat back (figuratively) and the euros rolled in.

Now the time has come, as you say, to accept the responsibility of being Greek, of helping your country to recover, and to stop blaming someone else. The troika has a lot to answer for, but not for arrogance and bad service in resorts.

Why are there so few handmade (in Greece) souvenirs on offer? Every time I go I find more and more ?Made in China? goodies for sale. It?s just easier to import plastic rubbish (and beat up the current account) than use the creative talent of unemployed Greeks. Instead of helping China?s exports, why not invest that money in training or re-raining Greeks?

You do need to love your country again, with even more passion than before the crisis. And this includes rejecting corruption, paying taxes, abiding by the law, and — most importantly — regaining your self-respect.

Trust me, the politicians — regardless of who gets voted in in May — are not going to do it for you. It?s up to you, the people. Don?t throw it all away.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Zurich

Immigrants and tourism

?Athens has collapsed as a tourist destination because of illegal immigrants so there cannot be any economic recovery unless hundreds of thousands leave.?

This quote of Giorgos Kyrtsos shows again how populist and far removed from reality these people are.

There is no question that illegal immigration is a problem in Greece and especially in Athens. Also there is no question that Greek politicians need to wake up and establish working systems for asylum, rejection and repatriation, but why even think about that if it all fits so well? Greece will most likely see a significant drop in tourism this year and — hurray — the scapegoat is already found. Illegal immigrants are responsible for everything. The habit of refusing to admit to one?s own mistakes and blaming others continues on and on and on.

Why are no tourists coming to Athens? Because of illegal immigrants or:

– Demonstrations that always tend to end up in violence

– Streets filled with smoke from tear gas

– Buildings burned down by anarchists

– Strikes (one day I might be able to see the Acropolis but the tram is on strike, the other day the tram was working but the Acropolis was closed, then after I saw nothing I couldn?t even get a taxi to the airport to leave)

– Flags of the country that sends the most tourists every year get burned in public

– Outdated hotels, tourism concepts and restricted opening times

– Etc. etc. etc.

These are the pictures seen every day on TVs all over Europe and the world, and in none of these negative pictures are immigrants playing even the smallest role.

It?s a god-damn joke, but friends and relatives ask me if it?s still safe to come to Greece. They are not afraid of illegal immigrants (no one has even noticed that problem outside of Greece anyway); no, they are afraid of the things they see on TV and in newspapers and about the fact that they might get stuck somewhere due to strikes.

I do my best to convince them but when they ask me, ?Can you guarantee that there will be no ferry strike so I will be back at my job on time?? What can I say?

If you fly to Cuba, Thailand, Turkey etc. the chance of having holidays as planned is almost 100%; in Greece… well.

Tourism is the most important industry for Greece but we have to watch Greek politicians and unions keep on damaging it again and again without caring at all about the family that has to live from the proceeds of a small hotel or restaurant.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

PPC to plug liquidity gap with 960-mln-euro loan

In your article you claimed that two electric companies went bust. That is not true as per your article ?Hellas Power, Energa seek compensation? (http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_11/02/2012_427301). Hellas Power, and Energa were put out of business by PPC, and the state on false charges… thus giving an 80-million-euro verdict to both of the companies. As long as PPC is a monopoly (changing rules as it seems fit) what other electric company would want to do business here? I was on Hellas Power for three months prior to getting cut off, and automatically switching back to PPC. On my first bill (PPC) I noticed a tax of ?80 compared to other times it was only ?20. According to a PPC representative, that increase was for the time that I was with Hellas Power. So hypothetically, if I was with Hellas Power for a year or more, I would be paying a large sum for a tax that I had no idea about? I?ll be moving to another alternative energy provider in the future (Elpedison) just to get away from the high prices (for no reason) being charged by PPC.

J.R. Duda

Elections

I work in a multinational company, and as such we send also Greeks out of Greece for work.

Now, I had to realize that there is obviously no option for Greeks to vote by mail or to vote before the official election date.

The only way Greeks can vote is on the election day itself, and, even better, only in the place where they have their papers, which in most cases is the village or town of the family home.

For that reason also companies have to grant special election holidays depending on the distance of the place they have to vote from the workplace.

In my opinion these election laws are a clear disadvantage for private employees and companies.

I can?t afford to fly back Greeks that work outside of Greece just for that election.

I don?t want to cancel scheduled jobs just because one guy that lives in Patra has his papers in northern Greece and I have to give him additional days off just to travel up there.

How many privately employed people will ask their boss if they can leave for their home village if it would mean that the hotel, restaurant or shop will not be operational during that weekend?

In other European countries mail vote and pre-voting has been common for decades now, as well as it being common to register yourself in the place where you live.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra