Business Insider Australia: Greek Member of Parliament Yelling “Heil Hitler”

Business Insider Australia: Greek Member of Parliament Yelling “Heil Hitler”

As the few words of the post note, a Χρυσή Αυγή or Golden Dawn member of parliament gets themselves into some trouble.

The rise of far-right sentiments in Greece is no longer something that Greek parliament can simply spectate. It needs to educate and remind Greeks everywhere why the notion of nazism is just not acceptable to a nation that suffered immensely from its effects. People endured poverty, famine and in its extremes there were many deaths.

Nationalistic and true Hellenic passion is acceptable and should be promoted, however this is far from being anything about being a true Hellene.

Guardian: China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, pledges support for euro

Monday 4 October 2010

The country vows it will not reduce its holdings of European government bonds, and will double trade with Greece.

“Wen, who offered on Saturday to buy an unspecified amount of Greek government bonds when debt-laden Athens resumes issuing, said he was glad Greece was starting to emerge from the shadows of its debt crisis. Wen vowed to double trade with Greece to $8bn (£5bn) within five years and provide a $5bn credit line to Greek shipowners buying Chinese-built vessels.”

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The New York Times: Young Greeks Seek Options Elsewhere

The financial crisis has resulted in wage cuts, a higher level of unemployment and the expected uncertainty for the future.

This article from The New York Times looks at an issue that unfortunately is not new to Greece. It’s the new generation of Greeks that are looking for work outside of their homeland for work opportunities.

“ATHENS — In two weeks, Alexandra Mallosi, 29, will be packing her bags and leaving the quiet Athens suburb of Holargos for Abu Dhabi to start a job as a hotel sales manager.

It was not a tough decision. Her experience in the Greek hotel industry had left her frustrated.

“In other countries, young people are encouraged,” Ms. Mallosi said. “In Greece, they are held back.”

Like Ms. Mallosi, an increasing number of young college graduates are leaving Greece as a deepening recession chokes a job market already constrained by an entrenched culture of cronyism. And the outlook for a turnaround is not good. “

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AFP – Crete tourist season dented by Greek crisis

By Charlotte Turner (AFP) – 29 Aug 2010

ELOUNDA, Greece — It’s late afternoon but the relentless summer sun still beats down from a clear sky above picturesque Crete, Greece’s largest island.

Just outside Elounda, a tourist town on the island’s northeastern coast, sun-dappled water laps onto a pebbly stretch of shore where a few holidaymakers are stretched out on loungers shaded by wide umbrellas.

It may be high season, but this beach is half empty.

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SMH: Greece flights grounded as workers protest

July 16, 2010 – 10:46AM

Flights in Greece were grounded for at least four hours during a strike which saw tax collectors, customs officials and government workers walk out in the latest protest against the government’s austerity measures and pension reforms.

The action by air traffic controllers halted flights to all Greek airports until the early afternoon – and when it stopped, outgoing flights were extremely backed up, creating more headaches for tourists.

Read more:  Sydney Morning Herald

The Wall Street Journal: The Submarine Deals That Helped Sink Greece


July 10, 2010

(Please see Corrections and Amplifications below.)

ATHENS—As Greece slashes spending to avoid default, it hasn’t moved to skimp on one area: defense.

The deeply indebted Mediterranean nation, whose financial crisis roiled the global financial system this year, is spending more than a billion euros on two submarines from Germany.

It’s also looking to spend big on six frigates and 15 search-and-rescue helicopters from France. In recent years, Greece has bought more than two dozen F16 fighter jets from the U.S. at a cost of more than €1.5 billion.

Much of the equipment comes from Germany, the country that has had to shoulder most of the burden of bailing out Greece and has been loudest in condemning Athens for living beyond its means. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admonished the Greek government “to do its homework” on debt reduction.

The military deals illustrate how Germany and other creditors have in some ways benefited from Greece’s profligacy, and how that is coming back to haunt them.

Read more:  The Wall Street Journal

BBC: Greeks and Irish look for jobs abroad

By Chris Bowlby
BBC Radio 4, Crossing Continents

In the places worst affected by Europe’s economic crisis, unemployment and cuts in pay and public services are hitting the headlines. But the crisis is also having another effect with profound long-term consequences – the return of emigration.

Places like Greece and Ireland thought the good times of the last decade or two had finally ended the cycle of emigration, with the brightest and best youngsters no longer feeling they had to move away.

No-one believes that any more.

Read more at BBC NEWS:

BBC: Stephanomics: Greece: One day at a time

Stephanie Flanders | 12:41 UK time, Monday, 12 April 2010

“In their approach to the Greek crisis, European officials have taken the time-honoured route of taking it one day at a time – with the financial markets always several steps ahead. They hope to have broken the spell yesterday, with the new statement hammered out, over the phone, by eurozone ministers and officials.

Will it work? The British election is taking up a lot of my brain-space today, but some quick thoughts …”

Read more: BBC

Apollonian optimist: The man with one of Europe’s toughest jobs

By Helena Smith

Giorgos (George) Papaconstantinou is an optimist by nature – which is just as well for a Greek finance minister. Few – some might say very few – have a job as unenviable as his: fixing the weakest economy in Europe, with the highest debt in the EU, in a timeframe that might make even Hercules flinch.

From reining in the country’s ballooning budget deficit to restoring its battered creditworthiness, Papaconstantinou has his work cut out for him. Even Prime Minister George Papandreou admits that Greece “risks sinking” under its staggering €300 billion debt.

Curriculum Vitae

1961: Born, Athens
1980-88: London School of Economics (BSc), New York University (MA), London School of Economics (PhD)
1988-98: Senior economist with the OECD
1998-2000: Adviser to prime minister Costas Simitis
2000-02: Special secretary, Ministry of Economy and Finance
2003: Oversees Lisbon strategy during Greece’s presidency of the EU
2003-07: Teaches at Athens University of Economics; external adviser to the European Commission on research and information society issues
2004-07: Economic adviser to George Papandreou
2007: Elected to parliament
June 2009: Elected to the European Parliament
October 2009: Finance minister

He may be a little egotistical but this is a guy who is also ultra-calm, ultra-level-headed, ultra-organised and ultra-punctual. He has this ability not to show what he thinks, or feels, even when he is agitated.

On all fronts, Papaconstantinou’s is a lot that few would want. For a man who, though an economist, concedes that numbers were never really his thing, the task at hand would seem harder still.

But he does not quite see it that way, even if he keeps a small plant (on closer inspection, a mini olive tree) in a pot emblazoned with the word Elpizw – “I hope” – in his scrupulously neat Athens office. Instead, he sees his job as a “trem-endous challenge”, one that he hopes will ultimately change Greece for the better.

Papaconstantinou might not, at first sight, seem the most obvious choice to carry Greece through this crisis: this is his first cabinet post and he has spent more than half of his 48 years abroad – in London, New York and most recently Paris where, for ten years, he worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Nor has he had an easy time in the hurly-burly of Greek politics, despite his relatively privileged background (typically for a member of Greece’s jeunesse dorée, he was educated at Athens’s American Col-lege, before going on to take his first deg-ree at the London School of Economics).

In 1998, by then married to the Dutch travel writer Jacoline Vinke and with two young sons, he decided to return to Greece as an adviser to Costas Simitis, the then socialist prime minister. Politics soon beckoned and aides speak of epic efforts to secure a parliamentary seat in Kozani, a fur-trading area of northern Greece from where his civil-servant father, Nestor, hailed.

But it was a time when modernising policies were regarded with deep suspicion among the rank-and-file of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement, Pasok, who repeatedly rebuffed his candidacy, rejecting his cosmopolitanism and fresh ideas in favour of apparatchiks with more traditional agendas. Papaconstantinou responded with the tenacity that, according to some of his closest colleagues, has come to distinguish his career.

“He is incredibly stubborn…even when he lost, he’d say the very same night ‘we’ll try again’. Not many people would have done that,” says Filio Lanara, a member of his private cabinet for the past six years.

“He may be a little egotistical but this is a guy who is also ultra-calm, ultra-level-headed, ultra-organised and ultra-punctual. He has this ability not to show what he thinks, or feels, even when he is agitated.”

In 2007, after three attempts, the bookish and mild-mannered Papaconstantinou was elected, thanks mostly to first-time voters.

“We should not underestimate the frustration that Greeks feel for things as they are,” he has insisted. “Deep-seated structural problems in our society have come to the surface…there is a sense that we cannot go on any longer like this.”

Papaconstantinou readily accepts that it was his time abroad that allowed him to see things differently. “Living out of Greece taught me there is a different way,” he says.

It came as no surprise that Papandreou – US-born and reform-minded – made Papaconstantinou first his senior economic adviser, then put him at the top of Pasok’s list of candidates for the European Parliament elections in June 2009, and finally appointed him finance minister. (Both are also fervent non-smokers and exercise enthusiasts.)

The party’s progressive wing is firmly in the ascendant following Papandreou’s landslide victory in elections last October, but Papaconstantinou is the first to admit the scale of the economic and political challenge.

“If you look at the numbers for 2009, they are frightening in terms of the expenditure overruns,” he says, alluding to a 2009 deficit expected to reach a record 12.7% of gross domestic product, more than four times higher than permitted in the stability and growth pact and twice as high as announced by the previous centre-right government.

For too long, he laments, successive governments have tried to hoodwink mandarins in Brussels by cooking the books. “I can tell you that it is not the easiest task for a Greek finance minister to have to defend the integrity of the country’s data.”

Restoring Greece’s credibility is, he says, as important as restoring it to fiscal health. With alarm over the state of the Greek economy also at unprecedented levels amid continuing doubts about the government’s rescue programme and fears of a debt default, he and the govern-ment know that time is not on their side.

Week after week, Brussels has piled on the pressure, ramming home the message that fixing Greece’s public finances is also crucial to the Eurozone’s stability and functioning. EU officials have reiterated that the government will have to be more specific about its three-year programme, which, in keeping with pre-election pledges to cushion the poor from further financial strain, has so far rested on expenditure cut-backs, tax hikes and a public-sector pay freeze.

For his part, Papaconstantinou appears to relish the prospect of measures to put Greece’s economic house in order. He has accepted a wage cut and quickly dispensed with his luxury Mercedes Benz, one of the job’s few perks.

Paschos Mandravelis, a columnist and a man who knows Papaconstantinou well, describes him as one of the most literate politicians in Greece. “He reads, which allows him to understand issues quickly, and works incredibly hard. Friends and colleagues will often receive emails from him at 2 or 3am.”

Many, including western European diplomats, seem impressed by his acuity and convinced of his sincerity.

But even his greatest fans acknowledge how formidable his task is.

Greece is a restive place, still reeling from riots triggered by its economic woes. From from his sixth-floor office on Syntagma Square, Papaconstantinou has a bird’s-eye view of the streets where protesters like to gather.

With powerful trade unions already girding up for battle in the face of further austerity measures, he is acutely aware that his will be a tight-rope walk, one that ultimately will depend as much on political skills as on the economic finesse and on the Apollonian optimism that nature has blessed him with.


Greece should sell islands to keep bankruptcy at bay, say German MPs home

• Fire sale of Greek islands, Acropolis and Parthenon suggested
• Greek public reacts with outrage and boycotts German goods

Phillip Inman and Helena Smith,

Thursday 4 March 2010 13.57 GMT

Josef Schlarmann told Bild newspaper that Greece should consider selling its uninhabited islands for debt redemption.

Josef Schlarmann told Bild newspaper that Greece should consider selling its uninhabited islands for debt redemption. Photograph: Third Eye Images/Corbis

Photograph: Third Eye Images/Corbis

Greece must consider a fire sale of land, historic buildings and art works to cut its debts, two rightwing German politicians said today in a newspaper interview that is bound to exacerbate tensions between Athens and Berlin.

Alongside austerity measures such as cuts to public sector pay and a freeze on state pensions, why not sell a few uninhabited islands or ancient artefacts, asked Josef Schlarmann, a senior member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and Frank Schaeffler, a finance policy expert in the Free Democrats.

The Acropolis and the Parthenon could also fall under the hammer, along with temptingly idyllic Aegean islands still under state ownership, in a rush to keep bankruptcy at bay.

“Those in insolvency have to sell everything they have to pay their creditors,” Schlarmann told Bild newspaper. “Greece owns buildings, companies and uninhabited islands, which could all be used for debt redemption.”

Only yesterday the ruling socialist government in Greece published its third attempt to reduce the country’s debts and please EU governments, which have pledged to support the beleaguered economy if austerity measures are enacted.

Strikes and street protests have already threatened to bring many industries and public services to a standstill if the cuts go ahead.

But Germans remain unmoved by the troubles facing Greece. Opinion polls show Germans are overwhelmingly against a Berlin-funded bailout. Greece’s deficit was 12.7% of national income in 2009, well ahead of the EU’s 3% limit.

Merkel will meet the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, in Berlin on Friday.

“The chancellor cannot promise Greece any help,” Schaeffler told Bild in a story under the headline: “Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks! And sell the Acropolis too!”

“The Greek government has to take radical steps to sell its property – for example its uninhabited islands,” Schaeffler told Germany’s best-selling daily newspaper.

Greece’s deputy foreign minister, Dimitris Droutsas, was asked about the idea in an interview with ARD TV. “I’ve also heard the suggestion we should sell the Acropolis,” Droutsas said. “Suggestions like this are not appropriate at this time.”

Germans have had an allergic reaction to reports their country may be part of a bailout for Greece. Many fear it could lead to similar calls for cash from Spain and Portugal, which have also been badly hit following the financial crash.

Europe’s biggest economy itself is only just creeping out of its worst postwar recession. Last week figures revealed the German economy had stalled, while separately, politicians wrestled with a bigger bailout for its second-largest bank, Commerzbank, which purchased billions of pounds worth of exotic financial instruments linked to US sub-prime mortgages.

Greeks reacted with outrage to the proposals today, with many taking to the airwaves to complain about all things Teutonic.

“I don’t mind so much about the austerity measures, it’s the Germans,” a former government employee told a radio host. “The suggestion that we now sell off our national assets has got me so angry I am boycotting all their products.”

The country’s consumer federation, INKA, summoned Greeks to boycott German products, including supermarket chains and car dealerships, following a spasm of national fury at the way the country was being portrayed by the German media.

“The pressure the Germans are putting us under is outrageous,” said Sarandi Pitsas, a pensioner who took to the streets to protest against the austerity measures. “When we were carving beautiful statues like the Venus de Milos,” he said, referring to the cover of a German magazine which showed the statue gesturing obscenely under the headline ‘Greek cheats’, “they were living in caves and growling like dogs.”

Five days after it was launched, the 100,000-strong consumer group says the boycott of products and shops is going splendidly. “The response has been immense,” Haralambous Velidarakis, a board member of INKA, said. “This is not against the German people but in protest against sustained attacks from the German government, which will lead to the impoverishment of Greeks.”

Greece’s satirical weekly To Pontiki (the mouse) put it another way today. Its front-page cover asked: “Does Greece belong to the Greeks?”

Source: © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010