OPINION

On The Netherlands, zoos, Turkey, reforms, dignity, Germany

Greece rapped over its zoos

Thank you for the article on Greek zoos. The result of the investigation is very sad. It makes one wonder why those 13 zoos exist? They only display public cruelty. Maybe there is another sinister human reason.

Dina Hatzipavlu

Greek zoos

Out of 14 zoos operating in the country, the only with a proper licence is run by a French gentleman. Why am I not surprised? The way this country treats animals, both domestic and wild is a disgrace.

Renee Pappas

Going Dutch

This Dutch austerity problem was due to the attitude of the populist coalition party. Within two (!) days there was a new agreement. By a new coalition of 5 parties. Because somebody had to take responsibility. Maybe this is some standard for Greece after the elections.

Hans van der Schaaf

Turkish oil exploration

This is what happens when you let a bully continue to pick on someone. In this case it?s Turkey against Cyprus. Turkey actually thinks it has rights to the land and offshore area that they are presently and illegally occupying. I don?t understand why Europe and the USA don?t ask Turkey to get out of Cyprus. Turkey acts as if it?s been a good neighbor or host to many non-Turks who have lived in Turkey peacefully until they were thrown out or killed. Turkey has got nerve. I think it is a shame that no one is helping Cyprus with this big bully of a country called Turkey. The longer Turkey stays in Cyprus the more they are going to expect to be able to do in the name of the Turkish Cypriots. I?d love to see this with the tables turned, with Greece poking it?s nose into Turkey for it?s Turkish Greeks. Turkey does not treat the Greeks who have been there for centuries with the respect that Turkey seeks for the Turkish Cypriots. A classic case of do as I say and not as I do. Turkey is taking advantage of the fact that no one anywhere is doing anything about this bully called Turkey.

Harriet Reyes

Greek reform program

I am sure most of us agree with the article submitted by Mr. Calamitsis. Unfortunately, he is quite right to be concerned. Although the possibilities are there to escape our present situation, our main problem lies in the fact that we simply take far too long to implement measures. We wasted two years from the moment that George Papandreou decided to come clean on our economy, with ministers unwilling or unable to complete the necessary tasks. This waste of precious time left us in an even worse situation. At this time our main attention should be centred on the tourist industry which is the only section that can provide us with immediate income, while we sell assets etc. and hopefully claim EU funding for new projects. However, here we see again that the laws relating to cruise ships has not been passed and so we have lost 1 billion euros this season. At the same time, these companies were considering financing new ports on some of our smaller islands, giving work and future income from tourism. I read an article earlier this year proposing that foreign tourists that paid for package holidays abroad (flight, hotel with full board) should receive a deduction on VAT. This system operates in Israel and as long as you are a foreigner and pay by credit card from a foreign bank, they operate the discount for all travellers to Israel. However, as usual, this was all talk and no action. certainly we should strive to impress upon the German population that they are welcome in Greece and that goes for all our foreign visitors. We have the opportunity for change now we have to put politics aside and put words into actions.

Ann Baker

The Netherlands

Mr. Lionel Luthor?s comment on The Netherlands was a little too hasty. The budget for 2013, with measures up to 14 billion euros, was accepted yesterday evening in parliament. We may have some problems in this country but many politicians still work first of all for their country, not for their party

Kloprogge Jo

Practical attention to tourism at last

At last, possibly some constructive news for tourism. Once people realise that this is not the 1970s when Greece was king, and that we need serious rebranding — and not just as a destination for hotel holidays, but for large numbers of independent tourists, then maybe we have a chance. Tackle image (rubbish, roads, airports, strikes) then rebrand as somewhere for everyone, help the independent low-cost airlines, push government to subsidise accommodation upgrades, stop restrictive practices, for example of taxi drivers, encourage investment for ?residential tourism? (more long-term than anything else) by changing EOT licence qualifications where the current regulations read more like a comedy magazine than serious requirements — then maybe we have a chance! We live in hope.

Dianna Giannoulis Corfu

Re: Sad truths about fraud

Yes, what started as a trickle 30 or more years ago has turned into a flood, which has been accepted as the normal way of life. Whether it?s the 20-40-20 tax corruption, or giving an official 20 euros to speed things up, or paying a pension to a seeing-blind person, it is corruption and because everyone accepted it, you have your very own Hydra, and I see no Heracles on the horizon. No one wants to draw a line and start from scratch. The few publicised tax evader arrests, IKA shocks, illegal pensions, and investigations are not going to make much difference — people will carry on as they have been. The fact that one cannot expect a country to function without taxes — and I mean every euro that?s due to the state — doesn?t seem to sink in. The calculations are quite simple: the more taxes that are paid, the less tax everyone will have to pay, i.e. tax rates can be dropped, more money will flow into the economy and maybe it can even grow. I?m not sure where the political courage will come from seeing as the politicians were the some of the worst offenders, so why should they want to abandon their privileges and immunity? Greece would need an authoritarian tax system where absolutely zero tolerance reigns, but this would take at least two generations to instil, if at all. I fully agree that it is unacceptable that Greece had to go bankrupt before the troika could force anything on the Greek politicians or authorities to do what they were being paid to do. But I also think the debt problem should never have been allowed to escalate as it did. The more I read about the Greek situation, the euro as a flawed currency and the totally brainless people at the ECB, the angrier I get. The situation did not develop overnight, not for Greece nor for the other PIIGS countries. It was glaringly obvious to even the most junior economist what was building up, the facts and figures were there, but they were totally ignored. What is this if not fraud? So, by all means throw mud at Greek politicians and citizens, but the EU and ECB have a huge amount to answer for! They allowed this crisis to happen, they allowed debts to reach preposterous levels, they threw cheap money at countries, they created a house of cards and then acted surprised when everything came tumbling down. And now the Greek people, amongst others, have to suffer for their stupidity. It is, quite simply, unbelievable. And yes, incredibly sad.

Mary-Ann Faroni Zurich

Seizing money from suspected tax evaders

Bravo — wasn?t that supposed to have being done for the last decades? Who let it go untested?

Roger Weston New Zealand

Simitis blames EU

No question the EU has made mistakes, but it always makes me wonder why people and even politicians see the EU as something totally abstract. The EU consists mainly of the European Parliament and the European Council. These institutions simply consist of representatives of each member state. That means when a politician like Mr. Simitis blames the EU he in the end blames himself as well. If he had seen that the EU was going the wrong way why didn?t he told his Greek comrades in Brussels or Strasbourg to make a petition or to suggest a new law or even to implement a control mechanism to avoid misuse of EU funds for example? He should know that the nice thing about the EU is that it gives over-proportional power to its smaller member states. For example Malta has 10 times more seats per capita in the parliament as Germany. In the European Council Greece has the same power as Germany or Malta. One voice each. Mr. Simitis should ask himself if, under his reign, Greece has used this over-proportional power responsibly.

Sebastian Schroeder Patra

Friction

Simitis is right about the economic and friction when introducing the euro. Max Weber described this a hundred years ago. But Greece also knew this. And did have a drachma driven economy with a devaluation every year. When you want to use the euro you can?t devaluate anymore. It?s like changing from diesel to petrol: You can only do that when you adapt the engine. Greece was changing its fuel without changing its political, economic and social engine. And now some years later the engine got jammed. The same story can be told concerning Spain, Portugal and Italy. For countries like Germany, Holland, etc., introducing the euro was just changing the brand of the fuel. Nothing needed to be changed in their engines. Europe knew this situation. And let it go. Also when knowing Greece was faking its economic statistics. So now we all have a problem. I understand Germany is not eager to become the financial tap for problematic European economies, but Germany is an accessory concerning the creation of the problem, was the first country that ignored the rules concerning the Stability Pact and did let both problems just go. So there is responsibility now concerning solving the problem. This solving will not be effective by having each troubled country having its problems solved on its own. Okay, with help of the troika, but under the restriction this country does not leave the eurozone. In this way the fuel has to stay the same, but every troubled engine has to be changed. And as we see, they all jam now again. This means we need an European policy concerning an European economy. The policy now is that the countries with problematic economies must become mutual competitive again concerning prizes. But what to produce? Do we all need to become a kind of Germany? With the same products? Everybody producing Volkswagens? Or do we use this crisis to make SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analyses on every EU-member and the whole of Europe concerning (needed) products, prizes and sustainability. This in order to make an European sustainable economy. In this policy every EU- team member will be asked to produce products needed in Europe which will be produced by this member because of the results of its SWOT analyses. In this way every engine gets the fuel it needs to get producing again. So, instead of today?s fragmented policy with counterproductive effects Europe needs an integrated economic development policy with an end of the tunnel perspective for everybody. When not having such a policy, populism and its fragmentation effects will result in the end of Europe. Noblesse oblige; so I want to ask Germany to start this new engine.

Hans van der Schaaf

German opinions toward Greeks in Germany article

After all the years that the Greeks living in Germany have given that country in terms of sweat, business, and tax money, the Germans, who are avoiding traveling to Greece, are being hypocritical. Greek expatriates should bring their experience and earnings back to to Greece and help the country — and its reputation — return to what it should be. Greeks, wherever they live in the world, must be proud of their heritage and everything their history represents and has given to mankind. We all need to encourage its best business: tourism, so Germans start booking that trip to Greece!

L. Hernandez

This is Greece, too!

I accompanied my wife to the local market this morning. An elderly man was selling rice. He sold it for 1 euro per kilo whereas the price in the nearest supermarket is 3.50 euro. The man had a big wound on his face so he must have had a very serious operation. Yet, he was standing upright, moved respectfully and reflected dignity. Actually, he also spoke good German, having studied in Vienna and worked in Stuttgart. After his first try, the scale said 900 grams and my wife said «that?s okay?. It was not OK to the man. With precision, he juggled more rice until the scale said exactly 1,000 grams. My wife then gave him one euro and a bit more, thanked him and said he should keep the rest. He very politely, but very definitely refused to accept it. He said: «The price is 1 euro per kilo. If you force me to accept more, you hurt my dignity!? How much of a percentage of the Greek population might this man reflect? I wish I knew!

Klaus Kastner Austria