Sick man of Europe in a state of shock
It is intriguing that no one wants to come to grips with the fact the cause of Greek and EMU difficulties is systemic.
Greece??s economic affliction is the worst of a problem common to other EMU countries. It is a systemic disease that is threatening the very existence of the EMU. Greece’s difficulties are symptomatic of what is afflicting the EMU. No amount of IMF-inspired toxic treatment of a symptomatic disorder is going stop the spread of the systemic disease.
It is thanks to that systemic contagion that Germany has prospered. Greece and alike have enabled the exchange rate for Germany’s exports to be more competitive than it would have been for a Germany existing outside the EMU.
Under the systemic handicap that prevails, as each afflicted country leaves the EMU, the disease will get that much closer to Germany.
The unfairness of the treatment presently imposed on Greece, and the availability of a painless, nontoxic alternative treatment, is explained at http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/greece-needs-prosperity and http://www.buoyanteconomies.com/ProsperousGreece.htm. The cure does not have to be traumatic!
Just bite the bullet
It was obvious to some (many?) of us that entering the Euro was a huge mistake but the euphoria carried the Greek people unhesitatingly forward. It’s been obvious for a long time now that the ill-judged financial and social experiment has failed for Greece.
The way forward is clear but terrifying: the mess has to be cleared up; graft, corruption and cheating at all levels have to be cracked down on; but most importantly, the Euro, which is the symbol of this whole catastrophe, has to be firmly rejected. Most of the press in Greece seems to be in thrall to the Euro and simultaneously blind to the merits of any possible alternative. They arrogantly explain to the Greek people that when they voted they didn’t know what they were doing and keep on beating their «only way is the Euro» drum, without explaining just where they obtain the information that this is truly a viable and long-term solution to anything but their own political preconceptions.
It will be tough, it will be painful, but the only salvation for Greece, its battered economy and its people is to revert to the drachma. Remaining in the Eurozone merely prolongs the agony but doesn’t avert the inevitable.
Warwick Gibbons, Greek Generals and corruption and…
Dear Mr Gibbons
You are probably correct about Greek Generals. It seems no one in Greece is above corruption.
Corruption is endemic in Russia, E. Europe and across the former Ottoman Empire. It??s the way things get done, and has been for thousands of years.
That’s not to justify it, just to acknowledge its apparent enduring presence.
Greece is beyond mere corruption. She is experiencing something similar to what Russia experienced in the 90s and what Turkey experienced after the fall of the Ottomans. In both cases a strong personality (usually a man; Putin, Ataturk) was needed to provide authoritarian governance. And pull the nation back together. Putin was/is KGB (no such thing as ‘ex-KGB’; once in, never out…) Ataturk was military turned saviour/dictator. They saved their respective countries, made them strong again. They still have corruption but are relatively successful despite it.
The Greek Generals, if legally and legitimately brought in to manage the otherwise unmanageable in Greece, could bring stability and security in place of a developing chaos and despair with a potential for civil unrest/conflict. That’s all they could do, but it would be crucial to the effectiveness of any governance, ‘democratic’ or otherwise.
They are the last barrier before Greek society as presently existing crashes/spirals into the abyss of the unknown, chanting the mantra ‘We must stay in the euro’, even were the euro itself to cease to exist.
Greeks should in the present circumstances be thankful they have an army to take control when all else fails. This is not 1967 or even 1936, though perhaps closer to the latter. It is a unique situation in the 1,000-year (?) history of post-Byzantine Greece.
Bless your Generals when they are (legimately and legally) called upon to intervene. They may become your last hope/bastion. Better than none at all.
Unless the Left (SYRIZA etc.) is dreaming of a return to ‘the Democratic Army of the mountains’ and of finishing the unfinished business of 1944/5… (the Peoples democratic republic of Albania?; N. Korea? Oh I’m sorry; Greece…) Then God help you all.
People saying there were no 6 million Jews, gypsies or other «special kinds of people» systematically killed in those days are not competent to understand history and not competent to understand today’s processes.
They should not be in politics. Because when they are, these people probably will send «special kinds of people» to camps without gas chambers or ovens.
Hans van der Schaaf
The Levant and Greek history
I entirely agree with Nicolas Photiades??s statement (letters, Friday, May 11, 2012) that «Greece was once part of the Levant» and that «it should go back to its roots», in the sense that Greece should more greatly value its geographical and historical relationships with its Eastern neighbours. Perhaps if in the end Greece returns to the drachma, then it may find a way forward that is more suited for a land that is on the doorstep of the Middle East.
With regard to Mr. Photiades «small history lesson», however, history cannot be allowed to pass revised and inaccurate and so several corrections must be made.
Raids on Greece did not begin «with the 1204 fourth crusade». Raids on Greece began centuries earlier with the Goths and the Heruli and suchlike.
It cannot be said that World War One «ultimately led to the 1922 humanitarian catastrophe of Asia Minor» in the sense that Greece??s involvement in World War One was the cause of the Asia Minor Disaster. The Asia Minor Disaster was ultimately caused by the Greek misconception that Greeks had been the dominant population of Anatolia.
The Greek population of Turkey prior to the Greek genocide numbered approximately 2.5 million. Of this number roughly 100,000 Greeks fled Turkey from 1914 onwards and 1.3 million Greeks were recorded as having to evacuate Turkey at the time of the population exchange, in 1923. The Greek Genocide therefore most certainly did not involve the deaths of a «2 million ?½Ottoman Greek?? population». Even the Turks?? atrocious genocide of the Armenians didn??t involve the deaths of such a high figure.
It cannot be construed that the 2 million Greeks claimed to have been eradicated by the Turks were then able to go on and «form today??s Greek diaspora».
The claim that towards the end of the Second World War and as a result of the Nazi occupation there occurred starvation «killing more than half a million people» in Greece is also an exaggeration. The total number of Greeks who died due to the Nazi occupation is estimated to be approximately 300,000. Of this number 21,000 had been members of the Greek military; 71,000 had been Greek-resident Jews exterminated by the Nazis as part of the Holocaust; and 209,000 had been civilians, 140,000 of whom died of starvation.
Lastly, the impression has been given that in the 1950s Greece «had to forego its claim for war reparations» for all time. However, in fact, in 1960 Germany paid Greece about 115 million Deutschemarks as compensation for victims of the Nazi occupation. And since 1960 Germany has given Greece around 33 billion Deutschemarks in the form of financial assistance to a fellow member of the EU.
Additionally, Germany has contributed significantly to the approximately 60 billion euros that the EU has granted Greece for the development of infrastructure and archaeological sites, and the improvement of skills and productivity, not to mention additional funds for farming. Added to this, of course, must be the many billions that Germany has been instrumental in loaning to help Greece keep itself afloat since 2010 while dealing with its debts.
South Shropshire, UK.
Politicians ?½living in a dream world??
The politicians, intellectuals, civil society and the people need to come to the realization that business as usual is no more. No matter what government comes to power, everyone must accept there is no turning the clock back. It is not the 80’s anymore where politicians make false promises, virtually creating superfluous jobs, just to buy an election. Leaving the euro will not solve nor alleviate the country’s fiscal mess because the political elite, civil society and intellectuals of Greek society will do what they have always done — deflate the Drachma; keep «buying» elections by creating new civil service positions; and unfortunately, living in a menagerie of nostalgia.
There also must be a cultural acceptance that the government can longer sustain the economic situation. The politicians, intellectuals and the people need to understand their country??s serious economic problems and stop passing the blame on to others. They also need to realize if they continue on the current path, they will default and the situation may even get worse because they will be out of the Eurozone, transitioning to the Drachma and dealing with its creditors, who will truly run the country, just like when a company goes bankrupt.
Austerity is the only answer to the problem. There must be economic reformation. I suggest «shock therapy», rapid transition to privatization and de-nationalization, adopting market-based solutions to deal with the social safety nets; selling off public corporations and «incentivizing» the private sector to invest in those areas that were publicly controlled; and establishing a tax system based on economic growth not penalty. Austerity is slow; prolonging the hardship, which is unfortunately making structural changes to an economic system that will only perpetuate the same problems in the future.
Thank you and I know this may sound harsh, but I want to see my heritage live on and become the model of success for Europe and the world!
How dare he support the Nazis and try to rewrite history by saying that the concetration camps did not exist. I am so ashamed that the guy comes from Mani, a place of proud people with a long and bloody history from his kind of monsters. There are still people in Greece that remember what Hitler made them go through. One of them is my father, who lost both parents, his 4-year-old sister and other relatives during the German occupation of Athens. It??s Mihaloliakos??s kind that cooperated with the Germans, leading to the misery and death of hundreds of thousands of Greeks.
Grexit and its effect on the rest of Europe
Imagine Grexit. What would happen next?
Mario Draghi worked for Goldman Sachs; he is definitely no fool. Immediately, he would turn on the printing press in a way that, in comparison, «Helicopter-Ben» Bernanke would look like a Bundesbank anti-inflation fanatic.
A new gigantic LTRO would be fired into the market. Next, his bond-buying program would be blown up to a huge scale, maybe he would even announce barring yields going up over certain thresholds.
Of course, this would blow up the amount of Euros circulating around the world, and it would turn the ECB, notwithstanding their statutes, into an American-style central bank, out of sheer necessity. So voila, at last, our lender of last resort.
International lenders fear haircuts or defaults much more than inflation, so they would probably welcome such an outcome. Southern European debt problems would be reduced considerably.
In a kind of perverted twist, this could make the Euro even more of a competitor to the dollar internationally.
So, Europe could even gain from a Greek exit.
How easy is it going to be for SYRIZA to register as a political party before the next election to secure the 50-vote bonus?
The far-left party
I read your newspaper every day as a resident of Crete. I am British, not English, and I have been following the developments in politics with interest. The overall situation is a complete mess but the solution cannot be SYRIZA. The leader of this outfit acts like a student activist, complaining about everything but offering nothing as an alternative. I remember Arthur Scargill in the 1980’s in the UK who, as miners’ union leader, tried to take on Thatcher with his left-wing politics. He failed because someone stood up to him. I think this is what Greece needs now — an inspirational leader who puts the country before their own egotistical ambitions. Have these so-called politicians never heard of the phrase «the cemetery is full of indispensible people”?
Dr Neil Mort
Greeks and our politicians… one and the same
No one likes a mirror to be held to their face, particularly when it’s cast in the harsh light of reality. This is equally true when Greeks are asked to take responsibility for their politicians.
It’s embarrassing to watch so many of my «countrymen and women» hide behind excuses of powerlesness when taken to task over their own «petty» corrupt behavior. Yet, they seem so eager to point a finger at the corruption of their politicians (whom they elected).
Are these politicians some form of alien species that makes them so completely different from us? I think not. Cutting corners and gaming the system is a national pastime in Greece. From paying bribes to local officials and the clergy to turning a blind eye to the undisclosed «basement» that the developer fitted with bathrooms, heating, floor tiles etc… yet conveniently failed to report the square meters in order to avoid taxes.
It’s a safe bet that if almost any «ordinary» Greek citizen suddenly found himself in a political position of power, he too would engage in corrupt activity.
The mantra? «Everyone is doing it. Why should I be the koroido?”
While I think it is vital that Greece is forcing the debate over Germany’s misguided approach to the economy, no shift on the part of Merkel will resolve the rot that has fixed itself in the Greek mind. I doubt the masses will ever hold that mirror up to themselves. Societies never change voluntarily.
Perhaps the current struggles will breed a more evolved generation.
What a tragedy.