Tag Archives: Antonis Samaras

Are Neo-Nazis Aiding Greek Cops With “DIY Law Enforcement”?

The Guardian :

Vanna Mendaleni is a middle aged Greek woman who until now has not had vehement feelings about the crisis that has engulfed her country. But that changed when the softly spoken undertaker, closing her family-run funeral parlour, joined thousands of protesters on Thursday in a mass outpouring of fury over austerity policies that have plunged ever growing numbers of Greeks into poverty and fear.

“After three years of non-stop taxes and wage cuts it’s got to the point where nothing has been left standing,” she said drawing on a cigarette. “It’s so bad families can no longer afford to even bury their dead. Bodies lie unclaimed at public hospitals so that the local municipality can bury them.”

As Greece was brought to a grinding halt by its second general strike in less than a month, Mendaleni wanted to send a message to the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, and other EU leaders meeting in Brussels.

“We once had a life that was dignified. Now the country has gone back 50 years and these politicians have to be made aware that enough is enough.”

Greek demonstrations are not now marked by the vehemence or violence of the mass protests that occurred when Europe‘s debt drama erupted in Athens, forcing the then socialist government to announce pay and pension cuts, tax increases and benefit losses that few had anticipated. Anger and bewilderment have been replaced by disappointment and despair.

But the quiet fortitude that has been on display could soon run out in the country on the frontline of the continent’s worst crisis since the second world war. For on Thursday demonstrators were sure of one thing: if pushed too far they may be pushed over the edge.[Read the rest of the article]

Are Neo-Nazis Aiding Greek Cops With “DIY Law Enforcement”?


Zero Hedge
October 18, 2012

Forget the day-to-day images of riots and protests, the truth on the ground in Greece is far harsher. Just as we warned numerous times, social unrest is escalating rapidly and the extremists are gaining strength and power. One of Greece’s neo-nazi Golden Dawn party MPs says “there is already civil war, and Greek society is ready – even though no-one likes this – to have a fight.” The BBC’s Paul Mason reports on recent demonstrations surrounding the performance of a controversial play as tensions escalated and the Golden Dawn party “de-arresting” demonstrators – pulling them from police detention, as the police do nothing. The somewhat shocking clip below points out the incredible reality that is occurring on the streets of Greece – even as EU leaders claim Greece was not a topic at the EU Summit. The people ask “if we are in a democracy or a dictatorship?” and Golden Dawn (which has 18 seats in parliament) proclaims “On the one side there will be nationalists like us, and Greeks who want our country to be as it used to be; and on the other side illegal immigrants, anarchists and all those who have destroyed Athens several times.” As Mason concludes: the social and political outcome of the IMF and EU austerity program, and of the implosion of mainstream politics in Greece, looks like a catastrophe for democracy.

Here is the clip of the theatre riot and Golden Dawn abuse “Wrap It Up You Little Faggots. You Albanian Assholes”

Via The BBC: Alarm at Greek police ‘collusion’ with far-right Golden Dawn

The full ‘must watch’ BBC video is not embeddable, but worth viewing, so click image for link:

Are Greek police colluding with far-right Golden Dawn?

Greece’s far-right party, Golden Dawn, won 18 parliamentary seats in the June election with a campaign openly hostile to illegal immigrants and there are now allegations that some Greek police are supporting the party.

“There is already civil war,” says Ilias Panagiotaros. If so, the shop he owns is set to do a roaring trade.

“Greek society is ready – even though no-one likes this – to have a fight: a new type of civil war,” he says.

“On the one side there will be nationalists like us, and Greeks who want our country to be as it used to be, and on the other side illegal immigrants, anarchists and all those who have destroyed Athens several times,” he adds.

You hear comments like this a lot in Greece now but Ilias Panagiotaros is not some figure on the fringes: he is a member of the Greek parliament, one of 18 MPs elected for the far-right Golden Dawn in June’s general election.

Theatre attack

…Last week he led a demonstration that closed down a performance of the Terence McNally play, Corpus Christi.

“Wrap it up you little faggots. Yes, just keep staring at me you little hooker. Your time is up. “You Albanian assholes,” shouts Mr Panagiotaros in the YouTube clip.

Footage filmed inside the theatre, as rocks showered into its open-air auditorium, shows the manager making frantic calls to the chief of police, demanding protection from a mob that had begun to beat up journalists outside.

Other footage shows Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas “de-arrest” a demonstrator, pulling him from a police detention coach, as the police do nothing.

“People went home with broken bones. Every day they phone me now, they phone the theatre, saying: your days are numbered.”

They phoned my mother, Golden Dawn. They said we will deliver your son’s body to you in a box of little pieces.

“I want to be told if we are in a democracy or a dictatorship?”

I ask Mr Panagiotaros: how can it be right for a party in parliament to have a uniformed militia that takes on, violently, the role of law enforcement, checking papers and overturning market stalls? He explains:

“With one incident, which was on camera, the problem was solved – in every open market all over Greece illegal immigrants disappeared.

“There was some pushing and some fighting – nothing extraordinary, nothing special.

“Now, only with one phone call saying Golden Dawn is going to pass by, the police is going there. That means the brand name of Golden Dawn is very effective.”

He confirms the party’s strategy is to force police action against migrants and to claim their right to make citizens’ arrests against those they suspect of criminality.

“It’s like fashion – our dress code is now extremely popular and more people want to follow it. The brand name is synonymous with order, law and order and efficiency.”

And if it projects fear among perfectly legal migrants? I ask.

“There are no legal migrants in Greece,” says Mr Panagiotaros “not even one.”

Now Golden Dawn is suddenly everywhere. Its eight local offices at election time have become 60 nationwide. It is polling consistently as the third most popular party at 12%.

“Rest assured we stand by the citizens and we try to prevent such situations.

And the issue driving support for Golden Dawn is clear: illegal migration.

“Golden Dawn is at war with the political system and those who represent it, with the domestic and international bankers, we are at war with these invaders – immigrants.

“If the European Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Parliament, the Greek parliament don’t intervene in this situation I am afraid to think what’s going to happen. Europe must do something if they don’t want a revival of the Third Reich again.”

Close up, in other words, the social and political outcome of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and EU (European Union) austerity programme, and of the implosion of mainstream politics in Greece, looks like a catastrophe for democracy.

Greece’s Power Generator Tests Euro Fitness Amid Blackout Threat

In the mountains of northern Greece lies an $800 million power plant whose future may help determine whether the country can salvage its euro status.

The facility near Florina, a town known as “Where Greece Begins,” is the most modern of four production units that state-controlled Public Power Corp. SA (PPC) is scheduled to sell to competitors to meet four-year-old European Union demands that the country deregulate its energy market. The most powerful Greek union is now threatening nationwide blackouts at the height of the summer tourist season to derail the plan.

Melitis, with a Russian-built generator and emissions-control technology from German units of France’s Alstom SA, is PPC’s state-of-the-art prized asset. Source: PPC SA via Bloomberg

“We will make saving PPC a cause for all Greeks,” Nikos Fotopoulos, head of the 18,000-strong GENOP union, said last month in his Athens office adorned with photos of communist revolutionaries including Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. “We fight our battles with faith and passion, and we fight them hard. A serious state must control businesses of strategic importance.”

While on the surface PPC is another tale of Greek conflict during the worst economic crisis of modern times, it encapsulates how Greece has found itself at the sharp end of Europe’s struggle to keep the euro intact and what the country still faces to defend its place in the currency.

Founded in 1950 to distribute domestically generated electricity to Greek citizens, PPC is a microcosm of political protection, vested interests and reliance on foreign financing that have defined the economy for decades.
Resisting Change

It is the country’s biggest employer and its eight plants fired by the soft, brownish-black coal called lignite meet half of Greece’s power demand. PPC is fighting to keep its monopoly on the fuel, which is so vital to the company it’s in the process of moving a whole village to mine more of it.

“PPC has a very strong union that so far has hindered changes,” said Stefanos Manos, a former New Democracy industry minister who stood in the last election for his own party. “The government needs a clear strategy of what it wants to achieve in the energy sector in general and with the company in particular. I have yet to see evidence of that.”

Since forming a government after the June 17 election, the second in six weeks, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his ministers have been in talks with the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund to keep aid flowing during the fifth year of recession. They are working on identifying 11.5 billion euros ($14.2 billion) of further budget cuts and are 3.5 billion euros to 4 billion euros short of the target, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said this week.
Selling Assets

Samaras, 61, has vowed to make the sale of state-owned assets a priority and last month appointed former PPC Chief Executive Officer Takis Athanasopoulos as chairman of the organization managing the privatization program.

Athanasopoulos, 68, a U.S.-trained business manager and university professor, battled Fotopoulos, 48, at PPC during his tenure over issues ranging from job cuts to teaming the company with partners such as Germany’s RWE AG. (RWE) PPC employs 20,000 people, compared with about 38,000 in the mid-1990s, and is now restricted to one new hire for every 10 departures.

“We are determined, as a government of three parties, to press on with structural changes, with state-asset sales,” Samaras told reporters on July 26. His New Democracy party has formed a coalition with Democratic Left and Pasok, the socialist group traditionally backed by the unions.
Reform Credentials

PPC is a test of Samaras’s ability to prove to the euro area and IMF that Greece is meeting their demands to open markets to competition, scale back the state and cut red tape.

The asset-sale program also may involve lowering the state’s stake in PPC to a minority from the current holding of 51 percent. The company’s shares collapsed by 61 percent in the past year and its net debt at the end of the first quarter stood at 4.85 billion euros.

Greece first has to resolve a dispute with the EU over PPC that predates the debt crisis.

The fight centers on Greece’s failure to heed EU competition rules and affects the Melitis electricity plant near Florina in the northern Greek region of Macedonia, a focal point of the 1946-1949 civil war in which communist forces were defeated. Melitis, with a Russian-built generator and emissions- control technology from German units of France’s Alstom SA (ALO), is PPC’s state-of-the-art prized asset.
Lignite Mines

EU regulators ordered Greece in March 2008 to loosen PPC’s stranglehold on lignite, saying competitors face unfair market barriers. The EU said Greece violates European law by giving PPC “quasi-exclusive” access to the coal.

PPC depends on lignite, among the most polluting fuels, to help compensate for losses in its natural-gas business. The Athens-based company said its cost of production is about half as much in lignite as in cleaner gas. Greece is the third- largest lignite producer in the EU after Germany and Poland, according to the European Association for Coal and Lignite.

“We don’t consider giving existing lignite units to private groups an investment in, and contribution to, the country,” Fotopoulos, the union leader, said in a July 26 interview. “The only winners from giving ready-made lignite factories to private groups are the private groups.”
Political Change

The previous New Democracy government proposed to meet the EU’s 2008 deregulation order by expanding mining capacity.

Seeking to give competitors to PPC access to 40 percent of exploitable Greek lignite reserves, the government decided to invite bids for exploitation rights at four deposits, including one called Vevi from which the nearby Melitis plant is counting on getting supplies.

Greek elections in October 2009 produced a Pasok government that pulled the plug on that plan, which EU regulators had approved two months earlier.

The Pasok government of former Prime Minister George Papandreou, pledging to promote cleaner energy, ended up preparing to sell four existing PPC power units, including Melitis, and to limit new exploitation rights to the nearby Vevi deposit, which had been mined until about 10 years ago.

The Pasok plan remains on the table as the new Samaras administration evaluates options. The other three units on the sale list include two at the Amindeo power station southeast of Melitis and one in Megalopolis in southern Greece.

“The government is committed to proceeding with the privatization of PPC in an organized fashion,” Assimakis Papageorgiou, Greece’s deputy energy minister, said in an Aug. 1 e-mail. He declined to elaborate on the plans, saying they are still being developed.
Ticking Clock

Time is pressing not just for the government, which is scrambling to meet an Aug. 20 deadline to repay 3.1 billion euros of debt held by the ECB, but also for Melitis. It has been forced to take stopgap steps, including importing coal, after losing supplies from two nearby lignite mines.

One mine, Achlada, which furnished more than half of Melitis’s lignite in 2011, shut down temporarily earlier this year as Greece’s economic slump deepened. The other, Klidi, closed four years ago after a hillside collapsed.

The 330-megawatt unit at Melitis, whose technology limits discharges of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust particles, is getting some of its lignite from as far away as Turkey and Bulgaria, according to Constantinos Tzeprailidis, operation department manager at the plant.
Natural Wealth

“It’s a little difficult,” Tzeprailidis said in a July 28 interview in his office that looks onto countryside where sheep graze and wheat, corn and sunflowers grow. “It’s a shame to have national wealth that’s not exploited.”

About 75 kilometers (47 miles) south of Melitis, amid the lignite mines that make up Greece’s energy heartland in the Kozani area, PPC’s hunger for the fuel is more conspicuous.

The landscape is marked by active open-pit mines that supply larger, older, PPC power stations nearby.

These include Agios Dimitrios, the company’s largest lignite-fired station that alone meets about 20 percent of Greece’s electricity consumption, and Ptolemaida, the oldest station where power generation began in 1959.

“We work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Olga Kouridou, director of mining for PPC in the region, said on July 27 as she approached a 50-meter precipice in the area’s largest mine.

A German bucket-wheel excavator, the size of a multi-story building, churned the earth and dozens of dump trucks roared down the makeshift dirt roads. “We don’t stop at all. We have enormous activity,” she said.
Moving Earth

Residents of the nearby village of Mavropigi can attest to that. The village, whose name in Greek means “black source,” is due to be moved within months to make way for an expansion of mining by PPC. Mavropigi will be the sixth village in the Kozani area to be relocated since the 1970s because of mining.

Dimitris Emmanouil, a retired construction worker who was born in Mavropigi in 1941 and got married there, said he and other residents hear the ground moving at night as a result of the digging for lignite.

“It’s dangerous now because the soil is slipping,” he said on July 27 while seated at a table in a closed-down café in Mavropigi, where earthquake-like faults in the ground are visible. “There’s no other choice. The village has to go.”

PPC needs the lignite under Mavropigi and surrounding fields for a planned 1.4 billion-euro unit at the Ptolemaida plant, according to Ioannis Kopanakis, an Athens-based general manager for generation at PPC. The company is asking German development bank KfW to arrange a 700 million-euro loan and intends to fund the rest itself, he said.

“The matter has gone to the highest decision-making levels in Germany,” Kopanakis said in a July 30 interview. “We expect progress in these issues in the near future.”

This is the kind of project that PPC representatives say highlights the company’s importance to Greece, boosting investment, jobs and technological expertise.

“It’s the last producer on this scale that is left in Greece,” said Kouridou, the mining director in the Kozani region. “We need to keep that. If this stops, the whole area will lose out, but so will Greece.” Bloomberg

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