Tag Archives: Prime Minister

On ship-owners, bishops and Golden Dawn

The crucial journalistic question on Golden Dawn has been one for the past year. Who funds Golden Dawn?

For a long time there have been rumours that one or some ship-owners were behind them but no one has managed to document something tangible. It seems that this is changing.

Greek financial portal sofokleousin.gr has published a very interesting article a while ago. Though the portal quotes well-informed sources who spoke under the condition of anonymity, it mentions that there is an ongoing investigation of the Financial Crime Unit (SDOE) on the funding of neonazi party Golden Dawn.

The investigation, according to the article, has shown so far that several ship-owners, businessmen and even bishops are behind the far-right party and its criminal activities.

The article also says that among the party’s funders there are people beyond any suspicion, though some of the involved businessmen are serving a sentence in prison while others have trials pending. The data found so far imply a link between the members/local Golden Dawn offices and businessmen who have night clubs or are involved with sports (I guess some football team – not the cleanest sport in Greece). The data are already being used to document crimes like blackmail, threats or even paid assassinations.

The Financial Crime Unit has already asked the opening of several bank accounts so that they can document these investigated financial links with facts and proofs

According to the article, the investigation has showed that among the clergy there are even some bishops (!!!). The Prime Minister’s office has been briefed about the investigation, says sofokleousin.gr, and the PM’s advisers are doing their best to avoid any early leaks to the press.

Which they just failed to do.

Cirque de Grèce

Saw this today and thought that it’s funny. These are two very important reasons why I decided to post it here.

Unemployment (by Absent)

It’s inspired by a poster of “Alegria” (a show by Cirque du Soleil) which has filled Athens’ ad spaces these days. The guy is our Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras and the word is “Anergia” which means Unemployment in Greek.

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One more note left behind

A man shot himself yesterday in the very center of Athens. He is the latest in hundreds of suicides during and because of the crisis. Dimitris Christoulas  chose the place (Syntagma Square) and the time (rush hour) to pass his message. Many have called Christoulas “the Greek Bouazizi“. Christoulas’ message was handwritten on the note below.

The handwritten note that was found on Dimitris Christoulas

Here’s a translation of it:

The collaborationist Tsolakoglou government has annihilated my ability  for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone (without any state sponsoring) paid for 35 years.

Since my advanced age does not allow me a way of a dynamic reaction (although if a fellow Greek was to grab a Kalashnikov, I would be the second after him), I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.

I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945 (Piazza Loreto in Milan).

Note: Georgios Tsolakoglou was a Greek military officer who became the first Prime Minister of the Greek collaborationist government during the Axis Occupation in 1941-1942.

Exercising the Power of Nightmares

Greek Prime Minister Papademos gave a long introductory speech to his cabinet meeting last Friday (10/02/12). Considering his previous speeches and announcements, he devoted a big part of his speech by describing what would happen to Greece and Greeks should we end up in a disorderly bankruptcy.

Lucas Papademos, Greek PM

Here’s a hasty translation of that part:

A disorderly bankruptcy would throw our country into a disastrous adventure. Circumstances would create economic chaos and uncontrollable social explosion.The adverse consequences of a disorderly bankruptcy would be multiple and extremely painful for the Greek economy and society.

The state will be unable to pay salaries, pensions, to cover basic functions, such as hospitals and schools, while we will still have a primary deficit of 5.2 billion euros. Which means that the state revenues would be insufficient to cover our expenses, even if we would stop serving our debt.

Direct spending cuts which would have to go in case of a disorderly bankruptcy would result in real wages and pensions collapse, especially since it would be even more difficult to collect taxes.

The import of basic goods such as medicines, oil, machinery, etc., would be particularly problematic, as the country, both public and private sectors, will lose all access to borrowing and liquidity will shrink. Businesses would close en masse, unable to raise finance.

The living conditions of Greeks in the case of a disorderly bankruptcy would collapse and the country would drift into a long spiral of recession, instability, unemployment and destitution.

These developments will lead, sooner or later, at the exit from the euro. From the core country of the Eurozone, Greece would become a weak country on the fringes of Europe.

The full speech (in Greek) can be found here.

Never before has he spent so many words to describe what his vision of Greece is. Never before has he used more words to inform us how the situation can improve. Never before, during his duty, has he told us where exactly we are led with this new round of measures. For the first time he chose to describe the worst case scenario, a psychological blackmail trick that has been abused repeatedly during George Papandreou’s two years in power.

It’s not a new or unique phenomenon in politics. British film maker Adam Curtis described it in his 3-part documentary called “The Power of Nightmares”.

In the past, says Curtis, politicians were competing each other by offering a better future. Citizens were choosing the best and more feasible future and would vote it in elections. In the past decade or so this has changed. Politicians are now competing by offering the least worse future for the citizens, who live in a state of fear of what could happen to them.

Lucas Papademos just joined the group.

To watch all three hour-long parts of Adam Curtis’ Power of Nightmares, click here. Adam Curtis’ blog at BBC is available here.

Politics, media and pimps

Yesterday the socialist party leader and ex-Prime Minister, George Papandreou, made another confusing move. Attending PASOK’s political council, he stated that he will quit politics by not setting himself as a candidate for PM in the next elections and either for the leadership of his party. Paradoxically Papandreou suggested that the Socialists’ internal election to chose their leader should take place after the general elections. Which means that Papandreou will lead the party in the elections but, in case of a victory, he is not going to be the Prime Minister.

Funnily, that wasn’t the most interesting part of his speech. Among other things, he made a short account of his administration and accused the Lambrakis Media Group (DOL) of undermining his government. The reason for DOL’s behaviour, according to Papandreou, was that the former prime minister had advised the National Bank of Greece not to lend the media group 10 million euros. As he said, the issue shouldn’t have reached him in the first place and, after being informed that DOL didn’t satisfy the economic criteria for the loan, he instructed NBG not to proceed in the lending.

DOL’s chairman, Stavros Psycharis, replied immediately to the accusation with this short announcement.  “It’s true that DOL asked for a loan from the National Bank of Greece, of which it is a customer for the past 90 years. The National Bank rejected the request officially. Unofficially they told us that it was not approved by the Prime Minister’s office. It’s obvious that any intervention from banks against newspapers which don’t satisfy government interests, is a fascist mentality. Obviously, when power is lost, memory is lost too, even for very recent events. The PASOK leader-in-retirement is kindly requested to state the circumstances under which we met for the last time at the Prime Minister’s office and the reasons for which we were asked to enter the building through the back door. He should also say who asked what from whom!”

This is the beautiful and prudent world of Greek politics and media, an interwoven set of business and political interests which, for decades, were serving one another forming the so-called establishment. Of course, he was not the first Prime Minister who ever said such a thing publicly. Back in 2004, his predecessor, Kostas Karamanlis, gave his famous speech on Greece’s five “pimps” who were thought to undermine his project. An article of that day describes the event in a very detailed way and I found it twice interesting to read it under today’s circumstances in Greece.

“We will not allow five pimps and five interest groups to push us around… They can easily be dealt with,” Karamanlis told a gathering of about 30 of his party’s members of Parliament in a Monastiraki restaurant best known for its kebab and ebullient owner and namesake, Bairaktaris. The meeting on Wednesday, in which generous portions of food and wine are said to have been consumed, was a private affair. It was, of course, not as private as a chat in his home or office, meaning that what was said could find its way into the public domain. And so the next day Karamanlis’ purported declaration had been leaked to the media. The government commented half-heartedly that the prime minister does not use such language and actually confirmed the gist of what he had said.

In a country where politics never sleep, where words are cheap and where memorable and colorful statements become slogans, Karamanlis’ purported words soon took on a momentum of their own. It was not only as if he had actually used these particular words at the dinner at Bairaktaris but as if he had declared them in full view of the public. He could, of course, always deny paternity but the statement will stick to him and will be part of his legacy. What now remains to be seen is what he meant by this statement. But what is even more significant is whether this signaled the start of a clash of titans or whether it was a verbal flare sent up into the dark sky to illuminate public life for a while before disappearing into the sea of grand, meaningless gestures.

On the surface, the meaning of the declaration is clear. Karamanlis was telling his troops that they should be ready to kick some enemy butt as part of an irresistible force.

Here you can read more about that event. In the meantime, a question instead of an epilogue. If the ruling elite is the pimp, who are the whores?

 

A poll for Papademos

PM Lucas Papademos at the Greek Parliament

A new opinion poll is presented today by Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper. It’s questions (and the results as a consequence) are constructed in a way to show that Lucas Papademos is the best we (can) have. Here are the results and some comments from me (in italics).

The participants were asked to choose between two politicians on who is the most appropriate for Prime Minister.

Current PM Lucas Papademos scored 54,3% against New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who got 21,7%, while 24% denied to give an answer.

Against PASOK’s George Papandreou, Lucas Papademos was preferred by 71,8% to only 3,8%. Another 24,4% did not reply.

Between Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou the score was 38,3% to 10,7%. The remaining 51% did not reply.

This looked a bit dodgy to me as I haven’t seen this practice for a long time. Placing Papademos in a dilemma against worn out politicians, bearing their sins from the past, makes him look like the Messiah. Indirectly what I can see is the need for new political parties rather than the legimization of the technocrats around Europe. He is not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.

On whether the co-operation government under Lucas Papademos is a positive or negative development for our country, 40,4% replied “Positive”, 16,6% replied “rather positive”, 9% replied “rather negative” and 37,7% gave a negative answer while 6,8% did not reply.

35,7% of the interviewees had a positive view of Papademos, 27% had a “rather positive” view, 10,4% was rather negative and the stance for the 19,3% was simply negative. A no-reply was given by 7,6%.

Surprisingly there was a question on whether the interviewee wished that the new government’s efforts suceed. An 83,6% replied “Yes”, a 4,4% did not want to give an answer and a whole 12% wished that their efforts will not suceed.

You might wander, why on earth are there Greeks who wish to see their country failing? well, this is a characteristic of this nation since antiquity, it never unites until it’s inevitable or until there is a common foreign ennemy. A reason for wanting this government to fail might also be a need to show that technocrats’ governments are not efficient. In any case, it’s not just the “irresponsible” citizens/interviewees who think that way. One simply has to see behind the current government’s (of cooperation?) sluggishness and he’ll discover Ministers sabotaging one another in view of the next elections. An illegitimate government that feels that way and has its mind in the elections.

Back to the poll, 13,2% would like to see Papademos becoming a politician with one of the existing political parties after the end of the current administration, a 35,3% wishes to see him stepping down from politics and a 30,5% wants Papademos to found a new party. The rest 21% had no opinion on the matter.

As for popularity, here’s the ranking.

Lucas Papademos: 62,7% positive/rather positive view and 29,7% negative/rather negative view.

Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left): 47,3% positive/rather positive view and 44,7% negative/rather negative view.

Giannis Dimaras (Panhellenic Citizens’ Chariot): 36,8% positive/rather positive view and 52,4% negative/rather negative view.

Alexis Tsipras (SYRIZA): 35,5% positive/rather positive view and 62,4% negative/rather negative view.

Antonis Samaras (New Democracy): 31,4% positive/rather positive view and 66% negative/rather negative view.

Giorgos Karatzaferis (LAOS): 27,5% positive/rather positive view and 70,5% negative/rather negative view.

Aleka Papariga (Communist Party): 24,3% positive/rather positive view and 72,6% negative/rather negative view.

Dora Bakoyannis (Democratic Alliance): 19% positive/rather positive view and 78,5% negative/rather negative view.

George Papandreou (PASOK): 15,6% positive/rather positive view and 83,7% negative/rather negative view.

Europe’s worst nightmare

Another article, this time from New York Times’ Landon Thomas Jr., talking about the possibility of a military coup in Greece (see this and this for previous mentions).

It would be Europe’s worst nightmare: after weeks of rumors, the Greek prime minister announces late on a Saturday night that the country will abandon the euro currency and return to the drachma.

Instead of business as usual on Monday morning, lines of angry Greeks form at the shuttered doors of the country’s banks, trying to get at their frozen deposits. The drachma’s value plummets more than 60 percent against the euro, and prices soar at the few shops willing to open.

Soon, the country’s international credit lines are cut after Greece, as part of the prime minister’s move, defaults on its debt.

As the country descends into chaos, the military seizes control of the government.

To read the rest of the article click here.