Glezos

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Greek Fake Terrorist Trials: ELA - The Big Conspiracy


A Kanas was one of a few found guilty and charged on 11.10.2004 for 1174 years prison for allegedly participating in terrorist activities from 1974 in the so-called Revolutionary Popular Struggle organisation which ran parallel to the 17th November... Was subsequenlty released when the sham trials collapsed...



Aggelatos Kanas


The Big Conspiracy

The Current Frauds and the Modern Collaborators like Tsigaridas

I decided to produce this Information Bulletin so people can learn various things regarding the 2nd act of the trial theatre from the 7th February at the 3rd Circuit Court in Athens. Events which are being hidden from the Greek people.

Most journalists and newspapers stopped dealing with what is known as the ELA trial as it no longer sells. They pretend it no longer exists, they surpass it, they don’t write anything, they act the like there is no event and they bypass it. They only will report something that aids the prosecution.

Truth and reality is totally different. Due to the representation and declarations they have revealed that the web of lies and the creation of this Big Conspiracy they are all trying to hide saving the lost cause.

That is why the supporters of the prosecution, the judiciary, the solidarity movement, the journalists and the MSM have created a coalition and are attempting to hide from people reality. That this trial is a CONSPIRACY based on evidence that is sponsored, fake witnesses and fake members of ELA as is the main culprit the casino gambler Tsigaridas.

In reality the journalists and their papers have transformed themselves into adjuncts and implementers of the main directing centre of made up conspiracies and fake trials.





The ELA fake terrorist trial

The eras change, the public prosecutors no longer base a charge sheet solely with the manufactured and funded witnesses and pseudo witnesses and neither on the loud alleged members of the organisations that carry out violence. This they did in the past, in the last few decades they have reformed the manner in which they set CONSPIRACIES and TRIALS. A charge sheet is no longer based solely by the prosecuting state. Basically members of such an organisation (ie terrorist) even if they don’t have any actual members who are willing to collaborate or be manufactured as in the case of Tsigaridas.

If we have a look at Italy we will see that not only from the members of organisations we had the appearance of modern collaborators who achieved reduced sentences, without openly speaking in courts against their compatriots, but only indirectly.

Their stance in court was a by product of collaboration and agreement with the prosecutors. They were asked for one thing and one thing only. To not doubt in court the charge sheet against the others on trial. To not condemn it, to not fight it, to remain silent confirming it indirectly. Or when they mention certain words they do it in such a manner that they support the prosecutors charge sheet. In return as noted previously they got reduced sentences in contrast with all the others who condemned the trials who ended up rotting in prison.

They supported the prosecutors with their position, their silence, the indirect but clear references to the quiet collaboration in the manufactured conspiracies, their quiet acquiescence in these manufactured conspiracies, their indirect support for the prosecutors with phrases like its ‘my honour and my judgement, to not respond’! These words these phrases aren’t simply Tsigaridas and they have been heard in other trials and these allegedly from the point of view of the alleged revolutionary, the militant not the open agent provocateur who used to be the members and who stated openly in court what the police gave them to read whether it was real or false.

These modern agent provocateurs don’t go to prison and if they do they are released immediately. Also during their arrest and for as long as the trials continue and all their allied collaborators who praise their deeds and glorify them. From that alone one understands that the modern collaborator when his own enemy publisices him in all manner of ways that he is a militant revolutionary so as to not appear as a common crook like Tsigaridas is.

Its never happened before in history the prosecuting bodies and the whole panoply of the state to glorify someone who allegedly took up arms against it to overthrow it. Everywhere and always they slagged em off, attacked them, vilified them. Thats what happened in our country after WW2. Only after half a century had passed was there some recognition from some quarters. Your enemy always attacks you. For if they praise you for the average person that means that they support your actions that you did well and take up arms. Therefore there is another reason they raise your profile something else is occurring.

The authorities when they realised that behind the leftist phraseology there is a crook a bankrupt big hotel owner, an addicted gambler who lives in the casino, horse racing, card playing clubs etc they rubbed their hands with glee. They cut a deal. You will ‘ with honour and ‘responsibility’ accept the charge sheet, leave everything else to us, the united centre of fake terrorism. We will set up trials and countertrials, we will put you ‘inside’ for 2-3 months to confuse the waters and in return in the specific case of Tsigarida, we will re adjust the debts of the hotel in Kalymnos which has a 250 bed capacity.

-On 17th February 2005 I made a statement and placed certain essential questions. This statement I have repeated many times over without Tsigaridas himself ever responding and neither from any of his supporters. I am repeating it here:
The previous trial-farce and this one which follows the previous one if Mr Tsigaridas hadn’t undertaken ‘spontaneously’ to accept the political responsibility so as to have all the subsequent trials.

Someone who is a member of an organisation that practices violence (blows up cars, buildings and people) when they participate in the activities and its violent actions and not when they read about these violent actions in the papers (as Tsigaridas repeatedly has stated in court and in response to his police interviews).

Then they aren’t a member but a reader a con artist.
Therefore he was either a member of ELA and participated in activities and he lies that he read all this from the press or he wasn’t a member and he is lying stating he participated.

In both instances he is a liar and untrustworthy and holds this position until the court case occurs and three people are charged for a crime that requires Tsigaridas cooperation.

Tsigaridas supporters circulates that this trial but also the previous one is based on the known false witness and manufactured in hindsight member of ELA Kiriakidou and in various other manufactured pseudo witnesses.

This is a lie as their case is crude and well known to the Greek nation.

These trials are based on one and only witness who in order to support that must make it appear from the side of the militant-revolutionary and not on behalf of the prosecuting powers.

As this gentleman is a core base of support to those who manufactured this ridiculous web of deceipt, for whom no such trial could be based and could not be based. All together the united supporters of the prosecutors agenda try to save Tsigaridas from not imploding. Everyone supports him, all praise him as he has offered invaluable services to the state mechanisms that created this Big Conspiracy.

-The Solidarity Movement, in otherwords they who self-declare themselves as a movement (for which all the leaders, cadres, followers etc don’t surpass 50 people) in order to have political support and an echo in public, support the open and modern collaborators of the establishment. They have been doing this for years from the era they shouted ‘hands off the militant Kristalli’. Today they themselves shout ‘hands off the militant Tsigaridas’.

These people, these supporters of the crook Tsigaridas not only are base but also ahistorical. It is now known that various revolutionaries of 1821 done deals ie secret agreements with the Turks, with whom they fought. Whoever doubts it let them look at the recent book of Kosti Papagiorgi ‘The Lids’ which refers to these cases. To some of them history absolved them, to others it condemned them. Today we aren’t going to deal with the massive questions which emerge from the dubious relevance of various individuals who don’t even touch the soles of the militants of 1821. At the same time when the whole world knows we are dealing with fake militants.

That is why no serious individual will end up with any of them. Even if they do by accident once they realise what they have done they will make a run for it. That is why they remain the same number of people, we see them one whole lifetime. All of these people for the Greek nation are nobodys, everyone knows they are part of the prosecuting authorities that is why they ignore them detest them.

All of these clowns in the name of the mass movement are allegedly interested in the Solidarity Movement and those imprisoned-gaoled. So as to achieve this they put everything in one big bag: agents provocateurs, supporters, prison finks, open and modern collaborators they all sign common statements make announcements and declare unity, economic support, collaboration and solidarity with the imprisoned.

I have repeated many times before and will do so again that with all those Pimps and foremen of the ‘solidarity’ movement for prisoners I never had a relationship and neither do I want to.

-If Tsigaridas was what he said he was he must have taken part in some struggles in the 1960’s decade, during the dictatorship but also after the period of the restoration of democracy and he would have brought at least one witness to court to say two words. But where could he find such a witness? In the casino? The dog track? In the card playing associations or in his hotel businesses? To which it is well known that such businesses are a fundamental support of the social regime for which the crook Tsigaridas allegedly wanted to overthrow!

The three who came cannot be taken into account as they are trained professional witnesses who have undertaken this role in a series of these types of trials in the last years and they have an analogous political character.

The old and well known cadre and founding member of the Committee of Defence of Social and Political Rights one of the self-declared collectives of the Solidarity Movement Kostas Folias had condemned and revealed that from 1996 via the top agent Apostolos Vavilis that the secret services had come close to him for him to become a collaborator – agent.

I am asking: All these who are touted as leaders of the Solidarity Movements and a few of this clique weren’t called by the sercret services to give heaven and earth to these same secret services? In other words to collaborate grassing comrades and to play the role of the Trojan Horses inside circles of the ‘movement’?

They only called Mr Kostas Folias for a ‘friendly chat’? He is the only one who has the morality and the honour to condemn it openly and immediately the event took place. Read the ‘IOS’ page of the Saturday Eleftherotipia on 12.2.2005. All the others that were called what type of conversation did they hold? What did they agree?

These gentleman circulate that with the line of defence which I am following I am bothering my co-prisoners. If that is so why don’t my co-prisoners condemn me?

To the only people I am damaging are the leaders of the Solidariy Movement and the modern collaborators with the establishment prosecutions who with their practice, their statements have revealed their role.

These gentlemen because they cant frighten me and control me start to defame me, they circulate that with my defensive line that I admit that I am guilty. This is the know goebellistic tactic which doesn’t wash with me. They need to go elsewhere!

Dear solidarity supporters on who decides the defence line of a condemned person is a fundamental issue of principles which does not allow any form of deviation for whoever has the most minimal relationship with the left and the popular movement.

The well known stalinoagentprovocateur tactic you are following, in other words character assassination then blackmail shows you have no relationship with the left. You are working for others I have stated it many times before and most people realise it. On your own you have revealed your role!

I would like to thank all those who for 2.5 years have supported me morally and materially and have supported with your statements to the prosecuting authorities, your signatures on statements of support and your interest.

The most simple means of support for me is to circulate and to distribute this Information Bulletin. Everywhere in the whole world.

Koridallos Prison, Big Saturday 30th April 2005
Aggelatos Emmanouel Kanas

Friday, 1 December 2017

Greek SWP the 'Workers Party' of the Ruling Class







I have dealt with the SWP many times before in particular in its positions taken on Syria and Ukraine. In other words in supporting the imperialist interventions in countries which had some leaderships which were an obstacle to the Western Empire. These positions were combined with direct mobilisations for the removal of the Embassy of Syria from our country.

A position which contributed in adopting imperialist interventions which led to slaughter in both countries and thousands of dead. That which we have led in the dark has been the leading cadres of the SWP, those that directed the organisation in Greece.

They who hide behind Petros Konstantinou who receives all the limelight and all the attacks. Few had noticed the existence of Panos Garganas and Leandros Bolaris and with this article it is a clear opportunity to realise understand them.

Supremo Panos Garganas Leader of Greek SWP



Panos Garganas is a son of the previous big businessman of the Flour Industry in Thrace and MP in Evros during the 1953-1963 with ERE (3rd Reich Quislings of the Right) Christos Garganas. He has a brother and a sister and his sister married Ioannis Ouzounopoulos from another family in the flour industry in Easter and Western Thrace. One can find information regarding the company here http://myloi-thrakis.gr/en/




The other brother is the well known big banker who was Greece’s central banker in the era we adopted the Euro Nikos Garganas.



Nikos Gargana’s was Greece’s central banker from June 2002 till June 2008 at the same period he was a member of the General Council of the European Central Bank. In the same period he was with PM Simitis who trapped the Greek people and put them into the Euro. More information is to be found here https://el.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%9D%CE%B9%CE%BA%CF%8C%CE%BB%CE%B1%CE%BF%CF%82_%CE%93%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%81%CE%B3%CE%BA%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%B1%CF%82




Panos Garganas now appears to have no relationship with his family. In a local paper in Thrace he appears like they are two different people who are involved in diametric opposite worldviews whereby Nikos Garganas is in the high society of the Bank of Greece whilst his brother Panos is on the streets against globalisation.
http://voreasmagazin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/blog-post_17.html


Panos Garganas is maybe the Che Guevara of Greece?

He grew up in a big bourgeois family and ‘left’ everything to join the struggle. In the struggle for the defence of the working class whose interests he defended supporting Maidan in the Ukraine and then refusing to support Donbass and also supporting all the anti-regime organisations in Syria for the overthrow of Assad.

The revolutionary Gargana had supported PASOK in at least two confirmed cases. In 1993 and 1996 with Simitis as leader. They have also made statements in support of Andreas Papandreou.



‘PASOK without Illusions’

Where we see the two brothers allegedly having a different direction find enough common ground to be united in a common struggle for the rise of PASOK to the Government.

In particular Simits PASOK where fate turned Nikos Garganas to play a decisive role in the entrance of Greece in the Euro and thus the people from the common currency to be in competition with powers like Germany.


Leandros Bolaris



The historian Leandros Bolaris is a leading cadre of the members of the SWP and a journalist for their paper ‘Workers Solidarity’ and he also writes for the magazine ‘socialism from Below’. Fate played a difficult game for Leandros as he ended up in a different camp to his sister Maria Bolari who is founding member of DEA (Internationalist Labour Left)





DEA and SWP originated from a split of OSE (Organisation of Socialist Revolution) and thus both siblings ended up being on different sides of the struggle and giving their all to the ‘defence of working class interests’.

A defence of the working class which they cannot sense as based on a publication regarding how much they are worth Maria Bolari has a cash estate of Euro 500,000.
http://www.fimes.gr/2013/01/maria-mpolari-klironomia/#axzz4MafHfjEw

A defence of the working class in Suria and the Ukraine and historically with the counterrevolution in Hungary. History does not end there and close to these two are various workers of the Party. Various individulas whose economic health isn’t reported on but only their professional activity and their practice in the struggle.



Party members like Petros Konstantinou who give their all for the imposition of imperialism and the rise of fascism in our country. In reality not workers but bourgeois who are in total harmony with imperialist plans and there is no end in the hypocracy which we say with their hypocritical condemnation of Greek Nationalism but their support to Erdogan and the Turkish nationalist DEP which has close relationships with the Grey Wolves.



KEERFA member burning the Greek flag with other agent provocateurs…

Bourgeois imperialist voices who not only support and promote the symbols of KEERFA in provocative manoeuvres of the burning of the Greek flag which will bring about many reactions.




This is what SWP and KEERFA are the ‘Labour Party’ of the Bourgeoisie and the close circle of Simitis. Characters that have a specific role and that is the imposition of Imperialism from below. The role of Golden Dawn from the Left, the role of the PARAMILITARY state…

Christofors Triantifillos



Thursday, 30 November 2017

Dimitris Psarras A Chosen Individual of the Israeli Embassy





Dimitrios Psarras for all those that don’t know him is one of the article writers of the journalistic team Ios (Virus) at the ex-Eleftherotipia newspaper. On behalf of Israel this genetleman has adopted the Zionist agenda and the imposition of Zionist aims on our country.


People like Psarras use Antifascism or more precisely alleged antifascism as it is advance by Zionist centres. This antifascism remains only as a means of condeminig the Nazis of Golden Dawn and is being used as a mirror to advance and cover for the crimes of the greatest fascistic statelet in the world, Israel.




This pseudo antifascism is being utilised for another reason. So as to disorientate, turning the eyes away from the interests of those in power which are under threat. Always the fixed and systemic game amongst these centres and the fascists of Golden Dawn which has as a main aim the rise of fascism in Greece.


This same individual has undertaken to organise and direct various groups like XYZ Contagion who via the wider Left create systematic propaganda for the interests of Israhell repeating imperialist propaganda.
Alongside his endless writing he is attempting to corrupt traditions (like the burning of Judas) as it bothers the Israeli Embassy or they are trying to pin racial motives to the Communists who are fighting the crimes of Israel, which is portrays alongside the fascists.
http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/o-antisimitismos-stin-ellada-kai-i-aristera


Psarras isn’t a coincidental character and its no coincidence no one has criticised him for years. This gentleman from the fake anti-fascist credential he has acquired (like Konstantinou and Kourkoulos of KEERFA fame) to direct and coordinate those below. The same joker was found recently alongside Petros Konstantinou as a representative of the whole of the Antifascist Movement in the office of the Ministry of Defence and the Citizen so as to ask for help of the Police.
http://www.protothema.gr/politics/article/713249/meli-adifasistikon-organoseon-zitisan-apo-ton-toska-na-diadilosoun-exo-apo-ta-grafeia-tis-hrusis-augis/


Another element that reveals the hypocracy of people like Psarras is that whilst they declare to be Antifascists they consequently cover and hide the agreements which the Neonazis made with the Zionist movement for the transfer of the Jewish population to Palestine whilst Germany had already started pogroms against the Jews. They cover up the activity of military groups like the Lehi (Stern) gang https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehi_(group) who fought on the side of the SS against the Brits in Palestine for the case of the ‘liberation of Israel’. They use the Jewish Holocaust to cover up for their bosses incensing the hundreds of thousands of Jewish victims of the Nazi so as to futher the interests of Zionism…


Why is all this being said now?
The paramilitary state of Greek which acts also from the Left has a face and has names whom we understand fully well. We know them precisely and we aren’t frightened of them however many threats they make on us and however many attempts they try to silence us. Our class consciousness and our Antifascist-Antiimperialist struggle does not allow us to make one foot back.. We have decided to do what is necessary to clear the way of the cleansing from the paramilitary state. This state is already in retreat and is attempting to gather its forces. Nothing is like it was in the past and slowly or surely they will be removed from political movements.

Christoforos Triantafillos

Monday, 20 November 2017

Eyewitness Report-On the Flooding of Mandras in Athens Greece









A. On the Dead
There must be a few hundred – with conservative estimates. When we will get the full number is an issue.
In a thousand cars, which were quashed the declaration that 19 died only appears as a funny joke as those that disappeared 19 which we know personally.

B. Responsibilities
1. The current Council
In other floods and under other conditions we would attack the local Council for criminal irresponsibility. But under today’s conditions the mistakes and omissions which weigh on the council aren’t founded – I am referring to the current council, not those that went on before it. I could actually congratulate it with the passion it showed in these difficult times. Many times it raised its voice to the ludicrous representative from Syrizas Regional Administrators who came to police the manner and the distribution of help. The latter tried to impose a bureaucratic process, which was lacking all essence and in many ways slowed down the whole process. Its no coincidence the PM Tsipras didn’t risk entering Mandra but like a thief visited for communication reasons from a distance of at least one km. I must admit that the army of the region wasn’t solely Syriza who shone in their absence but the jackboots of various NGO’s when help arrived from various unknown quarters and tried to take control of it for no practical reason forcing the residents to rebel against them. We don’t need aid by force like Papadopoulos Junta, so as to support the anniversary. So as to not be misunderstood the Mayor we have is politically supported by PASOK who in the past wasn’t what could have been better. Could have been worse.



2. Regional Administration
Criminal responsibility. They must answer they and the previous people as they never explained and they never actualised any plan to take the water away which of course no Mayor on their own could carry out. When the rise of the water reaches three meters in height no drainage can cope with such a deluge and we aren’t talking about a simple flow but something the size of three rivers having acquired flow and power when they entered the city of Mandras. In the last fifty years we also had deaths and victims but the previous floods bear no relationship with the last Armageddon.


3. Greek State
Criminal irresponsibility by the Region, but clearly better than the Greek state, which allowed, if it didn’t provoke itself the ‘phenomenon’. That which the conspiracists call HAARP. Explaining it more bluntly, the war against the Greek Nation and the peoples the world over via ‘natural’ catastrophes. For so long and on a daily basis the continuously spray the atmosphere. Now will those who don’t believe it after such a large destruction which occurs by some non-believers that how on earth can we have such a large destruction when we have never had anything similar in the area before in history. The conspiracists therefore are right.



Postscript
It would be rudeness to the dead, to mention like so many others the reasons for the concretisation of the underwater streams, the town planning of the area, the bribery of government officials and planning offices, the unbridled profit of local developers etc.
These are well known and common knowledge. Whoever uses this do it deliberately to disorientate the people from the determining factors which provoked the destruction…



Sunday, 29 October 2017

Will the EU Collapse like ex USSR? Transcript on Interview On Moscow Radio



Part 3 cut short due to time constraints
What’s the driving force behind the recent trend of regional assertiveness in Western Europe, be it in Catalonia, Northern Italy, and even Flanders, and how much of a threat does this pose to the EU’s current structure?


The EU project in a nutshell is an attempt to create a capitalist United States of Europe and has been in the making decades now since the 1950’s when they signed the Treaty of Rome. The purpose of its existence is a new Big Business Empire based on constant expansion, the utilisation of differing economic zones, mass cheap labour importation and the constant threats directly or indirectly by NATO or EU sponsored break up of nations as in the case of Ukraine or secessionist reaction as in the break up of ex-Yugoslavia. Original bourgeois nationalism was progressive forging nation states and erasing the landed aristocracy. Current secessionist movements as referred to your question are on the whole reactionary as they do not question either the existence of the Euro, the EU or NATO. On the contrary they demand even closer ties with the EU eg. the SNP, or what occurred with Slovenia and Croatia. There are no real reasons for the break up of nation states other than to weaken them and rule over them, they become easier to control and manage once broken up into self-conflicting parts. Its characteristic that Catalan nationalism for instance hasn’t been labeled racist, xenophobic etc but has been marketed as anti-fascist heirs to the Popular Front against Franco and the unity of Spain as being the real threat. Who is kidding who? Who gained from the Brussels sponsored break up of Yugoslavia? Not its peoples, not the world as it became a launchpad for what was to come globally, NATO expansion, wars for oil and population transfers (such as those of the Serbs who suddenly lost all their civil rights and became internal refugees in their own country).

For many decades the EU had a policy of an EU for the Regions. On 10th October on the day Catalonia launched suspended independence or as I would characterize it suspended EU/NATO dependence a new official post was granted to the new President of the EU for Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz. The purpose is to take power away from national governments. EU regional policy provides funds for projects enacted by local officials at a regional level, largely bypassing national governments. It represents one of the key tools of EU governance attracting more than one third of the EUs overall budget. So in answering your question, the EU doesn’t consider these secessionist moves as a threat to its structure but actively indirectly encourages them.
There have been think tank reports written in the past about the need for the EU to transform from a bloc of nation-states to one of federalized regions, so what’s your take on this policy proposal, and do you think that the current processes that we’re observing are a step in that direction?

There are currently 28 nation states that make up the EU encompassing 500m people, 19 countries are in the Euro and 9 have national currencies. The scale of the project is so great that if it is achieved, it cannot but become an Orwellian nightmare taking into account the rich history of the nations that go back as in the case of Greece thousands of years. The emergence of the 2007/8 US financial crisis and its deflection in the Euro crisis subsequently created a mass turn away from the EU and its institutions in particular in Club Med countries and as a consequence of the crash there, the same occurred in the UK which became a recipient of millions of unemployed from other countries forcing a BREXIT referendum. Overtly pro-EU political parties started to lose political ground in almost all EU nation states we just need to mention the recent French Presidential elections where the electorate was split almost 50/50. The fake refugee crisis when Merkel ordered millions of newcomers to arrive in the EU as part of the UNs Replacement Migration agenda, put in a nail in the actual coffin of the EU project in peoples consciousness.

Under the above circumstances EU centralization to create a political union on top of the economic union (which hasn’t fully matured as 9 countries have a national currency) proceeds at great political cost without mainstream social support now in three out of the four core countries (Britain, France, Italy).

So the EUs response to the crisis of its legitimacy is forging a two tier EU ie more centralization at the EU level and increasing diversity at the regional level and these are parts of a single development, ie the weakening of the nation states. The policy is designed to destabilize member nations, the better to impose a pan- European structure. Let’s not forget the attempts at creating two Englands with the referendums for a Northern Parliament under Tony Blair in 2004 which was rejected by the electorate by 80%. Similar in form to the recent consultative referendums in Northern Italy with the aim of breaking Italy apart under the guise of regional autonomy based on who pays more to the central budget. Over 40 regional issues are in existence in the current EU. In Greece for instance talk of secessionist movements have been in existence for Crete and Thrace, but actual causes of existence for secession are non-existent.

By stoking internal disputes inside many of its member states as in the case of Catalonia and the Spanish government the EU then sits back and watches as the conflict erupts and drags on.


Overall, what are the chances that the EU will avoid repeating the fate of the USSR and still remain together in some shape or another, no matter how dramatically reformed, or are the centrifugal forces that have already been unleashed uncontrollable and irreversible?

In an ideal world where the weight of social economic, cultural history and the existence of nation states had been surpassed by higher forms of economic re-organisation ie where the needs of consumers were paramount as opposed to the needs of corporations, then the financial behemoth that is the UK, the agricultural behemoth of France and the manufacturing behemoth of Germany would work in harmony as if a single country and unite to raise all the periphery of nations that comprise the EU to a basic minimum standard, we wouldn’t have the variations we have where Bulgarias minimum wage is 1/15th of Luxemburgs, or the infrastructure of Rumania is a few decades behind everyone elses.

From the moment the UK was booted out of the ERM by Soros financial terrorism in the early 1990’s which is wholly ironic as he became a proponent in later life of all things EU, the EU is doomed to fail. Its attempt at constant expansion, the push for Turkish entry in the 2000 decade and its subsequent failure, the push for Ukrainian entry in the 2010 decade and failure, the stalling of countries joining the Euro (last being Lithuania in 2015) we are in a stasis, a political dead end, an impasse.
Currency unions in history of which there have been many in general fail if the part does not feel that it is being raised by the whole. Since joining the EU in 1981 and the Euro two decades later Greece has become an empty shell. Half the population lives from hand to mouth and 500,000 people have emigrated. The EU’s answer is automation, the break up of existing full time jobs into part time and the flooding of areas with migrants, in other words a full frontal assault to destroy not only any last vestiges of national sovereignty but to erase national culture in its entirety, creating a Hobessian hell on earth.

Without constant expansion, the EU has started going inwards as it is now focused on pseudo secessionist movements, Brexit , constant mass migrant flows and anti-Russian pro NATO nonsense. The sooner it starts to physically break apart the better for all humanity and what started as Grexit ie. the mass movement against the systemic pro-EU parties that was sold down the river by the fake lefts of Syriza, is continuing with the issues over Brexit which essentially highlights the end of the EU despite and contrary to the concessionary and conciliatory nature of the Tory PM Theresa May. This new two tier EU will not work in the place of the original version, it’s just window dressing or embalming before the burial.

https://sputniknews.com/radio_trendstorm/201710281058595952-eurocollapse-will-the-eu-follow-the-ussr/

Monday, 9 October 2017

How to become a Greek Oligarch in 7 Easy Steps...


ATHENS, GREECE — Greece is a country that is famously known for its strong tradition in the maritime sector, and for its many wealthy shipowners. Names such as Onassis and Latsis have become globally known and are synonymous with great wealth and with a playboy lifestyle of mingling with the rich and famous.

Greece is also a country whose language boasts a particularly rich and diverse vocabulary. There is seemingly a Greek word for anything and everything, and one such word is “diaploki.” A uniquely Greek word, diaploki neatly sums up the specific relationship and interplay that has developed in Greece among successive governments, politicians, and big-business and media magnates.

Prior to the initial election of the purportedly “radical leftist” SYRIZA party in Greece’s parliamentary elections of January 2015, one of the party’s main campaign promises was that it would “crush” Greece’s oligarchs, who hold preeminent positions in the country’s media landscape and in such key sectors as energy, infrastructure, insurance, and of course shipping.




After SYRIZA’s election, though, an about-face quickly followed across multiple fronts, including its stance towards Greece’s oligarchs. Today, instead of “crushing” them, it is actively favoring them. Following last year’s botched television licensing attempt, in which SYRIZA was apparently going to “crush” the oligarchs by auctioning off an artificially limited number of television licenses to the very deepest pockets — in other words, those of the oligarchs — SYRIZA is trying again. It is now planning to auction off television as well as radio licenses to the highest bidders — with no provision for any non-profit, non-commercial or community broadcasters of any kind.



A new breed of corruption and “diaploki”
CEO of media conglomerate 24 Media, Dimitris Maris (left) and Soviet-born businessman and former United Russia MP, Ivan Savvidis. (Right)
CEO of media conglomerate 24 Media, Dimitris Maris (left) and Soviet-born businessman and former United Russia MP, Ivan Savvidis. (Right)
Amongst those who are flourishing under the reign of the SYRIZA-led coalition government, however, are not just the “old guard” of shipowner-oligarchs, such as Giannis Alafouzos (owner of Skai TV and Radio and Greece’s neoliberal newspaper of record, Kathimerini), the Kyriakou family (owners of the Antenna Media Group, including national broadcaster ANT1 Television), or the Vardinogiannis family (owners of national broadcaster Star Channel and extensive media and publishing interests). Now there is a new breed of businessmen-oligarchs who have risen to prominence under the SYRIZA regime, oligarchs who have quickly amassed holdings in the mass media and other industries, and who have access to and the ear of the current government and its personnel.

Two of Greece’s most notorious nouveau-oligarchs are Dimitris Maris and Ivan Savvidis. Maris is the CEO of one of Greece’s fastest-growing media conglomerates, 24 Media, which boasts a portfolio of numerous print, radio, and online properties. Savvidis is a Soviet-born businessman and former member of the Russian parliament, who has turned his sights on his purported country of origin, Greece — amassing there, in recent years, significant business holdings across several sectors.

Using these two nouveau-oligarchs as examples, the following steps will describe exactly how one can become a Greek oligarch — and obtain the privileges and power that this position of status affords.



Step one: Build a business profile

In order to gain a foothold in the country’s political and economic system, the first decisive step for any budding oligarch-to-be is to construct a profile as a seemingly legitimate — or successful, at any rate — businessman.

In the case of Dimitris Maris, this successful — even if its legitimacy is arguable — business is none other than online gambling, as he is a shareholder in stoiximan.gr, one of Greece’s and Europe’s largest online gambling and sports betting operations. Founded in 2007 and based in Malta under the corporate umbrella of “Gambling Malta Ltd.,” stoiximan.gr is said to be operating in Greece with a “temporary” license (not unlike the country’s television and radio broadcast stations).

At the same time that the SYRIZA-led government is going as far as to confiscate pocket change from the already decimated bank accounts of newly impoverished Greek citizens, seizing monies owed in “back taxes,” stoiximan.gr and a few dozen other online gambling services operate in Greece with “temporary” licenses issued to offshore corporations, generating over 1 billion euros in revenue that is entirely tax-free. Indeed, in late 2016, allegations emerged that stoiximan.gr was being probed by prosecutors in Greece for tax evasion totaling over 35 million euros.

Nevertheless, stoiximan.gr continues to operate — and, as will be seen, Maris’ business empire has expanded beyond online gambling to the online- and mass-media landscape.

Ivan Savvidis took a somewhat different route to the top: he first became a Russian oligarch, before spreading his business and financial empire to Greece. Born in the former Soviet Union in what is now Georgia, Savvidis was employed in the Don State Tobacco Company in various positions. Following the collapse of the USSR, the company was privatized and Savvidis somehow emerged as its general manager. By 2012, he had entered the Forbes list of the wealthiest Russians in the world.

It was around this time that Savvidis expanded his business activity to crisis-hit Greece – a peculiar choice at face value, in light of the country’s economic instability and uncertain future, and also because there is some doubt as to whether Savvidis had ever visited or spent much time in Greece prior to this decade. As will be detailed below, his current business holdings in Greece – all acquired within the past few years – include media outlets, major infrastructural assets, tourist properties, tobacco, and soft drinks.



Step two: Purchase a sports team

Sports is politics and, in Greece, owning a sports club is a surefire way to snag power, influence, and a legion of fanatic supporters. All of Greece’s major football and basketball teams are owned by wealthy oligarchs, competing with each other both on and off the playing field.

Much more so than in North America, one’s affiliation with a sports team in Greece is treated with an almost religious fervor. This degree of support typically extends to the team’s management, ownership, and president, particularly when the team is playing well. In Greece, each major team is also affiliated with one or more sports newspapers (which have lost less of their circulation than the political press) and websites. These outlets provide not only “partisan” reporting of the team’s doings, but also full coverage of all of the owner’s other business activities. In this way, through ownership of these teams, the oligarchs in control inherit a ready-made “fan” base that will identify with and support all of the owner’s activities – support that is blindly reinforced in the athletic press.

Maris is the founder of 24 Media, which is the umbrella corporation of his various media endeavors and whose corporate website is only in English. One of Maris’ first media properties was the online portal sport24.gr, a site that — despite having been established later than other such websites in Greece, and lacking the “name brand” of the existing sports media outlets — has nevertheless managed in a short time to become perhaps the preeminent sports news website in the country.

Maris’ sports media holdings are buffered by contra.gr, a sports and lifestyle website that was bought out by 24 Media, and by radio station Sport 24 Radio, broadcasting in Athens and networked with stations throughout Greece. This, of course, is in addition to his aforementioned activity in the sports betting sector.

Savvidis followed the more traditional route, beginning in Russia, where between 2002 and 2005 he was the chairman of the FC Rostov football club, and since 2005 has been chairman of FC SKA Rostov-on-Don. In 2012 his presence in the sports world expanded to Greece, following the purchase of one of Greece’s major football clubs, PAOK FC. Having paid off the previously struggling club’s debts and enjoying the support of the pro-PAOK sports media of Thessaloniki, the city where the team is based, Savvidis inherited an immediate and automatically loyal fan base through his takeover of PAOK.

More recently, Savvidis has forayed into the world of Greece’s sports media, purchasing sports portal SDNA, while it is rumored that he is in the market to purchase another, more prominent sports website.

An additional bonus that comes from having control of or influence over the sports media is this: in Greece, such media outlets are well aware that their target audience, primarily younger adult males, are often unemployed or underemployed and wholly miserable and dissatisfied with their lives amidst the economic crisis. Largely apolitical, and wholly awestruck by the glitzy stadiums and high priced superstars of the foreign football leagues that they invariably follow, they do not miss an opportunity to put down Greece for all of its real or perceived shortcomings.

Related | Greece: A (Basket) Case Study In Savage Globalization

In turn, the sports media caters to this sentiment. For instance, one of 24 Media’s properties is the website oneman.gr, which exclusively targets young men with glamorous stories about life in “civilized” countries and heaps of sensationalist “only in Greece” stories — which are invariably negative. These stories are then heavily cross-promoted across 24 Media’s sports portals.



Step three: Establish or purchase media outlets

Once you’ve become a nationally known and perhaps notorious figure through your activity in the sports world, the next step is to enter the day-to-day lives of all Greeks through the purchase of or establishment of one or more mass media outlets. Having already inherited a base of popular support via the ownership of a sports club, the next step – ownership of mainstream, general-interest media and news outlets – affords oligarchs even more power and influence.

“Diaploki,” as mentioned earlier, refers to the corrupt interplay of politicians and the owners of major industries and the media. In Greece, a country that boasts a plethora of media outlets, most newspapers and broadcast stations are not profitable. Indeed, they are not necessarily intended to be profitable. The real value that they provide to their oligarch owners stems from the influence that these channels afford them. This encompasses influence over public opinion, cross-promotion of their own business and sporting activities and holdings, and, perhaps most significantly of all, influence over and pressure on politicians and the government of the day.

An old adage of those seeking or exerting influence in Greece was (and largely remains) “give me a [public works] contract or I’ll open a newspaper” – insinuating that the “dirty laundry” of the government or specific political figures would then “leak.” With most oligarchs entrenched in the construction sector, their co-owned media outlets have traditionally been employed for the purposes of pressuring governments for lucrative public contracts of all sorts. This tactic has been successful and continues to the present day, even with the supposedly left-wing SYRIZA-led government that at one time was pledging to keep the oligarchs in check.

In a sense, Maris breaks with this tradition. He did not develop, and as of yet has not turned to, holdings in sectors such as construction, banking, insurance, or heavy industry. His media properties began to grow largely in parallel with his activity in the sports gambling sector. Starting small, with a small number of online outlets such as sport24.gr and news247.gr, the 24 Media empire has dramatically grown during the years of SYRIZA’s governance of Greece.

In part, 24 Media’s strategy has been to import brand names from the United States, including launching the Greek versions of the Huffington Post, Dailymotion, and NBA.com. Following these intermediate footsteps, though, 24 Media has recently taken the big leap into radio — first through its launch of Sport 24 Radio and then, earlier this year, through the launch of news radio station “Radiofono 24/7” in the cities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra and Volos, with a network of affiliated stations in other parts of Greece.

Maris also expanded into the world of print in a rather peculiar fashion, through his ownership and management of the “populist-right” newspaper Dimokratia. Though, as will be shown below, Maris’ media outlets are staunchly pro-SYRIZA, Dimokratia maintains a populist-right facade while “protecting” SYRIZA and attacking its main parliamentary opposition.

In turn, SYRIZA, which at one time campaigned for social justice, looks the other way while 24 Media has earned a reputation among journalists for not insuring employees and for forcing unpaid overtime.

Aside from his influence over pro-PAOK sports media outlets, Savvidis’ first somewhat clumsy foray into the media landscape came through his participation in last year’s unconstitutional television licensing bid, touted by SYRIZA as a centerpiece in its “fight” against the oligarchs, but in which an artificially low (four) number of nationwide television licenses was auctioned off to the very highest bidders — oligarchs, in other words.

Related | Syriza Sells Greece Out To The Highest Bidders

This licensing bid was struck down in late 2016 by Greece’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, while Greece’s existing television stations are on the air under a regime of temporary legality.

In this bidding process, Savvidis did not initially emerge as one of the four highest bidders, but after one of the winning bidders was disqualified, Savvidis inherited that license with the fifth-highest bid. Savvidis, however, did not actually own or operate a television station, television studios, or any other similar media property. This detail temporarily became moot when the bidding process for these licenses was overturned.

Savvidis re-emerged into the media forefront in Greece this year, initially through his purchase of 19 percent of the shares of the heavily indebted and struggling Mega Channel, formerly a powerhouse in Greece’s television landscape. Along with this purchase, Savvidis also obtained the Ethnos tabloid newspaper and the Imerisia financial newspaper. This buying spree concluded – for now at least – with the purchase of 100 percent of national television broadcaster Epsilon TV in August.

In turn, management of Savvidis’ new press holdings, Ethnos and Imerisia, was quickly handed over to — who else? — Maris’ 24 Media, a coming full circle of sorts for these two budding oligarchs.



Step four: Use these media outlets as partisan propaganda organs

Savvidis and Maris have more in common than just their management deal regarding the Ethnos and Imerisia newspapers. Both of these oligarchs are unabashedly and fanatically pro-SYRIZA, as evidenced by the political stance maintained by their respective media properties.

This was apparent, for instance, upon the return of Ethnos to newsstands on September 16, following an absence of many months and under the new management of Savvidis and 24 Media.

Ethnos front page on the day of its relaunch - September 16, 2017.
The Ethnos front page on relaunch day, September 16, 2017.
The main front page headline of the relaunched Ethnos boasted, in large letters, of Greece’s “RETURN” to normality and its emergence out of the economic crisis under the stewardship of SYRIZA. This return to normalcy, crowed Ethnos, will be accompanied by foreign investments and by social benefits.

This banner headline was further accompanied by a front page editorial touting Greece’s turn “from fear to hope.” These headlines are, of course, laughable in light of the continued crisis Greece finds itself in and the austerity commitments the SYRIZA-led government has signed up for all the way through to 2060.

Indeed, all the outlets operated by 24 Media are notorious in Greece for their largely pro-SYRIZA tilt. On September 14 — with the SYRIZA-led government basking in the aftermath of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ triumphant State of the Union speech in Thessaloniki and French President Emmanuel Macron’s official visit to Greece — news of a “relatively small” oil spill in the Saronic Gulf, off the Athenian coastline, finally made its way into the news — even though the spill had occurred on September 10 — as the oil from the spill finally began to wash up on Athens’ shores.

For news247.gr, though, this environmental disaster played second-fiddle to an exultant story about the SYRIZA government’s fruitful efforts to bolster relations with Italy and form a “southern European front.” On the front page of the relaunched Ethnos, the oil spill story was buried in the bottom right corner, accompanied by a headline that was a play on a famous Greek proverb insinuating that the uproar over the spill was an overreaction.

The News247.gr front page on the afternoon of September 14, 2017. The story of the oil spill in the Saronic Gulf is downplayed, the headline concerns the SYRIZA-led government’s efforts to bolster relations with Italy and create a “Southern European front.”
The News247.gr front page on the afternoon of September 14, 2017. The story of the oil spill in the Saronic Gulf is downplayed, the headline concerns the SYRIZA-led government’s efforts to bolster relations with Italy and create a “Southern European front.”
Such is the traditional modus operandi of media outlets in Greece: aside from exerting pressure upon governments and politicians for economic favors, these outlets are also used to shamelessly promote specific parties and particular political figures. Media outlets that “play ball” with the government of the day accordingly are afforded favors that go beyond lucrative contracts for their owners. For instance, state advertising expenditures traditionally were generously doled out not on the basis of circulation figures and audience size, but based on partisan favoritism. This practice continues today, even if outlays have dropped as a result of the crisis.

Therefore, it should come as no shock that Dimitris Maris is the founder and newly re-elected president of the Union of Online Publishers of Greece. Why is this significant? One of the highly touted initiatives of the current SYRIZA-led government is the formation of a “registry of online media outlets.” Maris, via the aforementioned Union, lobbied hard for the establishment of this registry, the primary purpose of which seems to be none other than establishing a formal structure for the allocation of state advertising monies to the online media. Those online outlets most favorable to the current government (such as 24 Media) stand to benefit the most, at least in the short term. Once again, diaploki comes full circle in Greece.



Step five: Leverage your influence to further expand your business empire


So you’ve gotten past your “entrepreneurial” stage. You’ve entered the sports world and made your presence felt in the media industry. And thanks to all of this, you have the government and key politicians in your pocket. What now? It’s time to put all that sweat and hard work to good use by leveraging your existing holdings and, even more so, your influence over the political system and over public opinion, to fatten up your business empire.

Maris has, for now at least, largely focused on feeding his online gambling operation, stoiximan.gr, which has begun sponsoring sports teams and entire leagues. For instance, stoiximan.gr is this season’s sponsor for Greece’s professional basketball league, one of the top leagues in Europe and home to perennial European powerhouses Olympiacos and Panathinaikos. And once again coming full circle, Maris’ stoiximan.gr is this season’s sponsor for Savvidis’ PAOK football club.

Savvidis, however, is quite the seasoned business figure. He got his start in the tobacco industry of the former Soviet Union – “taking over” a state-owned company that was privatized following the USSR’s collapse. This company then bought out Greek tobacco firm SEKAP, based in the northern Greek city of Xanthi, in 2013. That same year, Savvidis also took over management of the historic Macedonia Palace Hotel, with a prime location on the Thessaloniki waterfront. Earlier this year, Savvidis also took a controlling ownership share in Greek mineral water bottler Souroti. In another confluence of business and sports, Souroti is this season’s sponsor for the Greek soccer league, in which PAOK participates. And as reported by Maris’ sport24.gr, Savvidis launched a private aviation firm, Northern Wings, earlier in 2017.

Perhaps the centerpiece of Savvidis’ recent “investments” in Greece, however, derived from the privatization of the port of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest port. Thessaloniki serves as a strategic gateway to the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, via the port’s road and rail connections to the north and the coast-to-coast Egnatia motorway linking Italy (via a ferry terminal) with Turkey.

The sell-off of Thessaloniki’s port is part of a package of privatizations imposed by Greece’s lenders in the “troika”—consisting of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—as part of their so-called “bailout” packages for Greece. These privatizations are faithfully being implemented by the SYRIZA-led government, which prior to its election had campaigned against the selling off of publicly-owned assets, infrastructure, services, and utilities.

And who purchased the port of Thessaloniki? You can probably see where this is going. The port’s new owner is a consortium consisting of the German private-equity firm Deutsche Invest Equity Partners, Terminal Link of France, and Belterra Investments, owned by none other than … Ivan Savvidis. In other words, Savvidis, openly a SYRIZA supporter, is one of the main buyers of a critical piece of national infrastructure being privatized by the SYRIZA-led government at the behest of its European and international lenders – despite pre-election promises to abolish such privatizations!

Put differently, it pays to cozy up to the government in charge — which will ensure that leveraging the assets you’ve worked so hard as an oligarch to attain pays dividends, in more ways than one. “Radical leftist” rhetoric is merely for the consumption of the gullible voting public. Privatizations (now euphemistically referred to as “investments”) and business deals are for the big boys in suits (with or without ties).



Step six: Cultivate a public image

Now that you, as a full-fledged Greek oligarch, have established firm footing in the business world, it’s time to cultivate that public image. Ownership of a sports team and control over major media outlets is no longer enough. Positive public relations and a sterling public image are absolute necessities at this point to keep the whole operation running smoothly.

In building his profile, Savvidis has sought to tug at the hearts and emotions of the community of Pontic Greeks, whose roots hail from the Black Sea region. Among his other positions, Savvidis is president of the Federation of Greek Communities of Russia, president of the Association of Greeks of Russia, coordinator of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad of the Former Soviet Union, deeply involved with the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, and a regular visitor to the autonomous Orthodox monastic community of Agion Oros.

For his apparent contributions to the cause of the Pontic Greeks, a community that faced genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1914 and 1922, Savvidis was named grand marshal of New York City’s Greek Independence Day Parade in March 2017. More significantly, while Savvidis is no longer a member of the Russian parliament, since 2012 he has been a member of Presidential Council on International Relations of the Russian Federation. A promotion, one could say, for his exemplary work. It doesn’t hurt that Vladimir Putin had long been eyeing investments for Russian firms in Greece.

Maris, like Savvidis, has also looked outward. For instance, Maris and 24 Media have sought to foster “synergies” with the Hellenic Initiative, a Greek-American organization based in New York City, one of many non-profits that developed, around the time the economic crisis began in Greece, to “assist” in Greece’s “recovery.”

Former president Bill Clinton spoke at the Hellenic Initiative’s October 2013 banquet, while Maris and other executives and journalists from 24 Media and its outlets spoke at the 2017 Delphi Economic Forum, a mind-numbing conclave with a speaker list reading like a globalist Who’s Who. Included were the Hellenic Initiative’s executive director, Mark Arey, as well as countless politicians, journalists, academics, business figures and representatives of establishment “think tanks,” every last one of which could accurately be described as pro-EU, pro-euro, pro-austerity — in a word: neoliberal.

To be more specific, what kind of crowd can you mingle with once you’ve made your way up the stepladder and established yourself as a bona fide Greek oligarch? A review of the Delphi speaker list reveals the many possibilities. These include:

High-ranking members of the current SYRIZA-led government that once claimed to be “anti-establishment.”
Politicians from former Greek governments who were largely responsible for laying the foundations for the present-day economic crisis (and some of whom have gone on to lofty posts in the EU or international NGOs).
Politicians from almost every “opposition” party represented in the Greek Parliament — all of whom though, notwithstanding their “opposition,” maintain the same pro-EU, pro-euro, pro-austerity stance.
Academics and representatives of various think tanks, whose body of work also belies a definite pro-EU, pro-euro, pro-austerity stance.
Representatives from such institutions as NATO, the World Bank, the European Central Bank, the Trilateral Commission, and Stratfor.
Executives from state-owned utilities, which are purportedly fiercely resisting privatization but mingling with those who wish to privatize.
Scandal-ridden current and former members of Greece’s regulatory body for broadcasters, as well as the government ministers overseeing this “independent” body.
EU favorites such as the former non-elected prime minister of Greece, Lucas Papademos, and the former non-elected prime minister of Italy, Mario Monti; central bankers from various countries; and representatives from various well-connected NGOs.
And, last but not least, establishment journalists at media outlets that (surprise!) are also pro-austerity, pro-euro and pro-EU in their entirety. This impounds a full slate of journalists and executives from 24 Media, including a former government minister with the “center-left” Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), Petros Efthimiou, who is now acting as executive adviser for 24 Media.

Many of these same speakers were also present at the 2017 Thessaloniki Forum. Also present? Ivan Savvidis. Who else? Representatives of, you guessed it, 24 Media! In turn, Maris attended the Northern Lights Summit in Finland (covered here by the Greek edition of the Huffington Post) earlier this year, a conclave with a stated agenda of “saving open societies and free markets” and featuring a full slate of current and past politicians, central bankers, prominent journalists, and corporate CEOs.

As is painfully (or pleasantly, depending on your point of view) evident, membership in the club of Greek oligarchs has many perks and benefits!



Step seven: Hold down the fort

You’ve made it. You’re mingling with politicians, foreign ambassadors, representatives of the EU and World Bank and NATO, and prominent journalists who gladly will do your bidding. What’s next for a Greek oligarch?

Toe the line. Hold down the fort. Don’t make waves. And make sure to strike the perfect balance between keeping the government of the day in check, and being favorable and even deferential towards it when necessary.

One way to accomplish this is to bring them on board with you, as with the previously noted example of Petros Efthimiou, formerly of PASOK (as is much of SYRIZA’s cabinet). Laudatory headlines, as seen in the aforementioned examples of Ethnos and news247.gr, are sure to score some brownie points as well.

Another way to accomplish this is through fluff interviews and profile pieces where no difficult or remotely controversial questions are posed, as seen in this recent example where Greece’s general secretary of press and communication, Lefteris Kretsos, batted softball questions, about the government’s renewed efforts to move ahead with the auctioning of television and radio licenses, out of the park. The interview, broadcast on the Maris-owned radio station Radiofono 24/7 — itself operating in violation of Greek law (unjust as it is) prohibiting news programming on a registered non-news station — was hosted by Kostas Arvanitis, formerly general manager of the SYRIZA-owned radio station Sto Kokkino.

As seen before with the issue of 24 Media’s uninsured workers and questionable labor practices, obeying the law is optional once you’ve reached this stage. It should further be noted that Radiofono 24/7’s sister station in Thessaloniki, also classified as a non-news station, went on the air on an FM frequency previously owned by SYRIZA.

On the flip side, as a self-respecting oligarch with a media empire at your disposal, you won’t waste all your airtime, column inches, or pixels only on promoting favorable governments and politicians. You now have in your hands a virtually unlimited opportunity for unchecked self-promotion without any worries about criticism or formalities such as objectivity.

Looking for a media outlet to write up a profile of yourself describing you as a “game changer” in the media sector? Look no further than your very own media outlets. Need to promote your football team’s superstar? Simply prominently emblazon the interview on the front page of your own newspaper, Ethnos. True, this is an unusual move for an Athens-based paper, as PAOK’s fan base is largely in Thessaloniki and northern Greece — and in constant rivalry with the “Athens-centric” establishment — but who cares? You’re the boss!

Need to promote your newly-purchased newspaper, as in the case of Ethnos? Look no further than a friend and partner, as seen in this sport24.gr write-up for the aforementioned Ethnos interview. After all, what are friends and business partners for?

There you have it, easy as pie. Just follow these seven simple steps and you, too, can become a Greek oligarch!

Top photo | Ivan Savvidis poses for an Instagram photo.

By Mihalis Nevradakis

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Putting Grexit On The Table: How A Greek Exit From The EU Would Work


Putting Grexit On The Table: How A Greek Exit From The EU Would Work
There is no shortage of viable plans for a departure from the eurozone or, in some instances, the EU. All require a measure of fortitude and adaptability–a willingness to step beyond what is, in fact, a very uncomfortable comfort zone. The question is whether the Greek ethos can rise to this challenge.

by Michael Nevradakis

Existing plans for departure



A pedestrian passes anti-austerity graffiti in front of Athens Academy. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Proposal “A”: Perhaps the most well-known of these EU/eurozone departure plans has been presented by British economist Roger Bootle, of Capital Economics in London. The plan developed by Bootle and his team, titled “Leaving the euro: A practical guide,” was awarded the 2012 Wolfson Prize in Economics, the second most prestigious prize in that field.

Bootle’s plan calls for preparations for a eurozone exit to be undertaken initially in secret and to be implemented swiftly. Debt would be redenominated into the new currency and would fall under the jurisdiction of domestic law. All bank deposits and loans would also be redenominated into the new currency.
Capital controls would be imposed to prevent capital flight resulting from a possible initial panic or bank run. The transition period until the new currency circulates would be mitigated by allowing continued use of the euro and by promoting non-cash transactions. Devaluations of the new currency would occur and a moratorium on government debt service be imposed under this plan, which would also include a potential for a haircut of the public debt and debt relief for private firms with substantial foreign exposure. The option of bank nationalization would be on the table if necessary. Bootle also makes recommendations for how the ECB and the EU can, in turn, manage the departure of a eurozone member.
Bootle’s plan is essentially what has been put forth by CNBC economist John Carney, who points out something seemingly obvious, yet apparently lost on Greek and EU politicians as well as eurozone supporters: that there is no realistic way to get around austerity within the eurozone. Similarly, bestselling author Greg Palast, trained as an economist, has described SYRIZA’s idea of ending austerity within the eurozone as “fantasy.”
Proposal “B”: Economist Warren Mosler, a known proponent of modern monetary theory (MMT), describes larger deficits as a solution for the economic depression in Greece. It follows that if the EU is unwilling to relax its deficit rules—a refusal that seems a virtual certainty in light of the agreement between Greece and the EU for the maintenance of budget surpluses through 2060—then exiting is Greece’s best, next, and only option.
Mosler’s plan calls for the introduction of the new currency via taxing and spending, meaning that taxes would be levied in the new currency and spending would occur in the new currency as well, including payment of public-sector salaries. The denomination of the new currency would follow that of the euro: i.e., one euro would become one drachma.

Initially though, the currency would exist only in electronic form. Euro notes and coins would remain in circulation. However, a process Mosler describes as a “short squeeze” would follow: with tax obligations due in the new currency and accepted only in the new currency, individuals and businesses will have to sell euro notes to purchase the new currency.

This will actually place upward pressure on the new currency, alleviating fears of a devaluation and the loss of value of deposits. Gradually, this process will lead to the withdrawal of euros from circulation. The supply of euros would essentially become a foreign reserve currency for the country, while the new domestic currency would gradually make its way into circulation.

Notably, even Yanis Varoufakis, famous for his opposition to Grexit or the abolition of the eurozone, presents essentially this very plan for leaving the euro, essentially as a “last resort” for fleeing “a sinking ship.” It is therefore interesting that Varoufakis refused to consider raising the prospect of “Grexit,” even as a “Plan B,” in his negotiations with the troika during his tenure as Greece’s finance minister. Instead, he agreed to continue 100 percent of the previous austerity agreements before putting on a final show of “defiance.”

Proposal “C”: An academic paper written by Yiannis Athanasiadis of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam puts forth yet another course of action for departing from the eurozone. This plan analyzes the breakup of several currency unions, including the cases of the problematic breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the somewhat more optimistic examples of the breakup of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. It also highlights the examples of Iceland and Argentina as being more similar to the Greek case—and points to the more propitious outcome experienced by those countries as a further reason for optimism.

In his proposal, Athanasiadis calls for the suspension of debt payments, along with an audit of the debt and outstanding liabilities; introducing the new currency at a 1:1 conversion rate (meaning no devaluation); and introducing capital controls to prevent capital outflows.
Proposal “D”: A team of Finnish economists and mathematicians has also put forth a plan for eurozone departure. They highlight the many challenges that would face a country seeking to depart from the common-currency bloc–problems that nevertheless are not deemed to be insurmountable. The need for secrecy before the transition is also emphasized, as well as the necessity for maintaining a functioning system of payments. They also leave open the possibility of the devaluation of the new currency and the potential conversion of loans to the new currency.

Proposal “E”: Greek economist Spiros Lavdiotis, a former analyst with the Central Bank of Canada, recently presented his own departure plan. He highlights a six-month transition period during which a country like Greece would remain in the eurozone while negotiations are held with EU officials and creditors. He points out that putting the very real threat of an exit on the table would encourage creditors and EU officials to negotiate a deal beneficial for both sides in order to prevent an uncontrolled exit.
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Related | Ancient Greece Could Hold The Key To Solving Today’s Debt Crisis
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During this initial period, a stoppage of payments on debt and interest would be imposed. The money saved during this period would be utilized to finance an initial growth plan for the economy post-exit. The new currency would be ready to circulate after a few months, and a law would be implemented making it the exclusive legal tender. The exchange rate would remain at a 1:1 parity between the euro and the new currency. Loans would be redenominated but deposits would remain in euros while withdrawals would be in the new currency. Exiting the eurozone would also be accompanied by a departure from the EU.
Proposal “F”: Another Greek economist, Dimitris Karousos, has presented a blueprint for departing the eurozone. This twelve-step plan includes the immediate declaration of a stoppage of payments; disputing the legality of the public debt; canceling all existing memoranda and austerity agreements, and repealing associated legislation; and nationalization of the central bank and liquidation of existing commercial banks.

Imposition of capital controls would follow, as well as the development of a payment system to allow transactions to take place until the new currency is in circulation; maintaining some level of price controls to prevent gouging and abuse; restoring wages and pensions to pre-crisis levels; and debt forgiveness for households and small- and medium-sized businesses, mirroring debt forgiveness that actually was implemented in Iceland. This plan would also entail a departure from the EU.

Proposal “G”: Finally, in the United Kingdom, the Leave Alliance presented its blueprint for departure from the EU in the absence of any such plan from the country’s political parties. This plan identifies six phases of departure, covering such ground as trade negotiations, regularization of immigration policy and controls, breaking with Brussels-centric trade regimes, developing wider global relations, and implementing some degree of direct democracy for future decision-making.

What should be evident and obvious from this analysis of a small sample of the proposals that have been put forth is that, contrary to a common anti-exit argument that no one has actually developed a plan for how such a transition can take place, many such plans exist and have been developed by credible economists, based on reasonable economic assumptions as well as historical precedent and experience.

How to depart: some further thoughts and considerations

A tourist makes his way as youths make a transaction at an automated teller machine (ATM) of a Eurobank Bank branch in Athens, Greece. (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)
In order to better understand the intricacies surrounding a departure from the eurozone in particular, certain additional issues require examination. This analysis will demonstrate that a departure from the common currency is indeed feasible based on current conditions while introducing some additional thoughts and proposals to the discussion.

Foreign reserve assets: As mentioned in Part Two of this series, in the pre-euro days, European countries with weaker economies, including Greece, paid for imports of vital goods such as oil and medicine with foreign currency reserves. This is also how other countries without a “hard” currency import goods today.
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It, therefore, should be noted that, according to official data from the Bank of Greece, the country’s reserve assets total 6.378 billion euros, including 1.731 billion euros in foreign exchange. However, to this figure we can add the outstanding loans of Greek banks to external borrowers (approximately 27.4 billion euros as of 2015); the long-term bond portfolio of the Greek banking system, exceeding 55 billion euros; and the foreign stocks and securities held by the Greek banking system, exceeding 9 billion euros as of 2015.

Furthermore, the total circulation of euro banknotes in Greece (an estimated 27.4 billion euros in 2015) would essentially be converted to foreign exchange, as these notes cannot be canceled. In all, this creates a supply of foreign reserve assets that, according to Karousos, can cover Greece’s needs for the next five years, even if no further foreign reserves were to enter the system.

Balance of payments and trade: As pointed out by both Lavdiotis and Karousos, Greece continues to maintain a trade deficit, totaling approximately 15 billion euros. However, the difference is covered by services, specifically shipping and tourism, which generate foreign reserve and income for Greece. In short, Greece has achieved a balance of payments and services.

What this means is that Greece will continue to be in a position to import necessary goods and services during and after a transition to a domestic currency.

To float or not to float: One of the fears that is often expressed regarding a eurozone exit is a potentially catastrophic or uncontrolled currency devaluation that may follow–though this presumes that the new currency will be floated on the international markets.
Flotation, however, is not a necessity, and an excellent example exists: China. Between the late 1940s and the late 1970s, with a gradual rollback that spanned until relatively recently, China maintained its currency at an artificially overvalued level instead of allowing it to be freely floated in the global markets.

What this did was allow China to import technology relatively inexpensively with a strong currency–using this technology to promote the country’s domestic industrial base and to promote domestic consumption at the expense of exports. Once China’s industrial machine was ready to take the next step, this import-substitution model began to be carefully rolled back, opening up Chinese products to the world and eventually anchoring China as a global export powerhouse.

Conversely, in adherence with the aforementioned proposal put forth by Mosler, it would be possible to allow the new currency to float on the international markets. The domestic “short squeeze” would then be likely to counterbalance any downward, speculatory pressures on the new currency from the international markets. Furthermore, Greece could threaten to redenominate its debt into its new currency. This could act as a check against devaluatory pressures on the new currency, as the debt would, in turn, be devalued.

To devalue or not to devalue, to peg or not to peg: There are pros and cons to both options that bear examination. There are pros and cons to both options that bear examination.

One option is to maintain a peg with another currency, such as the euro or the U.S. dollar. There are actually two separate issues here: the initial conversion rate of the euro to the new currency, and a possible peg of the new currency to another currency, whether the euro or something else.
Here I will argue that setting the initial rate of exchange between the old and new currency is simply a conversion–essentially an arbitrary arithmetic choice without objective (i.e., non-psychological) monetary implications. Therefore, it actually should not matter whether the conversion rate is, say, one euro to one drachma, or one euro to one hundred drachmas. Either denomination would still be equal to the initial one euro. This relates to an old economic idea, that of money illusion, coined in the early 20th century by economist Irving Fisher, who pointed out the tendency to confuse the nominal value of currency with its real value.

Here, I will posit that large denominations, such as those that Greece and Italy had pre-euro with the drachma and lira, actually are beneficial to weaker economies, as they serve as a check of sorts upon inflation. It’s much easier, for instance, to raise a price from, say, one euro to 1.50 euros (a 50 percent increase) than to, for instance, raise a price from 10,000 drachmas to 15,000 drachmas (an equivalent percent increase). The psychology of money should never be downplayed and, psychologically, a hypothetical 5,000 drachma increase has a greater impact than a seemingly minor 50 cent increase. So, following this view, the drachma could be redenominated back at the original exchange rate of 340.75 drachmas to one euro.

This line of thinking is similar to the ideas proposed by professors Priya Raghubir and Joydeep Srivastava. Their 2009 paper titled “Denomination Effect” found that people are less likely to spend larger units of currency than their equivalent amount in smaller units; while their 2002 papertitled “Effect of Face Value on Product Valuation in Foreign Currencies” found that tourists underspent when the face value of foreign currency was a multiple of the equivalent amount in their home currency, and vice versa. This rule, of course, is applicable not just to tourists: psychologically, one is less likely to spend, say, 1000 drachmas than the equivalent amount of less than 3 euros.

These rules of economic behavior were evident in Greece and some other countries immediately after the transition to the euro. Amounts that previously seemed significant, such as 500 or 1000 drachmas (denominations represented by banknotes), were the equivalent of loose change with the euro, with amounts up to 2 euros minted as coins. Furthermore, businesses across the economic spectrum took advantage of this psychological effect to round up prices while seemingly still keeping them low. For instance, a 100 drachma (0.29 euro) bottle of water was “rounded up” to 1.00 euros (340.75 drachmas). Inevitably, purchasing power diminished almost overnight.

A post-conversion peg can take place independent of the currency conversion rate. Here though, it is important to consider that a peg will tie the new currency to the fiscal policy being implemented for the foreign currency to which it is pegged. This was the case in Argentina, which led to the country’s economic collapse in 1999.

Pegging the new currency to, say, the euro, might have negative consequences: the euro itself might begin a downward spiral in the markets if one or more of its members depart. On the other hand, a peg could allow a country like Greece to essentially do what China did: maintain an artificial value of the currency for a period of time until the initial difficulties of the transition to a new economy have been surmounted.

Capital controls: In Greece, capital controls have been in place since June 2015, just prior to the July 2015 referendum. These restrictions have essentially limited withdrawals to an average of 60 euros per day–having changed during this period from a daily withdrawal limit, to weekly, to biweekly, to monthly, without significantly changing the bottom line rate.
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The truth is that these capital controls have posed tremendous difficulties to Greek businesses in particular. However, in a post-transition period they might be a necessary evil until economic jitters have been overcome. If this is the case, what will be imperative is for a clear and reasonable capital control plan to be developed and to be communicated to the public, free of the uncertainty that exists with the current controls that are in effect in Greece, and with a clear forecast of when they will be loosened and/or eliminated.

Taxes: In a country like Greece, and with the economy in the condition its in, less is more when it comes to taxation. Greece’s sky-high tax rates have stifled consumer spending and have placed a chokehold on small- and mid-sized businesses, freelancers, and independent contractors. They have imposed a great burden on households and, ironically, they have encouraged the practice of which Greeks are stereotypically accused: tax evasion. For many in Greece today, it’s a simple choice between paying taxes or paying for bare necessities in order to survive.

Post-transition, a new tax regime must be ready to be enforced. One that is simple and easy to understand and fair to citizens and households, the self-employed, and to the small- and medium-sized businesses that have been a cornerstone of the Greek economy for decades.

Stability is key: in Greece, tax laws invariably change every year or even every few months, and retroactive taxation is often imposed! This makes it practically impossible for households and businesses alike to plan ahead or to make investments.

Furthermore, the Greek tax system unfairly presumes a certain level of income simply by virtue of owning a house or property (which may have been inherited), or owning a car or some other valuable asset—even if one is currently unemployed. This blatantly unfair practice must immediately be eliminated.
The value-added tax on goods–particularly vital necessities such as food, clothing, medicine, and heating oil–must also be abolished. Incentives could also be offered to lure back emigrants and businesses that have fled the country during the crisis.

Privatizations: The vast majority—perhaps all—of the privatizations that have taken place in Greece, particularly during the crisis, have been on blatantly unfair, vulture-like terms that have been completely unfavorable for the Greek state. Furthermore, many of the assets that were sold off, such as regional airports or the national lottery, were profitable—meaning that they provided income to public coffers each and every year. Many of these assets, such as airports and harbors, are also of high strategic importance.

Greece should, therefore, consider following the example of many other countries by re-nationalizing assets of vital national importance and assets that were profitable for the public sector. Other privatizations for non-vital and underutilized assets can and should be audited and reviewed–and canceled if need be. These assets can then be retained by the state as part of a public redevelopment plan, or tendered again at terms more favorable to the state, perhaps even as a long-term lease instead of an outright sale.

Red tape and bureaucracy: No matter what currency you use, your economy will be stymied if it is drowned in red tape and bureaucracy. Traditionally in Greece, this endless bureaucracy has been employed as a weapon to curtail any entrepreneurial initiative, such as the many attempts to develop an automotive industry in Greece.

Simply starting a business or forming a corporation in Greece can take months or years. In turn, the judicial system is, to put it mildly, slow as molasses. Simple “open and shut” legal cases are not “open and shut” in Greece, and almost invariably last a decade or more. This is not an environment within which businesses—particularly small businesses—or entrepreneurs can operate in an optimal fashion.
In other words, a change of currency is not enough. A change in public policy is also in order.

Legal changes: European Union membership meant that domestic law had to be “harmonized” with EU law. In order for an exit from the eurozone and the EU to be a true exit, these laws must be repealed.

But what about human rights? That’s a question that is often hysterically asked in Britain regarding Brexit. This is based on the silly assumption that human rights cannot exist without a supranational guarantor such as the EU. It also presupposes that the EU itself protects human rights. As has been determined by the UN and other bodies, this has not been the case in crisis-stricken Greece. Domestic law and international treaties are perfectly suitable for protecting human rights.

In the case of Greece in particular, what must be repealed are any and all laws pertaining to the memorandum agreements and austerity measures that have been imposed. A “clean break” cannot be considered to have been accomplished barring this. And if it is, for instance, determined that the economy is not in a position to immediately sustain a rollback to pre-crisis salaries and pensions, a clear road map for the process must be presented and communicated openly and clearly to the public.

Trade: No one is arguing that a country such as Greece should isolate itself from the world. But it is clear that EU-style “free trade” has not benefited the country, with agriculture being a case in point.

Outside of the eurozone and EU, countries are free to pursue trade agreements and partnerships with any other country in the world, without the need for approval from some other institution. Greece, which maintained strong agricultural trade with Russia, for instance, would no longer be hindered by EU sanctions, as it would be free to repeal them. Greece would be free to pursue trade relations with the BRICS nations, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, North America, and indeed even Europe. But it would have the ability to negotiate terms more favorable to its economic needs, rather than being covered by blanket EU trade rules.

One word of warning here: the BRICS, often touted as saviors, are themselves proponents of the neoliberal tenets of so-called “free” trade, including opposition to “protectionism,” which in the realm of economics has attained the same derogatory status as “nationalism” has in the political context. But what is protectionism? It’s merely the practice of defending domestic industries of vital or strategic significance from foreign competition. Especially for a vulnerable economy, the ability to protect key industries is indispensable.

Protectionism does not mean isolationism: While these two concepts are increasingly conflated, there is no argument for a country like Greece to isolate itself from Europe or the rest of the world post-exit. For instance, visa-free travel regimes can and do exist outside of a supranational context. International trade can continue. Tourism would still be welcome. And indeed foreign investment would be welcome, provided that it was on terms favorable to the local economy and domestic workers.

Protectionism can also be viewed as a means of protecting local culture from the homogenizing forces of economic and cultural globalization. Diversity and heterogeneity of course neither cause nor imply isolation.

Banking: This may be the stickiest issue of all. It is likely that, as part of a eurozone exit, commercial banks may need to be nationalized. In a sense this has already happened, as Greek banks have been recapitalized three times with taxpayer monies during the economic depression. These banks are essentially bankrupt and have been kept afloat using the tried-and-true logic of “too big to fail.”

Then there is the issue of the central bank to contend with. Greece’s central bank, for instance, is largely a privately-owned entity and 94 percent of its shareholders are not publicly known. Reforming Greece’s central banking system would seem to be the trickiest issue of all and larger-scale economic changes on a global scale would likely be a prerequisite for this to occur.

Economic development: In Greece, a mantra uttered all too frequently is that “we are a poor country” that “doesn’t produce anything.” This is not true. Greece is a land blessed with an incredible amount of natural resources; energy resources (including great potential for solar and other “green” energy sources); a rich culture and history; a large shipping fleet; an educated population and an innovative younger generation; strong agricultural capabilities and an excellent climate; and an entrepreneurial spirit—despite the culture of red tape and a supposedly “bloated” public sector. Greece has much to offer the world, and much to offer its citizens—if only its potential were to be tapped into.

To take just the example of tourism’s and the possibilities it offers: despite record tourist numbers now visiting Greece, there are many types of tourism that remain largely undeveloped or underdeveloped, including conference tourism, winter tourism (Greece has numerous ski resorts and chalets, for instance), natural tourism and camping, medical tourism, gastronomy tourism, sports tourism and sporting events that would utilize the country’s underused athletic infrastructure, and much more.

There’s a lot of potential in Greece, but the country must be free to tap into it. As long as it is not in control of its own economic destiny, this will not be possible.

Challenges real and imaginary: the impact of fear

Pro-Euro demonstrators, wearing t-shirts depicting the one Euro coin, sit on a sidewalk during a rally at Syntagma square in Athens, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)
An exit—and a post-exit transition—will not be easy. Nobody has claimed otherwise. But what Greece is currently experiencing–and what its government has committed to for the next four-plus decades–is also painful, with no realistic light at the end of the tunnel. Having committed to decades of austerity within the eurozone context and with no control over its fiscal or monetary policy or its economic destiny, it is hard to make a convincing argument that Greece’s economy can recover within the eurozone and the EU.

The main challenge though, as I see it, has nothing to do with the eurozone, the EU, or the obstacles that might be faced during the transition process. The primary difficulty Greece faces concerns its political class and the willingness of its people to move ahead with change—true change. To be perfectly frank, this author does not believe that any entity, any individual or any party or movement within the present-day political landscape–and particularly among those in parliament today–is competent or decisive enough to oversee a smooth transition to a post-euro and perhaps post-EU future, whether this transition were to happen by choice or involuntarily.

I do not believe a “Plan B” is in place even as a worst-case scenario, such as if there were to be a sudden collapse of the eurozone or Greece were to be forced out for other reasons. I also do not believe that the track record of Greece’s political class—replete with corruption, cronyism, irresponsibility and impunity—leaves much room for optimism. This is a political class that is most likely compromised as a result of its corrupt practices, and one that has proven that it places neoliberal interests and personal gain ahead of the public interest and well-being. And frankly, if such a transition were to be handled by a corrupt, compromised government with a poor track record, Greece might be better off standing pat for now.

It would not surprise this author, for instance, to see the current government or other so-called “leftist” forces like the DiEM25 movement of Yanis Varoufakis, if they were to ascend to power, introduce a parallel currency and sell it to the public and to the markets as “a return to a domestic currency.” The disastrous history of parallel currencies and bimetallism does not provide much hope that this would be a viable solution for Greece.
This means that it’s up to the citizenry of Greece to be the force that delivers change. This too seems something of a tall order, however. Learned helplessness and misery are deeply rooted in Greece, as has been demonstrated. It is not uncommon to hear, for instance, people react to suggestions not to vote for any of the existing political parties and to look instead to support new political forces or develop new political movements, by retorting “and who else is there to vote for?”

Another dangerously prevalent viewpoint is that Greece is “the worst in everything” and, by extension, that “Greeks are the worst people in the world,” a populace that brought economic disaster upon itself. In a climate of such helplessness, fear, misery and complacency, it’s hard to imagine any sort of motivation or clarion call that would allow the people to overcome these sentiments.
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Such expressions are usually accompanied by fears of the “external threats” Greece faces due to its geopolitical location. As this line of thinking goes, Greece cannot afford to leave the “umbrella of protection” provided by EU membership (and also by being part of NATO). It bears noting though that EU membership has done nothing to stop Turkish aggression in the Aegean, including violations of Greek territorial waters and airspace. This has not been a victimless activity: for example, in 2006, Greek air force pilot Konstantinos Iliakis was killed in an aerial exercise near the Greek island of Karpathos, while attempting to intercept Turkish fighter jets.

EU membership has also done nothing to put an end to the Turkish occupation of nearly 40 percent of Cyprus. Indeed, the EU supported the UN’s “Annan Plan,” which would have granted permanent status to the Turkish military presence and the illegal settlers from the Turkish mainland on the island. All of Greece’s major political parties openly supported this plan.

Indeed, while the EU has recently been posturing against Turkey, with threats to put a permanent end to its hopes for EU membership, it is the EU that succumbed to the bullying of autocratic Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan, his demands for EU money, and his threats to allow refugees and migrants to freely pass through Turkey into European territory. Turkey is the West’s favored son in the region (and increasingly Russia’s as well), and seemingly can do no wrong.

As for NATO, this author’s experience at NATO headquarters during an academic visit in 2013 sums up its arrogance and Greece’s second-class standing within the “alliance.” In a roundtable meeting with then-U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, and in response to an audience question regarding which countries were candidates for NATO membership, he asked whether anybody in the room was of Greek descent. When I raised my hand, he arrogantly retorted that because I was present, he’d make a reference to the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” instead of simply “Macedonia” — referencing Greece’s longstanding dispute with its northern neighbor over its usage and historical appropriation of the name “Macedonia.”

Greece’s geopolitical position and threats existed prior to eurozone and EU and NATO membership. Today, with membership in these institutions, these threats continue to exist. And yet the perception that Greece would be “destroyed,” not just economically but militarily, the moment it leaves the eurozone or EU, still persists.

Grexit a first step, not a cure-all

Credit: SOOC
Returning to a domestic currency isn’t a panacea or a cure-all. The right policies, and perhaps more importantly, the right attitudes must be in place. Corruption must be rooted out. The judicial system must be reformed and must work for its citizens for perhaps the first time in Greece’s modern history. Learned helplessness and dependency must be overcome. And the various banes of austerity, privatizations, and high taxation are all just as possible with your own currency as with the euro. To wit, privatizations in Greece began in earnest in the early 1990s, a decade before joining the eurozone.
Nevertheless, the debate must be opened. As evidenced by Varoufakis himself, even the staunchest pro-EU, pro-euro supporter would be foolish not to have a plan for a transition in place, for any number of scenarios that might make an exit inevitable. Even if ironically, Varoufakis himself excluded this “Plan B” from negotiations when he served as finance minister of Greece. Yet these plans have been systematically excluded from the public discourse in Greece and internationally, and have never been used as a negotiating tool by successive governments. It’s time this discussion was introduced into the public debate.
Top photo | Members of left wing parties shout slogans behind a burning European Union flag during an anti-EU protest in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki. (AP/Giannis Papanikos)
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