Archive for June, 2013

Greek summer- 5 good points about recession

Greek summer, in all its scalding glory, is here to stay with us for a couple of months. It becomes easier to travel from one end of Athens to the other within minutes. Bus services are slower but there are less cars. Greek citizens are looking for escape and thank god they have quite a few choices: there are some free of charge easily accessible to the 4 million metropolis public beaches, there are friends summer houses, there are home villages on mountains and islands brimming over with visitors, there are hotels faced with bankruptcy which have, finally, decided to make very cheap offers to the Greek tourist and are being resuscitated.

I happen to be one of the few staying behind – by choice – so let me take you around my city in the summer. First of all if you decide to visit Athens this is the best time of the year provided you stay in a southern suburb, by the Saronic Gulf. I suggest Palaio Faliro but depending on your budget you can go further out. Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza all have excellent hotels but their prices are steeper all over: accommodation and food wise. Transport is cheap (1.20 Euros for a one way tram/bus trip and if you buy the 1.40 ticket you have 90 minutes travel on any transport. I prefer the tram because being the newest addition of the mass transport system of Athens it is clean and properly conditioned. It is not very fast or frequent but then it is the holiday season, who cares?

By catching the tram you are at the new Acropolis Museum within minutes, you can take a stroll under the Acropolis at the pedestrian area around it and reach the Plaka region on foot. 659475_9ycwFvaOKs.img

The railway leaves from Thission and you can connect to the tram at the Peace and Friendship Stadium – at the Piraeus entrance – to get back to your hotel or continue towards the (usually expensive) fish taverns of Pasalimani or the delightfully cheap ones of Kallithea.

1. Taxi drivers are much more polite and helpful. Check the meter though.. 3.20 is the minimum fare to anywhere.

2. Restaurant owners are returning to more traditional dishes thus adding value and novelty to your eating out… Ask for a receipt..

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3. Coffee breaks are much cheaper provided you keep in mind to avoid the fashionable haunts which still charge about 4.50 for a fredo capucino but much less for a nescafe frappe which I think you should try.

4. Many special offers from good hotels.

5. Open air cinemas and theatres are an all time favourite. The tickets vary from 8 Euros upwards for the cinemas and 15- 25 Euros for the theaters. cinema-tripel-930x639You can have a beer while watching…

Have a wonderful time.

 

New Democracy 9th Congress

New Democracy Congress

New Democracy Congress

New Democracy, the major party in the two-party Greek government, started its 9th Congress in the Tae Kwo Do stadium near Athens.

The Congress started yesterday Friday with greetings from all Parliamentary political forces except neo-nazi Golden Dawn which was not invited.

Nikos Androulakis, PASOK secretary stated that the two-party  government is not based on ideological common ground but on the nation’s needs. .He stressed that the reforms needed are his party’s top priority and they must be socially fair.  Dimitris Vitsas represented SYRIZA and mentioned that his party’s primary goal is to fight against the economic degradation by fighting foremost for democracy and social justice, by respecting the Constitution thus leaving no space for fascist and nazi policies to develop. Communist party representative Mr. Giokas of the Communist Party of Greece stressed that any form of development should have a social face or it will be against the interests of the working people.

The Prime Minister’s speech is expected later. The main slogan of the Congress is “NEW DEMOCRACY  –  NEW GREECE” .

Something old, nothing new, all borrowed, all blue… The song of the new Greek government

After a week of rumours about reshuffling, after ousting its only progressive alibi (the Democratic Left of Mr. Fotis Kouvelis), after the failure of privatisation (selling off for the opposition) of various state companies, after the notorious mishandling of the ERT reorganisation Mr. Samaras announced the composition of his new government.

The “new” government, which was sworn in at noon, is the epitome of irony. It is made up of the two parties that led Greece in the post – dictatorship era and have singlehandedly managed to turn it into the bankrupt state it is today. New Democracy and PASOK promise to show Greece the way out of the chaos they have created!!

A quick look at the political personalities involved is enough to cause instant depression to any logical person: Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, PASOK chairman, appointed deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, has served in ministerial positions in the majority of the PASOK governments. His name is involved with the Lagarde list scandal since he was the Minister of Finance to succeed chief suspect Mr. Papaconstantinou. Mr. Mihalis Chrisohoides, who has also served as Minister of National Security, heads a new ministry and together with another 8 high profile PASOK leading personalities provides the “green” of the government.

The very “blue” background is provided by all the rest with Mr. Dendias, of the “xenios zeus” project, carrying on as Minister of Citizen Protection(!), the much criticised Mr. Stournaras unmovable in the Economy Ministry while Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, a recruit from Mr. Karatzaferis’Orthodox Rally, appointed Minister of Health to the delight of cartoonists and satirists…

Ms. Fofi Gennimatas is the daughter of a prominent and popular PASOK leading figure – she is now deputy Minister. Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, son of former Prime Minister Kostas Mitsotakis, is the new Minister of Social Reform. Mr. Pantelis Kapsis, new Minister for the state radio -television company, is a prominent journalist and the son of a PASOK former minister. Mr. Kapsis has held a high position in the Lambrakis publishing group and was the spokesperson of the Papadimos government. Mr. Varvitsiotis, new Minister of Marine, is the son of a former New Democracy Minister. Family tradition is strong in Greece.

At the same time Greek society was shocked to hear of the bankruptsy of one more company considered “healthy” . The Katselis bakeries filed for bankruptsy leaving another 480 people unemployed!!

The new government has very little time to perform the required reforms and it is my view that it has neither the ability nor the will. We shall see.

Greek government reshuffling – Greek society in waiting

It has been two weeks since the Greek Radio Television signal became a black screen. This seemingly innocent act – compared to the selling off of a large number of public property and plans being hatched for even more- has managed to break up the tripartite government, cause a reshuffling (yet to be finalised tonight) and bring back to the fore talks of extraordinary elections.

While the ERT Mansion is still being run by the fired ERT employees and journalists unions, with concerts and daily performances by popular bands the rest of the country is trying to solve the mysteries of submitting tax returns electronically!! Out of 6.000.000 tax payers less than 100.000 have completed and submitted their tax returns and the government is considering an extension of the deadline (30 June). The rumors of further cuts in public health services, the practical disaster of the building sector and the merging of yet more schools in the coming year make the whispers about extraordinary elections seem absolutely logical.

Will the New Democracy and PASOK government have a better opportunity in Autumn when harsher measures will be implemented? Doubtful.

So, we carry on with more insecurity and a continuously receding standard of living waiting for the disaster to strike.

No news – is it good news?

Full moon tonight and the crowd around the ERT Megaron (Mansion – in free translation) seems to have shrunk a little. High temperatures have driven many of the protesters to the beaches during the day but they are expected to be back in the evening. The ERT employees are holding a general assembly to decide how to react to the Ministry of Economy directive to evacuate the ERT headquarters.

The two-party government is still planning its re-shuffling while the social media and a reputable right wing daily report that some of Mr. Fotis Kouvelis associates estimate that their party was practically forced out of the government.

Sporadic fires have broken out in the Attica region and we are all crossing our fingers since there has been very little preparation for this usual summer emergency.

A friend phoned me with the news that there are – more – rumors about hospitals closing down or merging with other hospitals.

As you understand, there are no definite news to report today. I will try to post a picture of the beautiful Athens moon tomorrow!

Greek government discards its last rag of democracy

The tripartite Greek government has managed to lose its one partner who had exhibited traces of democratic and social sensitivity. Democratic Left, a split of Coalition of the Left of Movements and Ecology (SYNASPISMOS), has retired from the government and recalled its two Ministers and one deputy minister.

Mainstream media journalists were wondering why Democratic Left has “deserted” the government over the ERT (Greek Radio and Television) shut down. They conveniently forget that less than a month ago New Democracy -the right wing major government partner – rejected, not elegantly, the antiracist law tabled by Democratic Left Minister of Justice Antonis Roupakiotis. At the same time heavy criticism was addressed to the other Democratic Left Minister, Prof. Manitakis.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos decided to carry on with what he calls “responsible” stance and remains in the government after Prime Minister Samaras promised to evaluate and re-draw the government plans.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Economy which has been appointed as the ERT manager until its “restructure”,  has asked for the evacuation of the ERT headquarters. The employees’ reply was a call to everyone who opposes this scheme to guard the grounds and for Sunday the 26th to be international mobilisation day against the closing down of ERT. The ERT Mansion in Agia Paraskevi is run by the ERT employees with the support of thousands of union members, artists who have worked for ERT, supporters of the National Radio and Television network and other citizens shocked by the abrupt closing down of the state run company.

 

Friday night found thousands watching Vassilis Papakonstantinou, top rock performer, giving a free concert in the ERT gardens and members of the Actors’ Union reading poems and performing impromptu monologues, opera singers singing arias and a special song dedicated to the Taksim demonstrators.

 

 

 

Will the Greek government celebrate its birthday?

The clouds are gathering over the Greek Government while the rest of the country is enjoying clear skies and high temperatures…

A new meeting is taking place right now between the leaders of the tripartite government with a lot of issues on the table… The Greek state television remains closed while they debate.. and the rumors for early elections are stemming from journalist sources which remain nameless..

To the general public it looks like each party- New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left-is striving to get the most out of the one year of governing together while blaming the other two for all the mistakes, the omissions, the delays and so on…

A rally is being held right now outside the ERT (Greek radio and television broadcasting corporation) called by the the two Workers Federations (Private and Public Sector) supported by the journalists’union and other workers’organisations.