Archive for September 9th, 2011

Thessaloniki under siege

The 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (9 – 18 September 2011) will definitely “make history”.

The first demonstration took place already today when members of the Communist  led PAME took over the Town Hall just before the Prime Minister’s arrival there. They left peacefully having shouted anti-government slogans during Mr. Papandreou’s arrival.

The Greek Workers’ Confederation has rented a train to take protesters from Athens to Thessaloniki.

Tomorrow’s official opening of the Fair will be marked by the following protests:

  1. The General Confederations of Greek Workers of both the public and private sectors meet at the Venizelos statue at 6 pm.
  2. The PAME, PASY and Popular Alliance meet in Aristotelous Square at 6pm
  3. Several Unions, left wing movements not represented in Parliament and antiexousiastes meet at the Kamara at 5pm.
  4. Fans of the Herakles football club meet at Katsanio at 6pm
  5. The taxi owners meet at the Ivanofio at 6pm
  6. The students meet at the Thessaloniki Polytechnic school at 6 pm

The “enraged movement” has three different meeting points at three pm while the motorcyclists meet at 5 pm.

The Greek government had to make several adjustments to deal with the situation. For the first time in years the Prime Minister will not attend the opening ceremony which will be carried out by Mr. Mihalis Chryssohoidis, Minister of Regional development, competitiveness and shipping at 9.30 am on Saturday morning.

On Sunday, the annual Prime Minister’s press conference will be given from a renovated storehouse in the Thessaloniki port instead of the customary venue of the Velidion Conference Center.

The Greek government has mobilized more than 7.000 special force men to “protect” the peace in the northern capital.

Greek taxis on strike – the latest report

The Greek taxi owners association held its national assembly and decided to go on a 24 hour strike on Saturday, 10 September. At the same time they issued a call to their members to go to Thessaloniki and take part massively in the demonstration.

Given the poor mass transport infrastructure the taxi strike affects a lot of people and especially the weak and elderly.

Greek crisis: tragedy or comedy?

Greece is famous for its love of the theater. It has recently been confirmed by Mr. Loverdos’, Minister of Health and Social protection, theatrical statements about civil servants.

Conveniently forgetting that Greek governments, from the beginning of the Greek state, have been guilty of creating the civil service on a political clientele basis. Becoming a civil servant meant that one could provide the ruling party with so many votes. It did not mean that he had to work hard and efficiently, on the contrary, civil servants hardly worked.

This is testified in the popular ’60s movies in many instances. A young village girl is assured that she has an excellent dowry because her father “owns” 900 votes (aptly named “Maria’s 900”, echoing Leonidas’ 300). Thanassis Vengos argues disarmingly with the honest politician who denies to appoint as civil servant a known felon: “if he was not a felon he would not need you”. At that innocent and naive time the Greek people who love satire laughed good-naturedly at their politicians.

Today, when the situation of the average greek family resembles a tragedy, one is reminded of Portia’s words to Bassanio in the Merchant of Venice:

I see, sir, you are liberal in offers
You taught me first to beg; and now methinks
You teach me how a beggar should be answer’d

The present government has been ruling Greece for more than 25 years and has been guilty of the bribery and corruption practices of the previous ones. If they mean what they say they would be well advised to apologise, accept their own mistakes and try to start on a clean slate. The only problem then would be to convince us, the Greek citizens, of Mr. Papandreou’s and his government’s  sincerity. Now, we cannot help but doubt their intentions as well as their policies.