Thursday, 30 June 2011

Praetorian Guard Police!

Syntagma Square June 29th 2011

The Papandreou - EU - IMF Dictatorship in full action. The praetorian guard police shows NO MERCY!

People of the world stand by Greeks (Hellenes) in this land is the first fight!

Masks dropped!

Syntagma Square June 29th 2011

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Great words!

Legal background of the Greek reparation claims

Does Germany pay selectively its WW reparations debts?
In the Paris Reparations Agreement of 1946 the German war crimes against Greece were billed at 7.1 billion US dollars. A few years later, under the threat of the oncoming Cold War, Germany was already needed by the Allies in the struggle against communism. For this reason, it was agreed in the London Agreement of 1953 that the recognised reparation demands against Germany should be postponed – until a final settlement in a later peace treaty.
Greece, which was not among the victorious powers, had no say in this. However, the Federal Republic of Germany made so-called global agreements with the West European countries in the 1960s, with which lump-sum compensation payments were made. A corresponding treaty was concluded with Greece for the sum of 115 million DM – a mere fraction of the actual debts.
However, the victims of the armed forces crimes, forced labour or resistance fighters, for example, were explicitly omitted from these payments, and individual claims in the treaty expressly excepted. The Greek government has always maintained that no final settlement was reached with this global agreement – and even officials in the Federal Finance Ministry have conceded in writing that the Greek reparation claims were not fulfilled by this global agreement.
After the German reunification, the time had come to negotiate a final “Peace Treaty”, as mentioned in the 1953 London Agreement. But this was deliberately avoided and a so-called “2+4 Agreement” was concluded, which admittedly settled the renunciation of reparation claims, but only with the four “Great Powers” among the former Allies.
Greece and several other countries were given no share in the resolution of the agreement. They were unable therefore to make claims – or even to renounce them. Almost all legal experts now agree that with this “2+4 Agreement” the London Agreement became invalid.
In consequence, there is now the possibility for states and, if need be, individuals to validate the old claims – those claims that had been deferred since 1953 because of the London Agreement. This also applies to Greece and to Greek citizens.

Eminent German scholar says Germany must pay war reparations to Greece

27 / 02 / 2010
“The time has come for the German government to “declare its willingness to discuss, with the Greek government, the victims and their relatives, what can be done to make amends for the deeds of this dark chapter in Germany’s history”.
“The German government must pay” wartime reparations to Greece for the 1941-44 Nazi occupation and the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s in the country during World War II, according to an eminent German professor of international law.Professor Norman Paech, who teaches International Law at Hamburg University, said in an interview in the German weekly periodical “Stern” that the German government was liable for compensation to the victims of the Nazi atrocities in Greece.“The German government must pay” wartime reparations to Greece for the 1941-44 Nazi occupation and the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s in the country during World War II, according to an eminent German professor of international law.
In the interview, appearing in the issue of Stern that hits the newsstands Thursday, Prof. Paech said that Germany must “reconcile itself with the idea” that a recent Greek supreme court ruling recognizing the competence of Greek courts to rule on demands for compensation over the Nazi atrocities “will have substantial consequences” as some 10,000 such lawsuits were outstanding, and the total compensation involved was tens of billions of deutschemarks.
The Areios Paghos (Greek Supreme Court) ruled on April 13 that Germany must pay compensation to Greek victims of Nazi oppression, upholding a 1997 decision by a court in the city of Livadia to award 9.45 billion drachmas (about 35 million dollars) compensation to relatives of persons killed in the Distomo massacre by German troops in World War II.
The ruling, which recognizes the competence of Greek courts to order Germany to pay compensation to victims of Nazi oppression, will allow individuals to file claims against Germany.
But Germany has refused to entertain the possibility of more compensation payments, saying that no private citizen can sue a state and that Germany has already paid blanket compensation under postwar reparations to Greece.
In 1960, Germany paid a total of 115 million German marks to Greek victims of Nazi racial discrimination. The relevant treaty signed between Germany and Greece did not, however, exclude other Greek citizens with claims from coming forward and seek compensation.
In a historical first visit by a German president, Johannes Rau visited the northern Peloponnese town of Kalavryta last month to commemorate the mass execution of 1,300 boys and men there by Nazi troops in 1943 in retaliation for the Greek Communist resistance groups’ execution of 81 German prisoners.
Paech, a respected lawyer who served as an advisor to the survivors and relatives of the Distomo massacre and is also well-known for his studies on the Kurdish issue — championing the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination and even secession from Turkey — stressed the moral dimension of the German war reparations to Greece.
He criticized the “arrogant stance” of all the German governments to date, regardless of political party composition, that have repeatedly refused to discuss the reparations issue with Greece.
“It is not only the money that the victims are concerned about, but also the German side’s acknowledgement of its responsibility for the crimes committed. The SS executioners, who executed 218 villagers (of Distomo) in retaliation against an attack by Greek guerrillas, still celebrate each year in Marktheinfeld (a town in Bavaria) their adventures in Greece and have still not given account for their deeds…” Paech said.
The time has come, he said, for the German government to “declare its willingness to discuss, with the Greek government, the victims and their relatives, what can be done to make amends for the deeds of this dark chapter in Germany’s history”.
The Helmut Kohl-Klaus Kinkel government in 1995 rejected a Greek diplomatic “note verbale” calling for the commencement of dialogue on the matter of the reparations, beginning with the repayment of a forced war “loan” exacted by the Nazi occupation forces during WWII. The same policy line was followed by the Gerhard Schroeder-Joskua Fischer government, which rejected a similar request, by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
On April 14, the day after the Supreme Court ruling, German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told the German parliament that the issue of the war reparations–which, under the German government’s rationale, includes the indemnities to the victims of the Nazi atrocities in Greece–was definitively closed.
But the German President, Johannes Rau, presented a different stance during his visit to Greece in early April, when he expressed “deep grief and shame” as he laid a wreath at the monument for the victims of the Kalavryta massacre. And in Thessaloniki, during a visit to the German School, Rau had said that, “as an ordinary citizen”, he believed that Germany should make a “symbolic gesture”, although he did not know whether the German government would make such a move.
Source: Athens News Agency, 27 April, 2000

Monday, 27 June 2011

Not For Sale! Protest in Ancient Olympia

Germany owes Greece a debt

Germany's ducking of the war reparations issue makes its attitude to the current Greek debt crisis somewhat hypocritical

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel. Photograph: Alik Keplicz/AP
The Germans are not amused these days. Look everywhere from tabloids to the blogosphere, and it seems that the public mood has reached boiling point. Loth to shoulder another national debt increase and finance another bailout, the Germans have started questioning everything from the wisdom of supporting Greece to the common euro currency, or indeed the merits of the European integration project altogether. This might be strange for a country that is nudging ever closer to full employment, and which is about to recapture its position as the world's leading exporter of manufactured goods from the Chinese. But the Germans say they've had enough: no more underwriting of European integration, no more paying for this and that, and certainly no more bailing out the Greeks.
What is truly strange, however, is the brevity of Germany's collective memory. For during much of the 20th century, the situation was radically different: after the first world war and again after the second world war, Germany was the world's largest debtor, and in both cases owed its economic recovery to large-scale debt relief.
Germany's interwar debt crisis started almost exactly 80 years ago, in the last days of June 1931. What had triggered it was Germany's aggressive borrowing in the late 1920s to pay reparations out of credit. A credit bubble resulted, and when it burst in 1931, it brought down reparations, the gold standard and, not least, Weimar democracy.
Having footed the resulting massive bill, after the second world war the Americans imposed the London debt agreement of 1953 on their allies, an exercise in debt forgiveness to Germany on the most generous terms. West Germany's economic miracle, the stability of the deutschmark and the favourable state of its public finances were all owed to this massive haircut. But it put Germany's creditors at a disadvantage, leaving it to them to cope with the financial aftermath of the German occupation.
Indeed, the London debt agreement deferred settlement of the reparations question – including the repayment of war debts and contributions imposed by Germany during the war – to a conference to be held after unification. This conference never took place: since 1990, the Germans have steadfastly refused to reopen this can of worms. Such compensation as has been paid, mostly to forced workers, was channelled through NGOs to avoid creating precedents. Only one country has challenged this openly and tried to obtain compensation in court: Greece.
It may or may not have been wise to put the issue of reparations and other unsettled claims on Germany to rest after 1990. Back then, the Germans argued that any plausible bill would exceed the country's resources, and that continued financial co-operation in Europe instead would be infinitely more preferable. They may have had a point. But now is the time for Germany to deliver on the promise, act wisely and keep the bull away from the china shop.

Germany Was Biggest Debt Transgressor of 20th Century

Economic Historian

Former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (left) during a meeting with the High Commission of the Allies in 1951: Eschewing of reparations demands "a life-saving gesture"
Former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (left) during a meeting with the High Commission of the Allies in 1951: Eschewing of reparations demands "a life-saving gesture"
Think Greece's current economic malaise is the worst ever experienced in Europe? Think again. Germany, economic historian Albrecht Ritschl argues in a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, has been the worst debtor nation of the past century. He warns the country should take a more chaste approach in the euro crisis or it could face renewed demands for World War II reparations.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Ritschl, Germany is coming across like a know-it-all in the debate over aid for Greece. Berlin is intransigent and is demanding obedience from Athens. Is this attitude justified?
Ritschl: No, there is no basis for it.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Most Germans would likely disagree.
Ritschl: That may be, but during the 20th century, Germany was responsible for what were the biggest national bankruptcies in recent history. It is only thanks to the United States, which sacrificed vast amounts of money after both World War I and World War II, that Germany is financially stable today and holds the status of Europe's headmaster. That fact, unfortunately, often seems to be forgotten.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What happened back then exactly?
Ritschl: From 1924 to 1929, the Weimar Republic lived on credit and even borrowed the money it needed for its World War I reparations payments from America. This credit pyramid collapsed during the economic crisis of 1931. The money was gone, the damage to the United States enormous, the effect on the global economy devastating.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The situation after World War II was similar.
Ritschl: But right afterwards, America immediately took steps to ensure there wouldn't be a repeat of high reparations demands made on Germany. With only a few exceptions, all such demands were put on the backburner until Germany's future reunification. For Germany, that was a life-saving gesture, and it was the actual financial basis of the Wirtschaftswunder, or economic miracle (that began in the 1950s). But it also meant that the victims of the German occupation in Europe also had to forgo reparations, including the Greeks.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the current crisis, Greece was initially pledged €110 billion from the euro-zone and the International Monetary Fund. Now a further rescue package of similar dimensions has become necessary. How big were Germany's previous defaults?
Ritschl: Measured in each case against the economic performance of the USA, the German debt default in the 1930s alone was as significant as the costs of the 2008 financial crisis. Compared to that default, today's Greek payment problems are actually insignificant.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: If there was a list of the worst global bankruptcies in history, where would Germany rank?
Ritschl: Germany is king when it comes to debt. Calculated based on the amount of losses compared to economic performance, Germany was the biggest debt transgressor of the 20th century.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Greece can't compare?
Ritschl: No, the country has played a minor role. It is only the contagion danger for other euro-zone countries that is the problem.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Germany of today is considered the embodiment of stability. How many times has Germany become insolvent in the past?
Ritschl: That depends on how you do the math. During the past century alone, though, at least three times. After the first default during the 1930s, the US gave Germany a "haircut" in 1953, reducing its debt problem to practically nothing. Germany has been in a very good position ever since, even as other Europeans were forced to endure the burdens of World War II and the consequences of the German occupation. Germany even had a period of non-payment in 1990.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Really? A default?
Ritschl: Yes, then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl refused at the time to implement changes to the London Agreement on German External Debts of 1953. Under the terms of the agreement, in the event of a reunification, the issue of German reparations payments from World War II would be newly regulated. The only demand made was that a small remaining sum be paid, but we're talking about minimal sums here. With the exception of compensation paid out to forced laborers, Germany did not pay any reparations after 1990 -- and neither did it pay off the loans and occupation costs it pressed out of the countries it had occupied during World War II. Not to the Greeks, either.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Unlike in 1953, the current debate in Germany over the rescue of Greece is concerned not so much with a "haircut", but rather an extension of the maturities of government bonds, i.e. a "soft debt restructuring." Can one therefore even speak of an impending bankruptcy?
Ritschl: Absolutely. Even if a country is not 100 percent out of money, it could still be broke. Just like in the case of Germany in the 1950s, it is illusory to think that Greeks would ever pay off their debts alone. Those who are unable to do that are considered to be flat broke. It is now necessary to determine how high the failure rate of government bonds is, and how much money the country's creditors must sacrifice. It's above all a matter of finding the paymaster.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The biggest paymaster would surely be Germany.
Ritschl: That's what it looks like, but we were also extremely reckless -- and our export industry has thrived on orders. The anti-Greek sentiment that iswidespread in many German media outlets is highly dangerous. And we are sitting in a glass house: Germany's resurgence has only been possible through waiving extensive debt payments and stopping reparations to its World War II victims.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You're saying that Germany should back down?
Ritschl: In the 20th century, Germany started two world wars, the second of which was conducted as a war of annihilation and extermination, and subsequently its enemies waived its reparations payments completely or to a considerable extent. No one in Greece has forgotten that Germany owes its economic prosperity to the grace of other nations.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you mean by that?
Ritschl: The Greeks are very well aware of the antagonistic articles in the German media. If the mood in the country turns, old claims for reparations could be raised, from other European nations as well. And if Germany ever had to honor them, we would all be taken the cleaners. Compared with that, we can be grateful that Greece is being indulgently reorganized at our expense. If we follow public opinion here with its cheap propaganda and not wanting to pay, then eventually the old bills will be presented again.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Looking at history, what would be the best solution for Greece -- and for Germany?
Ritschl: The German bankruptcies in the last century show that the sensible thing to do now would be to have a real reduction of the debt. Anyone who has lent money to Greece would then have to give up a considerable part of what they were owed. Some banks would not be able to cope with that, so there would have to be new aid programs. For Germany, this could be expensive, but we will have to pay either way. At least Greece would then have the chance to start over.

Interview conducted by Yasmin El-Sharif
Saturday, 25 June 2011

Beyond myths!


Special thanks for the data below go out to Alex Andreou and Ingeborg Beugel.
MYTH #1: The Greeks are profligate
The unquestioned assumption in the international media is that the Greek debt crisis was caused by excessive state expenditure, an overburdened welfare state and an inflated public sector.
TRUTH #1: The Greek welfare state is actually anemic
Here are the facts:
  • Public spending: according to the Center for American Progress, public spending in Greece is only 44.6% of GDP. This is lower than the EU average, lower than Germany’s 46.6% and considerably lower than Sweden’s 55%.
  • Tax collection: the real problem is not social expenditure on the poor but the lack of tax collection from the rich. From 2001 to 2007, Greece collected only an average of 39.4% of GDP in taxes, compared to the EU 44.4% average.
MYTH #2: The Greeks are lazy
Another unquestioned assumption is that the Greeks don’t work enough — they retire at 50, take crazy amounts of paid holidays and lie around in the sun drinking ouzo most of the day. Angela Merkel, for example, recently called on the people of southern Europe to “work more, play less“, i.e. work more hours, retire earlier and take less holidays.
TRUTH #2: The Greeks actually work most of all Europeans
Here are the facts:
  • Hours worked per week: According to Eurostat data of 2005, the Greeks worked 43.1 hours per week (compared to 35.7 hours in so-called ‘thrifty’ Germany, with its much-touted ‘Protestant work ethic’).
  • Hours worked per year: More recent OECD data shows the Greeks to work an average of 2,119 hours per year — 690 hours more than the average German, 467 more than the average Brit and 356 more than the OECD average. In fact, out of all OECD countries, only the Koreans work more.
  • Amount of paid holidays: The paid leave entitlement in Greece is 23 days per year. This is actually below the EU average, and significantly lower than the minimum of 28 days in the UK and 30 (!) days in Germany.
  • Retirement age: Again, Eurostat data from 2005, shows the average age of exit from the labour force in Greece to be 61.7. This was higher than in Germany, France or Italy and higher than the EU27 average. It is being raised even further now as a part of the EU-IMF bailout conditions.
MYTH #3: The Greeks are spoilt
In a truly terrible piece of journalism earlier this week, Sean O’Grady (economics editor of The Independent) wrote that “for many in northern Europe, the rioting in Athens must remind them of a tantrum by a spoilt child.” He refers specifically to popular opposition to the cutting of the so-called “13th and 14th salary” as a key indicator of this ‘spoiltness’.
TRUTH #3: The Greeks suffer more than anyone else
Here are the facts:
  • According to Eurostat, even before crisis, in 2008, one in five Greeks (among them almost half a million children) lived under the formal poverty line of 500 euros per month.
  • An independent survey by Kapa Research and the London School of Economics found even worse data: a third of the Greek population now live in formal poverty (and mind you: this was in 2007 – it’s actually gotten a lot worse since as a result of these draconian austerity measures).
  • Every child in Greece is born with a 40,000 euro debt on their name.
  • Greece’s youth are now referred to in the country as Generation 700: because that’s the maximum monthly wage that young Greeks will typically make – that is, if they are lucky enough to find a job: according to theFinancial Times, over 35 percent of young Greeks is out of work right now.
  • The so-called 13th and 14th salaries (Christmas, Easter and summer bonuses) are not additional salaries. As a Greek reader on this blog, Amalia, pointed out: “Greeks do not get two extra salaries a year; their annual salary is simply divided by 14 and they get two installments at Christmas, one and half at Easter and one and a half sometime in the summer.”
  • The Dutch get a 13th month worth of salary and Austria has a 14th month. Since these countries are not experiencing a similar budget crisis, this simply can’t be the cause of Greece’s debt.
  • The bottomline is: it doesn’t matter in how many installments you receive your salary (whether it’s in 12, 13, 14 or 2,000 parts); what matters is your annual salary. As long as you make less than 6,000 euros a year (as is the case for 20 percent of Greeks) you live in poverty — period.
  • Living costs in Greece are the highest of all of Europe.
  • As a result of this lethal combination of low wages and high living costs, millions of Greeks are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.
  • Since last year’s bailout, the Greek economy contracted almost 5%, 50,000 to 65,000 business have been closed, unemployment increased by 400,000, industrial activity declined by 11%, the construction sector contracted by 73%. Partly as a result, suicide rates are reported to have nearly tripled.
  • All in all, this is a humanitarian tragedy of unprecedented proportions. How could Mr. O’Brady possibly keep a straight face arguing that the people experiencing all of the above, are somehow spoilt children?
MYTH #4 — the bailout is helping the Greek people
Part of O’Brady’s logic assumes that the Greeks should actually be grateful for receiving EU money in return for austerity measures. After all, EU taxpayers are footing the bill for the failures of the Greek people, no?
TRUTH #4: — it’s an indirect subsidy for Europe’s insolvent banks
Here are the facts:
  • First of all, the bailout is not a handout: the Greek people don’t actually benefit from the EU-IMF bailout. Even if the bailout money really did go to the Greeks, this wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial for the Greek people at all. After all, the bailout is a loan for which the EU and IMF charge an exorbitant 8 percent interest rate, meaning northern European tax payers and the IMF should make a handsome profit from their so-called ‘rescue aid’, while the Greeks will only be further indebted by it.
  • The bailout serves not Greece but Europe’s insolvent banks: as former IMF Chief Economist Kenneth Rogoff pointed out last year already, “a lot of European banks are insolvent.” The real problem of the European crisis isn’t the fiscal crisis in the periphery, it’s the financial crisis in the banking sector of the core.
  • Private bank exposure to Greek sovereign debt: BNP Paribas: 5bn – 7 percent of equity; Société Générale: 2,5bn – 6 percent of equity; Postbank: 1,2bn – 21 percent of equity; Kommerzbank: 2,9bn – 27 percent of total equity. That’s just a handful. More data here.
  • Central Bank exposure to Greek debt: the European Central Bank has 190bn of exposure to Greek debt.
  • ECB close to insolvency: according to a recent report by Open Europe, asset losses as small as 4.25% could tip the ECB into insolvency. Greek default alone would chip 2.35% to 3.47% off of the ECB’s capital base. Add in a Portuguese or Irish default and you have the European Central Bank – the flagship of European capitalism – literally going bankrupt.
But no one really seems to care about Europe’s ailing banks and the ECB. Indeed, hardly anyone is talking about it. Instead, we prefer to talk about the handful of Greek workers who retire at 50, the ‘spoilt children’ who refuse to accept the EU’s generous aid packages.
By narrowly channeling our ire onto the suffering people of Greece, we have completely lost sight of the infinitely larger structural problems we face in the European Union. Our private banks are insolvent. Our central bank is on the verge of bankruptcy. This is the real crisis.
Yet apparently, in all this misery and chaos, bashing the Greeks seems like an infinitely more enjoyable pastime for Europe’s populist politicians and the factually illiterate international media. It’s time we put these lies to an end and start speaking truth.
Thanks again to Naveena Kottoor and BBC World for allowing me a brief minute to highlight these concerns. I just wish there had been a little more time to delve into the real issues in depth.
Friday, 24 June 2011

Democracy vs Mythology: the Battle in Syntagma Square

By Jérôme E. Roos On June 20, 2011
Post image for Democracy vs Mythology: the Battle in Syntagma Square
What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion — and this invasion is being justified with the extensive use of mythology.
By Alex Andreou, originally published on SturdyBlog
I have never been more desperate to explain and more hopeful for your understanding of any single fact than this: The protests in Greece concern all of you directly.
What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion; an invasion as brutal as that against Poland in 1939. The invading army wears suits instead of uniforms and holds laptops instead of guns, but make no mistake – the attack on our sovereignty is as violent and thorough. Private wealth interests are dictating policy to a sovereign nation, which is expressly and directly against its national interest. Ignore it at your peril. Say to yourselves, if you wish, that perhaps it will stop there. That perhaps the bailiffs will not go after the Portugal and Ireland next. And then Spain and the UK. But it is already beginning to happen. This is why you cannot afford to ignore these events.
The powers that be have suggested that there is plenty to sell. Josef Schlarmann, a senior member of Angela Merkel’s party, recently made the helpful suggestionthat we should sell some of our islands to private buyers in order to pay the interest on these loans, which have been forced on us to stabilise financial institutions and a failed currency experiment. (Of course, it is not a coincidence that recent studies have shown immense reserves of natural gas under the Aegean sea).
China has waded in, because it holds vast currency reserves and more than a third are in Euros. Sites of historical interest like the Acropolis could be made private. If we do not as we are told, the explicit threat is that foreign and more responsible politicians will do it by force. Let’s make the Parthenon and the ancient Agora a Disney park, where badly paid locals dress like Plato or Socrates and play out the fantasies of the rich.
It is vital to understand that I do not wish to excuse my compatriots of all blame. We did plenty wrong. I left Greece in 1991 and did not return until 2006. For the first few months I looked around and saw an entirely different country to the one I had left behind. Every billboard, every bus shelter, every magazine page advertised low interest loans. It was a free money give-away. Do you have a loan that you cannot manage? Come and get an even bigger loan from us and we will give you a free lap-dance as a bonus. And the names underwriting those advertisements were not unfamiliar: HSBC, Citibank, Credit Agricole, Eurobank, etc.

Griechisches Protest-T-Shirt

Griechisches Protest-T-Shirt, das Angela Merkel in den Mund legt: "Ich schulde dir eine Trillion Euro und du fragst nach einem Darlehen - Bravo George Papandreou."Quelle: dpa

According to the plan II

Explain this to me! 
This is what the chairman of the Hellenic (Greek) Parliament stated in front of the Presidend of the Hellenic Republic in February 8th 2005 on his inauguration day!!!!

everything according to the plan

Jacques Delpla: Germany owes Greece €575bn from WWII

Talking to Les Echos the French econonmist Jacques Delpla claims that Germany still owes €575bn as a result of World War. He calls on Greece to respect its engagements with Europe by being serious about reforms and repayment of the debt. And he calls on Germany to keep its engagements with Europe by continuing to support Greece. full article (in french)
Thursday, 23 June 2011

The anti-Greece campaign of the international media

By Jérôme E. Roos On June 21, 2011
Post image for The anti-Greece campaign of the international media
Prejudice against Greece has taken on grotesque proportions. Seriously, the Greeks work harder than anyone else!
Written by Ingeborg Beugel for NRC Handelsblad, translation by Jérôme Roos
There’s only one word that adequately describes the majority of Dutch media reports on Greece right now: a witch hunt. Of all the arrogant stupidity, full of gut feelings of Dutch superiority, De Telegraaf takes the cake. ”Boom, kick them out of the eurozone. Our citizens no longer want to pay for these wasteful Greeks,” was this newspaper’s headline on May 19, following the results of a Telegraaf survey of over 11,000 participants. Or what about the following headline, on May 13th: “Again, billions of euros thrown into a bottomless pit.” Apparently this kind of nonsense works. By now, 58 percent of Dutch people are opposed to ‘giving’ even a penny to Greece.
For what it’s worth, the average Greek retirement age is nearly 65. Some Greeks that I know who take up their retirement funds early, usually receive between 200 and 600 per month. At that point, sitting on your ass is not even an option. These people have to immediately find employment elsewhere, usually more than one job. After the first round of cuts last year, a high school teacher now earns an average of 800 euros per month. 500 euros of this goes to rent and other fixed costs. You’re left with 300 euros to live off. As a teacher, you simply can’t start a family. And what do you do if you’re a kindergarten teacher or a hostess with a salary of 650 euros per month? A Greek widow (my 94-year old neighbor on Hydra) lives off 400 euros a month. That’s not even enough for her diapers and medicine. She manages to pull through under appalling conditions thanks to her family and neighbors. I don’t know any Dutch person working three jobs to make ends meet, but I do know dozens of Greeks who work three jobs just to survive. Yes, there are Greeks benefiting from high and early retirement. They are an exception, not the rule. By the way: on Hydra, there’s a retired Dutch teacher, a carefree baby boomer, who retired at her fiftieth, never having to work again and enjoying Greece for the rest of her life without any financial worries. Not a single Greek colleague of hers could do that.