The European Union, not the Greeks, is as usual on holiday

In his new book ‘Purity’ Jonathan Franzen writes “I think it helps to start with people who are in an unstable, untenable position, an anxious making or a stressful position, because then you know that something has to change”. Exactly this is what the Greeks did after five years of hardship, crisis and humiliation. They elected a new government. Purity was what they needed mostly and subsequently a bit of breath from the harsh austerity measures.

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Καλημέρα Μιράντα /Good morning Miranda. Central Athens,Greece.

Obviously, the European leaders (see German) needed a change but they were based on what Prince Tancredi, a character in the Leopard, a famous novel set in 19th century Sicily, reckoned “if we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. In Creece a lot of things have changed since the start of the Greek crisis. The new Greek government had a new proposal in order to tackle the crisis inside the Eurozone but nothing was enough for the Eurogroup and European leaders who were guided by the supreme (German) leaders. The new Greek government(the change) had to follow the same 5 years program and to confront the same problems. Athens still cannot repay its debt and it is in a deeper recession and neither the eurozone and the European Union as a whole find any resolution as bailout follows bailout.  Merkel and Schauble are repeating the magic word “rules”  to their electorates in whatever concerns the Greek crisis, which of course these rules and laws can be bend and be quite flexible behind the doors of the meeting rooms in Brussels where there is no recording of any discussion. As consequence, the euro’s future itself remains uncertain.

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Marathon Bay. Marathon, Athens, Greece

It’s interesting to quote Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava in their article about Greece and Europe “The Greeks have been often derided as “lazy” or “corrupt” when the key responsibilities lay elsewhere. The current EU has benefited from extremely low interest rates (still 0.05%), but will hardly survive without a political union. In addition, the rest of the world is moving fast. The United States has promoted a much coveted deal with Iran, also with the support of Moscow, as President Obama has recognised. Russia has hosted the summits of the BRIC states and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which is opening to Pakistan and India. The European Union, not the Greeks, is as usual on holiday.”

In my recent visit to Greece, one week ago, the misery was depicted at every turn in the Athenian roads. The banks were under capital control with maximum withdrawal amount of 60 euros and big queues of old people in front of the ATMs. Most of the shops in the high streets of central Athens were closed down with the only survivors the Chinese “one euro” shops. And my compatriots, I think, are beyond any horror, terror, humiliation. They are tired and subdued. They had enough, they voted “no” to the austerity measures because they are in the same stage as the character in the scene of the film Network – Mad as a Hell- who says: I don’t care about the depression and the inflation and the Russians… The air is unfit to breathe, the food unfit to eat… I’m human being, my life has a value!

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Greece is in disintegration. But it’s always the sea, the sea and the sun will soothe my compatriots for a while…

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Greek Crisis in the European Parliament at last! Repatriation of Democracy

At the moment the European Parliament debates the Greek crisis

where it has to be from the beginning and not behind closed doors.

The debate is taking place among the European leaders elected

democratically by their own people and not by Banks CEOs.

Some of the speeches of the parliamentarians so far.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council,

“Our inability to find agreements may lead to the bankruptcy of Greece and the insolvency of its banking system.

“I have no doubt that this will affect Europe, also in a geopolitical sense.”

“As Plutarch once said: “to find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult”… let us prove him wrong.”

Alexis Tsipras, Greek Prime Minister

“This is not exclusively a Greek problem, this is a European problem and European problems require European solutions”

“I’m not one of those politicians who claim that foreigners are to blame for all of Greece‘s woes.”

“Our proposals for financing our obligations & restructuring our debt will not burden European taxpayers.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament

He outlines his plans for reforms.

  1. End the clientelist system in Greek politics i.e. party cronyism and rewarding loyalists with jobs.
  2. Downsize the public sector.
  3. End privileges – privileges of the military, the orthodox Church, the Greek islands and the political parties.

Almost right! Shame he didn’t take part in the Troika’s reforms which the word “reforms” was translated as a pipeline which sucked money from Greece (the Greek loans) back into the Banks!

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Greeks Deserve Respect

Love my compatriots. They are really tough lot! Despite all the terror from all the sides -the Creditors and all the Greek mass media- bullying them constantly with banks shut for a week and perhaps more and with no really light at the end of the tunnel, I can say, more hardship is yet to come, they decided to stand up against any terror.

The first results of the Referendum ( the question was : do you accept the austerity measures of the Eurozone ):

61 % No

38 % Yes

There will be more drama and more hardship to come but for tonight : JUST RESPECT!
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Greece and the Propaganda of Fear

Greek crisis is  at its worst at this moment that I’m writing this post. Last Friday Tsipras rejected the disastrous offer of the eurogroup and  later that day announced a referendum of NAI/yes, OXI/no in order the Greek 2000people to decide by themselves if they want or not the austerity measures of the eurozone. The latter question is exactly what must be answered by the Greek people on the Referendum on July 5th. Manolis Drettakis, politician and  professor of economics, explains the issue of the referendum and the interference of the creditors-manipulation of the questions and spread the fear – in the internal affairs of Greeks  at his article  at

http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/pragmatiko-noima-kai-oi-synepeies-toy-nai-i-toy-ohi.

Prof. Drettakis’ article makes obvious the staggering misinformation and manipulation of every Government act throughout this six months of its governance. This astonishing phenomenon of  propaganda doesn’t happen only lately and only from the creditors side but from almost all the MME in Greece which belong to the Greek oligarchs and they are in threat from this new leftist government. This propaganda against the government started days if not months before the election of  Alexis Tsipras’ government. The first day of Tsipras’ election, I remember, there were websites belonging to mass media Oligarchs portraying Tsipras as a traitor of Greece? He was never part of any corrupted government in the past – the main cause of today’s disaster. The same vicious war is against  the finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. I assumed their only fault was that they were fresh people in the government, not corrupted and they were trying to dismantle the old ruling class and the corruption which has  penetrated  every level of the Greek ruling class/elite.

The Referendum is looming on July 5th and Greece is in default as was announced by the IMF which didn’t extent the days by providing liquidity to the Greek Banks in order the Greek people exercise their democratic rights without fear. Now they were pushed against the wall, they are frightened of not having any money-only 60 euros per card/day is permitted. Tsipras encourages them to vote ΟΧΙ/NO and argues that with NO he will be able  renegotiate the austerity measures and to ask the haircut of the debt which isn’t viable something that IMF accepted with a letter ( see :  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/02/imf-greece-needs-extra-50bn-euros ) yesterday.

The atmosphere in Greece is far from normal. There is Dihasmos/Division among Greek people and a lot of animosity among them. The NOs and YEs are half and half as the polls are predicting so far.

My thoughts are every minute with them and hoping for the best resolution. I know that the Greeks are resilient and great fighters and they will survive as they always do throughout the centuries.

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P.S. : There is a lot of support for the Greek people at the moment –

– A British man, Thom Feeney launches crowdunding campaign to pay Greece debts at  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/briton-crowdfunding-campaign-greece-debt-thom-feeney.

– A lot famous academics such as Prof Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty as I had mentioned in my previous post at : https://pinelopi.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/a-plea-for-sanity-greece.

A lot of American-Greeks such as  Nia Vardalos,  Arianna Huffington and more to come support the Greek people.

Nia Vardalos was sharing a letter by the Greek government at

http://wire.novaramedia.com/2015/06/in-defence-of-greece-6-myths-busted/

Arianna Huffington posts on her timeline the following photo which  is worth a 1000 words

German Debt Agreement of 1953, when creditors, including Greece, forgave much of German debt.

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A Plea For Sanity : Greece

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Honoré Daumier’ caricature of the king as Gargantua.

Yesterday, 26 economists with established world credentials signed the following letter and sent it to Financial Times. It is mainly about this very frail concept of our times called Democracy in Europe.

“We believe it is important to distinguish austerity from reforms; to condemn austerity does not entail being anti-reform.” Six months on, we are dismayed that austerity is undermining Syriza’s key reforms, on which EU leaders should surely have been collaborating with the Greek government: most notably to overcome tax evasion and corruption. Austerity drastically reduces revenue from tax reform, and restricts the space for change to make public administration accountable and socially efficient. And the constant concessions required by the government mean that Syriza is in danger of losing political support and thus its ability to carry out a reform programme that will bring Greece out of the crisis. It is wrong to ask Greece to commit itself to an old programme that has demonstrably failed, been rejected by Greek voters, and which large numbers of economists (including ourselves) believe was misguided from the start.
Clearly a revised, longer-term agreement with the creditor institutions is necessary: otherwise default is inevitable, imposing great risks on the economies of Europe and the world, and even for the European project that the eurozone was supposed to strengthen.
Syriza is the only hope for legitimacy in Greece. Failure to reach a compromise would undermine democracy in and result in much more radical and dysfunctional challenges, fundamentally hostile to the EU.
Consider, on the other hand, a rapid move to a positive programme for recovery in Greece (and in the EU as a whole), using the massive financial strength of the Eurozone to promote investment, rescuing young Europeans from mass unemployment with measures that would increase employment today and growth in the future. This could both transform the economic performance of the EU and make it once more a source of pride for European citizens.
How Greece is treated will send a message to all its eurozone partners. Like the Marshall plan, let it be one of hope not despair.
1.Prof Joseph Stiglitz
Columbia University; Nobel Prize winner of Economics
2.Prof Thomas Piketty
Paris School of Economics
3.Massimo D’Alema
Former prime minister of Italy; president of FEPS (Foundation of European Progressive Studies)
4.Prof Stephany Griffith-Jones
IPD Columbia University
5.Prof Mary Kaldor
London School of Economics
6.Hilary Wainwright
Transnational Institute, Amsterdam
7.Prof Marcus Miller
Warwick University
8.Prof John Grahl
Middlesex University, London
9.Michael Burke
Economists Against Austerity
10.Prof Panicos Demetriadis
University of Leicester
11.Prof Trevor Evans
Berlin School of Economics and Law
12.Prof Jamie Galbraith
Dept of Government, University of Texas
13.Prof Gustav A Horn
Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK)
14.Prof Andras Inotai
Emeritus and former Director, Institute for World Economics, Budapest
15.Sir Richard Jolly
Honorary Professor, IDS, Sussex University
16.Prof Inge Kaul
Adjunct professor, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
17.Neil MacKinnon
VTB Capital
18.Prof Jacques Mazier
University of Paris
19.Dr Robin Murray
London School of Economics
20.Prof Jose Antonio Ocampo
Columbia University
21.Prof Dominique Plihon
University of Paris
22.Avinash Persaud
Peterson Institute for International Economics
23.Prof Mario Pianta
University of Urbino
24.Helmut Reisen
Shifting Wealth Consultancy
25.Dr Ernst Stetter
Secretary General, FEPS (Foundation fro European Progressive Studies)
26.Prof Simon Wren-Lewis
Merton College Oxford”

The Old Greek Chumocracy comes to an end

“Our democracies are increasingly captured by a ruling class that seeks to perpetuate its privileges.” Steve Hilton, the former advisor of David Cameron writes in his new book and as an insider and ex-chum of the British elite  knows very well what he writes about.

The chumocracy  doesn’t happen only in the ‘best families’ (see Britain),  it was the main ingredient of the Greek Society and the main reason of the existing unprecedented Media war against the new government (Syriza). What actually they want to say  is  ”Heeeeelp us , we are losing our privileges!”.  The two political parties – Pasok and New Democracy were exchanging power for years and years. The MPs had their own friendly Media executives, journalists authors… All of them were attending the same parties, dinners and other social events in the small circle of Athens and through this socializing one chum was helping the other chum to go up the ladder  of success in their particular field.

The Greek journalist and Authors -in general the Greek  intelligentsia whose theoretical job was to challenge those with political power  they remained silent all those years as formidable members “my big fat Greek fan party”.

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The Greek powerful elite followed exactly the three strategies that  Steve Hilton writes about in order to remain in power.

1. First they convince us that what is good for them is good for us all.

2. Anything that challenges their position will be fatal for the prospects of the country.

3. They persuade us that the real enemies are those at the bottom of the pile.

Concerning the latter, one of the  Greek authoress and part of the chumocracy – also assistant professor in the University of Athens (a post very difficult to get in if you don’t have a good connection)- had attacked on the social media one  of the youngest of the bottom pile who refused to pay the bus ticket  and she referred him as “sponger”. She tried to twist and repel her own bullying but it was too late. The bottom of the pile was too angry.

The more the shoutings and swearing on the Greek Social Media from the old group of chumocracy against the government  the more is the reassurance of the dismantling the old establishment  of journalists, foreign correspondents, media communicators, authors…

At the end of the day, this is a step forward for the Greek society.

 

 

 

 

 

Things are happening for a reason

“Things are happening for a reason”  my auntie Eftalia was saying to soothe us when we were under pain or discomfort due to life’s unlucky circumstances. Until she died and she took her secret with her. We never found out what was this bloody reason for our occasional incidences of suffering throughout the years.

This age of austerity brings to my mind the famous auntie’s phrase, there must be a reason for all this suffering and I think, I have unlocked the secret code for the reason of the austerity.

 

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If there weren’t austerity how some anonymous would be able to buy Picasso’s “messy” painting to show off in their private drawing rooms and take immense satisfaction not so much from the view of the picture but from their glimpse in the surprised and envious faces of their visitors, in other words to satisfy his/her “Vanity Unlimited”?

If there weren’t austerity how  London would be able to be a no-no city for the middle class families-let alone the lower middle class- with an average salary?

If there weren’t austerity how could be able the global élite to exist – born rich, bankers, hi-tech internet wizard kids et al. – meet up all together at the exclusive resorts of Switzerland   and discuss about the hazards of the increasing gap between rich and poor either people or countries?

If there weren’t austerity how could be able the bankers to go from strength to strength and support the super power Merkel’s party? It’s what the Greeks say “κράτα με να σε κρατώ ν’ ανεβούμε στο βουνό – holding me tight to climb up to the mountain”.

If there weren’t austerity how then a leftist party would be able to come into power  in the most strangled by the austerity country, Greece? If there weren’t austerity maybe the Left wouldn’t never have the opportunity to reconsider its role and value  in the society and how to serve the needs of the real people. The Left has been haunted by its past, they weren’t able to see through and serve the needs of the ordinary people. It’s in the human soul the need to excel and make something better and yes, we (human beings) are not all the same and for that reason we have to give  a sort of platform to stand to those who are less fortunate in terms of intelligence, resources and cunningness.   It’s a big breakthrough what it’s happening at the moment for the role of the Left and Socialist in the society despite the huge attempt to strangle every effort of the Syriza’s leaders. The party leaders are a kind of traitors for the insiders – the well off, the cowards, the suspicious and scared Greeks – and the outsiders (the well off leaders of Europe).

The Greek Finance Minister with all his faults and weakness  with his comment “I cannot sign something that it will be disastrous for the Greeks” in the latest negotiation with the Eurogroup adds  a moral value in the human relationships and signals the importance of the innate human moral compass.

I cannot agree more with what Antonio Munoz Molina said “I have spent a great deal of my life being part of minorities. Some of the people I admire the most in the world have had the courage to defend, against wind and tide, minority viewpoints in those frightening times when any disagreement with universal conformity is identified as treason.”