Tag Archives: Greek

Merkel Outraged about Greeks on Strike; She May Consider to Impose Curfew

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel stunned 200 parliamentarians and journalists in Europe Parliament when she fiercely opposed Greeks launching strikes and protests.

You have to tell them, ‘It is not right, that every time I go on strike when a privatization is due,  it is not right that a railway company is not able to pay its employees due to the ticket fares, it is not OK if the government ministries do not cooperate with each other, it’s not OK if one has a taxation system, but not paying taxes.”

I assume, that the aversion and the lack of understanding for the frustration and anger of austerity-ridden Greeks, have very much to do with the former DDR-mentality of Frau Merkel, where even basic labour rights were forbidden and hardly one dared to whisper “b” when Honnecker was singing ”A”.

Nevertheless, Angela Merkel was sharply criticized by her own German people, with leader of European Socialists, Hannes Swoboda telling her:

“Together with the Troika you demand something, you would never demand in Germany: namely, the destruction of social networks”

Left MEP Gabi Zimmer told her: “Austerity kills! What is good to be more competitive if it takes people to perish?”

Green Party chairman Rebecca Harms spoke of  “enslavement of  the innocent” and of  “Merkel’s Greek disgrace.” (Full story Tageblatt GER)

Rumors that Merkel considers to impose curfew on days of scheduled protests and to send her own tax-collectors to invade each and every home in Greece are not confirmed. At least, not yet.

No Greeks, No Strikes!

Lagarde List “Burn After Reading” Leaked,Greek Journalist Arrested

“Democracy” Today: Pictureshack storing wasn’t working after the journalist’s arrest by the greek ” law” enforcement so I had to re-upload the files of the list and the names contained in there.Greece has turned out to be the most fascist country .Sorry for the inconvenience ,it was a 404 error: democracy not found


Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis Arrested for Publishing Lagarde-List

Source:Keep  Talking Greece

Greek Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis was arrested on Sunday morning at his home for publishing 2,059 names of Greek HSBC-account holders whose names were on so-called Lagarde-List.

The journalist wrote on his Twitter account during his arrest:

@KostasVaxevanis They’re coming in the house with a prosecutor now. They are arresting me. Spread “

He was arrested at 11 o’ clock in the morning, the moment the military parade was starting in Thessaloniki to  commemorate the NO Greeks said to Axis Forces on 28. October 2012.

An hour before his arrest Vaxevanis had Tweeted:

“Outside my home are 15 policemen. Let them come in and arrest me like German collaborators.”

A closely-kept secret by the Greek government – the names of 1,991 people who made $1.95 billion in deposits in the Geneva, Switzerland HSBC bank branch – has been released by a Greek investigative journalist and immediately went viral on the Internet, listing several politicians, an advisor to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, well-known businessmen, journalists, doctors, lawyers and engineers, actors and civil servants – some of them working at the Finance Ministry.

The list contains also the names of three former ministers, of whom one died sometime ago. Also the names of owners of enterprises that have gone bankrupt. But also students studying abroad, pensioners and housewives.

Former Minister George Voulgarakis is on the list

The names were said to come from an original list given by former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde – now the head of the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s Troika of international lenders – to former Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou who said he lost them.

That prompted his successor, Evangelos Venizelos, now the current head of the PASOK Socialists, to produce a copy he said he had on a memory stick and set off an investigation by Greek prosecutors as to whether any of those listed had evaded taxes. It’s not unlawful for Greeks to have accounts in another country as long as they are declared and taxes are paid on them.

Greek authorities did not confirm that the list printed on Oct. 27 in Hot Doc, a weekly magazine published by investigative journalist Costas Vaxevanis, were those on the Lagarde list, given to Greece in 2010 as part of a longer list on a CD that came from stolen records from the bank, the reason Venizelos said he never acted on it, although Lagarde said other countries who found names of their citizens have used it to prosecute tax cheats.

Neither Papaconstantinou nor Venizelos indicated there were any politicians on the list and the government wanted the names kept secret as Samaras is proceeding with a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan while tax evaders who owe the country $70 billion have largely escaped Greece’s crushing economic crisis. The plan includes more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions affecting workers, pensioners and the poor while Greece’s politicians, rich elite and tax heats have been relatively unaffected.

The embarrassing release came only a day after Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Nikos Pantelis asked for Parliament to be briefed regarding any politicians on list. Former minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, from Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives, whose name is on the list, said it was “disinformation” and “mudslinging” and declared via his Twitter account, “Neither my wife nor I have any offshore companies or foreign bank accounts.”


Not only Greeks but also name of foreign nationals are on the list – apparently having transferred money to HSBC from Greek banks. Hot Doc stressed that people on the list should not be considered tax evaders unless it is proved they did not pay taxes on the deposits.

But it said: “It is apparent that a large portion of deposits are not justified with the income of depositors. Proof is that most accounts were closed after the bank briefed on the data leaking.” Vaxevanis wrote that he had received the list content on a USB memory stick “by somebody” who wrote to HOT DOC that s/he “believed that the list has been misused for political and economic purposes for two years.”

The HSBC data were stolen by former bank employee Herve Falciani in 2007.  While countries like France, UK and Germany pursued tax evaders, Greece kept moving it from one place to another until Papaconstantinou said it was lost, and he blamed his aides and it became apparent that no politician wanted to get involved.

There was no immediate reaction from the government, which is rushing to finalize the new austerity plan and ram it through Parliament before a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on Nov. 14 so that a pending $38.8 billion loan installment can be released.

The Hot Doc website stated:  “Our controls led to the conclusion that this is the list of Greek depositors to HSBC until 2007 when the leak started. So this list was identical to the Lagarde-List. But we cannot check if this is the (original) list received by Papaconstantinou or a list being formed later after the removal of some names in an potential attempt to hide evidence.”

Until now, one journalist said that he had no bank account abroad and a well-known lawyer declared that his family had transferred money abroad in the late 1980’ss to cover surgery expenses for a family member. Another journalist said he had no money abroad at that time, while a former New Democracy minister and his wife dismissed any connection to the list. While the Hot Doc list did not show how much money was deposited by each individual, that information was reportedly on the original list.

Read the original article here

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.

Greek society is now stuck between neo-Nazism, racism and austerity

Disclaimer regarding the video: This IS NOT WHAT I BELIEVE. This is what Greece has turned into,a Nest of hating fascists. My opinion is known and IS NOT in favour of any kind of extremes.If you are to leave a comment,please be kind enough to follow the WP rules and do not leave any threats /hate messages. Thank you

Fascism is making a mainstream comeback. That is fascism in the sense of a nationalist and nativist movement, to be distinguished from totalitarianism, which is an internationalist and imperialist movement. The scene for the return of fascism is Greece. In the birthplace of democracy, the failure of the European Union has combined with the utter impotency of mainstream Greek politicians to  offer an opening for Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi and anti-immigrant party that is openly and violently taking the law into its own hands. The New York Times writes:

The video, which went viral in Greece last month, shows about 40 burly men, led by Giorgos Germenis, a lawmaker with the right-wing Golden Dawn party, marching through a night market in the town of Rafina demanding that dark-skinned merchants show permits.

The video is harrowing. It is racist and rightly condemned by legitimate parties. But no one, it seems, is willing to do more than to condemn Golden Dawn. Article after article speaks of the close relationship between Golden Dawn and the Greek police. They appear to act with impunity.

The real danger is only in part the destruction of shops and stands owned by brown people who don’t have documentation; it is the shock, passivity, and even the support of the people and the police. Greek society is, as The Guardian reports, making media darlings of Golden Dawn. Multiple reports suggest that Golden Dawn has support of more than 20% of the Greek people.

The problems Greece faces are extreme. Overly indebted, the Greeks have not been able to choose a coherent response. They have refused to leave the Euro or nationalize their banks and their debt. But nor have they willingly embraced the kind of severe austerity that would allow them to return to good economic standing. The sad result is enforced and partial austerity at the barrel of an economic pistol. It is a painful and humiliating submission to international bureaucrats.

At the same time, the broken immigration politics of the European Union puts an impossible burden on Greece to police its huge and porous borders. Since illegal immigrants can travel freely in the EU once inside Greece, it has become an easy port of entry to the whole of the EU. There are now, according to the NY Times, more than 1.5 Million immigrants in a country of 11 million people. Other sources put the number lower at 850,000. Whichever is correct, the politics of immigration are underwriting Golden Dawn’s popular vigilantism.


The combination of a broken political system, economic austerity, and growing illegal immigration is, as the video and the increasingly mainstream popularity of Golden Dawn show, a dangerous mix. This is a mass movement that is filling a vacuum of legitimate leadership. It is a sign of what happens when the political system refuses to honestly address the reality of the problems a nation faces; the complete breakdown in legitimacy and the turn to extremism.

Read more about Golden Dawn in the Times article.

ATHENS – As if any more proof was needed that the Nazis of Golden Dawn are really just cowardly bullies who do their fighting in packs like mad dogs when they can pounce on one victim without fear of being hit back, came the sad spectacle of its spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris  – who was elected to the Parliament after the stalemated May 6 elections before the body quickly dissolved – attacking a top Communist lawmaker, Liana Kanelli, on live television. How he got to be the spokesman is another question because he speaks only Neanderthal.

Kasidiaris threw water at Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Rena Dourou as a result of  becoming  infuriated after she had referred to his pending court case on the Klimera Ellada TV show. The 32-year-old Golden Dawn MP is also facing a charge of assisting an attack and robbery against a postgraduate student in 2007. His trial has been adjourned until June 11th, six days before the critical national elections.

Not content with assaulting one woman, he jumped up and slapped around Kanelli as she tried to defend herself before the show’s host jumped in to pull off the rabid dog, who ran out to hide but vowed to return – but only with a gang because he couldn’t face one woman alone. After the incident, Kasidiaris was locked in a room at the studio of the private Antenna TV but broke down a door to escape, according to reports, running away into the dark where his subhumans live, a craven chicken-heart who put his tail between his legs and ran away. A prosecutor issued an arrest warrant and if police catch up with him, they can tack on some new charges. If there’s any justice he should be put into the women’s jail so they can have a go at him, although it might take him time to take off his dress.

Kanelli is an eloquent intellectual who can infuriate opponents as she disarms them with wit and argument even with the little ammunition she gets from her sadly outdated ideology, and he is no match for her with words because she’d be in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, a thug charged with a felony. Maybe a good start for Greece would be to pass a law barring felons from being elected as members of Parliament. You could extend that to idiots too, but that would empty most of the 300 seats in the body.

If any good comes out of this, it’s that now that Golden Dawn keeps being exposed as a lunatic fringe, beating up immigrants and having no philosophy, and as its leader Nikos Michaloliakos denied the Holocaust, that it won’t get enough votes in the critical June 17 elections to be elected to Parliament. In the May 6 balloting, on the back of opposing the austerity measures that have crippled workers, pensioners and the poor, and a platform of tossing immigrants out of the country and beating up those still around, Golden Dawn got 6.2 percent of the vote and 21 seats. Since then, as it has continued to show it’s just a group of whack jobs supported by empty-headed twits, it has fallen to 4.2 percent, and hopefully the live TV assault will push it under the 3 percent threshold needed to get into Parliament and back under the rocks from which these lizards came after evolving from primordial ooze. In the 2009 elections, it got only 0.29 percent of the vote, but even that was too much.

While the other political parties who don’t want to sit next to Golden Dawn types in the Parliament properly responded with condemnation, sadly – if predictably – the bully was not universally scored, with many people jumping onto blogs and Greek news sites to cheer on the assault, and you know the types: unemployed, live-in boyfriends sponging off the girlfriends they beat up because if they had to face a man they’d need to order some Depends diapers. Golden Dawn types prefer to beat up women and immigrants, but only if they outnumber their victims by 30-1 or so, the odds they prefer.

Michaloliakos, who must not have been watching TV or was too busy cleaning the scales on his body or looking for rats to eat, claimed Kanelli attacked Kasidiaris first and that the incident had been blown out of proportion. He said he would no longer allow any of his members to talk to the press in retaliation, which should bring a big sigh of relief to any reporter who no longer would have to take a shower after getting too close to them. Speaking at a pre-election rally in Megara, west of Athens, Mihaloliakos said “elections never did this country any good,” forgetting it was an election which got him into the Parliament, but then his types prefer dictatorships anyway.

But this being Greece, Kasidiaris may not face justice and could be elected to Parliament again unless Greeks rise up as they always have against bullies and tyrants and shun Golden Dawn, make its members pariahs and ostracize them. There’s another option: deport them to a country that hates immigrants or seat them next to Manolis Glezos, a real Greek hero who, with his late friend Apostolos Santas, climbed up under the Acropolis in 1941 to pull down the Swastika that Golden Dawn wants to put up again. Glezos knows how to deal with Nazis. Let’s see if the rest of Greece does too.


Tens of thousands of Greeks hit by austerity cuts have taken to the streets in Athens as the government pushes for an austerity deal with its lenders.

On Tuesday, inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission, known as the troika, tried to avoid the protesters demonstrating outside the labor ministry building in the capital, where negotiations between the troika and Athens were being held on the details of a two-year austerity package.

For weeks, Greece has been negotiating over 12 billion euros of cutbacks that its lenders have declined to sign off over concerns that many of the proposed saving cuts are unlikely to materialize.

For the second day, the troika inspectors had to face the angry protesters interrupting them as they entered the ministry building to start negotiations.

Dozens of disabled demonstrators blocked the main entrance of the labor ministry and chanted, "We won't let it pass!" One held a banner saying, "They handed 200 billion to bankers but cut down on medicine, treatment, and benefits for the disabled."

On Monday, Athens unveiled its 2013 draft budget which includes measure that would affect pensions, benefits, and the salaries of civil servants to meet the troika criteria. The austerity budget foresaw a sixth year of recession in 2013. However, the measures did not convince the troika.

"The troika is questioning the effectiveness of the measures related to structural reforms," a government official said.

Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its fifth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs.

One in every five Greek workers is currently unemployed, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent.

Greek youths have also been badly affected, and more than half of them are unemployed.

The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in Greece in late 2009 and reached Italy, Spain, and France last year, is viewed as a threat not only to Europe but also to many of the world’s other more developed economies.


The aftermath of June’s fresh elections in Greece saw the formation of a three-party coalition government. The election also saw the neo-Nazi party “Golden Dawn” come fifth place in the polls, and gain seats in the national parliament. Alexandros Sakellariou and the the Greek MYPLACE team at Panteion University of Social And Political Sciences discuss neo-Nazi influence, austerity measures and racism following the Greek elections.


It has been more than two months after the elections of 17th of June and the formation of the three-party coalition government. In the meantime we got some very interesting data derived from the exit polls regarding the neo-Nazi party “Golden Dawn” (ChryssiAygi), which received 6.9% of the votes and came fifth in the national elections, surpassing the Democratic Left, which now participates in the government (6.3%) and the Communist Party (4.5%). According to these data, Golden Dawn was voted for more by men (10%) than by women (4%) and this was the highest difference between the two sexes compared to all other parties. In the age category 18-24 Golden Dawn was in the second place with 13% after the Coalition of the Left (SYRIZA) with 37%. In the age category 25-34 SYRIZA was again first with 33% and Golden Dawn second in the same place with the conservatives (New Democracy) with 16%. In the following categories Golden Dawn is in the third or fourth and fifth place.

It is very interesting that in the age category 65+ is in the seventh place with only 2%, which according to our view means that older people who know what Nazism and Fascism did to Greece did not vote for them. This perhaps is a very important issue which is related to memory (remembering and forgetting), but also points out the lack of historical knowledge on the part of the young people. The educational background of the Golden Dawn’s voters is 9% middle, 3% low and 6% higher education; the majority of them are unemployed (12%), 11% are working in the private sector and 11% are self-employed and employers, 7% are university students, 6% are working in the public sector, 3% are pensioners and 3% housekeepers. 8% of them are from semi-urban areas while 7% are from rural and only 6% from urban areas.

When they were asked why they voted for Golden Dawn, 29% of them spontaneously responded because of indignation and in order to punish the politicians, 27% because of the immigration problem and the control of the borders, 14% because they agree with the party’s political program and declaration and 13% for patriotic and national reasons.

However, apart from these numbers Golden Dawn members have been very active since their parliamentary entrance . They are using the financial support they receive as a parliamentary party in order to give food to those people who need it, provided that they are Greek! (See the poster below from their webpage):

Furthermore, they created a blood bank in many Greek cities, in order to collect blood, but again only for Greek people (See the poster below).

We should add that in the course of our internet ethnography about Golden Dawn we have  seen that their official webpage is very active with many posts and announcements being
uploaded on a daily basis. In addition, their youth’s webpage is also very rich with texts, photos and videos, but what is quite surprising is their women’s blog, which is very strenuous and seem to show that many young women are taking part in the organization’s activities (See the picture below from the blog).


The most alarming ‘activity’, though, is the attacks against the immigrants. Even though no one has been arrested, the incidents have been augmented during the last weeks in Athens and other cities. In August the 10th around ten o’clock at night, during the Ramadan month, about five motorcycles attacked a Muslim prayer house in Piraeus throwing smoke bombs. Fortunately enough the people inside managed to get out without any injuries. In another similar attack on Saturday the 11th of August, another group of motorcycles attacked again a prayer house. Some of them entered the place and vandalized it writing on the walls: “Fuck the Koran”, “Fuck Allah”, “Mohamed was Gay”, “Hellas” and they also pictured Christian crosses (See the picture below).

Finally, there are many reports regarding racist attacks against immigrants from people with black t-shirts (like those worn by the Golden Dawn members). In one of these attacks a young Iraqi was killed in the center of Athens on August the 12th, at around 04.30 in the morning by a group of people who before him attacked two other immigrants, one from Romania and one from Morocco. Their tactic is to get close to their victims and be friendly asking them where they come from and then they attack them. Anti-racist organizations report that many incidents of this kind occur on a weekly basis, but the problem is that the police were unable until now to find the suspects, not even in one case. Without any intention of implying a close relationship between the police and the neo-Nazi party, even though there have been many accusations in the last years, it is worth mentioning that during the last elections in the special electoral departments for policemen Golden Dawn received from 17 to 23%, more than three times up from the party’s national percentage. One last alarming event was that Golden Dawn is organizing Security Battalions in Peloponnese (like those during the Civil War) against the immigrants. The local representative made a call to all the inhabitants from 15 to 70 years old to be alarmed and participate in these forces. He also attacked immigrants, accusing them of being responsible for the delinquency in the region, arguing that “the illegal immigrant intruders are responsible for the high rates of criminality in the area” and also added that “the gypsies are a delinquency plague for the Greeks”.


Within this social and political climate new austerity measures of more than 11.5 billion Euros are ready to be applied for the years to come (2013-2014). According to very recent information, due to the five year recession, which is going to be continued, more billions are necessary in order to achieve the financial goals of the economic program (approx. 13.5 billion). Among other measures new cuts are planned for wages in pubic sector and in pensions. It has to be noted that according to Eurostat Greece is now in the first place of youth unemployment (15-24) surpassing Spain, with 52.8 to 52.7% (April data). However, the Hellenic Statistical Authority published its May 2012 data which showed that youth unemployment was 54.9%. Furthermore, according to the first data from the last census (2011) another issue seems to arise: the decrease in the birth rate. As a consequence, Greece’s population declined by about 300,000 people and this is connected with the economic crisis as there is a decrease of around 15% of births in the maternity homes and also a decrease in the number of weddings. In addition, many immigrants especially from the Balkans and especially from Albania have returned to their homelands. Some estimate that about 100,000 have already left and this is going to be proven in the beginning of the new school period. Finally, many Greeks have decided to immigrate to other countries. In 2010 5,000 immigrated to Germany, and in 2011 this number rose to 9,000 and was about 15,000 this June. The German Statistical Authority stated that immigration from Greece rose by 90% in 2011 and they speak of about 23,800 new immigrants (Newspaper Kathimerini, August 18, 2012).

It is obvious, that because of the austerity summer vacations were a dream for many of the people of Athens. The majority of them visited friends and relatives in their villages and it was the first time that no one could say that Athens was empty during August. I personally stay every August in Athens and this time was more crowded than ever before, and not only by tourists. As a newspaper article put it “August is no longer a vacation month” (To Vima, August 12, 2012). Based on the last study of the Consumer’s Institute 69% of the Greeks will not go on vacation this summer and those who managed to go reduced their stay from 2 or 3 weeks to 7 or 10 days the most. Some of them also decided to take their vacation leave and stay in Athens and just go for walks and meet their friends.

Even though the above description is not very optimistic, it gives us the opportunity to conduct our MYPLACE survey and our ethnographies in very interesting times and in a social milieu, which is very fruitful for social research.

This article originally appeared on the Project MYPLACE blog.

Recession and suicide

Posted on | juli 21, 2012 |

Materialistic/hedonistic lifestyle and Suicide
During the Great Depression, the press published dramatic stories of people committing suicide after they had lost their savings, homes, and/or jobs. The World Health Organization (WHO) currently reports that more than 800,000 people kill themselves each year, a rate that has been rising owing to the recent recession. Is there a correlation between economic recessions and increase in suicides? The figures from developed, semi-developed and underdeveloped nations indicate that there is a link. Even in the UK, which is outside the perimeters of official austerity, unlike Ireland, Portugal and Greece, the rate of suicides rose 15% in 2011 in comparison with 2007. It is true that suicide rates in many developed nations have risen sharply in the last half century, although incomes have risen for most of that period, but falling in the past two decades. This is in part because the materialistic/hedonistic culture and lifestyle on which the individual’s psychology is molded cannot absorb the shock of having a lessening of materialistic/hedonistic lifestyle undercut by economic contractions impacting the individual’s life.Therefore, when the nice home, car, and lifestyle are diminished, all things on which the value system is based, the individual cannot cope and sees no point to go on living.

Suicides in Southern Europe
More interesting than northwest Europe, which has a long-standing pattern of higher suicide rates than most of the world, southern Europe (Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy) have seen their suicide rates skyrocket in the past two years. From 1980 to 2000 suicide rates averaged six per 100,000, or about the same as in Mexico and Israel, whereas in the Russian Federation and South Korea rates were almost three times higher. There is a long-standing debate about suicide as an individual matter vs. a social problem, something that is discussed more in Asian and other non-Western societies, but is more likely dismissed in Western nations by media, politicians and social elites that want to blame the individual and not the institutional structure for the conditions providing fertile ground to suicide attempts.

Mental Illness, Alcohol, Substance abuse and Economic hardships
While suicide is often associated with mental illness, abuse of alcohol and substances, suicide rates since the recession of 2008 have risen owing to people losing jobs, homes, income, falling into debt and watching their lives destroyed and identities shattered. Particularly in Italy and Greece, suicide rates have been rampant in 2011 and 2012, with blatant cases of individuals killing themselves because they see no way out of economic hardships. The dignity question, often associated with middle class status is linked to rise in suicides at a time that the economic recession has eroded middle class living standards.

OECD warnings on suicides
OECD – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – has been compiling statistics that indicate a direct a correlation between economic hard times and suicides, especially in countries under formal or informal austerity pressures. As EU economy will continue to struggle in 2012 and 2013, with rising unemployment, falling wages and benefits, the likely scenario is higher rate of suicide attempts across most of EU, along with higher crime rates and social unrest. At the same time, the social fabric is under attack, given that the economic recession is impacting the integrity of the family, as more people need to take anti-depressant medication to cope with external problems that they internalize.

GDP Correlation to Suicide
Studies conducted over long periods suggest that the higher income the lower the suicide rate. Moreover, higher income nations suffer a lower suicide rate during expansionary economic cycles than they do during recessionary cycles. As much in the US as in Japan, suicides rates rise during recessionary cycles, though it is not true that such rates rise across all of Asia during economic hard times, thus indicating that value systems – traditional-religious rooted society does impact the individual’s outlook on suicide.

Suicide: Internalizing an external problem
It is true that in much of the Western World the external problems of economic recessions that lead to job loss, home loss, savings depletion, high debt, divorce, etc. is often internalized, largely because the media, politicians, priests and sages insist that any calamities that befall on the individual are her/his fault and not a structural or institutional problem. Therefore, the sense of guilt, self-hatred, and pain is so intense that to stop the hurt, the individual must kill the self, instead of pointing to the predatory institutional system as the root of the problem.

Capitalist value system and Suicide
In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the option of suicide is seen as one that the system of the market economy brings to Willy Loman, an option from which he cannot escape because his life, his identity, his family, his success is defined. Has finance capitalism created a new class of Willy Lomans on the verge of depression and contemplating suicide, or is this an exaggeration, considering that no matter the political economy, human beings would always contemplate choosing to end their lives when pressured by unpleasant circumstances? Does the marketing/publicity machine of the free market economy condition peoples’ minds to the degree that they actually believe in the illusion of ‘making it rich some day’, and once that does not come true some become depressed and a few suicidal? To what degree has the credit economy contributed to false hopes about achieving the dream of riches, when in reality such dreams are confined to a tiny percentage of the world’s population? Finally, what is the meaning of life for an individual who grew up in materialistic/hedonistic society in which material success cannot be achieved?

AUTHOR: Jon Kofas
URL: http://jonkofas.blogspot.com

Depression, Suicides Rise as Euro Debt Crisis Intensifies

Depression, Suicide

CNBC content made available by kind permission of CNBC.

By Holly Ellyatt, CNBC Assistant News Editor

Europe is approaching a crisis as the region’s debt crisis and austerity measures increase the rates of depression, suicide and psychological problems – just as governments cut healthcare spending by up to 50 percent, according to campaigners, policy makers and health organizations.

A growing number of global and European health bodies are warning that the introduction and intensification of austerity measures has led to a sharp rise in mental health problems with suicide rates, alcohol abuse and requests for anti-depressants increasing as people struggle with the psychological cost of living through a European-wide recession.

“No one should be surprised that factors such as unemployment, debt and relationship breakdowns can cause bouts of mental illness and may push people who are already vulnerable to take their own lives,” Richard Colwill, of the British mental health charity Sane, told CNBC.

“There does appear to be a connection between unemployment rates and suicide for example,” he said, referring to a recent study in the British Medical Journal that stated that more than 1,000 people in the U.K. may have killed themselves because of the impacts of the recession. “This research reflects other work showing similar rises in suicides across Europe.”

According to Josée Van Remoortel, advisor to the European organization Mental Health Europe (MHE), the financial crisis is affecting “all areas of life,” not just economies, and its impact on mental health is creating a “deep chasm in our society.”

“The credit crunch [has] had one unexpected consequence and one that reflects a deep chasm in our society – a sharp rise in mental health problems, largely caused by uncertainty and fear for the future,” he writes in a paper entitled “The Sane Approach.”

A recent survey of general practitioners (family doctors) in Britain by the Insight Research Group seems to support Van Remoortel’s view.

The data showed that out of 300 family doctors surveyed, the majority reported that austerity was damaging their patients’ health. Seventy six percent said their patients were unhealthier due to the economic climate and 77 percent said more patients were seeking treatment for anxiety.

The doctors surveyed relayed an increase in the incidence of alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression and requests for abortions due to economic reasons, anecdotal evidence borne out by statistics for anti-depressant requests in the U.K., which have risen 28 percent from 34 million prescriptions in 2007 to 43.4 million in 2011.

However, just as public health deteriorates, national government throughout Europe are deepening spending cuts and cutting mental healthcare by up to 50 percent.

The consequences of spending cuts could be long-lasting and pervasive throughout the continent, according to Van Remoortel from Mental Health Europe.

“The financial crisis will not last forever,” Van Remoortel said. “But rushed measures taken by national governments to patch their economies will surely have prolonged effects.”

He isn’t alone in calling for Europe’s governments to avoid cutting spending on mental health, particularly as one in four Europeans (215 million people) will experience a mental health disorder during the course of their lives according to MHE.

More worryingly, one study suggests that only 30 to 52 percent of Europeans with mental health problems make contact with a health professional, and as a result the real figure could be much higher.

John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy says Europe could be “sleep-walking into a catastrophe” as budget cuts hit healthcare services.

Speaking at a meeting at the European Economic and Social Committee in June, Dalli said that Europe was heading towards a “humanitarian crisis” and warned of the risks of "neglecting public health in times of austerity."

"The economic crisis should not turn into a health crisis. Financial hardship cannot jeopardize people's health and access to healthcare,” he said.

“Cutting back on healthcare delivery is invariably a false economy, triggering worsening outcomes in the longer term — for people’s health, for health systems, for society and the economy as a whole,” he said.

But with rising debt burdens and austerity programs, this is exactly what countries throughout Europe are doing. In Greece, a country in which a number of high profile “economic suicides'' have been recorded, funding for the mental health service has been cut by up to 50 percent.

In the U.K., 13.8 percent of the total 102 billion pound annual health budget goes on mental health provision. But after a decade of rising investment, the government is looking to cut 6.6 billion pounds from mental health care provision as part of 20 billion pounds of cuts from its<a href="http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/07/investment-mental-health/"> national health service bill.

In a country where 6 million people suffer from mental health problems, a cut of 150 million pounds from the annual mental health budget could cause billions of pounds in adverse economic and human effects according to the National Mental Health Development Unit (NMHDU).

In a report by the organization, it estimated that the financial cost of mental illness  to the wider economy amounted to 77 billion pounds a year in lost productivity and increased need for social security benefits.

At a time when mental health services are needed the most by society and economy, the government is jeopardizing the public’s welfare, Richard Colwill from the charity Sane told CNBC.

“Our concern is that people will be doubly penalized. At a time when we would reasonably expect there to be an increase in demand for mental health support, in the U.K. we are seeing cuts to services across the board,” Colwill said.

“With stretched services already seeing people fall through the cracks, our fear is that the fault lines can only widen.”


Americans now stand a greater chance of dying from the effects of austerity than being killed in a car crash. At least that’s what a new report suggests, if you read between the lines. The study, authored by a West Virginia University professor and published in the American Journal of Public Health last week, says that suicide now kills more Americans than car crashes. While the study doesn’t draw a direct connection between the recession and the spike in suicides over the last ten years.

Death By Austerity

More Americans now commit suicide than die in car crashes, making suicide the leading cause of injury deaths, according to a new study.

In addition, over the last 10 years, while the number of deaths from car crashes has declined, deaths from poisoning and falls increased significantly, the researchers report.

“Suicides are terribly undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe,” said study author Ian Rockett, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University.

…For the study, Rockett’s team used data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics to determine the cause of injury deaths from 2000 to 2009.

The leading causes of unintentional deaths were car accidents, poisoning and falls, and for intentional deaths they were suicide and homicide.

Deaths from intentional and unintentional injury were 10 percent higher in 2009 than in 2000, the researchers noted.

And although deaths from car crashes declined 25 percent, deaths from poisoning rose 128 percent, deaths from falls increased 71 percent and deaths from suicides rose 15 percent, according to the study.

Can it be a coincidence that the rise in U.S. suicides occurred simultaneously with America’s biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression -- when millions of Americans found themsleves suddenly facing foreclosure, long-term unemployment, homelessness, and hunger? Possibly, but a significant increase in suicides doesn’t “just happen,” anymore than do economic meldtowns. As with any other socio-cultural trends, there are likely to be one or more factors driving it.

You don’t have to be a college professor to connect the dots. Back in April, I began writing a series of posts about the human costs of austerity in Europe, after the suicide of 77-year-old Green pensioner Dimitris Christoulas made headlines around the world. Christoulas set his suicide in the context of the devastating conesquences of austerity for Greek citizens when he chose to take his in a public square located near Parliament, and left a suicide note directly blaming the government’s austerity measures for the desperation and despair that pushed him to take his own life.

Christloulas’ public suicide, and his posthumous indictment of the Greek government’s austerity measures sparked protests from middle- and working-class Greeks who bear the brunt of Greece’s austerity-shrunken economy, and its 21% unemployment rate (51% for Greeks between the ages of 15 and 140). It also reflected an increase in suicides not just in Greece, but across Europe -- in every country caught in the vice grip of austerity.

Austerity has brought another change to Greece. Prior to 2007, suicides among Greeks under 65 fell sharply. In face, Greece had the lowest rate of suicides. Not surprising since suicide is so deeply stigmatized in Greece that the Greek Orthodox Church rejects the bodies of suicides for burial.

The economic downturn reversed that trend, as suicides increased among people under 65 increased between 2007 and 2009. The increase coincided with a 35% increase in suicides across the EU, with the sharpest increases in Greece, Ireland and Latvia -- three countries in which people live under severe austerity policies. Of the three, Greece leads the pack with the fastest rising suicide rate in the EU -- a 20% increase from 2007 to 2009.

Austerity has added its impact to the that of the economic crisis, to overcome the cultural stigma against suicide. Greece’s suicide rate has increased 40% since 2009. Perhaps what made Dimitris Christoulas different from so many others was that he chose to meet his end, not in some quiet room, but practically on the doorstep of Greece’s government.

As I wrote back in April, America is not Greece. While Americans’ have yet to experience the soul-crushing brand of austerity that has become the “new normal” for Greek citizens.

Since imposition of austerity upon Greece, there has been no shortage of news stories the impact on ordinary Greeks.

The Guardian’s Jon Henley travelled through Greece and recorded his experiences in a searing series of reports he titled “Greece on the Breadline.” Reporting a mixture of fury and solidarity among Greeks, hears from them how austerity has changed their lives. In Athens, a woman who uses her professional experience to coach the unemployed asked, “[W]hat kind of society have we become, that we are kicking homeless pregnant women on to the streets?” He finds the school children of Athens are too hungry to underfed to do P.E. In Thessaloniki, a student postponed lessons to get in line for potatoes. Young people in Athens -- raised with an emphasis on education and a “career mindset” -- spoke of living with their parents again, taking odd jobs just to survive, and declared “We’ve watched our futures go up in smoke.” Across the country, “savage cuts” in Greece’s health services budget have allowed HIV/AIDS and malaria to make a comeback. Newborn testing for up to 40 diseases like cystic fybrosis and sickle cell are “effectively grinding to a halt, ensuring that children will die from diseases that are easily detected and treated.

Is it any wonder that desperation times have led some Greek citizens to commit desperate acts?

Given the impact of recession on the lives of millions of Americans, it’s a wonder we haven’t seen more people taking the kind of desperate measures on the rise in Europe.

We have been surrounded by the results so long that -- except in cases like the Tuscon shooting -- we can easily miss them, because they are becoming our “new normal,” of “anxiety, distrust and an array of mental and physical ailments.”

Combine all of the above with the easily obtained firearms, plus the 250 million already in private hands, and even with out the addition of inflammatory political rhetoric, it’s almost a miracle that we haven’t seen more violence events like the Tucson shooting -- a miracle, or just an run of incredibly good luck. All it takes is a spark, after all.

Conservatives claim they are not to blame if someone who may be mentally unstable takes their rhetoric “the wrong way,” and acts out violently. But they are accountable, as all politicians should be, for using rhetoric responsibly, and dousing the fire when the ballots are counted and the results finalized -- before the flames grow into a destructive force.

Yet, Americans have shown similar symptoms of austerity-driven desperation.

To anyone paying attention, the link between the recession and body count on Main Street, is as obvious as the wailing sirens, flashing lights, and crime scene markers that may be coming to a neighborhood near you. The stories of foreclosure driven suicide are as old as the once headline-making suicides of Raymond and Deanna Donaca, Carlene Balderama, the attempted suicide of Addie Polk, and the Karthick Rajaram murder-suicide. It’s also a new as stories of foreclosure-driven “suicide-by-cop” in the cases of James Ferrario and Kurt Aho.

As early as 2008, seven in ten Americans were worried about maintaining their standard of living in the midst of economic crisis. As CAF noted at the time, in a report titled “The Stress Test,” seven years of conservative economic policies leading up to the crisis left living standards under stress after the crisis hit. Nearly four years later, foreclosures are a symptom of our untreated economic sickness, and the American Psychological Associations Annual “Stress in America” report, indicates that money, work and the economy are the most frequently cited causes of stress for Americans -- and have been for the past 5 years. It’s also making us mad. The APA reports that “irritability or anger” tops the list of reported symptoms of stress, followed by “feeling nervous or anxious,” and “feeling depressed or sad.”

Foreclosure suicides are just one indicator. “Going postal” has been a frightening reality in American workplaces at least since the term was first coined in 1986, but experts see the recession playing a role in recent incidents of workplace violence like the 2010 shootings in Manchester, Connecticut, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Thus far, Americans have been spared a full-tilt, Euro-style austerity debacle. Instead, we’ve had the next-worst thing; what Paul Krugman called a “de facto austerity”, in the form of “huge spending and employment cuts at the state and local level.” This “de facto” austerity is largely the result of conservatives obstructing of any and all job creation bills -- including proposals to keep teachers, police officers, and fire fighters working -- and demanding cuts that would cost hundreds of thousands of state and local jobs. The result is a loss of some 440,000 federal, state, and local government jobs, accounting for more than half of jobs lost in many states.

At the state level, government accounted for more than half of all job losses for industries that lost jobs since Aug. 2010 in 27 states, and made up 100 percent of losses for industries that lost jobs in Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Government losses also made up more than 50 percent of losses in seven of the 10 states with the largest number of jobs lost, and six of the 10 states with unemployment rates above 9.5 percent.

Of course, the private sector will absorb some of these losses and thankfully we have seen a positive net change in employment for most of these states since Aug. 2010. But make no mistake, the idea that drastic cuts to public budgets would somehow spur private-sector growth is a myth that has undermined recovery efforts both in the United States and in Europe. In reality, cuts to public-sector budgets have a significant negative private-sector impact. As my colleague Ethan Pollack has demonstrated, “for every dollar of budget cuts, over half the jobs and economic activity will be lost in the private sector.” Net change in employment since Aug. 2010 may be positive for most states, but it’s frustrating to think how much better these job numbers might be if we hadn’t spent the past 16 months shooting ourselves in the foot.

How much worse can things get if the result of the election is an economic agenda that slashes public sector spending, bleeds the public sector even more, increases unemployment, hobbles what currently passes for a recovery, and primarily benefits Wall Street and the one percent? Take a look at what’s happening in Europe, and what starting to happen here, and it isn’t hard to guess.



Neo Nazism and the World Bank:Connect the dots



In a recent article, THE GUARDIAN noted that the Greek political party represented in parliament is more like a criminal organization than a party. This is the sort of hollow analysis that some writers engaged in about Italy’s Fascist Party and of Germany’s Nazi party before they took power, given that Nazis and Fascists had paramilitary operations that were the core of their political movement. The mere presence of paramilitary organization does not necessarily mean that the sponsoring political party is any less political.

Such analysis underestimates the mass appeal of neo-Fascism and neo-Nazism not just in Greece in 2012, but throughout the West. I have written as much in an article where I suggested that the return of Fascism/Nazism are possible against a global political economy that engenders capital concentration and downward social mobility, and against the background of a Western clash with Islam at a time that the world’s economic center will be shifting from West (EU and US) to East (China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia). In short, the downward social mobility of the middle class make it feel suffocated and without any prospects for its own and their children’s future.

It entirely possible that pluralistic society generally tolerant of disparate groups of people may remain vibrant, but more likely is the dilution of such a societal model. Greece is not exactly a good example of what may follow in the West, but it is a manifestation of how the combination of political, economic and cultural developments in the West as well as domestic developments and historical traditions account for the rise of neo-Naziism.

When I published a short book entitled Authoritarianism in Greece (New York, 1983), about the pro-Nazi  John Metaxas dictatorship of 1936-40, more than a decade had passed since the military junta (1967-1974) that modeled itself after the 1930s dictatorship. In fact, when I published that book, both the dictatorships in Portugal and Spain were gone, replaced by Socialist parties were as strong as in Greece, so I never imagined a resurgence of neo-Nazi or neo-Fascist parties in the early 21st century.

Just as in the case of the Great Depression that weakened democracy in many countries and eliminated it in others, similarly, the current deep economic contraction is causing similar sociopolitical conditions of polarization, sweeping the middle class and segments of the working class to its camp. And this is not about isolated incidents of anti-Islam neo-Nazi groups in every country from Norway to Greece, but about a genuine grassroots political movement with momentum to carry it into the mainstream.

In June 2012, a new political party (Chrysi Augi) Golden Dawn was elected to office representing roughly half a million voters, a party that openly proclaims to follow a neo-Nazi/neo-fascist ideology. Founded in 1980 as a movement, it registered as a political party in 1993 when Greece experienced a wave of Balkan, Eastern European, as well as some African and Asian emigrants coming in as cheap day laborers in construction and farms, household workers caring for the elderly, or street vendors.

Although the neo-Nazi movement was and remains essentially a street-gang organization whose target is street fights and property destruction against any progressive organization, either it is extraordinarily superficial analysis or deliberate distortion to dismiss it as ‘just another criminal organization’. While the neo-Nazi gangs have been well known to the police for many years, while their members have been in prison for criminal activity, police almost always turn a blind eye and often collaborate with the neo-Nazis because ideologically the police are in agreement and also because neo-Nazi targets are either aliens or progressives that the police oppose and their superiors want crushed.

Moreover, the two mainstream political parties, PASOK, once center-left-now neo-liberal, and New Democracy, the conservative party now in power, have turned a blind eye to neo-Nazis along with the judicial system because Golden Dawn gangs’ violent activity instills fear in many people wanting to support the progressive and leftists from staging demonstrations and protests. Neo-Nazis are just another tool for sociopolitical conformity, but also a counterweight to the rising leftist popularity.Clearly, the leftists are using the neo-Nazi rising popularity to mobilize voter support. However, this raises the question of a growing gap in centrist parties and growing political polarization that actually helps the right even more than it does the left, for the latter has always been part of the institutional mainstream.

Interestingly, the ruling parties, PASOK and New Democracy, along with the mainstream media, insist that there is no difference between neo-Nazi gangs beating up foreigners, destroying their property and terrorizing them so they can create a ‘pure Hellenic society’ (a vague and meaningless concept), on the one hand, and leftist workers demonstrating because their wages have been cut sharply or they have lost their jobs. In short, the neo-Nazis are the ideal cover for the ruling parties representing the EU that wants continuance with the austerity measures intended to hasten downward social mobility.

The Golden Dawn party received 5% of the vote in local Athens elections, mostly from urban neighborhoods with large population of immigrants. In June 2012, the neo-Nazis managed to have 18 members of parliament, of the total 300 elected from seven different parties. The most recent public opinion polls indicate that 22% of the voters trust the neo-Nazi leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos who has been in prison for extreme political activity resulting in beatings and explosives possession.

What is the ideological orientation of the neo-Nazis? There is no coherent ideology, but a string of incoherent ideas based on history and tradition, and underlying prejudices. Strong support of nationalism and Orthodox faith, which means adamant opposition to Islam and Judaism is at the core of Golden Dawn’s ideas. Of course, it is difficult for any of the Golden Dawn officials to articulate their own beliefs, because they lack not just the educational level, but the capacity for rational thought. In fact, just as NAZI and Fascist ideologies were rooted in the irrational, thought and action, so is neo-Nazism.

Another neo-Nazi belief rests in conspiracy theories, namely, that the world operates as a result of conspiracies caused mostly by Zionists, backed by Americans who want to control the world. Xenophobia to the extreme degree means that Greek neo-Nazis have no qualms about using force to eliminate foreigners they see as ‘polluting’ the purity that is Greece, a nebulous concept they link to classical, Byzantine, as well as modern from the era of Independence in the 1820s.

Adamant opposition to gypsies, Communists, varieties of leftists, Liberals, traditional conservatives, feminists, social progressives advocating human rights, and intellectuals who advocate peace, social justice and human equality. While the neo-Nazis use symbols such as Hitler’s photograph and the swastika, and writings from the German Nazi era, they are against modern Germany, for they want to return to the 1930s, instead of moving forward with corporate-directed globalization. Finally, like classical  Fascism and Nazism, neo-Nazism dismisses dialogue of differing ideas and believes in action rooted on violence.

Who are the supporters of the neo-Nazis? Financing comes from wealthy individuals, as does media support, given that at least one media organization is led by a tycoon who became wealthy transporting contraband items. That financing comes from wealthy individuals is not a surprise, nor is it a surprise that many lower middle class people pushed down to working class living standards are turning to neo-Naziism. It is true that there are also some workers who believe that the reason for the economic hardships, crime, neighborhood deterioration,  and all societal evils must be attributed to foreigners. If foreigners, the same foreigners who work the fields, construct buildings, work as domestic servants, and do other menial jobs for wages far less than Greeks earn, if these foreigners were to return to their countries, Greece would become Switzerland.

Given that roughly ten percent of the population in Greece is from another country, most of them as ‘economic emigrants’, primarily using Greece to cross over to Italy and beyond, the neo-Nazis have used this issue to scapegoat these people no differently than European Catholics scapegoated the Jews during the Black Death, or the Germans blamed the Jews and Communists for all the calamities of their country in the interwar era. Of course, we must keep in mind, the the cultural foundations as much for Nazism in the 1930s and for neo-Nazism in the 21st century already existed in society, just below the surface of ‘democratic civility’. The Western World’s distorted political economy and the anti-Islam political-cultural campaign of the last two decades has actually provided the pretext for the rise of neo-Nazis.

Entry point for many Muslims, most recently Syrian refugees, is Turkey. Those wishing to cross over into Greece pay anywhere from a few hundred euros to several thousands. Once they reach Greece, their goal is to make it into the West, but many are unable to do so, forced to work for 10-30 per day in the worst possible jobs that very few Greeks would take. Greek slumlords rent filthy cramped apartments to legal and illegal foreign nationals, mostly from Pakistan. As many as 30 may live in an apartment intended for two people, while the landlord charges between 100 and 180 per month per person. Not that the situation is dissimilar in many Western countries, but it is important to remember that the legal and illegal aliens are exploited not only by the employers who may or may not pay them the low wages, but from the landlord as well, without any legal recourse. Yet, it is precisely these people, mostly Muslims, that neo-Nazi Gold Dawn, including its elected officials target for beatings, some resulting in the occasional murder.

Amnesty International as well as other organizations have repeatedly warned about abuses of human rights, police brutality, xenophobia and racism in Greece. However, the result is a rise in racist tendencies, as the economy deteriorates and people that would never even consider supporting a disreputable neo-Nazi party are now strong advocates; a situation not much different that Germany in the early 1930s under the Weimar Republic. Otherwise respectable middle class people want blood, preferably foreign blood, though it is these same people who use cheap foreign labor in their homes, farms and workplace. Hence the prevalence of the irrational in human nature when the institutions precipitate major shifts in peoples’ lives. Which brings me to the role of the IMF, EU and the banks in the rise of neo-Nazism.

Germany, which has been behind austerity more than any other nation or entity in the West and which has benefited to the tune of an estimated 30 to 60 billion euros, has been strongly condemnatory of Golden Dawn. Considering that many analysts regard austerity as a form of dictatorship and a catalyst to diluting democracy, the fear on the part of many Germans is that their policies may be contributing to the rise of neo-Nazism in Greece and perhaps elsewhere. Germany may try to control neo-Nazi activity in its own soil to contain anti-Western responses throughout the Muslim World, but the monetary, fiscal, trade, labor and social policies it is imposing on the rest of EU are strengthening neo-Nazism.

In some respects, it is useful to view historical epochs as a mirror, and not to assume that the future is a line of upward progress, leaving the past behind without a trace. It is useful to reflect on what accounts for the dominant irrational tendencies in human and institutional behavior, even when such behavior leads to destruction of others, and by extension to ourselves. When I ask people why they support neo-Nazi movements, they almost always reply that they have no choice, as though it is their religion. Given that the mainstream political parties, moderate right, center and left have worn each other out to such a degree that a third force emerges to fill a gap that people believe will be their salvation, the messiah solution is to be expected not in the main, but in the extremes. Civil society has never had messiah solutions, for it is difficult enough trying to keep it civil, respectful of all people’s basic human rights, and of social justice. The final lesson here to the faithful of neo-Nazism is that today’s abuser may become tomorrow’s victim; for neo-Nazi violence knows no boundaries.

[read more]


#Greeks protest again on #Syntagma Square


As it was originally posted here 

Σημερα θα φανεί αν όντως κατανοούμε τα όσα συμβαινουν για εμάς χωρίς εμάς.Και εάν αντιδρούμε έτσι όπως θα έπρεπε να είχαμε αντιδράσει τουλάχιστον 3 χρόνια πρίν

09/23/2012 #Greeks protest again on #Syntagma Sq.

All governments of Greece have betrayed the people.

The result of Betrayal is the current tragic reality.

Poverty, misery, brutality , suicides.

The above compose the reality we experience.

A first attempt was made ​​last year with the ”indignants”.

Soon, however, the system managed to split the movement of indignant citizens, sowing discord and suspicion.

These days the Greek government is attacking the people, imposing cuts equal to 5% of GDP!

Never in human economic history has happent something like this.

The plan is for the Greeks to work 6 days a week until they are 67 years old with wages that are corresponding to 30% of wages in Germany.

Every day, groups of workers demonstrating in the streets their opposition to the destruction of the country.

On Wednesday, September 26 takes place ​​nationwide general strike.

Tomorrow, Sunday, September 23 we invite everyone to Syntagma Square to protest our anger and our opposition to economic measures, the rapid spread of Nazism and the violation of human dignity.(we will be there so the next day,on Monday ,will post photos and informations)

The only thing left is solidarity.

Head down to the streets and demonstrate your anger and your indignation.

We will claim our decent survival!

23 Σεπτέμβρη όλοι στο Σύνταγμα!

Όλες οι κυβερνήσεις της Ελλάδας πρόδωσαν το λαό.

Αποτέλεσμα της προδοσίας είναι η σημερινή τραγική πραγματικότητα.

Φτώχεια , εξαθλίωση , βαρβαρότητα , αυτοκτονίες.

Τα παραπάνω συνθέτουν την πραγματικότητα που βιώνουμε.

Μια πρώτη προσπάθεια αντίδρασης έγινε πέρυσι με τους αγανακτισμένους .

Γρήγορα όμως το σύστημα κατόρθωσε και διέσπασε το κίνημα των αγανακτισμένων πολιτών , σπέρνοντας διχόνοια και καχυποψία.

Αυτές τις μέρες η κυβέρνηση επιτίθεται στο λαό , επιβάλλοντας περικοπές ίσες με το 5% του ΑΕΠ!

Ποτέ στην ανθρώπινη οικονομική ιστορία δεν έχει συμβεί κάτι τέτοιο.

Το σχέδιο είναι οι Έλληνες να δουλεύουν 6 μέρες την εβδομάδα , μέχρι τα 67 τους χρόνια και με αμοιβές στο που αντιστοιχούν στο 30% των μισθών της Γερμανίας.

Καθημερινά ομάδες εργαζομένων διαδηλώνουν στους δρόμους την αντίθεσή τους στην καταστροφή της χώρας.

Την Τετάρτη 26 Σεπτέμβρη πραγματοποιείται πανεργατική – πανελλαδική απεργία.

Αύριο Κυριακή 23 Σεπτέμβρη σας καλούμε όλους στο Σύνταγμα για να διαδηλώσουμε την οργή μας και την αντίθεσή μας στα οικονομικά μέτρα , στην ραγδαία εξάπλωση του ναζισμού και στην καταπάτηση της ανθρώπινης αξιοπρέπειάς μας.

Δεν έχουμε να ελπίζουμε τίποτα.

Το μόνο που μας έμεινε είναι η αλληλεγγύη μεταξύ μας.

Κατεβείτε στους δρόμους και διαδηλώστε την οργή και την αγανάκτησή σας .

Θα διεκδικήσουμε την αξιοπρεπή επιβίωσή μας!


Greece’s Lenders Have The Right To Seize National Gold Reserves


Submitted by GoldCore

Greece’s Lenders Have The Right To Seize National Gold Reserves

Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,776.50, EUR 1,334.41, and GBP 1,130.45 per ounce.

Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,754.75, EUR 1,325.04, and GBP 1,116.32 per ounce.

Spot gold hit a 3 month high of $1,781.40/oz yesterday rising for the third day in a row. Gold has consolidated on those gains in Asia and Europe.

Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg)

Gold broke through resistance at $1,763/oz around 1800 GMT yesterday and in minutes quickly surged to $1,770/oz and then over $1,780/oz.

With recent resistance breached at $1,763/oz, gold could reach the psychological resistance of $1,800/oz very shortly – we are only 1.3% below that level now.

All major currencies fell against gold yesterday and the Japanese yen and British pound both took a pummelling and were more down 2% down against gold.

Gold is again signalling in advance coming fiscal issues in the UK and Japan. In February alone, the yen is down a substantial 7% against gold and in the last 7 weeks since the start of 2012, the yen has fallen a whopping 15.5% against gold.

Yen gold strength is a precursor to the coming Japanese fiscal crisis. It likely also signals that gold is soon to break out in dollars and other currencies.

XAU-JPY Exchange Rate Daily – (Bloomberg)

Global equity markets are showing jitters after disappointing economic data out of Europe and China and the threats by Russia’s Foreign Minister over Iran, leading to concerns that a serious confrontation is possible. Conflict in the region will of course send investors towards the safe havens of gold and silver bullion.

The US existing home sales were smaller than expected in January and this contributed to the weakness in equity markets. There is also continuing concern that the latest Greek debt package has not addressed Greece’s deep structural challenges.

The current economic environment is good for gold. As long as governments continue to print money in an attempt to pull us out of this downturn, gold will continue to shine.

The New York Times reports that Greece’s lenders may have the right to seize the Bank of Greece’s gold reserves.

Ancient Greek Gold Coin of Alexander the Great

“Ms. Katseli, an economist who was labor minister in the government of George Papandreou until she left in a cabinet reshuffle last June, was also upset that Greece’s lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal.”

The Reuters Global Gold Forum confirms that in the small print of the Greek “bailout” is a provision for the creditors to seize Greek national gold reserves. Reuters correspondents in Athens have not got confirmation that this is the case so they are, as ever, working hard to pin that down.

Greece owns just some 100 tonnes of gold. According to IMF data, for some reason over the last few months Greece has bought and sold the odd 1,000 ounce lot of its gold bullion reserves. A Reuter’s correspondent notes that “these amounts are so tiny that it could well be a rounding issue, rather than holdings really rising or falling.”

While many market participants would expect that Greece’s gold reserves would be on the table in the debt agreement, it is the somewhat covert and untransparent way that this is being done that is of concern to Greeks and to people who believe in the rule of law.

Recent months have seen many senior German government officials calling for so called “PIIGS” nations gold reserves to be used as collateral. Such as Angela Merkel’s budget speaker and his opposition counterpart who urged Portugal to consider selling their gold.

Norbert Barthle, Germany’s governing coalition budget speaker and his counterpart Carsten Schneider from the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, urged Portugal to consider selling some of its gold reserves to ease its debt problems. They called for a review of Portugal’s request for financial aid to include gold and other potential asset sales.

The Irish Times reported in November that EU finance ministers’ discussed a wider strategy by the ECB to sound out the possibility of gaining control over the gold reserves of the euro zone’s central banks.

Senior German politician, Gunther Krichbaum, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition and Chairman of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag has proposed late last year that Italy sell its sizeable gold reserves in order to lower its debt.

Gold’s importance as debt and third party risk free collateral and as the ultimate form of money is increasing by the day.

While Greece’s gold reserves are very small – Greece’s creditors and senior German and EU financial officials clearly understand the value and monetary and strategic importance of Greece and the other heavily indebted European nations gold reserves.

For breaking news and commentary on financial markets and gold, follow us on Twitter.

(Bloomberg) — Gold Rises to Three-Month High on Stimulus Bets, Computer Trades Gold futures jumped to a three-month high on speculation that the U.S. will extend a stimulus to bolster the economy, while automatic purchases by computer programs may have contributed to the rally.

The Federal Reserve may extend a program known as Operation Twist, or the exchange of $400 billion in short-term debt for longer-term Treasureis, beyond June 30, the Financial Times said. Computer orders triggered more purchases starting around 1 p.m. New York time, said Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago.

“Some people started buying on expectations of further credit easing and then we saw an unusual accumulation caused by the technical buying” Streible said in a telephone interview.

(Bloomberg) — Gold May Reach $1,975 an Ounce in 2012, FCStone’s Rhodes Says
Gold may climb to $1,975 an ounce in 2012, said Jeffrey Rhodes, INTL FCStone Inc.’s global head of precious metals. The metal is expected to average $1,727 this year, Rhodes said at a conference in Singapore today. Rhodes forecast that silver may reach $50.25 an ounce in 2012 and average the year at $36.25.

Silver is trading at $34.52/oz, €25.98/oz and £21.97/oz.

Platinum is trading at $1,729.00/oz, palladium at $711.00/oz and rhodium at $1,500/oz



Oil Wars: Iran,USA,Greece & Bulgaria


The campaign of the US and Israel together with some European countries, especially Britain and France, against Iran reaches a new level with the embargo on its oil sector. Although a framework of agreement within the EU is reached, the Greek position within this hostile climate is unique.

The Iran situation combines with the freezing of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project (also called called “Orthodox Pipeline”) which Bulgaria froze under heavy United States influence (as explained later) to make things more outrageous against the right of Greece to choose its energy sources.

Greece is both in the middle of the economic crisis which started in the US with the Lehman Brothers collapse, as well as the Iran-related crisis on its nuclear programme and the sanctions. The EU deliberations to embargo oil shipments from Iran connected these two different situations, under a climate of an outraged Greek public opinion against EU and US for what is perceived as sick injustice against Greece.

To make a long story short, an outside observer needs to take into consideration the following points in order to have an accurate perception of the issue and the elements connected to Greece:

• Greece relies more than 35% on Iran for oil purchase with unlimited credit.
• No other country sells to Greece in that way due to the economic situation.
• The option of Saudi Arabia is fragile due to this country’s support for extremist Islamic activity, especially within the almost 1,500,000 illegal immigrants in Greece (mostly Muslim) who also contribute to the unemployment explosion, in knowledge of the EU and US.
• There is no real trust from Greeks to the West that Greece will continue to get oil from other sources in favorable terms. After all why don’t they do it now and only Iran does it?
• There is not trust for the western accusations on the Iranian nuclear programme, because US and western credibility was practically neutralized, after the “discovery” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that were non existent. The totally biased and anti-hellenic media coverage of the economic crisis reinforces Greek reluctance towards western governments and Media.
• The freezing of the Greek-Russian-Bulgarian project for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline (due to its US-instigated abandonment from the Bulgarian government) combines with prohibiting Iran as supplier and makes Greeks realizing that the US and EU deny Greece the right to choose suitable suppliers: a kind of forbidding Greece to have free choice.
• US and EU mobility to allow British Petroleum continue doing business with Iran in the Shah Deniz II gas project is seen as an outspoken proof of hypocrisy. The reason US and EU officials lobbied to the US Congress for not putting sanctions on British Petroleum, is in order for Europe “to achieve energy security and independence from Russia”: They revealed their real target which is Russia and perhaps China.
• None of them was interested on Greece when Greece was trying to achieve energy security and independence from Turkey through the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline (which would also enhance European independence from Turkey). They want Greece, however, to support their policy towards Iran, risk Greek oil supplies and reserves and at the same time keep the British company in Iran!!!
• Why not similarly giving Greece exemption from the sanctions against Iran, since Iran is the only reliable oil source for Greece which does not ask Greece for advance guarantees and Greece gets long term good prices in the difficult situation that the economic crisis put it.
• Wikileaks documents from the US State Department revealed that previous US pressure on Athens mainly aimed at having Greece as one more “feather in the hat” of Washington. The Americans wanted to demonstrate that European countries were aligned with US policy and Greece was one of the country-trophies. The IRISL Iranian Shipping Lines was the main US target and Greek ship owners were opposing the idea to stop transporting Iranian oil.

Hundreds of millions penalty on Bulgaria

The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project aims to transport Russian oil to Bulgaria and send it to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis through a land based pipeline. In this way there will be no need to pass the busy and unstable area of the Turkish-controlled straits between the Black Sea and Mediterranean. Oil would be loaded to ships in Alexandroupolis to go to Europe and elsewhere. It is also ecologically safer since the tanker ships would avoid the trip from Russia to Mediterranean, they will be strained less and the possibility of oil leak would be limited. Delivery times would be faster as well.

The openly pro-US Bulgarian prime minister, stopped the project … “on environmental concerns” (although all studies were giving a green light to the project) because “the people of Burgas did not want it” and because it is not financially viable. It was called “Orthodox Pipeline” because Greece, Russia and Bulgaria are Orthodox Christian countries and the freezing was seen as an American attempt to block Russian expansion in the energy sector even if Greece and Bulgaria were also damaged. The extreme Protestant neo-conservatives in Washington instigated this hostile move against Orthodox countries.

Bulgaria, however, will have to pay penalties for blocking the project. The recent Iran oil embargo surfaced related issues, including the one of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline. The cost for transporting oil through this “Orthodox Pipeline” was calculated at $8 per tone which is almost the same to the one across the straits. The Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline was having higher cost and Turkey asks for a large share of the income. The US intervention in Bulgaria probably had Turkish support because it is forcing Russia not to seek alternative routes.

By pulling out of the project, Greek sources said, Bulgaria is obliged to pay penalties to Greece and Russia. The Greek officials were not the first to say that. Late last year Russian officials pointed out that the minimum penalty is $200.000.000. The maximum may reach the $1 billion level. The Bulgarian side already owed $7 million from its contribution to the project until now and at least the Russian side points out that they will get the Bulgarian government in International Court if they insist on not paying the fine, if the project is completely canceled.

The current embargo on Iranian oil and the global instability in the oil trade that will probably occur, highlight the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project with greater urgency. It would help the European Union achieve independence from the unstable region of Turkey (due to the Kurdish, Armenian and Greek problems it faces), but non-european (American) interests block it.

The Greeks see that they are dragged to a situation without immediate Greek concern and with no real ethical base. The Iranian nuclear programme is not a serious topic for the Greek society in the hierarchy of concerns. However the difficult economic situation (in which Iran is the only supplier of oil offering unlimited credit) is now seen as being manufactured by the EU and the US. Just to make an outline of the injustice the Greek public sees in the western attack against Greece and its reputation, we mention the following:

• Germany owes many hundreds of billions of euros to Greece from the money the Nazis stole (“Forceful loan” from occupied Greece to Nazi Germany). Hitler started repaying the “loan” back to Greece but after the German collapse, the next German governments do not discuss the German debt to Greece. This amount together with all recognized German financial obligations towards Greece, surpasses 700,000,000,000 (700 billion) euros, in today’s prices if we take into account the interest rates. There is NO EXAGERATION in this, this is money Germany REALLY owes to Greece.
• The corruption money from defence procurement, the C4I System for the 2004 Olympic Games, etc are many tens of billion of euros and European (especially German) companies have a large share in this money laundering. This is money from Greek taxpayers which went to the pockets of sponsors of European (and other) political parties.
• Part of the Greek bonds, are corruption payments in defence and public procurement projects to foreign companies-political parties.
• The Greeks DID NOT want to abandon drachma. They did not want the euro, because there was no benefit for Greece, on the contrary the Greek society was damaged. Goldman Sachs, with the (German-educated) prime minister Kostas Simitis and in knowledge of Washington and Berlin, altered the Greek financial data. Berlin wanted one more country into the Eurozone, Washington wanted Greece to be used as trigger if it wanted to create problems in the European Union.
• No western Media (including the BBC) published any of these at least to a comparable degree with the attacks against Greece

Greece was called to agree to serve foreign interests (of doubtful information and ethical basis), participate in the embargo and enter into an energy risk, while those who ask Greece to do these, deliberately put it into this difficult economic situation. The first thing that should be done, is to make sure, those who owe money to Greece would pay and Greece would not have any financial problems. The Greeks did not realize that the top EU level have more corruption.



Forgiving Siemens: German Corruption in Greece

After almost two years, the traffic lights in the city of Athens are finally being fixed without delay or makeshift solutions. For Greece – a country that appears to be rushing headlong off a financial cliff and bringing down the rest of Europe with it – this small miracle might seem to like an omen that things are changing for the better or at least, the correction of a bureaucratic mistake.

The truth is that this simple act reveals the enormous power that one single company holds over the country of Greece: Siemens from Munich, Germany, a manufacturing behemoth with $96 billion in 2010-2011 sales.

On November 11, 2010, Siemens turned off 35 traffic lights in central Athens in protest against Greek government fines as high as €500 million ($650 million) to settle allegations of bribery to win contracts. In April 2012, the Greek government agreed to settle with Siemens for €270 million to settle the charges. In return the state issued the company a €41 million contract to work on an extension to the Athens metro and fix the city’s traffic lights.

It is a stunning turnaround for the company whose name has been tarnished for its role in what many consider the greatest corporate scandal in postwar history of Greece. Millions of Euros have allegedly been paid into secret Swiss bank accounts of high-ranking politicians of the two parties that have run Greece since collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974 – Pasok (the Social Democratic party) and New Democracy on the right. All told the bribery is estimated to have had a cost of €2 billion to the Greek economy, according to a high level parliamentary investigation – and Siemens had a starring role.

“In Greece Siemens has spend the most black money (bribes) than in any other country of the European Union between the late 1990s and 2004,” says Tassos Telloglou, author of “The Network: File Siemens.”

The tale came to a dramatic head in June 2009 when Michael Christoforakos, the former CEO of Siemens, was arrested in Rosenheim, a southeastern suburb of Munich, after disappearing when Greek judicial authorities began investigating the charges.

Building the First Telephone Exchanges

Siemens has had a long history in Greece dating back to the founding of the German company by Werner von Siemens in 1847 when he pioneered the building of the first international telegraph lines. In the 1920s Ioannis Voulpiotis, a Greek engineer who married the daughter of Werner von Siemens, was appointed head of the Athens office of AEG-Siemens-Telefunken. As a member of the board of directors of Greek Telephone Company Limited (AETE) and Greek Radio Company Limited (AERE), Voulpiotis was uniquely placed to win contracts for the German company.

In 1926 AEG-Siemens-Telefunken installed the first telephone networks in Greece and won the contracts to install new telephone exchanges and new radio facilities. According to the Biographical Encyclopedia of Modern Hellenism 1830-2010, Voulpiotis paid a fee of three to five percent of the contract to Greek politicians and government officials. This money was called the “extra fee” and it was paid into bank accounts in Switzerland, according to the Archives of Greek Bibliography (Metron Publications, 2011, Volume A)

During the Nazi occupation of Greece (1941-1944), Voulpiotis was put in charge of all German business in the country as well as the Greek radio authority. When the Nazis were defeated, Voulpiotis was tried at the Special Court for Nazi Collaborators together with his “colleague”, Dr. Nikolaos Christoforakos, father of the future and fugitive CEO of Siemens Greece. The two men were acquitted and moved to Germany.

Voulpiotis returned to Greece in the 1950s to represent Siemens and to bid again telephone and radio contracts as well as for railway tenders. Spyros Markezinis, then minister of economic coordination, allegedly cut a deal with him for contracts to modernize the telephone and radio network installation across the country. On April 3, 1954 Markezinis resigned as a minister when news of the deals became public. Months later the German government forced the Greek government to uphold the contracts or risk losing German aid.

In the following months Voulpiotis accused Konstantinos Karamanlis and Konstantinos Papaconstantinou, the minister and deputy minister of Public Works respectively, of asking for bribes. The two politicians counter-attacked and accused Voulpiotis of demanding $1 million in payments to be technical advisor to OTE (the Greek Teleommunications Authority) for 10 years. The case ended up in the courts and Voulpiotis was sentenced to 18 months for slander.

In 1956, Konstantinos Karamanlis became prime minister, and granted Siemens a no-bid contract to provide the lion’s share of supplies of telecommunication equipment of the Greek State.

Dizzying Array of Government Contracts

For the next 50 years, Siemens continued to get Greek government contracts with a dizzying variety of ministries and Greek government institutions ranging from the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) to the ministry of culture.

For example, in December 1997, OSE and Siemens signed seven contracts totaling 705 million marks ($397 million). (The contracts ended up in court in May 2010 for failing to meet deadlines). Siemens also had a number of major contracts with the ministry of defense such as the €300 million ($390 million) Hermes telecommunications program with the Greek Army signed in 1999.

In February 2007 Siemens won a 14 month contract with the ministry of culture to supply portable information systems for visitors to museums and archaeological sites. In October 2008, Michalis Liapis, then Culture Minister canceled the contract for failure to deliver.

(The role of Liapis became controversial when the media revealed that he had traveled to Germany in the summer of 2005 to attend major football matches at the expense of Michalis Christoforakos, then CEO of Siemens Greece.)

Perhaps the most controversial contract with Siemens was the $325 million joint venture with San Diego-based SAIC in 2002 to set up a security system for the Olympic Games of 2004. The Command, Control, Coordination, Communication, Integration system (referred to by the acronym C4i) never “got off the ground” in the time.

The Scandals Break

In late April 2005, Greek authorities began to investigate the C4i case. At about the same time the U.S. Department of Justice also began to investigate Siemens for bribery, working closely with the Munich public prosecutor’s office. The sprawling U.S. investigation that would eventually encompass Siemens activities in Argentina, Bangladesh, Iraq and Venezuela.

A second Siemens contract quickly came under scrutiny from the Greek authorities: the supplies of telecommunications equipment material to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) notably a December 1997 agreement with Siemens to digitize the network for €464.5 million (known as the 8002 agreement).

In April 2006, Prodromos Mavridis, the head of the telecommunications’ department of Siemens Greece suddenly left the company after 18 years of work, without any public explanation after receiving a €300,000 payoff from the company. In November of that year, lawyers for Siemens sued Mavridis in Greek courts accusing him of embezzling €8 million.

But it was too late. A year prior, Swiss authorities had opened an investigation into Mavridis for a network of “extensive money laundering.” The investigators zeroed in on a company called Martha Overseas Corporation, registered in Panama that was receiving money via Liechtenstein from Eagle Invest & Finance SA, registered in the British Virgin Islands, from Reinhard Siekaczek, a Siemens executive in Germany.

Siekaczek was arrested in November 2006. He told the Munich prosecutors of dozens of bribery schemes around the world and he named Mavridis as the man in charge of handling payments to Cyprus, Bulgaria and parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Siekaczek also told Greek investigators at the Munich public prosecutors office that he was responsible for the payment of €10 million in “black funds” to individuals in the ministry of defense and the Greek army. Among then high level names be mentioned was Akis Tsochatzopoulos, minister of defence in the Pasok government from 1996 – 2001. The payments were also mentioned by Rainer Niedl, a retired anti-corruption officer for Siemens, in a November 2007 apology for his role in the Siemens’ bribery scandals.

Some of the payments were subsequently found in the accounts of two of Tsohatzopoulos’ associates: Anthony Cantas, deputy general director of the directorate general for infrastructure, and Paul Nicolaides, the vice president of Greek Arms Industry.

On December 17, 2007, Siemens announced that Michalis Christoforakos was no longer with the company.

One year later, the U.S, announced that Siemens was pleading guilty to paying out $1.36 billion on bribes around the world. “Today’s filings make clear that for much of its operations across the globe, bribery was nothing less than standard operating procedure for Siemens,” said Matthew Friedrich, acting U.S. assistant attorney general. “(We) and our international colleagues will continue our efforts to level the business playing field, making it free from corruption and fair to those who seek to participate in it.”

Greek authorities were not part of the settlement.

In May 2009 Christoforakos disappeared from Greece. The following month he was arrested in Germany. He immediately invoked his German citizenship (acquired from the time his father had lived in the country after the Second World War). His lawyers argued that the allegations were for activities that took place before 2003 so he could not be prosecuted under German law which has a five year statute of limitations. The attorneys also pleaded that Christoforakos be allowed to take refuge in the country.

“Dozens of senior Greek politicians are hanging on this case,” said Stefan Kursawe, a lawyer hired by Christoforakos. “I fear for the life of my client as soon as he sets foot on Greek soil.”

It was a shameful moment for the high-flying executive who owned a series of properties on the islands of Antiparos, Paros and Tinos via offshore companies, and once hob nobbed with senior politicians like Konstantinos Mitsotakis, honorary president of New Democracy, and his daughter Dora Bakogiannis, former minister of foreign affairs.

On August 11, 2009, the Munich prosecutor jailed Christoforakos for a year, stating that he had paid money to the treasurers of the major two parties (Pasok and New Democracy) in order to win contracts for Siemens from the two parties. (German authorities set him free two months later after he paid a huge fine. Christoforakos has not appeared in public since)

Paying Off The Political Parties

Tassos Mandelis was a director of OTE from 1985 to 1988, who also served as minister of transport and communications for Pasok from 1997 to 2000. During his tenure in the government, Mandelis advocated abolishing the state company that provided technical solutions to OTE.

To date Mandelis is one of the few politicians who has publicly admitted that he had received money from Siemens. “At the end of October 1998 an employee of Siemens, called me and told me in English: “We want to help you on your election campaign,” Mandelis told a parliamentary investigation. “How much are you talking about?” I asked him and he replied: “As much as we usually give out.”

Money was then deposited in a Swiss in November 1998 in a Swiss bank under the name “A. Rokos”. Greek investigators later found almost 200,000 German marks ($112, 600) in the bank account. A withdrawal of of €35,000 had been made in favor of Mandelis’ son (identified only by the initial H) for his studies at Columbia university in New York. (The son now works for Siemens in Cyprus while a daughter of Mandelis now works for OTE.)

Mandelis was convicted for failing to declare his assets to the tax authorities. He was fined €7,500 and given a suspended sentence of three years in prison. Media reports suggest that is now working as a consultant in Azerbaijan.

Theodoros Tsoukatos, a close associate of Kostas Simitis, the former Greek prime minister, has also admitted publicly that he received one million German marks in 1998 from Christoforakos, to be used to re-elect Pasok, but he insists that he gave all the money to the party.

Nor were Pasok politicians alone in taking money from Siemens. Giannis Bartholomeos, the former treasurer of New Democracy, was revealed to have received money from Siemens after he was murdered by the husband of his mistress in February 2007.

All is Forgiven?

A 19-person multi-party Greek parliamentary inquiry committee was established on January 28 2010 to investigate the Siemens bribery cases, headed by Sifis Valirakis of Pasok. The committee dug up the names of the brokers and businessmen that were connected to New Democracy as well as links to a number of other scandals that shook Greek political life – such as the €100 million cost of the real estate scandal at the monastery of Vatopaidi in Mount Athos.

But in May 2010, when the financial crisis began, the investigation was jettisoned and a final report was published on January 24, 2011 that called for further investigation.

In early April this year, Siemens signed a reconciliation agreement with the Greek government that was approved by a majority of the Greek parliament. Under the terms of this deal, Siemens is required to pay a sum of €170 million to the government and it also required to invest €100 million in Greece in 2012. Siemens is also obliged to consider investing another €60 million for a factory that employs at least 700 employees.

Why did Siemens agree to pay? And why did the parliament halt its investigation and fail to ask for judicial help? No one knows for sure but evidence points to an audit of the company’s finances conducted by KPMG, the global audit firm, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006. The sealed report, which has not been made public, allegedly contains the names of 20 of the leading Greek politicians who have together received more than €100 million in recent years to “promote” the company, according to Greek press reports.

It is surely significant that as soon as the ink was dry on the April agreement that absolved them of past blame, Siemens was given millions in new business for more work on the metro. Under the terms of the new contract, Siemens will be paid to provide signaling and other equipment for a new line to be built from Athens airport to the port of Piraeus. The contract will be financed mostly by European Union subsidies.

All, it seems, is forgiven for Siemens in Greece. But because the new agreement was negotiated in secret, we will have to wait for next parliamentary investigation to find out if there was yet another shady deal cut to get Athens traffic and metro working again.

Other German Bribes

Siemens is not the only German company to pay large bribes in Greece. For example Athens spends a lot on military equipment ostensibly because of the threat posed by Turkey, its neighbor to the east. In reality, it seems, the purchases actually have more to do with propping up politicians and making money for Greek businesses and their foreign partners. Critics note that if Athens cut defense spending to levels comparable to other European states, ie by €150 billion ($195 billion), it would not have needed a bailout.

One of the biggest scandals in this arena is a €2 billion contract that Greece signed in 2010 for four Class 214 submarines from Ferrostaal of Germany. This past April Akis Tsochadzopoulos, the former Pasok defense minister, was arrested at his luxurious neoclassical mansion opposite the Acropolis and sent to jail for allegedly taking an €8 million bribe from the company. Ferrostaal has also agreed to pay a €140 million fine. (Only one submarine has been delivered so far and even that has proven to be faulty)

The Ferrostaal and Siemens cases suggests that the symbiotic system of German bribery in Greece is one of the key reasons why the country is in such bad financial shape. Ironically Germany is now making even more money from the bailout. The German finance ministry estimated that Greece has paid Germany €380 million in interest alone on the €15.17 billion in loans that it took out under the first bailout for the country in 2010, according to documents obtained by Reuters.Source

Wikileaks: Germany,Chancelor ,Greece,the IMF and the Bailouts

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10BERLIN181 2010-02-12 19:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin

DE RUEHRL #0181/01 0431904
P 121904Z FEB 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BERLIN 000181



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2020


¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government
welcomed the decision taken at the EU’s February 11 informal
summit in Brussels not to provide financial assistance, for
the moment, to cash-strapped Greece. German officials
believe a bailout is not needed at this time, and that
extending a lifeline to Greece would have carried too many
risks. One major fear in Germany is that “saving” Greece
would lead to other needy Eurozone members expecting the same
treatment. Another concern is that extending an explicit
guarantee for Greece could weigh on Germany’s own good
standing in the markets, ultimately raising its borrowing
costs. While German government officials do not totally rule
out an IMF program for Greece if push came to shove, most
consider this eventuality highly unlikely, especially in
light of the European Central Bank’s strong opposition. In
fact, the German government, the ECB and private German
economists are downplaying the seriousness of Greece’s
predicament and its potential impact on stability of the
Euro. They agree, however, that the crisis could have
longer-term consequences for EU institutions and how they
interact with member states that stray off course. END


¶2. (C) Prior to the February 11 EU Summit in Brussels, there
was much hair pulling in Berlin over the wisdom of
participating in some sort of Greek rescue. No one savored
the idea of explaining to German taxpayers, already concerned
about Germany’s record deficit, that they would be footing
the bill for the irresponsible behavior of another country.
A Finance Ministry official explained to us that many Germans
felt disgusted by the situation in Greece: “While Germans
have spent the past decade tightening their belts and
improving their competitiveness, Greek civil servants still
earn 14 months’ salary per year.” A recent editorial in the
German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) asked
rhetorically whether Germans would need to work until age 69
just to finance early retirement for Greek workers. With
important upcoming elections in the state of North
Rhine-Westphalia, bailing out Greece would not be a vote


¶3. (C) The German government was, in fact, “relieved” that
the European Council meeting on February 11 decided not to
put concrete assistance on the table at this time. Wolfgang
Merz, Director for European Financial Affairs, German
Ministry of Finance, told us that while Germany stands ready
to throw a lifeline if the Greek government truly runs
aground, Greece currently has access to capital markets and
needs no outside assistance. The key to overcoming the
crisis will be the Greek government’s implementation of the
planned austerity measures, said Merz. Bernhard Speyer, Head
of Banking, Financial Markets and Regulation at Deutsche Bank
(DB) Research, agreed that the EU struck the right balance:
“The decision gave reassurances that Greece would not be
abandoned, but kept the pressure on the Greeks by not yet
putting cash on the table.”

¶4. (C) Stepping in with assistance at this point carried too
many downside risks, according to Merz. Legal questions
aside, a German or EU bailout of Greece might have harmed
Germany’s credit worthiness, thereby raising its own
borrowing costs. Merz added that a bailout would certainly
have set a bad precedent for other Eurozone countries, such
as Spain and Portugal, experiencing similar stresses. (Merz
acknowledged, however, that these two countries’ problems
were less acute — a sentiment echoed by Speyer.)

¶5. (C)Still, there is some skepticism that Greece’s austerity
program will get the country’s finances on the right track,
even if fully implemented. Merz said an IMF bail out
remained on the table, despite the official line that the

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situation in Greece could be addressed within the EU.


¶6. (C) According to Karlheinz Bischofberger, Deputy Head of
the Financial Stability Department at the European Central
Bank (ECB), the likelihood that the IMF will be asked to bail
out Greece is “zero.” Greece does not have a balance of
payments crisis, so there is first and foremost no basis for
the IMF to step in. Bischofberger added that apart from the
damage to the ECB’s reputation an IMF intervention would
inflict, it was uncertain that the IMF could even succeed in
doing the “political dirty work” of forcing Greece to
implement a structural adjustment program. DB Research’s
Speyer concurred, adding that it would undermine the
credibility of EU institutions to manage a crisis.


¶7. (C) Talk of a possible break-up of the Eurozone is
“absurd,” according to Moritz Kraemer, Managing Director,
Standard and Poor’s. He noted that Eurozone membership is
still seen as highly desirable, and there was absolutely no
incentive to exit, despite the allure of devaluation. Any
country that tried to leave the Eurozone would get hammered
in the credit markets, exacerbating any underlying structural
problems. S and P estimates that Greece’s rating in the case
of an exit would drop to “BB ” or lower, i.e. below
investment-grade. Even today, Greece’s rating of “BBB ” is
higher than it was in 1997 (“BBB-“) before joining the common

¶8. (C) While the current crisis may have revealed an
“Achilles heel” of the Eurozone, it may present
opportunities, according to Klaus Masuch, Head of the EU
Country Division, Directorat General of Economics, ECB. The
crisis is a “healthy warning signal” that Eurozone members
must conduct “sound national policies in line with the agreed
rules.” It also underlines the necessity of better
integration and coordination of member state fiscal policies.
The Euro will come out of this crisis strengthened, he said.
Better and stricter early warning and surveillance systems
will be in place, and the Stability and Growth Pact will
ultimately be reinforced. DB Research’s Speyer agreed, adding
that the crisis could make EU member states proceed more
cautiously with enlargement.


¶9. (C) DB Chief Economist Thomas Mayer told Ambassador Murphy
he was pessimistic Greece would take the difficult steps
needed to put its house in order. A worst case scenario,
says Mayer, could be that Germany pulls out of the Eurozone
altogether in 20 years time. In 1990, Germany’s
Constitutional Court ruled that the country could withdraw
from the Euro if: 1) the currency union became an
“inflationary zone,” or 2) the German taxpayer became the
Eurozone’s “de facto bailout provider.” Mayer proposes a
“Chapter 11 for Eurozone countries,” which would place
troubled members under economic supervision until they put
their house in order. Unfortunately, there is no serious
discussion of this underway, he lamented.


¶10. (C) Chancellor Merkel is clearly relieved she does not,
for now, have to explain to the public why the German
government is running up its own deficit to bail out
debt-laden Greece. Still, the German government appears
prepared to step in as a last resort if needed and is
cognizant that German banks (such as Hypo Real Estate and
Deutsche Bank) and insurance companies (Allianz) have
significant exposure to Greek sovereign debt. The crisis is
also viewed — within the German government as well as within
the ECB — as a way to exert greater influence over the
public finances of profligate Eurozone members. Some

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Christian Social Union (CSU) politicians are even using the
crisis to promote the candidacy of Bundesbank President Axel
Weber as next ECB President, arguing that Weber’s selection
would send a signal that Eurozone stability is paramount.
One way or another, the consequences of the Greece crisis
seem likely to outlive the immediate situation. One strong
possibility is that German influence over policy in the
common currency area will grow.

¶11. (U) Embassy Berlin and ConGen Frankfurt co-drafted this