OPINION

On Tsipras, elections, public sector, eurozone exit

The euro, Chrysi Avgi and Tsipras

While a return to a constantly devalued drachma, worth slightly less than a grocery store coupon, would be a catastrophe for Greece, some Europeans, like the German finance minister, are whistling past the euro-graveyard if they think the exit of one country, any country, would not be the beginning of the end of the common currency.

Few things the clownish and ignorant Greek Nazi party, Golden Dawn, have said so far surpass the racist, crude, clueless and hate-filled comments against Greece and the Greeks that one comes across in letters from some of your readers. To that end, we are tired of repeatedly reading from Greeks from the diaspora that they are «ashamed of being Greek.» They should keep that shame, which cuts both ways, to themselves where it belongs.

SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras cut his political teeth on the intolerant and extremist hotbed of university student politics where he organized protests and sit-ins that shut down classes and objected to absolutely anything that anyone else proposed. As a party, SYRIZA has consistently opposed, often illegally and sometimes violently, every government proposal regardless of the governing party, while it, like its Greek Communist Party (KKE) brethren, has put forth no program aside from the rejection of the democratic constitution and the destruction of Greek society in preference for the paradise of a «worker’s state.»

Peter Kyriakeas-Kirk

Stoupa, Messinias

The definition of a liberal

Liberals to me have been all about promises to everyone about everything. And this is one of the major reasons why liberal parties have been the party of choice, or the «natural ruling party» of many states such as Canada and Greece historically (see The Liberal Party of Canada and PASOK).

It?s funny, I never thought of liberals as ones that would promote trade-offs. That to me, the «tough choices» condition has always been the difficult selling point of a conservative platform, and one that sold well only over the past decade in many countries (likely due to the fading popularity of the liberal brand — see Canada for example).

But this is a matter of perspective. The viewpoint posed by this article (?Moderate, pragmatic and unloved: Greece’s liberal parties?) suggests that Greek voters tend to look through a far-left-leaning lens. That would explain equating a liberal with a neo-conservative. And it represents in part the significant overreaction that the Greek people had to the Junta government of the late sixties and early seventies. Also likely the reason why the natural ruling party got away with the establishment of the most corrupt political and bureaucratic regime since the Ottomans. The tragic thing is that if wasn’t for the debt crisis, they’d still be getting away with it today.

Ted Antonopoulos

Toronto, Canada

Rock-star status has Tsipras in the stars

A bit of power and 15 minutes of fame, using the immortal words of Andy Warhol, have convinced our 38-year-old, politically experienced, rock idol Alexis Tsipras that he can conquer the world!

Mr Tsipras, 35% of the population didn?t vote. They actually won the election, not you!

The continued smarmy and arrogant smile presented in the most serious circumstances indicates either (a) Mr Tsipras does not care, (b) he does not understand the severity of the issues or (c) he is prepared to waste the population of Greece and our future for his own personal gain.

A call to any unity government: Do not allow the disruptive demonstrations and havoc that has destroyed our tourism industry to continue.

If Mr Tsipras or any other organised syndicate try to destroy the centre of Athens again, please make sure you stop them.

If you want to create employment, revive the economy and stop the bad press, stop SYRIZA and Chrysi Aygi.

Nik Geronimos

Apocalypse now

I have been in Greece several times for visits or to start business. In my 70 years of traveling and doing business around the world I have learned to look for and analyze people?s habits in order to know how to do business with them.

Needless to say that I have never started a business in Greece, the country that I was born in and love the most. But I have something to confess to you in this critical moment for Greece:

I believe the financial crisis in Greece is the symptom of another crisis and not the main cause. In a similar way we are going through an academic crisis, a political crisis, an immigrant crisis, a unionist crisis, a business crisis, a European crisis, a financial crisis, etc. The question that I am asking is to think deep inside our Greek hearts what is causing all these crises. I have been asking this question for several years now while I witness crisis after crisis surfacing in Greece and terrorizing its people.

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that the fundamental crisis that exists today is social and on an individual level. A large percentage of our population has lost his compassion, love and trust for the other person and our country. Instead of facing issues realistically we build modern-day mythologies to make us feel good or important. The politicians that deservedly we now condemn were elected by us, the voters. SYRIZA was elected by the civil servants to defend their interests, in an ?us against the world» mode.

It is said that people can learn either by the easy way or the hard way. I don?t believe that the Europeans are bluffing. Why should they tax their own citizens? productivity to support a lazy, ineffective and abusive civil service in another country? If they do, for how long they should be doing it and why?

It is time for each one of us to sit in front of a mirror and have an honest talk.

Cosmas Voutsinos

A Thatcher event

The only strategy now which can stop the extreme-left party, Syriza, taking power in Greece is a Thatcher event. If New Democracy enters the new electoral battleground on Syriza’s terms they will lose. In order to win the election on June 17 they have to change the parameters of the electoral debate from one of for or against the bailout programme to the more existential question: Who will govern Greece? Thatcher came to power in the UK by posing this question to the British people at a time when the extreme left wing of the Labour party sought to govern the country. In normal times New Democracy could expect some support from the centre-left Pasok party, but as every day passes this party seems to be imploding. Would it be catastrophic for Greece if Syriza did take on the mantle of governing this country? In brief, yes. If Syriza comes to power in Greece then the country will have cast off its European heritage and become more like Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina and Venezuela. The only hope of saving Greece in these unique circumstances is for Mr Samaras to rally all the right-wing political parties here — but does he have the balls of a Thatcher?

Dr David Green

Athens

Merging companies

Concerning ferries, I’ve been a passenger many times. Especially on the Piraeus-Crete and Patras-Ancona routes. I always wondered why there were so many companies on the same route and why they did not merge in order to reduce costs and pollution. But maybe today…

Hans van der Schaaf

To Mr. Venizelos and Mr. Samaras

In these critical times don’t make the same mistake Mr. Papandreou made. While people were thirsty for information he stayed silent. This silence gave counterproductive and dangerous voices a lot of noise and power. Now you are paying the price for that — we all are. No matter how much you might speak the truth in your speeches, people remain suspicious. You lost a lot of trust and credibility. The last elections definitely proved it. Stop making the same mistake. One reason why Mr. Tsipras is so successful is that he has understood to break the status quo (visible by not wearing a tie meeting the president of the republic — very attractive for many). Start having regular governmental televised press conferences with some real information on how things are going — good or bad. Reserve a regular time spot on the net answering questions or letters from real people. Stop packing the truth in cotton of fear of losing more voters — you only achieve the opposite. Help voters to become more educated and therefore enable them to make sensible decisions and take the wind out of the sails of radicals which feed on self-made realities. Give us what we need and not what we want. Don’t just cut wages — tell us why it is necessary with real facts and not half truths. Tell us what structural reforms you are carrying out and why. Tell us what difficulties you have implementing this or that. Become a person we can touch. Show us you are human. Above all, rebuild the people?s trust in you so that we can have hope for tomorrow to become better. Talk to us (not your constituents — us — the citizens).

Michaela Toth

Re: Public sector unaware of risks

As a long-time reader, I very much appreciate Mr Kontogiannis’s clear and incisive article on how to think about making the public sector carry its fair share of Greece’s economic burden. Many have argued for reducing the massive transfer of wealth from the tax-shackled private sector to the complacent and unproductive «Big Fat Greek Public Sector» (BFGPS) as it has come to be called. This article shows that intelligent people are no longer afraid to make and publish clear arguments and offer suggestions on how to do this, before the private sector is completely choked off.

Times are tough. I hope somebody in Greece’s policymaking echelon (other than staff at the civil servants? unions) is listening.

Alec Mally

Paleo Faliro, Athens

Private sector supports public sector

When all the work of 2,800,000 Greeks of the private sector barely covers the expenses of the 1 million working — and being paid on time — in the public sector, where is democracy?

In total bankruptcy.

The EU representatives should never have agreed to pay anything at all or asked for unfair sacrifices from the private sector. They should have insisted on a much, much faster privatisation of a 1-million-strong public sector (it has doubled in less than 25 years) that is still at this very second destroying the entire country, economically and socially. And here one can of course put all political parties in the same bath. How anyone can claim Mr Tsipras will not be worse in that regard defies all intelligence. The exact opposite is true.

Marc Sursock

Geneva, Switzerland

Elections

Greece does not need a second round of elections that will more or less duplicate the results of the first election held last week. What would change? Well, for the better, the ultra-right party Chrysi Avgi may lose some of the protest vote that went to them out of sheer frustration, and may be reduced to fewer seats in parliament. Also, this stalemate has led some of our European friends to see the light, and to consider adding some policies to help economic growth instead of just insisting on the cuts that have led to a downward spiral.

However, for worse, parties like SYRIZA that are still pandering to the electorate — pretending that they have all the answers — will gain more seats and the opportunity to form a government based on the populace’s exhaustion with regard to austerity. Tsipras is a smart individual, but he is playing a political game of chicken with both the electorate and with the country’s future. He claims to know for sure that Greece will be able to declare some sort of bankruptcy, but still be able to remain within the Euro bloc. Well, either he has an interesting solution that will convince Europe to play ball, or he will be very surprised when his government is scrambling to print drachmas to pay for public services/servants he believes do not need to be cut, or for a way to pay out old-age pensions, while bringing Greece’s finances to a manageable level.

Greece is at another crossroads, and its people (who although are sick of austerity and financial pain) must make a courageous decision, take a responsible attitude to try to move the country forward. There is no way of avoiding the pain, no matter what any political leader says to sell their party to the electorate.

Evan Arvan

Bribery and corruption

My friends and family tell me that the building inspectors are in Myconos. They tell me also that payments over and under the table are being offered and accepted by the inspectors.

If this practice is to stop, then the Police Fraud Squad has to move in to prosecute any building inspector that accepts payments. Why are the offers being made? because people could lose their homes and property!

If decisions are to be made according to the rules, then this bribery and corruption must stop. If it does not, then the rich will thrive, and the poorer will lose. And little changes in Greece.

Kelvyn Richards

Why are they called bailout opponents?

Bailout involves money being provided to Greece. From what I see, SYRIZA wants the money — they just want it unconditionally. That doesn’t make them anti-bailout.

Sunil M

Elite and alleged nonpayment of taxes

Why do you not do an expose on the elite? Your paper does not seem to have truly investigative journalists who are prepared to go that extra mile to seek out and expose tax dodgers and corruption. Your paper is just as culpable as others in maintaining the status quo in Greece.

Virginia Cath

UK

Kick the Greeks out, and get it over with

Europe does not need Greece. Mr Tsipras as usual in all his immature, unchecked arrogance seems to believe that his hard-left party will save Greece. There’s no printing press that he can use like his predecessor Andreas did to print away all the Monopoly money he wished. Bonds are too expensive and no one will touch them, so what is Mr Tsipras and the left planning? It’s easy to sit on the back benches and whine, complain, accuse, point fingers, like Greece’s left has for decades. Now is the time for them to show what plans, what policies etc. they have.

Mr Kammenos seems to have lost the plot too along the way. He has one good and very valid point in that Greek politicians need to be investigated, sources of wealth etc., and immunity removed.

Greek politicians are to blame for this mess and its continuation. Greek politicians and their sheer incompetence, arrogance and greed.

Lionel Luthor

Wanting the EU/euro, but not the bailout?

Well of course 80% of Greeks want to stay in the euro/EU! They’ve had it so easy for so long in that ‘cocoon’ of EU Disneyland, and without having to work for it.

If/when they return to the drachma there are no guarantees of anything except more unknowns by the day. A truly frightening if not terrifying prospect for most Greeks.

Most Greeks I would imagine are not thinking beyond their next meal or paycheck/income event. Greece and Greeks, it would, seem are living a relatively hand-to-mouth existence.

Better the present EU/euro nightmare that is tangible than an ex EU/euro nightmare that is intangible. Who will look after them once they exit? All their former ‘masters’ are otherwise preoccupied — except Turkey.

Every Greek reaction at present seems to involve an interaction between panic, terror and anger — and trying to escape from these. Once Greece leaves the EU this emotional state could have quite unimaginable consequences. It will be the first time since the era of the Frankish kingdoms in the early Middle Ages between Byzantium and the Ottomans that Greece will be without a financial sponsor, protector, overseer from a great power.

So a relatively unique situation historically.

And for once there is no GP even on the horizon who looks remotely capable/willing to take on the burden/responsibility for Greece. No one wants to know.

I think that is what is even more frightening for the Greeks. They are likely to be more or less ‘alone’ for the first time in their recent 2,000-year history. All this ‘Cradle of Civilisation’ guff won’t mean a thing — it’ll be survival and then?

So no wonder a large number the 80% wanting the Euro also want SYRIZA and the anti-bailout groups. This I think this represents the huge enormous contradiction tearing Greek society apart.

Good luck to you.

Philip Andrews

Electricity

The epitome of modern civilization is light and electricity. I can well remember the Greece of darkness. The times when you looked from a mountain top to far horizons at night and the only light was from the stars.

Is Greece going back to darkness, and feeble kerosene lamps? Already many homes are lit by televisions only.

The «international creditors who demand commitments that electricity tariffs be raised» and «guaranteed prices for power produced from renewable sources be reduced» is one piece of good news. The poorest of the poor have been subsidising very expensive so-called renewable power, to make the Athenian left feel progressive. Let?s hope the price rise is minimal.

If the Greek left were truly worried about the environment there was a lot that could be done before attacking the poor. The worldwide so-called environmental movement makes the Greek political scene look honest and logical in comparison. Billions of dollars have been wasted worldwide, with much hardship to many people, to promote junk technology with a few reaping the rewards. If a fraction of the money wasted was spent on logical research, the whole world would be further ahead than we are now.

“Evolution not Revolution» is a good way to achieve things.

The world has achieved some immense breakthroughs, but they have not been allowed to spread. If the environmental movement was truly serious about what it says it is, it would be pushing for open trade and open information for all to use.

Where are the affordable LED lights?

PS: When Greeks want to buy an efficient refrigerator, do not look to Germany but east, to Turkey. How many Greeks own a Turkish refrigerator?

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Greek corruption

George T. writes: «The only solution is the military. They should come in, throw everyone (especially in the government) who cannot account for their wealth in prison, clear out the parliament and start over again.”

Does he think that most of the generals can account for their wealth? Does he believe that only politicians like Tsochadzopoulos took bribes to award military contracts? How naive.

Warwick Gibbons

Hania