Archive for August, 2012

Temperatures drop while tempers rise in Greece

The high temperatures that tormented Greece for over a week have receded. Unfortunately the winds that we always welcomed at this time of the year, the“meltemia” ,from the Turkish “meltem” meaning a seasonal wind, have become a nightmare. While they help us by cooling the atmosphere they also help arsonists and forest fires…

On the social scene both temperatures and tempers are rising! The tripartite government is still discussing how to collect the 11.5 billion Euros outstanding without further cuts on low pensions and civil servants ‘salaries. The “red lines” of each government partner must be respected; no party involved wants to be blamed for the austerity measures thence the endless negotiations.
In the meantime, the municipalities are faced with severe cuts in their grants and cannot fulfill the services they are supposed to provide to their citizens. A rally organized yesterday Wednesday by municipalities ‘workers ended with scuffles with the police special forces.

Back to school – will there be enough teachers?

September in Greece is the back to school month, back to work month, first rains month and the time we wish each other “kalo himona” which means have a good winter. No wonder everyone wants to postpone thinking about it as much as possible.
This year September looms even darker. The Ministry of Education has announced that 5000 primary and secondary school teachers have gone on pension. While the ministry asked the government to hire 1086 new teachers only 225 postings have been approved. The other positions will be covered by seasonal and temporary personnel but there will still be many gaps.
Last school year there were no school books – this year it seems there will not be enough teachers.

Dekapentavgoustos, the 15th of August, is a public holiday in Greece.
The cities empty and the countryside comes alive.
Athens looks like a ghost town today. Whoever has not left on holiday is on one of the nearby beaches.

The banner says:”We have struggled hard to get access to this beach. Look after it!”

Ellinikon Municipality Beach is one of the few organised beaches which do not charge an entry fee. Right next to the old Athens airport the Beach is operated by the Municipality since 2005. Until then the whole area was given to private entrepreneurs who charged not only for the use of their facilities but also for the simple access to the sea. Mayor Kortzides claimed the use of the beach for the Ellinikon citizens but also for whoever wanted to use it. Together with his citizens he started a long struggle against powerful interests. Finally, and after a 24 day hunger strike, the Mayor won and the beach is now open to the public.

We visited the beach today. There are many umbrellas and chairs provided by the Municipality, there is space for the people who bring their own umpbrellas with them, changing rooms are available, the showers do not operate on holidays and weekends because the private water supplier charges exorbitant prices. During the week the Municipality provides water for the showers by its own vehicles.

There is one coffee shop with reasonable prices – two souvlakis,chips and bread cost 4 Euros. The site is also served by the tram and many bus services thus making it acceccible to people without a car.

While we were sipping our coffee a very disturbing announcement was made through the loudspeaker: this beach, one of the very few ones affordable to all, is in danger. The government is thinking of “selling” it!! Another privatisation that deprives Greeks of their patrimony and, if built, will definitely harm the environment too.

A poem dedicated to all kids

After reading my post about the racial hatred killings in Athens a friend sent me the following poem I want to share with you.

It was nominated best poem 2006 by the United Nations. Written by an African kid.

When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in Sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black

Children know everything. Let’s listen to them more

And you white fellow
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green

And when you die, you grey
And you calling me coloured?

Heraklion Archaelogical Museum news

Good news from Heraklion Crete:

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

According to the Athens News Agency two of the first exhibition halls of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum are back in operation. They contain a collection of sculptures.

The new permanent exhibition of the sculptures collection, in the basement of the central building will open for the public on Tuesday August 14 2012, free of charge. At the same time the extension building hosts the temporary exhibition of the most significant findings (4 Euros entry fee).
Both exhibitions are open Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 8pm. On Mondays, Sundays and holidays the halls will be open from 9 am to 4pm.

Racial hatred attacks reach dangerous proportions in Greece

Racial hatred attacks have increased in Greece.Members of the tri-partite Government have been forced to make hesitant statements. Specifically, Minister of Justice Mr. Antonis Roupakiotis (originates from Democratic Left) said that: “the rise of racist attacks has started to acquire especially dangerous characteristics” while Democratic Left MP Prof. Panousis stressed that “such crimes poison our society”. The PASOK representative stated that the center of Athens must become secure again for its inhabitants. This, according to Mr. Triantafyllou, is the answer to the wave of violence against immigrants.
The attacks reached a climax when a young Iraqui immigrant was murdered by a group of five people in the center of Athens at 4 o’clock in the morning on the 12th of August. Mr. Dendias, Public order Minister (originates from New Democracy) stated that he has already asked the Head of the Athens Police to give priority to this crime and that the perpetrators will be dealt with mercilessly.
At the same time there was uproar with a Face book post by a Golden Dawn fan which implied that he was part of the murder. According to TVXS the same man contacted the station and claimed that he was just joking with his friends.

Racial attacks have happened in the provinces as well. In Heraklion the Immigrants’Forum contacted the public prosecutor and asked him to examine the cases.

Reactions by the opposition

SYRIZA claims that the government handling of criminality has led to a circle of violence that has no end. The major opposition party calls on the government to formulate “cohesive” policies for immigration and for the fight against crime.
The Communist party of Greece accused the government that its own “Xenios Zeus” anti-immigrant project fuels racist feelings and racial attacks. “The same people who promote anti-immigrant feelings seek to hide the causes of immigration and exploit the phenomenon instead”.

Brief news flash (1) Athens August 11 2012

• Fires are still blazing in the Mount Athos area with thousands of firemen trying to contain the numerous re-kindlings. Nine aircrafts and four helicopters are operating and the regional authorities are on the alert.
The fire that burnt more than 27 million square meters of forests in Arcadia, central Peloponnese, is still not contained.

• The Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) has been sold off to the Bank of Piraeus. The transaction has been widely criticized by the opposition parties because of the “lack of transparency” in the deal. The ATE employees have been asked to sign new contracts with the new owners: this means that their years of experience, security fund payments and salaries are in jeopardy to say the least. It should also be noted that the Agricultural Bank of Greece, one of the oldest in the country, is the Bank traditionally used by the farming world. Consequently, all the land mortgaged for loans passes to private hands. The Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) has labeled the transaction a scandal.

• A bank robbery in Paros has left one dead while the culprits are still not apprehended.

• The temperatures are dropping and some storms have broken out in the provinces. Athens seems as hot as before mainly due to the building materials used which “capture” the heat long after the sun has set.