Thursday, July 21, 2011
Hence their Governments told their citizens that everyone is to blame, everybody has responsibility for the mess their countries are into because they spent more than they could afford to repay. In Greece, Mr. Pagalos MP even dared to blame every each one of the public, for allegedly helping to waste all those billions of euro who went missing from EU subsidies.
So they promoted consumerism, capitalism, open free market and economic style. They encouraged their citizens to spend and keep buying to support their country's economy. They have encouraged them to accumulate debt, use credit cards and buy all those things they thought were important for their happiness.
Because that is how capitalism works and what it needs, on a personal, national and international level. They have bombarded them with advertisements everywhere, from their TV sets, radio and internet, to newspapers and the magazines. Programs selling property, cars and the good successful lifestyle modeled after the American dream and social style.
They encouraged them to invest in property at home or abroad, to upgrade and buy new cars, mobile phones, the latest gadgets. All movies and TV series supported and promoted this life style. For decades they brain washed them with TV programs that they could win loads of cash and be happy, or reality programs that they could become rich and famous.
In fact if you had different political views or life style, you were considered a hippy, an out-sider and an odd ball. Then, when Capitalism failed and its faults and weaknesses were exposed, not only it was the citizens that were called to pay up and bail out the Banks to save their countries' economies, but they were blamed as well for over spending and being greedy.
Suddenly they had the finger of the politicians pointing at them, while the rich and upper classes avoided the cuts and austerity measures. In the case of Greece, not only they were deprived of a true sustainable economy and equal opportunities like the other European citizens for decades, but they were consistently lied upon on the true condition of the country's economy.
The rich elite of Greece and many European nations, are making profit out of the deals that all our Governments are negotiating and promoting in order to solve the problem. Thus they profit on the cuts that the ordinary worker must accept.
So, if this is how Capitalism has evolved and what our relationship with the Markets and the Banks has come to, then perhaps we need to rethink what we want. Not only they owe us and are the ones to blame for the risks they took for the sake of the Capitalist system, but we pay for those risks and we are being told off as well.
Can Europeans rethink and change their life style, or is it already too late and they do get what they deserve in the end? How can we achieve real change, when Europe is still a very conservative continent and its citizens themselves support Capitalism? It is only when they come to deal its real side effects when they protest, let's face it.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I came in contact with youths from Germany and Austria and soon befriended them. We kept in touch for a while and suddenly I got an invitation from them to visit them at Christmas. I guess all things happen for a reason in life. I accepted their invitation and that resulted in having one of the best experiences a 20 year old can have: traveling alone in Europe!
It gave me the opportunity to see and experience new things, taste new food, meet new people, see new places and towns. Get to know a new way of life, discover new cultures, architecture and broaden my horizons. That was it; I was hooked!
Few years passed and it settled in. I knew what I wanted and needed to do. I needed to expand as a person, travel and explore more countries. Learn more about Europe, its history, its people and all its different cultures. And perhaps while doing this, find myself as well.
Fate once again played its role and in the right time a friend and colleague of mine told me about EURES. An E.U. funded project that helps young people to work abroad, learn a new language, gain professional experience or simply have fun. It was exactly what I needed, so I wasted no time and I applied for it.
The officers in the Greek unemployment center asked me about the languages I could speak, my working experience and my qualifications. Since I spoke English and German and I was a hotel employee, the told me that the only country in E.U. that back then needed hotel staff was Ireland. So Ireland "chose" me in a way. I translated my CV in English, they faxed it to the Irish Hotel Association and that was it. The next day I got a call from Ireland to attend to my first interview.
When I announced my decision to my friends and family, it seemed to me at first that they were doing anything to prevent me from leaving. Later I realized that they had simply no knowledge of how things have progressed in Europe. Since the times that the Greeks were migrating to work in the German fabriks, making money is not the only reason to migrate.
Studying, learning a new language, upgrading your working skills, expanding your professional portfolio, or simply becoming more competitive. Things that a lot of people in Greece were not familiar with a few years ago.
I also found out that people simply did not know how E.U. worked or even their rights as EU citizens. They asked me questions like: "are you going to lose your pension contributions if you leave Greece now? Will you be able to bring back you Irish contributions if you decide to move back? Do you have to inform the Police that you are leaving the State? Will you need a visa?What if you become unemployed in Ireland, how can you claim any benefits? Will you be eligible for health services?"
That forced me to research and learn more about things before I make the bold move, so when I arrived in Ireland I was fully informed about my rights. And I was more than happy to share my new found knowledge with others.
My life in Ireland went from good to better, and now I am a home owner and I have discovered eventually what I want to do with my life: travel and become a journalist. So after 7 years in the Emerald Island, I now study while working full time in the Public Sector. And I still share my enthusiasm with others about traveling, writing, Europe and the European project.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Like the ancient Greeks were debating and pontificating of who is true Greek, or who is barbarian and they were in constant wars and struggles between them, the modern Europeans are doing exactly that! What it means to be European and who is a true one? An identity search indeed. Remember how many of the Athenians, who always boasted about their supremacy not only over barbarian nations but among all Greeks themselves, rejected the Macedonian dominance and their Greek unification attempt, by calling them barbarians and questioning their Greek roots.
The ancient Greeks were not one nation, one united ethnic group like we know Greece or most European states today. They were a group of Greek tribes much like the Celtic ones, never united. So similar but so different. Some of them have assimilated native pre-Greek populations as well (Crete) creating a unique ethnic group of Greek heritage and culture, but with elements of the previous inhabitants.
The Macedonians of course were Greeks of either Dorian or Aeolian or mixed stock. They spoke one of those two dialects or a hybrid between them, but as their kingdom expanded to other neighboring tribes like the Illyrians and the Thracians, they got many elements from them in their culture and language.
Most likely they were of mixed stock, with many Greek and later non Greek tribes making up their population. Prompting the Athenians and others who hated them and resisted their ever growing influence in the Greek world to call them barbarians and question their place and influence in it. A political position that even today is causing problems, since many scholars from FYROM and their supporters are using this as a proof of a different Macedonian ethnicity!
Nevertheless the Macedonians were accepted to participate in the Olympic games and as we know only men of Greek origins could do that. Perhaps the Athenians and other Greeks of the south resented the Macedonians so much because they wanted to take over the Greek world and unite them.
The Epirotans and Thessalians had so much in common with the Macedonians but they were never hated as much, perhaps because they never attempted to unite Greece and rule all the Greek nations. Enter the dark side of ancient Greek politics!
But look what the Greeks united have achieved. Without the legacy of Alexander the Great, the Greek culture, influence and power would not reach as far as India. And perhaps without the Hellenistic times that occurred as a result of Alexander's conquests, the Greek culture would not have had the same impact in the West either.
When the Romans conquered all the Hellenistic kingdoms and came in contact with their culture, they were conquered instead by the Greeks culturally, prompting to the creation of the Western and European civilization! Had the Greeks remained small city states divided and at war with each other, they would probably have wrecked their culture themselves and the Romans would not be as inspired.
And not only that, but the legacy of Alexander created concepts like multiculturalism, that we in Europe are inspired from and trying to achieve! He was the first that dreamed to create a community of nations, with the "white skinned" Greeks being equal with the "dark skinned" barbarian nations that he had conquered. Another reason that the snub Greeks hated him!
Sparta never became part of his empire even though they were defeated, they refused to participate with the rest of the Greeks in Alexander's vision. They remind me of states like Norway or Switzerland that refuse to be part of the European dream and remain stubbornly outside. Unlike Sparta though, they fare better. Sparta declined and never played any role in the Greek or international political scene during the Hellenistic or Roman era, and until today it is only a small provincial town in southern Greece.
Athens reminds me of Britain. They did become part of Alexander's vision but they were not comfortable with it. They always considered themselves better, their culture supreme and they never swallowed the fact that they fell under the Macedonian rule. They were not the ones who ruled or conquered as much as Alexander did. While their culture was indeed impressive and very advanced, they were never able to expand it to non Greek nations as they focused mainly in trading with them. A bit of snubs and delusional really.
After Alexander's death the Greeks went back to what they knew best! Divisions, civil wars, power struggles and intrigues between them. They fell under the rule of the Romans and Greece was never able to recover politically or culturally again. If Alexander had not died, perhaps he would conquer Europe, Arabia and North Africa as well. We can only imagine what the Greek culture and influence could achieve with that.
Europe's history is full of ancient Greek drama! So many wars, divisions, a continent devastated by two World wars, yet we still do not learn! We have already fell under the political control of other superpowers present and past, like USA and USSR during the cold war. We still are unable to unify and revive or even expand Europe's culture and influence in the World. We have yet to achieve our full potential and as things in the World are shifting and new emerging powers are making their mark, we are unable to put our differences behind and cooperate.
Europe you will say is not one nation or a country. But neither the Greeks were back then. I guess all we need is a modern Alexander in Europe, a leader with a vision and might to make our continent reach its full potential.
But as the Macedonians and Alexander were hated by the Athenians and Spartans back then, the current European powers will definitely oppose and loath any nation or politician who will take such initiative. No wonder it is so hard for someone to come up with a plan. Will Europe follow Greece's fate and a new World power come and put our continent out of political map of the future world?
It has happened in the past, after WW2. Europe was divided and a subject of the two major powers that emerged. Will we be spared again and get a second chance? Why must we always be divided into rich and poor, West and East and recently into Northern and South. For once I hope that Europe does not imitate Greece on this.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Είμαι Έλληνας πολίτης και Θεσσαλονικιός, αλλά διαμένω μόνιμα στο Δουβλίνο της Ιρλανδίας!
Πρόσφατα ξαναεπισκέφθηκα την πόλη της καταγωγής μου με έναν φίλο απο Ιρλανδία! Με λαχτάρα τον γυρνούσα στην πόλη μας προσπαθωντας να του δείξω την πλούσια ιστορία μας που έχει αφήσει την πόλη μας διάσπαρτη απο μνημεία!
Επισκεφθήκαμε τα τείχη της πόλεως και περπατήσαμε μέχρι το Γεντί Κουλέ! Τα σχόλια του φίλου μου με έβαλαν σε σκέψη. Είπε θα ήταν πολυ όμορφα αν αξιοποιούνταν αυτο το κάστρο, αλλά έτσι όπως το έχουν αφήσει δεν λέει τίποτα!
Κύριε Δήμαρχε έχω επισκεφθεί πάρα πολλές χώρες της Ευρώπης και όχι μόνο της μεγάλες μητροπόλεις της Δυτικής Ηπείρου μας. Στην Μπρατισλάβα της Σλοβακίας και στην Λιουμπλιάνα της Σλοβενίας, δύο πρώην Σοβιετικές δημοκρατίες που μόλις πρόσφατα μπήκαν στην Ε.Ε. και αναπτύσονται, τα κάστρα από ερείπια έχουν μεταμορφωθεί με κονδύλια της Ε.Ε. σε τουριστικά κέντρα.
Έχουν αναστηλωθεί στην αρχική τους όμορφη αρχιτεκτονική, και έχουν ανοίξει εστιατόρια, καφέ-μπαρ και μαγαζιά με τουριστικά είδη και σουβενίρ! Φανταστείτε πόσο τουρισμό και χρήμα θα προσέλκυε το συγκεκριμένο κτίριο, ενώ εμείς το αφήνουμε και ρημάζει! Έχετε πεί οτι θέλετε τα προσελκύσετε τουρισμό απο Τουρκία και Ισραήλ, ε ας έχουμε και κάτι να τους εντυπωσιάσουμε κιόλας!
Έχετε ταξιδέψει σε αλλες Ευρωπα'ι'κές πόλεις του ενός εκατομμυρίου σε πληθυσμό? Η πόλη μας δεν είναι μια επαρχιακή πόλη, είναι μία από τις πλουσιότερες σε σημαντικότητα και ιστορία πόλη στην Ευρώπη, αλλά και τον Κόσμο, και εμείς αφήνουμε τα Κάστρα να χορτιαριάζουν Κύριε Δήμαρχε?
Ακόμα το Δάσος του Σε'ι'χ-Σου θα μπορούσε να αξιοποιηθεί, να χτιστούν μνημεία, εστιατόρια και μαγαζιά, να διακοσμηθεί με δέντρα, άνθη, συντριβάνια και αγάλματα, ώστε να γίνει ένας χώρος αναψυχής και για τους κατοίκους της πόλης μας αλλά και για τους τουρίστες που τόσο θέλετε να προσελκύσετε! Έχετε έρθει στο Φοίνιξ Πάρκο του Δουβλίνου Κύριε Δήμαρχε? Μέχρι και ελάφια βόσκουν ελεύθερα στα πάρκα του!
Τί να έρθει να δει ο τουρίστας μόνο τον Πύργο τον Λευκό και την παραλία μας? Δεν έχουμε πάρκα, δεν έχουμε πράσινο στην πόλη, την έχουμε μπουκώσει με μπετόν! Τουλάχιστο ας αξιοποιήσουμε αυτά τα πάρκα που έχουμε, και ας αναδείξουμε τα μνημεία που μας έχουν απομείνει! Ίσα με τους Σλοβάκους και τους Σλοβένους δεν είμαστε?
The Eblana European Democratic Movement
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Have we reached the point of forbidding aid to people in need, just because they are on the other side of an argument? The Palestinians suffer for so many decades now, with the shameful tolerance and approval of the West, just because our desire to support the state of Israel.
It is undeniable that the Arab nations must accept that the Israeli state will continue to exist and stop any attack or provocation. But that does not entitle Israel to ignore all agreements and human rights and continuously expand the occupied territory, with the threat of a terror attack as an excuse.
They prevent giving aid to people deprived not only of our standards of living but if we think about it, living in a huge concentration camp. I wonder if the ancestors of the modern Israelis, would approve the existence of their so much desired state on the misery of other people?
The fact that the Jews were so badly treated in the past by many European states, does not justify their behavior towards the Palestinians today. A nation can show virtue in their culture by not treating others as others have treated them.
The need for Israel to exist is supported by Europe, America and most of the World. They will never win over the Arabs with new occupied lands and blockades of the Gaza strip. They won't find peace while continuously expanding their settlements in Palestine.
If they feel threatened by the Arabs, they have America's and Europe's support. There is no need to use their power and influence in the American lobbies to continue the bullying and the impoverishment of over a million people.
The aid is a sign that people outside the region of Middle East are empathizing with the Palestinians on a humanitarian level, not a sign of antisemitism. And what is Israel telling them? The Israelis think that they can use their powerful allies and manipulate the European public opinion and our leaders continue their tolerance of Israel's blockade.
Other nations suffered deaths by their millions, torture, abuse, and genocides over the recent history of Europe. The Greeks that suffered huge loses during the Balkan wars, the Asia Minor disaster and the two World Wars. The Armenians were massacred by the Ottomans, the Ukrainians by the Soviets and the Polish by the Nazis in WW2.
If any of the above nations committed the actions that Israel is committing on any other ethnic group, I am sure that America and the European elites would be condemning them and put pressure or sanctions against them. The example of Serbia leaves no doubts.
Israel on the other hand not only enjoys their support, but they can virtually do whatever they want and even America itself can not control them. Many times they were criticized by a number of American Presidents, notably President Obama, about the new settlements but nothing really changed.
They withdrew from one place only to start establishing their settlements elsewhere. So the Palestinians are remaining poor and the poorer they remain, the more angry and fanatical will become against the Israeli occupation.
When people from other countries want to offer some relief to the Palestinians, not as support of their political beliefs and actions rather as purely humanitarian assistance, Israel comes and acts in such barbaric demeanor. A number of Turkish activists were killed last year yet they continue to insist they are on the right side.
They continue to insist that those flotillas are a threat to them and their national security. Those flotillas do not support the Palestinians, their leaders and the crimes they commit towards Israel, rather offer relief to people that are being caught in the line of fire.
The West has created the Jewish state after centuries of antisemitism in Europe,so its existence is our responsibility too. But we also have responsibility towards the Palestinians, or any ethnic group that lost out so we can settle our problems. In the way we are allowing Israel to take advantage of our support, we are not helping.
Things would be very easy if politicians would not play their games. The problem should have been solved ages ago, if all sides would tick to the original agreement. One side should stop the expansion of the settlements, the other must accept the right of the Israelis to have a country. This generation of Israelis is born and raised there, that is their only home they know. There is no way to move 7 million people anywhere else.
The land belongs to both populations, it is wrong for either of them to claim it as their own. The Palestinians have been living there for centuries, they are natives to these lands. The Israelis were given the right of creating their state, by the United Nations General Assembly. Perhaps instead of partitioning the solution would be uniting the territories and the peoples of the region, which form a multicultural society.
We should examine as a possible solution, the creation of a federal state. Israel sharing power and wealth with the native Palestinians and it could be a win win situation. The Israelis get their peaceful state and the Arabs will be free to have some of their lands back, wealth and prosperity. But this time it is the Israelis that reject it.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
While the European media are focusing on what must Greece do to fix its economy and save the euro-zone from collapsing, on the faults of the Greek economy and how to avoid bankruptcy, I wonder how many people care of what impact will all these have to an ordinary household in the country.
There are some widespread feelings between the Greeks right now like fear, anger, disappointment and frustration. But the economists care only about the measures that the Greek Government must take, to save the European economy from collapsing.
As we speak salaries in Greece are slashed for up to 40% and bonuses are cut. Employers are paying their workers when they have money and only as much as they can give them at the time. There are no jobs, the social stability and coherence are disintegrating, people are committing suicide because they are unable to pay their debts. Employees are forced to work unpaid overtime, every worker's right that has been won over the decades is more and more irrelevant.
The youth is emigrating, leaving the country poorer in workforce and their knowledge. Nobody spends, travels, invests or make any plans for the future as they do not know what tomorrow brings. Some of you might think that it is time for the Greeks to pay up for their irresponsible spending and finances of over all those years.
As if the rest of Europe did not live on credit and borrowing. Nobody realizes that all countries in Europe are in a bad shape, Greece is only used as a scapegoat and asked to pay up to secure the other European states' bank shares and bonds.
European countries are using the Greek crisis to cover up their own economic problems. Greece is just unlucky to be small and insignificant enough to be bullied into conformation. The Greeks are far from lazy or lame. They were building the German economy with hard work in their factories and every Greek that has migrated in other parts of the World has progressed and prospered.
European leaders knew, as Luxembourg's PM Mr. Juncker admitted, that the Greek economy was in bad shape, so why did they allow it to collapse? It would be better to support and help it reform earlier, saving Europe from the crisis, plus the spending of billions of euros. Could it be that they wanted Greece to go bankrupt so that they can transform its economy and benefit from the sale out that would follow?
The crisis started during the late '80s and early '90s, mainly under the Mr Simitis and PASOK Government. Many in Greece now realize that the reforms that this particular Government made, lead to the inevitable current situation. Large Greek companies were sold off, and others were allowed to relocate elsewhere.
Since the introduction of the euro, Greece was also forced to keep a large expenditure to keep up with a strong economy such as Germany. And by doing so it helped Germany's economy itself, because it was German goods that the Greeks were consuming, such as cars.
The Greek state started borrowing a lot in order to keep up with the expenses and the payments of the public sector, but the Greek Governments since that time kept it hidden from the public and encouraged the capitalist system: excess borrowing and sustaining the economy with credit from the Markets.
Today they blame the public for doing the same, while it was the country's leaders that encouraged this economic style. They are supposed to work for the betterment and progress of the nation and ideally lead the people by their example.
Scientists in the University of Joannina in Northern Greece, found that the region of Epirus and Macedonia are rich in uranium and submitted their research to the then Greek Government, but nothing was done about it. A former MP Mr Papoutsis was in the opening of the uranium mines in Epanomi village in the Thessaloniki county, the plan that was suddenly stopped as it started.
People in the Greek islands, notably Crete regularly are witnessing evidence for the existence of gas and oil in the region, but still no action has been taken to exploit this potential source of revenue. Our Government either denies the existence of oil in Greek territory, or blames our rocky relationship with Turkey for our inability to exploit our oil reserves in the Aegean.
Now it is the Norwegians who want to exploit our oil reserves, just as the Canadians will do with our gold in the northern region of Macedonia. This is a typical example of European vulture culture: bring a country to its knees and then rush in for the kill.
Many European countries demand to get a hold on to Greece's national assets. From islands and national companies, to the Acropolis itself. Although we help the rich Northern European countries become richer, by selling our goods to them with no tax as the common market requires.
Western capitalist media and economists of course put the blame on Greece's unions for the dysfunctional public sector and companies. They claim they are too strong that hinder any progress and development. True, Greece has a very large and powerful public sector but what else can the Greeks do, since there are no factories, no productivity or development and the only sector that anybody can have a secure career is the public one.
If Greece was allowed to produce and exploit its natural resources, there would be more jobs and a variety of careers for the young Greeks to follow. These facts led to a super-sized public sector and because all political parties were using the promise of a job in the sector as a carrot for votes and support, the situation was going nowhere.
Greece is forced to take one bail out package after another, condemning its future generations to pay up for these bail outs for decades to come. Some analysts say that it will take Greece until the year 2060 to pay off its debts. Three generations of Greeks will pay to save not just their economy, but the European and American economies and the euro-zone too.
A friend of mine is working as public servant, in the revenue offices. Her salary was 1800 € before the bail outs and it is already cut down to 1400 €. It is expected with the new Government austerity measures to go down even further and settle at around 1100 € with the new public sector harmonized salaries.
That is a 700 € deduction, while there more and more taxes put on the Greek households and the taxes on all basic goods will go up from 11% to 23%. How would a Swede, a German, a Brit or a Austrian respond to such cull of their incomes?
The Greeks are expected to grin and bare it and to force them to accept the new measures, they slander a whole nation as lazy and corrupt, to justify the brutal enslavement and sell out of their country. Because Greece looks indeed more like an enslaved nation than a developed European country, a member of EU and NATO.
While many analysts claim that austerity is wrong for Greece, that we need to keep producing, allow people to spend thus putting money in our market, export and reform our economy while we heal it, Mr. Papandreou and his Government think otherwise. No doubt they listen their foreign advisers that demanded Greece to take two bail out packages.
What is the point of having a Parliament even when it does not serve its people? A Greek MP from Thessaloniki Mr. Rompopoulos, admitted on national television that three days before the vote in the Greek Parliament on the second bail out package, he had not yet read what he was voting for. He was encouraged and threatened by the leader of his party Mr. Papandreou and his advisors to vote YES because the country would not have the money to pay its bills and the salaries of the people.
Greece's Parliamentarians had the nerve not to take any cuts themselves while they were voting for such brutal austerity measures for the people they are supposed to serve. Mr. Papandreou hired more advisers and Parliament staff, while all around the country people are losing their jobs.
The rich are not asked to pay or bare the same austerity measures and even the Greek Orthodox Church once again avoids taxation. If the Church sold of half its property that it holds in Greece, the country's debt would be paid.
Our partners in the other European nations are happy to make business with the corrupt Greeks, seemingly are only doing so because they avoid taxation too. The German company that built and exploits the new Athens "Venizelos" airport, has not paid its taxes it was meant to pay to the state since the building of the airport and they owe the Greek state about 1 billion euros in taxes.
We need a political reboot in Europe, the European citizens need to take the situation and our continent in our hands united to achieve justice. But with the comfortable and well off northern Europeans being so ignorant of how their wealth is being supported by the misery of other nations, how much hope should I have?
Our media keep bombarding us with the Arab revolution, while they totally ignore or alter what is happening in Spain and Greece. Remember that what goes around comes around. Greece maybe facing difficulties today, tomorrow it might be your country's turn.