Sunday, January 29, 2017

Greece three weeks away from 'potentially disastrous' debt problems, says IMF

by Helena Smith


January 29, 2016

Greece’s embattled government has three weeks to break the deadlock in increasingly difficult talks with creditors or risk the country’s debt crisis resurfacing with renewed vigour.

Faced with the dilemma of agreeing to additional austerity or calling fresh elections, prime minister Alexis Tsipras was weighing his options at the weekend. Fears of further uncertainty in Europe’s weakest member state mounted as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that Greece’s debt load could become “explosive” by 2030.

“It is critical that a compromise is found,” said Aristides Hatzis, professor of law and economics at the university of Athens, noting that a slew of elections across Europe would only make Greece’s predicament worse.

“If these negotiations are not wrapped up by 20 February [when eurozone finance ministers next meet] we could be looking at potentially disastrous political turmoil, which would bring back the scenario of Grexit with a vengeance.”


Friday, January 27, 2017

Turkey threatens to scrap migrant deal in extradition spat with Greece

by Mehul Srivastava & Kerin Hope

Financial Times

January 27, 2017

Turkey has warned Greece it could scrap a deal that helped stem the flow of migrants after a Greek court refused to extradite eight Turkish military personnel.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, made the warning on Friday a day after Greece’s supreme court rejected Ankara’s request for the return of their men it accuses of involvement in last year’s coup attempt.

Mr Cavusoglu said Ankara was keeping its options open in response to the court’s decision in relation to the six army helicopter pilots and two technicians, “including the cancellation of the bilateral readmission agreement”.

Under the accord, Turkey agreed to take back migrants who crossed into Greece and failed to prove their asylum claims. Its cancellation would endanger a more ambitious deal being hammered out between Ankara and the EU that would allow countries in the bloc to return failed asylum seekers.

Scrapping the readmission agreement could encourage more migrants to attempt crossing the Aegean Sea to Greek shores and deal a blow to Athens’ ability to deal with the arrivals.


France warns ‘window is closing’ for Greek bailout deal

by Jim Brunsden

Financial Times

January 27, 2017

Michel Sapin, France’s finance minister, warned that the “window of opportunity” for a deal on the next stages of Greece’s bailout programme was closing, as a ministerial meeting in Brussels failed to make headway in resolving a split between Athens and the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Sapin, speaking at the end of the regular monthly meeting of eurozone finance ministers, said that the spate of elections in Europe in 2017, starting with those in the Netherlands in March, would soon begin to close out the political space for a deal to be reached. It is widely feared that failure to resolve the issue could knock the bailout programme off course and destabilise Greece.

At Thursday’s meeting, Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s finance minister, reaffirmed his rejection of calls from the IMF for Athens to legislate now for the policy measures it would activate after 2018 if the country’s primary budget surplus fell below agreed targets.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Tsakalotos said it was “not correct to ask a country to legislate two to three years beforehand what it would do in 2019”.

He added: “It is a commitment that goes well beyond the framework of democracy and the ethical values that inspired Europe.”


Greece’s Top Court Rejects Extradition of Turkish Officers

by Niki Kitsantonis

New York Times

August 26, 2017

Greece cannot extradite eight military officers who fled Turkey after a failed coup in July, the country’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. The Turkish government had demanded that the officers be handed over, and it immediately protested the court’s decision.

The court, Greece’s highest, ruled that the eight officers — two majors, four captains and two noncommissioned officers — would face “the curtailment of their fundamental human rights” if sent back to Turkey, and it called for their immediate release. The decision is irreversible.

The officers fled to northern Greece in a Turkish Army helicopter on July 15, saying they feared for their lives, and there was pressure on the court to deal with two seemingly irreconcilable demands: ensuring that the officers’ human rights were respected without angering a sometimes prickly neighbor.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Greek court rejects Turkish request to return airmen

by Kerin Hope

Financial Times

January 26, 2017

Turkey has protested after Greece’s supreme court rejected its request to extradite eight military personnel who sought political asylum after last year’s coup attempt.

The foreign ministry in Ankara accused Greece of protecting instigators of the coup and harbouring far-left and Kurdish groups that had carried out attacks in Turkey. “Once again Greece, an ally and a neighbour, has failed to fulfil the basics in the fight against terrorism,” the ministry said.

In a written decision released on Thursday, the supreme court ruled against extradition of the six army pilots and two technicians by a majority of 14 to one, saying the men faced “possible violations of human rights” if they were returned to Turkey.

The eight were arrested on July 16, the day after the coup, after landing a military helicopter at Alexandroupolis airport in northern Greece. They faced charges of involvement in a plot to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and overthrow the government, according to the extradition documents.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Greece’s Tsipras Insists on ‘Not One Euro More’ of Austerity

by Marcus Bensasson


January 25, 2017

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras dug in against creditor demands for more pension cuts and tax increases before a meeting of euro-area finance ministers to unblock the country’s bailout review.

“There is no way we are going to legislate even one euro more than what was agreed in the bailout,” Tsipras said in an interview with Efimerida ton Syntakton, to mark the two-year anniversary since he was elected on an anti-austerity platform. “The demand to legislate more measures, and contingent ones, no less, is alien not just to the Greek Constitution but to democratic norms.”

Euro-area finance ministers will discuss Greece when they meet in Brussels on Thursday, with Greece and officials representing the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund locked in a stand-off over how to complete the country’s second bailout review, now a year behind schedule. The IMF, in particular, views the projections shared by Greece and the European creditors that the country can reach a primary budget surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2018 as too optimistic.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Greek court to decide on fate of eight Turkish soldiers

by Helena Smith


January 22, 2017

Greece’s supreme court will decide on Monday on the fate of eight Turkish military officers who fled their country a day after last year’s attempted coup in a case that has triggered outrage among intellectuals and is viewed as a test for European democratic values.

The hotly awaited judgment, six months after the doomed putsch against Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has put considerable pressure on already strained relations between Athens and Ankara. “Turkey feels very strongly about this,” a senior official said. “Everyone is watching very closely.”

With the refugee crisis far from over and talks to reunify Cyprus at a critical stage, the ruling could send ripples across the turbulent Aegean Sea that divides the two longstanding Nato rivals. Erdoğan has made clear that he wants the eight men extradited in order to face charges of trying to overthrow the government.

He has publicly said that the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has assured him the officers will be sent back. Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, claims he extracted a similar promise from Nikos Kotzias, his Greek counterpart, during a telephone conversation on 16 July, the day the officers flew their Black Hawk helicopter across the border.


Fate of eight Turkish airmen is an acid test for democracy

by Nick Cohen


January 22, 2017

Hard questions for democracies have piled up with a speed we have yet to take in. After the cold war, westerners asked how to stand up to autocrats. Should we intervene to stop genocide in Bosnia? Or demand sanctions and boycotts to protect the rights of Tibetans? The rise of communist China, Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey changed the terms of debate. The question was no longer should we intervene, but could we intervene against powers more than able to resist pressure?

Now that the Trump administration has slouched towards Washington to be born and strongmen have muscled their way into the chancelleries of eastern Europe, the question is more basic: how are supposed democracies different from actual dictatorships?

Greece, the birthplace of democracy, is rarely included in the list of countries that have sunk into corrupt and mendacious authoritarianism. The fact that Syriza is held to be a leftwing rather than a rightwing populist regime is thought to be a distinction of supreme importance by the kind of people who think Paul Mason is an intellectual. Yet the arrival in power of “the coalition of the radical left” did not stop the corruption scandals in Greek politics. Nor did it usher in a new age of freedom.

Instead, Syriza has shown that concepts of “left” and “right” cannot explain the brute realities of 21st-century power. They are almost an irrelevance now. If Donald Trump is right wing, for instance, why do free-market conservatives and national security Republicans fear him so? If Syriza is left wing, why is it in alliance with the ultra-nationalists and religious obscurantists of the Independent Greeks party?


Friday, January 20, 2017

A Greek tragedy: how much can one nation take?

by Henry Foy

Financial Times

January 20, 2017

It has been more than 3,000 years since the remote Greek village of Efyra had its moment of fame. Perched on one of the rolling hills that undulate across the Peloponnese towards the western coast, it was named by Homer himself as a place that Odysseus once visited.

Today, Efyra draws no such strangers on heroic quests. It is lucky if the local bus, which strains to climb the twisting path to the town, stops more than once a day. For those who live here, it is not just its mythical past that prompts them to look back: many locals say it has no future.

“We are in danger,” says Aggelos Petropoulos, a local baker and the village’s mayor. “Everything is getting worse. Next year will be more so. Old people will die. Young people will not stay. We need help.”

This is a plea increasingly heard across Greece, after more than eight years of financial catastrophe. Today the country has become a byword for the brutal economic, political and social fallout that followed the 2008 crisis. The economy shrunk almost a third in the ensuing years, and the government is effectively bankrupt without outside support: it owes about €320bn — not far from double its gross domestic product of €181bn.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Italy’s state railway buys struggling Greek operator

by Kerin Hope

Financial Times

January 18, 2017

Greece has wrapped up the sale of its struggling rail operator TrainOSE to Italy’s state railway company as the leftwing government comes under pressure from bailout lenders to accelerate the country’s flagging privatisation programme.

The sale of 100 per cent of TrainOSE to Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane will bring in only €45m. But privatisation officials say it completes a series of infrastructure sales to international investors that will boost Greece’s role as a transport and tourism hub for the eastern Mediterranean.

TrainOSE runs a lossmaking international freight business and a subsidised passenger service linking mainland Greece with central Europe through Macedonia and Serbia. FS is expected to take over the operation of TrainOSE this year.

“[FS] is making an important commitment to strengthen and develop TrainOSE with its expertise and experience, thus creating a major provider of railway services,” Antonis Leousis, chief executive of the Hellenic Asset Development Fund (Taiped), the Greek privatisation agency, said at Wednesday’s signing ceremony.

The sale has still to be approved by the European Commission and ratified by the Greek parliament. Following the signing of the sale agreement, the commission is expected to drop an investigation into allegations that €700m of government subsidies pumped into TrainOSE amounted to illegal state aid, Taiped officials said.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Will Cyprus be reunified?

January 15, 2017

The formal split of Cyprus dates to Turkey’s invasion of the island in 1974, which followed a Greece-inspired coup aimed at enosis (union with Greece). Since then Cyprus has been divided between the Greek-Cypriot republic in the south, a full member of the UN and the European Union; and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey. Periodic attempts to reunify Cyprus have floundered, most recently in 2004 when the so-called Annan plan was backed by Turkish-Cypriot voters but rejected by three-quarters of the Greek-Cypriot majority. But since 2015 the leaders of the two communities have stepped up efforts to produce a fresh agreement they can sell to their voters. UN-brokered talks in Geneva broke up last week without a deal, but hopes remain high that the two sides will resolve their outstanding disagreements in time to hold dual referendums in the summer. Will Cyprus be reunified?

The constitutional model for a reunified state is a “bi-zonal, bi-communal federation”, based on deep decentralisation to the two communities and power-sharing arrangements at the centre. The recent talks have covered several contentious elements, including governance arrangements, territorial adjustments and compensation for Greek Cypriots who fled the north in 1974. There are also thorny economic issues to settle. But the trickiest matter is security. Under the republic’s 1960 constitution, Britain, Greece and Turkey have the right to military intervention in Cyprus should its integrity be threatened (this was the pretext for the Turkish invasion). The Greek Cypriots want to scrap these provisions, arguing that security is guaranteed by EU membership (Cyprus joined in 2004, although the EU’s writ extends only to the south). But the Turkish-Cypriot minority, harbouring bitter memories of intercommunal fighting that racked the island in the 1960s and ’70s, is wary of giving up protection from Turkish troops, some 30,000-40,000 of whom are stationed in the north. The three guarantor powers, which have been involved in the latest round of talks, must approve any security arrangements. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s mercurial president, may be a stumbling block. He needs the support of Turkish nationalists in parliament for a set of proposed domestic constitutional changes, and they may balk at concessions on Cyprus.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Cyprus talks end amid divisions over security

by Arthur Beesley

Financial Times

January 13, 2016

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted on his country’s right to maintain troops in Cyprus “forever” after talks in Geneva to reunite the Mediterranean island broke up amid sharp divisions over security arrangements.

After the most intensive effort for years to resolve Cyprus’s longstanding division along ethnic lines, differences over Turkey’s presence on the island seemed more entrenched than at the start of this week’s round of negotiations, officials at the talks in Geneva said.

Mr Erdogan said that pulling out all 30,000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus was out of the question. “We will be there forever,” Mr Erdogan said in Istanbul on Friday.

Cyprus has been split since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

A UN buffer zone divides the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state, recognised only by Ankara, from the Greek-Cypriot state, an EU member. Negotiators for the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities plan a fresh effort next week to break the logjam.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Greece sends ship to Lesbos to help freezing migrants

by Kerin Hope

Financial Times

January 11, 2017

A Greek navy vessel arrived at the island of Lesbos on Wednesday to provide emergency shelter for 500 refugees and migrants living in unheated tents days after the Aegean Islands were hit by snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures.

The navy said the landing craft had been equipped with beds, mattresses and blankets to cater for asylum seekers from the Moria camp.

“We don’t know yet how long they’ll be on the ship . . . but everyone aboard will be staying a warm and secure environment,” a spokesman said.

The leftwing Syriza government is trying to defuse criticism over its slow response to the latest challenge in looking after 62,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

More than 40,000 refugees were stranded in Greece when countries along the Balkan migrant route to Germany abruptly shut their borders a year ago.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cyprus deal carries rewards and risks

by Tony Barber

Financial Times

January 10, 2017

Should this week’s talks on a Cyprus settlement succeed there would be a host of reasons to welcome the outcome. There are, however, just as many grounds to be cautious about a breakthrough.

Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot president of the internationally recognised government of Cyprus, and Mustafa Akinci, the head of the self-proclaimed Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in the north, are in Geneva to try to solve one of the world’s most intractable diplomatic disputes. The east Mediterranean island’s split dates to Turkey’s invasion in 1974, launched after a military junta in Athens tried to unite Cyprus with Greece.

But the political separation of the island’s two communities began in the early 1960s, soon after Cyprus won independence from British colonial rule. For more than five decades, a UN peacekeeping force has served as a buffer between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The reasons to welcome a settlement start with the nearby Middle East. A Cyprus solution would help the US, its European allies and friendly governments to concentrate on what they see as the regional menace of Isis and violent Islamist extremism.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Turkish airmen’s asylum case poses quandary for Greece

by Kerin Hope

Financial Times

January 9, 2017

Eight Turkish military officers who flew their helicopter to Greece to seek asylum after last year’s coup attempt are posing a dilemma for Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, as their fight against extradition draws to a close.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration wants the six army search-and-rescue pilots and two technicians to be extradited on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. Greece’s supreme court is due to hear the men’s appeals this week.

Mr Tsipras has told Mr Erdogan that “putschists are not welcome in Greece”. But he and his leftwing Syriza-led government will face harsh criticism at home and Europe if the extradition goes ahead, which the Greek government could force through whatever the supreme court’s ruling.

In a telephone interview, a spokesman for the group said they strongly deny complicity in the coup attempt in Turkey in July.


‘Moment of truth’ arrives for Cyprus as reunification talks begin

by Arthur Beesley

Financial Times

January 9, 2017

Cypriot leaders started the most intense effort in years to reunite the Mediterranean island on Monday as the UN said “the moment of truth” had arrived to settle decades of ethnic division.

Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot president, and Mustafa Akinci, his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, began talks in Geneva after several previous failed reunification attempts. Greek, Turkish and British leaders will join the negotiations on Thursday.

“It is going to be difficult but not impossible,” said Espen Barth Eide, the former Norwegian minister who is UN chairman of the Geneva negotiation, on Monday. “We are now in the final moment.”

Cyprus has been split along ethnic lines since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece. A UN buffer zone divides the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state, recognised only by Ankara, from the Greek-Cypriot state, an EU member.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Η Απελευθέρωση της Ελλάδας

του Αριστείδη Ν. Χατζή

Τα Νέα

6-8 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Απόλυτος σεβασμός προς την νομιμότητα. Υποταγή τυφλή εις τους νόμους της χώρας. Ουδείς συμβιβασμός, ουδεμία συναλλαγή ούτε με τα ανώτερα ούτε με τα κατώτερα στρώματα της κοινωνίας. Αντίστασις εις πάσαν δημαγωγίαν, είτε άνωθεν είτε κάτωθεν προερχομένην. Η κυβέρνησις να είναι το μέσον και ουχί ο σκοπός. Να μη θυσιασθή ουδεμία των ιδεών, τας οποίας θεωρώ ωφελίμους εις την χώραν. Να εγκαταλείψω μάλλον την αρχήν παρά να κατέλθω εις συμβιβασμούς, οίτινες ατιμάζουσι τας κυβερνήσεις και εισίν εμπόδια εις την πρόοδον των λαών.
[Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος (10 Οκτωβρίου 1910)]

Στις 6 Οκτωβρίου 1910 ο Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος σχηματίζει την πρώτη του κυβέρνηση, αν και έχει εκλεγεί για πρώτη φορά βουλευτής πριν από δύο μόλις μήνες, ενώ το κόμμα που ίδρυσε (Κόμμα Φιλελευθέρων) εκπροσωπείται στη Βουλή από ελάχιστους βουλευτές. Αφού λάβει ψήφο εμπιστοσύνης θα προκηρύξει εκλογές στις 28 Νοεμβρίου, θα θριαμβεύσει και θα κυριαρχήσει στην ελληνική πολιτική ζωή μέχρι το 1933. Δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία ότι ο Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος είναι η μεγαλύτερη πολιτική προσωπικότητα της Ελλάδας του 20ου αιώνα, όπως δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία ότι μπορεί να του ασκηθεί αυστηρή αλλά δίκαιη κριτική για πολλές από τις επιλογές του. Όμως από την αρχή της πολιτικής καριέρας του στην Ελλάδα υπόσχεται ότι θα παλέψει με τον λαϊκισμό και τη δημαγωγία. Ότι θα κάνει αυτό που νομίζει ότι είναι το σωστό μακροπρόθεσμα για τη χώρα και δεν θα συμβιβαστεί υποχωρώντας μπροστά στο πολιτικό κόστος. Η ιστορία μας διδάσκει ότι αυτό έκανε. Κάποιες επιλογές του ήταν ορθές (οι περισσότερες) και κάποιες λανθασμένες. Σχεδόν σε κάθε περίπτωση ο ελληνικός λαός τον εμπιστεύτηκε (με τη μοιραία εξαίρεση των εκλογών του 1920) και ο Βενιζέλος δικαίωσε αυτή την εμπιστοσύνη.

Ο λόγος που θυμίζω εκείνη την περίοδο, έναν αιώνα μετά, δεν είναι βέβαια για να αναπολήσουμε ή να σας πείσω για την ανάγκη χαρισματικών ηγετών. Αλλά για να σας θυμίσω ότι στην ιστορία της νεότερης και σύγχρονης Ελλάδας, υπήρξαν σπουδαίοι εκσυγχρονιστές πολιτικοί, που προχώρησαν μπροστά, κάνοντας περισσότερες μεταρρυθμίσεις από συμβιβασμούς και πέτυχαν έτσι να αλλάξουν τη χώρα. Και ο ελληνικός λαός τους εμπιστεύθηκε και τους βοήθησε αν και δεν ήταν πάντα εύκολο. Από τον Αλέξανδρο Μαυροκορδάτο μέχρι τον ανιψιό του Χαρίλαο Τρικούπη κι από τον Ελευθέριο Βενιζέλο μέχρι τον Κωνσταντίνο Καραμανλή, η Ελλάδα προχώρησε και ξεπέρασε το τέλμα, ορισμένες φορές ακόμα και με εντυπωσιακά άλματα. Ήταν ηγέτες με μεγαλύτερο ή μικρότερο χάρισμα, με περισσότερες ή λιγότερες ικανότητες. Όμως τους διέκρινε κάτι που τους ξεχωρίζει από τους υπόλοιπους: είχαν ένα, πολύ ξεκάθαρο στο μυαλό τους, σχέδιο για την πορεία της χώρας. Ένα σχέδιο, που ήταν σαφέστατα εκσυγχρονιστικό και βασίζονταν σε ένα όραμα για την Ελλάδα, αδιαπραγμάτευτα ευρωπαϊκό. Δεν ήταν διαχειριστές, ήταν ηγέτες, που δεν αντιμετώπιζαν με δέος το πολιτικό κόστος, αλλά μόνο την αδυναμία να πείσουν τον ελληνικό λαό. Γι’ αυτό και πέτυχαν σε τόσο μεγάλο βαθμό.

Για να καταλάβετε τη σημασία, όχι τόσο του ηγέτη (αν και ο ηγέτης είναι πάντα σημαντικός) όσο του πολιτικού προγράμματος, διαβάστε ξανά το κείμενο του Βενιζέλου και μετά σκεφτείτε τι είδος διακυβέρνησης έχει ανάγκη σήμερα η χώρα μας και τι είδος διακυβέρνησης υφίσταται.

Η σημερινή κυβέρνηση είναι το αποτέλεσμα μιας τερατογένεσης. Είναι μια κυβέρνηση που έχει υιοθετήσει πλήρως την ιδεολογία της αντιμεταρρύθμισης σχεδόν στα πάντα, από την οικονομία μέχρι την παιδεία. Είναι ταυτόχρονα μια κυβέρνηση που υποχρεώνεται, σχεδόν βίαια, να υιοθετήσει μεταρρυθμιστικές πολιτικές στις οποίες δεν πιστεύει και κάνει ό,τι μπορεί για να υπονομεύσει. Είναι μια κυβέρνηση που με εκπληκτικό τρόπο κατορθώνει να συμπυκνώσει όλη την παθογένεια της μεταπολίτευσης: τον καιροσκοπισμό, την περιφρόνηση στους θεσμούς, τον χυδαίο λαϊκισμό, τον κομματισμό και τον νεποτισμό και κυρίως την πολιτική μυωπία. Είναι ταυτόχρονα μια κυβέρνηση ανίκανη και μια κυβέρνηση που δεν φιλοδοξεί να είναι ικανή γιατί η ιδεολογία της είναι η πάση θυσία διατήρηση του status quo. Είναι μια κυβέρνηση που ανέδειξε η απελπισία στην οποία οδήγησε τον ελληνικό λαό η διπλή αποτυχία του παλιού πολιτικού συστήματος: του συστήματος που μας οδήγησε στην κρίση και που δεν κατάφερε να μας διασώσει από αυτήν. Είναι ταυτόχρονα μια κυβέρνηση-άλλοθι για τις ενοχές του ελληνικού λαού. Που στήριξε το απαξιωμένο πολιτικό σύστημα για τρεις δεκαετίες και τώρα προσπαθεί να κρυφτεί πίσω από το δάκτυλό του, δηλαδή τη δύσμορφη καρικατούρα αυτού του πολιτικού συστήματος.

Η χώρα μας έχει βρεθεί αρκετές φορές στην ιστορία της σε αυτό το σημείο που ο Στάθης Καλύβας (Καταστροφές και Θρίαμβοι, 3η εκδ. 2016) ονομάζει «μεγάλες καταστροφές επικών διαστάσεων» που είναι όμως το αποτέλεσμα «υπερφιλόδοξων εγχειρημάτων». Όμως, σύμφωνα με τον Καλύβα, αυτές οι καταστροφές οδήγησαν αργότερα παραδόξως σε θριάμβους. Αλλά η ιστορία ποτέ δεν μας υπόσχεται ότι θα αντιγράψει τον εαυτό της. Ο ελληνικός λαός και οι ηγεσίες του έχουν την ευθύνη.

Στην αυγή λοιπόν της νέας χρονιάς, σχεδόν 200 χρόνια από τον αγώνα για την ελληνική ανεξαρτησία, η χώρα μας θα πρέπει να παλέψει και πάλι για να απελευθερωθεί. Θα πρέπει να ελευθερώσει την πολιτική, την οικονομία και την κοινωνία από όλα τα βαρίδια που την περιορίζουν και την εμποδίζουν να απογειωθεί.

Θα πρέπει να πετάξει από πάνω της τα θλιβερά υπολείμματα του παλαιοκομματισμού, της αντιμεταρρυθμιστικής αντίδρασης, του θεσμικού συντηρητισμού. Θα πρέπει να απαλλαγεί από τις προκαταλήψεις της κατά της Δύσης, του ορθολογισμού, της ελεύθερης ανταγωνιστικής αγοράς, της τεχνολογίας και της καινοτομίας. Θα πρέπει να πετάξει στα σκουπίδια τη μισαλλοδοξία, την ξενοφοβία, τον εθνικισμό, τη συνωμοσιολογία. Μόνο αν απελευθερωθεί η Ελλάδα από τα βαρίδια της οπισθοδρόμησης και μετατραπεί σε μια πραγματικά ανοιχτή κοινωνία θα έχει ελπίδες όχι μόνο να ξεπεράσει την κρίση αλλά και να θριαμβεύσει. Διαφορετικά την περιμένουν νέες μεγάλες αλλά και μικρές καταστροφές. Ακόμα χειρότερα, την περιμένει το τέλμα χωρίς προοπτική. Αυτό που βιώνουμε σήμερα.

* Ο Αριστείδης Χατζής είναι αναπληρωτής καθηγητής Φιλοσοφίας Δικαίου και Θεωρίας Θεσμών στο Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών. Το βιβλίο του Φιλελευθερισμός θα κυκλοφορήσει στη νέα σειρά «Μικρές Εισαγωγές» των Εκδόσεων Παπαδόπουλος στα τέλη Ιανουαρίου.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Turkey’s Coup and Europe’s Rule of Law

by Apostolos Doxiadis

Wall Street Journal

January 5, 2017

The urgent order from their commander was to pick up casualties from an “emergency situation in the center of Istanbul.” As the responding members of three Turkish search-and-rescue teams approached Vatan Avenue in their Black Hawk helicopters, they encountered gunfire so intense that only one of the three helicopters could land and collect the injured soldiers. All three then evacuated to nearby Topkule base.

There, they were instructed by their commander not to return to their home base as it was “unsafe.” A few minutes later Topkule came under attack, with incoming fire aimed at the helicopters. Eight officers escaped in one Black Hawk to a nearby forest, where they turned to their iPads for news.

It was July 15, 2016. A coup was under way, but little else was known. It wasn’t even clear to them for which side, if any, the three Black Hawk crews had just flown their mission.

The officers repeatedly called their commander for further instructions, but without success. When they saw on the news scenes of killings and lynchings of soldiers and officers by “enraged citizens,” they decided to flee, choosing to go to Greece because, as they said, “It’s a European country.” They eventually told me their story in a series of interviews conducted through their lawyer from the detention center here where they are being kept.

To these eight, like hundreds of others who sought asylum in European Union countries in July, “European” represents a certain set of values. The expectation was that they would find safety in the EU until the chaos in Turkey died down.


For Greece and Turkey, an Old Rivalry Flares

by Nikos Konstandaras

New York Times

January 5, 2017

Eight Turkish military officers who may or may not have been involved in the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last July are now at the center of a tense standoff between Greece and Turkey. At a time when Greece’s economy is still in limbo and Turks are caught between an increasingly authoritarian government and a surge in terrorist attacks, neither country can afford such a distraction. Yet the two neighbors find themselves at odds once again.

The men — two majors, four captains and two noncommissioned officers — turned up in the northern Greek town of Alexandroupolis in a military helicopter the day after the attempted coup. They have claimed that they were not knowingly involved in the rebellion — that they followed orders but were not aware a coup was in progress — but fled to escape persecution, asking for political asylum.

The government in Athens, one of the first to condemn the coup attempt while it was developing, was flustered. On the day the men turned up in Greece, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, spoke by telephone with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, and demanded their extradition. On Twitter, he wrote that Mr. Kotzias told him “that eight traitors who fled to Greece will be returned to Turkey as soon as possible.” The Greek Foreign Ministry said the asylum request would be examined on the basis of “the provisions of Greek and international law,” but “it will be borne very seriously in mind that the arrested parties stand accused in their country of violating constitutional legality and attempting to overthrow democracy.”

Since then, the officers have become a touchstone by which many Greeks are testing the independence of their own judiciary and their country’s democratic principles. Those Greeks feel that even if the eight were involved in trying to topple a legitimate government, they should not be sent back to face a judicial system that, they fear, cannot guarantee fair trials. For the Turkish government, however, the eight are traitors, and their flight to Greece was in itself a provocation.


Greece’s Most-Wanted Terrorist, on Run Since 2012, Is Arrested and Charged

by Iliana Magra

New York Times

January 5, 2017

She was a leader of an anarchist group called Revolutionary Struggle. She helped organize, officials say, a car bombing near the country’s central bank. Later, the authorities say, she rented a helicopter using a fake name and then tried to hijack it in an effort to rescue her imprisoned partner.

On Friday, the anarchist leader, Panagiota Roupa, was charged with theft, forgery and participating in a terrorist organization. She was arrested on Thursday in a house in Ilioupoli, a middle-class suburb southeast of Athens, where she was living under an assumed identity. Her 6-year-old was taken into protective custody.

“Be careful with my son,” she told the officers, according to Theodoros Chronopoulos, the chief spokesman for the national police.

Greek officials called Ms. Roupa, 47 — known by her nickname, Pola — the country’s “No. 1 most-wanted” terrorist. With her partner, Nikos Maziotis, she was a leader of Revolutionary Struggle, which carried out a string of bombings and shootings targeting the police and others starting in 2003, and fired an antitank grenade at the United States Embassy in Athens in 2007. The attacks caused several injuries, but no deaths.

“She is the No. 1 most-wanted domestic terrorist, as she has been crucial in managing the Revolutionary Struggle, but more specifically in recruiting,” Mr. Chronopoulos said in a phone interview.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How Greece’s Troubled Economy Could Turn Around in 2017

by Nicholas Economides


January 3, 2017

Violating the terms of its bailout program, the Greek government recently announced that it will distribute a sizeable “Christmas gift” to Greek pensioners even though this requires additional borrowing from the EU since the Greek budget is not balanced and Greece cannot borrow from money markets. The move has prompted the EU finance ministers to freeze implementation of debt restructuring. Greece is at the brink again.

This is the modern-day, Greek economic tragedy. But unlike the three-acts ancient Greek tragedies, we’ve seen many acts and often the horrible events happen on stage. Of the main actors, the Greek government repeatedly threatens with suicide elections; the IMF tries to apply the same rules to all countries irrespective of development level; the EU bureaucrats paint a rosy picture with no grounding in reality or economics, and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble keeps reading the same austerity rulebook no matter what the circumstances. Even worse, there is practically no dialogue among the actors – they deliver their monologues past each other, each trying to please a different chorus. How did we get here (again), is there hope, and, more importantly, and how does it end?

After two large bailouts in 2010 and 2012 from the EU and the IMF, and after a negotiated haircut of €100 billion off its bonds, Greece was close to recovery in 2014. It had reversed the 2010 15-plus percent deficit and achieved a small primary surplus (before paying interest), reached growth after four years of recession, and even issued new bonds. However, the fiscal consolidation did not happen through spending cuts but rather through large increases in taxation, resulting in a multi-year recession. With Greeks having lost 25% of their income, and unemployment at 25%, disaffected voters brought to power a tiny, radical left party in early 2015.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

'Patients who should live are dying': Greece's public health meltdown

by Helena Smith


January 1, 2017

Rising mortality rates, an increase in life-threatening infections and a shortage of staff and medical equipment are crippling Greece’s health system as the country’s dogged pursuit of austerity hammers the weakest in society.

Data and anecdote, backed up by doctors and trade unions, suggest the EU’s most chaotic state is in the midst of a public health meltdown. “In the name of tough fiscal targets, people who might otherwise survive are dying,” said Michalis Giannakos who heads the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees. “Our hospitals have become danger zones.”

Figures released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recently revealed that about 10% of patients in Greece were at risk of developing potentially fatal hospital infections, with an estimated 3,000 deaths attributed to them.

The occurrence rate was dramatically higher in intensive care units and neonatal wards, the body said. Although the data referred to outbreaks between 2011 and 2012 – the last official figures available – Giannakos said the problem had only got worse.