Saturday, 27 April 2013

"Herr Schäuble, reden Sie über die Kriegsschulden!"

Athen fordert Entschädigung. Wie viel, ist noch offen. Die Rede ist von 160 Milliarden Euro, plus Zinsen seit 1945

Das Bild des Tages in der griechischen Zeitung "
Ta Nea" zeigte eine zärtliche Hand auf der Wange eines sehr alten Mannes.
Die Hand gehörte Außenminister Dimitris Avramopoulos, und die Wange war 
jene von Griechenlands Nationalheld Nummer eins, Manolis Glezos. 
"Deutschland bringt sie einander näher", lautete die Unterschrift.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Justice will triumph in the assertion of German reparations

Message of unity and common effort to assert the German reparations emitted in a rare unanimous vote, the entire political world during the debate in the House of Parliament on Wednesday morning, despite the individual "cacophonies" of the Golden Dawn party.

In response to questioning of 60 Members of SYRIZA, Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos assured that "what is ours, we claim it in the correct and legal way and no one is in any doubt that we make all the necessary for this action" sending a clear message that the issue of German reparations, this time, "opened and will be closed, with Justice triumph." "The issue will close and I believe that justice is above all moral" he said.

At the same time, the Foreign Minister made clear in every direction that to restore the issue of reparations should not be seen as a hostile move to the German people. "The citizens of Germany themselves have condemned the atrocities of the Nazi regime. And it is certain that they understand the position of the Greeks, which in no way identifies the current democratic Germany with the Nazi regime, "he said, to fill with meaning that it is wrong "some to attempt to link the fiscal adjustment needed in our country and the major reforms that promote with the issue of the compensations. "

Indeed, as explained, "an issue open for sixty years does not fit the schedule of financial crisis." Instead, Dimitris Avramopoulos argued that, the settlement "ends the last dark spot left to us by history and heralds a new chapter in our relations."

Meanwhile, Dimitris Avramopoulos made known that in this phase, the Legal Council of State made the legal process, evaluation and documentation of the contents of the report prepared by the General Accounting Office - and by extension the claims of Greek public - and informed the members of the National Agency for the competent services of the Ministry of Foreign awaiting legal counsel, that "we have a strong legal basis".

Earlier, the head of SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras spoke for a major national issue-as claimed-not claimed or raised so far by Greek governments. "We need to see why and to realize that we are accountable to the Greek people, the generation of national resistance and future generations," he said, noting that the issue should be put up to the Summit and the European public opinion "to create a solidarity movement in Greece. "

Meanwhile, Mr Tsipras argued that "if we accept the logic to distinguish war reparations from the loan we would have no luck at either bilateral negotiations or in legal level" and defended the political negotiation within international and European institutions, with the argument that "a broad grassroots international movement of solidarity to the Greek request is required." He proposed, the formation of a Special Select Committee, from which even asked "to exclude the Nazi party Golden Dawn, whose presence is an embarrassment to the Parliament."

Intervening in the debate an MP of SYRIZA and a symbol of resistance to the anti-Nazi struggle Manolis Glezos welcomed the government's initiative to bring the issue of German reparations and addressed to Foreign Minister requested an immediate discussion on the issue with the German side, noting that "The mere fact that Schaeuble says the issue is being terminated, it means that there was an issue. "

"If the government does this, be sure that it has all the Greek people together because it will finally identify itself with the history of the nation and the future of our country,"he said (Manolis Glezos) and added that "the question is not what Greece (claims)  but what has been adjudged to Germany to pay to our country. "

Friday, 19 April 2013

Connecticut's 5th Century Church

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Germany Is In Default - And Lies About It

GREECE, Italy, and now Cyprus, are all in the process of claims for unpaid German war debts.

Germany in turn currently pretends to be the leading light of fiscal responsibility (its not there in reality, hence they have to propagandise it), whilst having tried some truely jaw dropping manuevers in an attempt to avoid payment or allowing markets to smell blood. They are in default! Yet they have covered it up like this:

It started in the 1920’s when Germany issued series of bearer bonds in the USA for revitalisation of its economy following the devastating effects of WWI. Acting as trustees, financial institutions such as JP Morgan and Lee Higgins & Co. produced and sold bonds in America raising funds that would be invested in Germany. 

These bonds corresponded to Agricultural Loans signed by 14 German banks and guaranteed by the German government. Of these 14 banks four are still active and are part of the troika mechanism.
From 1933, Germany defaulted on interest repayments to Bondholders, as the new Nazi leadership considered the debt that Germany faced following WWI as illegal and issued a moratorium on bonds owed to foreign investors.

In 1953 following years of German debt crisis, the London Debt Agreement restructured Germany’s debt to be sustainable by the agreement of its creditors.

The way this deal would function was to provide the option to the bondholders of German debt, to either accept the repayment terms of the LDA, or to forego attempts to claim their debt until 1993. The rationale being, that you can cash in today from a weak Germany, or wait for a full settlement after 40 years of German growth and development.

Assenting Bondholders: For bondholders who wanted to cash in their bonds immediately, they could receive partial payment, and new bonds, with a discount on the value of their bonds (depending on the issue, between 20% - 60%). For this to be implemented correctly, a procedure of Validation was set up to ensure that anyone presenting bonds for payment, could prove that they were indeed the beneficial owner. This would guarantee that all of the disbursements paid went directly to Germany’s creditors in the correct manor.

That’s an interesting public opinion survey result that will increase pressure for the Greek government to carry on with the WWII demands from Germany. Eight in ten Greeks believe, the government should pursue Germany over the reparations for damages during the 2. World War. Even if some compensation was given for human losses and infrastructure damages, the ‘enforced loan’ of current worth 54 billion euro was never on the agenda between the two countries. It’s high time, it will come to the agenda.  Even if just to calm down the austerity- and recession-hit Greeks, who see in German government the reason for the rash deterioration of their financial situation.

It was Friday afternoon, November 17, 1995, when I was dialing the phone number of the residence of the -then- prime minister Andreas Papandreou. I wanted to talk with him about... a serious issue: the forced loan taken out by the Bank of Greece in March 1942 from the Third Reich.

The newspaper "Investor", which was directed by me, last Saturday revealed exclusively that the Greek government by note verbale requested the united Germany's Helmut Kohl to return the occupation loan (38 million gold sovereigns), which was calculated 17 $ billion or 4 trillionDR at the rate of drachma - U.S. dollar at the time.

I remember the details of the call because I had the sad privilege of being the last reporter who spoke with Papandreou before entering, two days later, at the Onassis hospital, which basically meant the political and biological end of the founder of PASOK.

Let me note here that at that time Papandreou was politically cornered by internal party contests like the "group of 4" (Simitis, Pangalos, V. Papandreou, Fri Avgerinos), scandals and scandalous behaviors of his "courtyard", especially his wife Dimitra Liani.

The note is necessary so as to go to the climate of the time and understand my text in its entirety, which is reproduced unchanged, apart from historical significance-may explain the current "noise" surrounding the German occupation loan and compensation dues:

Determined to assert from Germany the forced occupation loan taken from the Bank of Greece, worth about 4 trillion. GRD is the Prime Minister, even after the rejection by the German Foreign Ministry of the government's note verbale.
Indeed, in a statement to the "Investor" stresses: 

"The issue of repayment of the loan is very clear. There is nothing that questions claim of them. Distinguishes it from war damages, which is broader and another texture issue. The claim of the occupation loan repayment should not be associated with the good relationships we have with Germany. We do not want to create problems in these relationships, but our request is fair and we stick to it. "

When I asked Mr. Papandreou, to describe his thirty years ago meeting with the then Chancellor of West Germany on the issue of the loan, he said: 

"I ​​went to Bonn in 1965 and met Chancellor Ludwig Erhard to discuss, as I was instructed by the Cabinet of the Government of my father, George Papandreou, the issue of reparations and the return of the loan."

Mr Erhard acknowledged that our claims were rightful, but he told me that he could not do anything until there is a peace agreement. He did not agree to exactly return to us the loan, but clearly recognized the right basis of our claim, the satisfaction of which was referred in the future tense, after signing a peace agreement (then, Germany was divided into East and West).

The Prime Minister, during our conversation, having praised the attitude of "E" to make headline the issue of the loan ("Investor" first and exclusively in the previous sheet of 11 November, revealed that the government delivered a note verbale to Germany seeking the return of the occupation loan 4 trillion. drs) expressed his bitterness on the way such important issues are treated.

"Policy is sinking into decline. Dealing with small, trivial and personal, rather than focusing the interest and efforts in large and important problems of society and of the country. And the issue of the loan repayment is important and of national importance "

he said, sending a message to multiple recipients, and certainly those with actions and statements which preserve the climate of morbidity and decline prevailing lately.
The way but mainly the style with which Mr. Papandreou me expressed his views really made ​an impression. A drop of bitter misery for policy and a spark of excitement for the subject of the loan.
As I listened, my voice entangled with my thought that reminded me of what a close associate of him had told me. 

"With Papandreou anyone can debate long on strategy and large-political problems
involving the whole country-. The daily and the current freeze and make him typical and rather distant interlocutor. "

The partner of the Prime Minister perhaps is right, but he never gave me a convincing answer to the responsibility of Mr Papandreou for the current decadence of policy. So be it.

And let's come back to the occupation loan claim, the political aspect of which this note aspires to approach . First, the rejection- with the typical "German" way and style of the Greek-note shows rather panic . The government of Mr. H. Kohl knows well enough that the request of the government of Mr. Papandreou is an "aggressive" diplomatic action.
The Germans-even if they do not know-believe-correctly-that Greece, posing formally for the first time the issue of the occupation loan repayment, aimed at much more than the actual loan repayment.

He wants to convert the loan to a "balance beam" of the Greek-German relations. Upgraded  to a transnational-and not only relative to Germany. Converted from a kick eating dwarf from the giant to partner with rights and at least a word to say.

Henceforth there is a bargaining chip that can be retrieved and utilized. It would be easy and perhaps desirable for German diplomacy to repay the loan (part or all cash or other offsets, does not matter) and "clean" once and for all with Greece, sending it into the place it was.

But it would open the appetite of other states to claim reparations from Germany.

The best for our "northern friends' would be a secret-as with Belgium- settlement. But that would ruin the diplomatic and political weapon of Greece and prove that the energy of the note verbale was done without planning and strategic view across the abutting relations between the two countries in the European Union, the Balkans and southeastern Mediterranean basin.

"The Prisoner's Dilemma", appears to be facing in this case Germany, but the government must not be provoked  to the "arrogant recklessness." Now the tones must fall.
Impressions are also won, while the Hague, and in an extreme case, the ECJ (European Court of Justice) always exist. 

The step was taken and can not stay suspended because of public and "private" threats of the German side "for pending tasks of in its region and in Europe." It must be completed. To step steadily, and when needed, to do the next one.

For the history note that Andreas Papandreou was the only prime minister who raised formally with note verbale, the issue of the return of holders.

By ordering the then Foreign Minister and current President of the Republic Kar. Papoulias prepared a note verbale, which undertook to deliver to the German Foreign Office the then our ambassador to Germany Mr. Bourloyannis.

The note was rejected by the then Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the next Prime Minister Simitis and Karamanlis, did not bring up the issue again.

Today, and under the circumstances of tension between Greece and Germany, so far at least, and the negative attitude of the Germans to the "European rescue plan "of our country, it is also difficult, if not" suicide "to be politically-put.

Later, in less turbulent times the Greek government could reintroduce the issue, hoping perhaps not the payment of money, but in response to the request by some other methods.
For example, a part could be offset with  an obligation of the Germans of carry out major projects in our country, such as the modernization of the railway network, which was however rather taken by the French, strengthening our military machine, the repayment of a part of our external debt, which especially in the current financial context would be "God's gift", etc.

For the History also note that before Papandreou the issue had been put by Ant. Samaras (Foreign Minister LD) on April 18, 1991, in a way of an oral question but then German Foreign Minister Mr. Genscher, during talks in Athens and received a negative answer.

Interesting is the history of the occupation loan, and the amount which is calculated today. In 1942, in order to reinforce Rommel's companies in Africa, the occupying forces of Nazi Germany took from the Bank of Greece a forced loan-signed in Rome on 14 March 1942 to 38 million gold coins (other calculations based the U.S. state requirement 135.8 million USD year 1947).

For the first time the repayment of the loan came up at the Paris conference (December 1945 - January 1946) by the Greek delegation member Professor John Smparounis.

The loan was not returned ever since 1953 with the signing of the Treaty of London. The payment of German reparations was postponed until it would definitively be settled the so-called "German question" (integration, ie, of the two Germanies).

Greece, in 1964, during the government of George Papandreou, sends in Bonn Prof. Angelos Antonopoulos and in 1965 the then Minister for Coordination Papandreou to discuss the settlement of the problem. The then Chancellor Ludwig Earhard replied (as Papandreou revealed in parliament on 05.28.1991) that 

"the loan will be paid back when the issue of Germany will be "closed"(integration, ie, of the two Germanies).

The Berlin Wall falls, the two Germanys are consolidated, but the Kohl government refuses the Greek legal requirement on the basis that "the Treaty 4 +2" (USA, Russia, France, Britain + W. Germany - East Germany) that unifies the two Germanys constitutes a peace treaty.

The tricks of the Germans are legally untenable, as it is opined by valid scientists. The amount of the loan that Germany must now return will take enough budgets to be determined.

The authoritative version, however, is that of Professor A. Angelopoulos, who on 3/5/1991 estimated at 15 billion dollars. With 3% interest rate for 1995 was 16.8 billion, or about 3.7 trillion drachmas.

I do not know how much it can be valued today, since rates change, existence of a common European currency (euro), frequent interest rate changes, but it is not hard to find if a team of experts jointly be established for this purpose.

But certainly the  representative of the German Foreign Ministry, Mr Andreas Pesche is not right when he claims Germany has fulfilled its obligations towards Greece.

The truth is that the issue is not resolved and still exists. It is a different matter and it is a wrong tactic to be associated with the current economic and fiscal crisis, or in the "noise" of days in response to the bad behavior towards Greece in the German press.

The issue should in the appropriate time be reviewed in a sober way with creative approach to each other to contribute to the further development of bilateral relations between the two countries for the benefit of both within the European family.

POSTSCRIPT: This text was posted on the "Investor's World" three years ago on February 28, 2010, when the then government of George Papandreou had begun talks to bring the country in a memorandum. I thought that this chronic claiming of Greece had to be put on the table of negotiations with Germany of Merkel-Schäuble to offset the pressures, but also to a favorable loan plan. I think I have nothing more to add today that the debate is regaining publicity.  My conversation with the then Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, about 18 years ago, I think other than historical value has political significance for how far  the Government of Ant. Samaras to move on the issue of claiming the forced loan and the owed ​​German reparations.


By Georgios Christidis in Thessaloniki

A top-secret report compiled at the behest of the Finance Ministry in Athens has come to the conclusion that Germany owes Greece billions in World War II reparations. The total could be enough to solve the country's debt problems, but the Greek government is wary of picking a fight with its paymaster.

The headline on Sunday's issue of the Greek newspaper To Vima made it clear what is at stake: "What Germany Owes Us," it read. The article below outlined possible reparations payments Athens might demand from Germany resulting from World War II. A panel of experts, commissioned by the Greek Finance Ministry, spent months working on the report -- an 80-page file classified as "top secret."
Now, though, the first details of the report have been leaked to the public. According to To Vima, the commission arrived at a clear conclusion: "Greece never received any compensation, either for the loans it was forced to provide to Germany or for the damages it suffered during the war."
The research is based on 761 volumes of archival material, including documents, agreements, court decisions and legal texts. Panagiotis Karakousis, who heads the group of experts, told To Vima that the researchers examined 190,000 pages of documents, which had been scattered across public archives, often stored in sacks thrown in the basements of public buildings.
The newspaper offered no concrete figure regarding the possible extent of reparation demands outlined in the report. But earlier calculations from Greek organizations have set the total owed by Germany at €108 billion for reconstruction of the country's destroyed infrastructure and a further €54 billion resulting from forced loans paid by Greece to Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944. The loans were issued by the Bank of Greece and were used to pay for supplies and wages for the German occupation force.

Bad Time to 'Pick a Fight'
The total sum of €162 billion is the equivalent of almost 80 percent of Greece's current annual gross domestic product. Were Germany to pay the full amount, it would go a long way toward solving the debt problems faced by Athens. Berlin, however, has shown no willingness to revisit the question of reparations to Greece.
Athens too is wary of moving ahead with the demands. The government sees the report as being particularly sensitive due to the fear that it could damage their relations with Europe's most important supplier of euro-crisis aid.
The Greek public, however, has a different view. To Vima reflected the feelings of many by arguing that "the historical responsibility now falls on the three-party coalition government. It should publish all the findings and determine its position on this sensitive issue, which has detonated like a bomb at a time we are under extreme pressure from our lenders."
But political analysts believe that the Greek government is disinclined to raise the issue with Germany. The official government position, most recently expressed by deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras, is that Greece considers the issue open and "reserves the right … to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion."
The report is no longer in the hands of Finance Ministry officials. It was delivered in early March to Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulous and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. "It will be a top level, political decision regarding how to use it, and Mr. Samaras will be the one to decide," a senior government official told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "This is no time to pick a fight with Berlin." 



Albrecht Ritschl: "If Germany paid war compensations, would go bankrupt immediately”

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

1204 AD and the formation of Modern Hellenism

History as we know it, as we learn it is -may I say- half the truth. The text below proves it.
An amazing text - interview which with in a few lines gives a new dimension to the Greek and world history and overturns historical views being itself fuel for thinking. Another translation exclusively for the readers of GREECE AND WORLD. 

interview of George Karampelias to "Antifonitis" magazine

-This study of yours, as you mention in the preface, helped you to view and modify several times some  negative opinions, about Byzantium. This means a profoundly ideological change of your visual approach to several issues of your past books?

It is a characteristic of this time, that the characteristics of modern Hellenism are formed in a final way, the ethos of resistance  - according to Nikos Svoronos the main element - and the political texture of its identity. In this respect it is interesting that Digenis Akritas, written in the twelfth century, is "the national epic of modern Hellenism", according to Nicholas Politis, has as its central hero of a ... "Digenis" (of two 
descents) with an Arab Christian father and Greek mother. His identity is cultural and spiritual and not racial, showing in a way that, the famous phrase of Isocrates about the ancient Greeks (Hellenes) " Greeks (Hellenes) are the ones who posses Greek paedia - education", applied in a greater degree for modern Hellenism. Yet this very developed culture lacked the aggressive reflexes of colonial West, which began its course to conquer the world and of the Turkish - Mongol tribes, which at the same time spread with lightning speed from Delhi to Kiev. It succumbed after an unequal struggle that lasted four centuries starting from 1071 AD when the Seljuks at Manzikert defeated the Byzantine army and the Normans conquered Bari. In 1453 Mehmet the Conqueror simply knocked out a breathless Byzantium.

The four gold plated horses of the hippodrome of Constantinople, which were stolen by the crusaders in 1204

As for the bronze statues of the hippodrome, carried by the Venetians in the Piazza of San Marco (Saint Mark), so the wealth, culture, the Byzantine manuscripts will be transferred to the West and will form the basis to trigger the western Renaissance, while the Greek people will sink for a few centuries in the dark. The crucial moment was 1204 AD, when Constantinople was at least 500000 population and was the "queen of cities" and certainly not 1453 AD when approximately 50000 people lived in the glorious ruins. So our rebirth will be "suspended" for 500 years at least and when in 1700 we catch again the thread, we have already lost five centuries. So we thought that we had no other choice but to import everything from Hesperia.

-The first conquest of Constantinople was a critical event, the importance of such -as you note- was ignored. What are the immediate consequences of this?

Hiding the importance of the first and decisive Fall of Constantinople obscures the actual building process of modern Hellenism and its continuity with the Byzantine, as well, in fact the first "nation-state"-or Modern Greek states formed during the so-called "Late Byzantine time. " At the same time, and in that regard, this silencing involves hiding the colonial-style relationship established since then among Westerners conquerors and Greeks  of late Byzantium, falsifying, moreover, global history itself, especially in the crucial chapter on the colonial establishment of the West, which is not launched with Columbus but with the Crusades - and essentially, the dismemberment of Byzantium.
furthermore is the ultimate humiliation for the colonized to ignore or hide the texture of relations of subordination agreed with the dominants, because they (the colonized) will continue forever to be disoriented without being able to establish an autonomous culture.

-Apart from any internal, Greek, reading of the book, which has much to offer as to clear up some things, what do you think could be offered in the wider European family?

Today the dominance of the West is closing in planetary field, with the emergence of new centers of power - China, India, Islam, Latin America, etc. - and we' re headed for a fundamental multipolar world. Europe is sinking more and more into a deep and widespread crisis and to reconstruct itself as a center of culture and power, the balance between the West and the East in our continent should be reconstituted as well. A geopolitical balance, with the accession of Russia, and certainly not the non European Turkey, in a future united Europe, but also spiritual. The fact that the pope apologized in 2001, from the Greeks for 1204AD in Athens, is a step in the right direction. Because as shown by Europe after the war, only the recognition of the crimes of Hitler's Germany against the Jews and other European nations allowed to establish a united Western Europe and certainly not oblivion. Thus the study of the rupture brought by 1204 in an old European tradition, is still up to the minute. At such a time, the recognition of the contribution of the Greek (Hellenic) and the Orthodox  component configuration, finally, of a Europe that will not be limited to the most-helpless now-western version, is a must. The "Greek way" the balance between spirit and matter, man and nature, man and machine that would probably give a different kind of Renaissance if Byzantium had survived. Maybe it can be activated again today, because the Western power-centric model has exhausted to an ecological and anthropological impasse.

-We can say that the message of the book, can help to boost our confidence to go further, which in recent years only our athletes offer us?

Certainly, it emphasizes that History never ends. 1204 marks the change in the correlation of forces between the Latin and Greek tradition, between Western and Eastern Europe, in favor of the former. So I think as the cornerstone of the Modern Greek hallmark  as national resistance identity. Τhe development of the nations is, above all, the rupture with the nearest "other" and the gradual diversification away from him. And if this process of rupture accelerates from 11th century until at least the 18th century, then, the two worlds will begin to close to each other again, but now with almost absolute terms of inequity. The West is the world's center, while the Greek (Hellenic) and "Oriental" world, the heart of European culture once had changed to semi-periphery and "parasitic outgrowth" of the western paradigm. 
Today - the West gets in crisis - it is possible, if the thread went back to where we had left it, finally overcoming the division between "tradition" that looks backwards and "modernization" constantly looking outwards, with a radical new proposal that might finally remove the "sorrow of Greekness", of which Moskof talked about, a third proposal is to modernize our tradition. and follow up where we left off when we suffered an unprecedented amputation is the only option we have. Or completion of our face to the new conditions, or permanent loss of any face.

"..the most important contrast of Greek (Hellenic) society today is not the traditional clash between Left - Right, but the contrast between Greek people and a -forced established occupying elite."

source: the biweekly newspaper of Komotini Antifonitis (issue 240), 2/20/2008

translated by Pyrros

1204: The first conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders. Perhaps the biggest looting of city in world's history. Since then, Constantinople will not recover and until the conquest by the Turks would remain a ghost of its old self.