Monthly Archives: November 2012

Pacta sunt servanda

*The agreements must be kept.
Cicero

Breach-of-employment-agreements

So we reached December, almost 6 months into Samaras’ administration. What was his main pre-election promise? Renegotiation. A sweet word which the majority of the people haven’t yet tasted. The recent Eurogroup meeting finished with a lot of criticism on whether this government, like the previous, actually negotiated anything. Yet, no one is complaining because most of the people struggle for the daily life, our daily bread. We’re thankful it’s not worse, says a Greek expression.

Beyond the scandals, one of the main reasons for the depreciation of Greek politicians is their unfulfilled promises. The thousands “I will” of old school politicians that have been quickly forgotten. When I look back the examples are countless. In 2009, Papandreou ran for election with a program for growth while New Democracy (and the Bank of Greece as it was later revealed) was saying that we were running low on cash. “There is money” was Papandreou motto, but we ended up finding out that we were hugely indebted and called the IMF. Before him, Karamanlis (2004-2009) declared the re-organisation and reconstitution of  the State. He wanted to end years of PASOK’s dominance by changing the mentality of the public sector. Instead he filled the public sector with New Democracy voters in an attempt to balance the demographics in Ministries and state enterprises. We now know that this project was financed with loans. Before him, Simitis (1996-2004) main promise was the entry into the eurozone and, as a result, an unprecedented wave of growth. The “creative accounting” as it was called got us into the european currency, the Stock Exchange collapses in a scandalous way and, as we keep finding out until these days, millions of euros went into “personal commissions” for weapons, public tenders won by Siemens, etc. The growth that we saw was just the gift wrap of the same old shit.

For the past 20 years we are living in a fake democracy where we vote for something that is really different with what we end up in our hands. It’s like getting a ticket to Mykonos but the boat strands on some dry rock island in the middle of nowhere. Yet, we disembark without complaint.

In a conversation I had recently with a friend, we were saying that the elections is some kind of contract. One side proposes to do something and the other authorises it to do it, an agreement legitimised by votes instead of signatures. However, no one is accountable for failing to fulfil the contract’s obligations. No one is punished for this systematic fraud, where it is intentional or unintentional. We don’t investigate that either. We just end up with a collective sense of injustice and anger, treating the elections more like a small circus rather than the celebration of democracy as we used to call it. We just get the next luxurious and super-fast boat that will end up at another rock island.

The other day I was surfing on the Internet and I somehow stranded on the personal website of Adonis Georgiades, a former far-right politician turned mainstream after joining New Democracy, less than a year ago. He had a banner at the top of the page which was saying “Pacta sunt servanda”. With this profound latin quote he was trying to calm the few who were actually anxious on whether Europe will keep its promise to give us the next instalment. The “153 brave ones”, as Georgiades likes to call them, of the Greek Parliament have voted the measures the troika asked, so now Europe was expected to do its bit. How would Georgiades feel if the other side of the contract simply breached the agreement? Which is something that they will do because there will be more measures in the future, despite the government’s statement that these will be the last. The announcement of new measures, is an old measure by itself. An old trick.

Hence, my dear Greek politicians of the current and future governments, the unilateral breaching of a contract means the de facto cancellation of the agreement. Therefore, when a government is elected by promising to renegotiate a situation in order to improve it and ends up by voting worse austerity measures than the ones of their predecessors, its moral legitimisation expires.

The Wake Up Call trailer

At last, my personal project which occupied most of my free time in the past 2-3 months is nearing its end. It’s a short-documentary on the political graffiti in Athens during the Greek crisis, an idea that originally came from this very blog.

This is the trailer of the documentary, I hope you like it and share it around.

The Wake Up Call – trailer (English subtitles) from Kostas Kallergis on Vimeo.

If you want to find out more, you can visit the dedicated website for this project, www.thewakeupcall.gr. Stay tuned for the main video which will probably be ready in a week from now.

Alex, our alter ego

This is an animated video made by my friends at The Omikron Project.

The Omikron Project is a place for ideas, discussion and action for Greece’s global image crisis. It’s group of individuals who are “sick of watching the rest of the world get fed inaccurate images of life here [in Greece] today, and wanted to do something about it.”
Omikron Project’s mission is to give people outside Greece a fuller picture of what’s going on in our country, and let them decide what to believe. It aims to show the untold side of the Greek crisis, and crush the negative stereotypes that are adding to Greece’s problems.

If you want to find out more about The Omikron Project, click here.

It’s sunny in Athens today

On September 11, 1973, the sun was shining over Santiago, Chile. But the radio station was broadcasting that it was raining. This announcement was repeated and it was something that puzzled the citizens. It was later disclosed that the obviously weird message was actually a code that was announced via radio in order to signal the overthrow of the Allende government. A political storm followed…

It’s raining over Athens today. Really. I think it is one of the moodiest, more numb days I had in years. There is such a huge disappointment after yesterday’s vote. A three party government managed to collect 153 votes (they needed 151 for a majority) to pass a multi-billion euro set of austerity measures that are missing the most important element: growth. The minimum legitimisation for the most significant of bills.

Last night, the rain and tear gases have convinced the protesters to leave the center. There was a very well organised plan by the police forces to push peaceful protesters away. I left the square to find a place to breathe and on my way back I was stopped and was forbidden to pass. I showed my press card and explained that I have to return to the square to report. It didn’t mean anything to them. Police units blocked streets leading to the square in front of the Parliament and were turning people away. It’s these small things that cameras don’t show but make a big difference for people on the ground. I felt, to put it bluntly, that Greek citizens have been deprived of the right to demonstrate peacefully for as much as they want.

Today’s weather suits my numb mood. The grey sky sets a perfectly matched setting for what is to come. I thought of translating some of today’s newspapers, as I always do on important days, but I felt it was meaningless. So i’m only posting this, it’s from the front page of Ta Nea newspaper.

By Dimitris Hatzopoulos – Ta Nea newspaper

No strange messages were announced today by radio in Athens.