I was reading about a new Greek beer that is produced on the island of Santorini, famous for its volcano and magic scenery. The beer is, not surprisingly, called Volkan and is brewed with rare Cycladic ingredients. Its brewing method includes the conditioning of the water using Santorini basalt in a so-called “Lava Rock Filter”.
I visited their website and noticed that the brand is part of a campaign called “Greece Debt Free” (GDF). It means that for every euro spent on their products, 50 cents will be donated to reduce the Greek national debt. So far the only member of the GDF campaign is Volkan beer. Here’s their Facebook page and below you can watch their promo video.
The whole campaign is aiming either to the patriotic feeling of Greek consumers (help your country while sipping your beloved beer) or to the charitable feeling of tourists (while you’re having your holidays in Greece, help this poor country). My excitement about a new creative Greek product, at a time when Greece is obviously producing less and less, has been compromised by the whole idea behind campaign like GDF. What’s the point? Are we supposed to get drunk in order to help Greece get out of the mess? What is the GDF-supported company’s role in this chaos? And what if we manage to save Greece with the GDF campaign, as their vision suggests? The wrongdoings of those in power who mismanaged Greece for all these years will be forgotten. They, not just Greece, will be saved. No justice will be done. And, of course, it will be repeated. Simply see the criticism on charities to understand what I mean.
My objection to such initiatives is that there is no reference to responsibilities. Who brought us here? According to the mainstream narrative, we face the crisis as a natural catastrophe. Well it’s not. There have been people in power (and behind it) who took decisions and hold a part of the responsibility. And if Greece’s financial problem will be solved by offerings and donations, nothing will change.
On another similar occasion I remember, last Spring, when I passed by the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia. There was a notice board where people were invited to donate money in order to reduce the Greek public debt. Like a charity’s box over the counter of a grocery store. “This is where we’ve ended” we said with my friends. Where has this country’s dignity gone?
"We love Greece - We support Greece" says the poster outside the Greek embassy in Belgrade, Serbia.
Apparently, there was no funds for a special printing of the poster in Serbian, so the poster is fully in Greek. I guess these posters were printed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and were distributed in Greek embassies worldwide. I wonder how much money this campaign managed to raise.
Posted in Economy, Personal views, Society
Tagged beer, Belgrade, campaign, charity, Cyclades, debt, donations, Facebook, Greece, Greece Debt Free, greek debt, Greek embassy, lava rock filter, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, public debt, Santorini, Serbia, video, Volkan beer
This is a great example if you want to see how a responsible Greek politician behaves in times of crisis. In May 2010, when Greece was about sign the IMF/EU/ECB Memorandum, Michalis Chrysochoidis was not just another Socialist MP but the Minister for Citizen Protection (one of the high profile government posts). Yesterday he was invited to talk to a news program at SKAI TV. The discussion was around a recent criticism on the terms of the Memorandum, highlighted by former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis’ speech at a conference in Berlin. This is the video excerpt from SKAI TV and below a quick translation.
Journalist: Let me ask you directly. How many hours did it take you to read the Memorandum? Because Mrs [Louka] Katseli (the then Minister for the Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping) said yesterday that she was given the Memorandum on Saturday night and spent two hours on reading it and this is how she went to vote on it. Have you read what the creditors have written down and did you have a different opinion than theirs? Were you aware of what you were about to sign?
Chrysochoidis: Are you serious?
Chrysochoidis: These things were discussed in the Parliament… No, I haven’t read the Memorandum at that time because, simply, I had other obligations. I had other duties…
Journalists: Excuse Mr. Minister, this is very serious. How did you sign it? Did you sign a text that commits the country for an eternity and that is responsible for the mess in which we are now and you are telling us that you didn’t read it? How can you say this so easily?
Chrysochoidis: Look, in politics things are not like that.
Journalist: How are they?
Chrysochoidis: Some of my colleagues had negotiated, some of the responsible members which represented the government had negotiated and brought that legislation into the Parliament and, as you remember, it was voted by the majority of the Parliament, by PASOK and LAOS if I remember well.
Journalist: Is there a direct responsibility on the economic staff of the then government [i.e. the Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou]?
Chrysochoidis: As I told you before, it was done so under a state of panic in view of a possible suspension of payments which was a threat over our head. My job at that time was to re-organize the Police, the Fire Brigade, to create the DIAS team [a Police group which patrols in motorbikes], to fight crime. It was not my job to study the Memorandum.
So Mr. Chrysochoidis just said that he signed one of the most important legislation passed in this country without even reading it. He just went the next day to the Parliament and voted for it like an amateur politician. Like a virgin! He didn’t have the time because he was re-organizing the Police which indeed showed a great zeal to crush the demonstrations taking place in the center of Athens. It was the same days when three people were burned in the fire of Marfin Bank, a collateral damage of that day’s violent chaos. The DIAS team were roaming the streets like horses of the Apocalypse, attacking protesters. And yes, crime, there wasn’t much of it that day because the political head of the Police devoted all his time on the issue rather than having a look at the Memorandum.
Louka Katseli and Michalis Chrysochoidis getting bored during some speech (it was probably an important one)
Some key things to note which will make some (more) sense. There is a widespread criticism on the terms of the Memorandum even by PASOK MPs, now that the old PASOK (that of George Papandreou) is crumbling. Everyone one is trying to clear his/her name, to distance themselves from the shame of “having been part of it”, preparing for the next day, or simply for the coming elections. Let’s not forget that Mr. Chrysochoidis has declared that he intends to challenge for the PASOK leadership which will be decided very soon. But let’s not be in a hurry and put all the blame to Chrysochoidis for simply telling us the truth. Most, if not all, of the MPs had literally a few hours to read the Memorandum. Among the virgins, there were some prostitutes too.
Here’s an excerpt from an older post that I’ve wrote (The run up to the Greek economic crisis) – it is a translation by an article of To Vima’s journalist Pavlos Papadopoulos.
“We were like prostitutes after their first time” a top government official confessed in his attempt to describe the Cabinet member’s psychological situation during their meeting to sign the Memorandum, on the 5th of May 2010. “We were looking at each other and we were all pale” he says. “We felt very ashamed since we couldn’t believe that we, PASOK, led Greece to the IMF, having chopped the salaries and the pensions”. And then he concludes “Since then we have been completely prostituted. We’ve done the same things over and over again without feeling any shame”. Almost all PASOK politicians admit in private that the Memorandum, despite its provision of some necessary reforms, is synonymous at the same time with the sentencing of the economy to a prolonged depression and with the mortgaging of the country to its lenders. However they recognize that it was the last choice in order to avoid bankruptcy and to secure the savings and the pensions, especially since the government had previously failed to implement the prior solutions.
“The Memorandum was hastily written by us and the troika” admits a high-ranking government official who participated in the (so-called) negotiations. “We had no idea of what we were writing and the troika experts were equally confused, working under great pressure from the European Commission and the IMF”. According to first hand accounts, the slightest preparation hasn’t been made and simply, on the last moment, they isolated part from older IMF Memorandums as those with Turkey, Mexico or Hungary and they would hurriedly adapt them to form the Greek Memorandum. “It’s a bad compilation, a Frankestein-styled Memorandum” says a Minister who admitted that he had less than three hours to read, understand, evaluate and approve the part of the agreement which would commit his Ministry for the next four years.
Obviously this Minister was not Chrysochoidis.
Michalis Chrysochoidis is currently Minister for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping.
Posted in Economy, Politics
Tagged Apocalypse, Athens, Berlin, Competitiveness and Shipping, DIAS team, ECB, EU, fire brigade, George Papaconstantinou, George Papandreou, Greece, IMF, Kostas Simitis, LAOS, Louka Katseli, Marfin Bank, Memorandum, Michalis Chrysochoidis, Ministry for Development, Ministry of Citizen Protection, Ministry of Development, PASOK, Pavlos Papadopoulos, police, riot police, SKAI TV, To Vima, video