Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Refugees: the tip of the iceberg for the EU go

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Lesvos Moria refugee camp

The 2016 most used word:  refugees – The inflow of refugees from the neighbouring Turkish coast is impressive. Sleepy, self-satisfied Europe eyes incredulously the surge of uprooted people from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and so on. European citizens or I should say West European citizens, who have been watching the Middle East crisis on tv and wondering where this place is, are suddenly faced with the reality of the situation in the faces of refugees. East Europeans, some of whom have experienced extreme poverty and forced migration not so long ago, are more weary. In Greece the refugees had the good luck to land on the islands of the North Aegean (mostly..) – the majority of the inhabitants of these islands are the progeny of people who have themselves fled from war and destruction in Asia Minor. Their first reaction is to save from the sea, help survive and protect as many as possible of the refugees who reach their land. But it is not enough…

If the inflow continues as it does today there will soon be a new tragedy both on the islands as well as in the Greek mainland. The country is not prepared, could not be prepared, to look after such large numbers of people. In fact, Europe is not prepared to host, help, protect and finally integrate such an influx. The only way out is political.

Europe, the old continent, needs to act as the broker of peace. Europe needs to enforce an embargo on the sale of arms on all war -engaged governments, take the initiative in peace negotiations, offer incentives for peaceful collaboration to governments striving for peace and viable development while  applying a products boycott against war- mongering governments. The European Union present leadership needs to prove to its citizens that it has a good reason to exist and it must do it now, before it is too late.

The refugees problem is the tip of the iceberg: pockets of extreme poverty and discontent develop within various European capitals together with neo-fascist entities that threaten the social cohesion of the EU and not only. Terrorist attacks multiply and neo-fascist entities are on the rise. In addition,  the citizens of the European Union feel threatened by the increasing pressure for more productivity and the deterioration of their quality of life.

Unless the governments of the EU realise the problems and the necessity for positive and fast action we may witness its dissolution.

It has been a long while since my last post. I have no excuse. The situation in Greece, social, economic, political has been such that a general feeling of insecurity and uncertainty is prevalent.

I chose to tell you  two stories that have slightly changed my mood today:

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  One of Shedia’s vendors

A. The Greek street magazine Schedia (the raft) is now on its 6th year of publication and continues to come up with new events and activities to render our homeless compatriots visible again. The magazine is its first care and main source of revenue. In addition to the Homeless Soccer team they organize literary evenings, a cafe -network all over the country where homeless people can find a coffee waiting for them paid by other customers, thematic city tours and exchange visits with homeless fromuother countries who publish their own magazines.  They have a site but there is not much in English. For those of you who can read  Greek  http://www.shedia.gr/

B. Idomeni – the make-shift camp refugees have set up on their own near the Greece-FYROM frontier,  saw a gleam of light and joy today. Two young Syrian refugees decided to get married inspite of the difficulties and hardship they are facing. Friends and volunteers chipped in for the preparations and the women managed to form a heart of red rose petals on the newly weds bed in the tent they will share from now on. Does love conquer all? I don’t know but it sure made our hearts a little lighter today

 

 

Greek autumn panorama

The song that best fits this year’s autumn is “it’s raining taxes”!!

While the weather is being most charitable, few showers and enough chill to make the sunshine very welcome, our government is playing hide and seek with our nerves. It’s pouring taxes on the Greek public. This is something we are used to in recent years… The most annoying thing this time is the inconsistency: taxes are imposed to be retracted because the calculation is wrong, deadlines are announced to be cancelled within a week, the number of installments are changed weekly and so on… This at a time when citizens’ trust to politicians has reached below zero temperature and with good reason.. 

 

Polls show a steep rise for SYRIZA (Coalition of Radical Left), the major opposition party, and the government’s react ion was to ask for a vote of confidence by the Parliament. The government got the go ahead by the Parliament with 155 votes. The opposition is asking for early elections while P.M. A. Samaras assures us of recovery.

A most confusing time as you understand.

If you add the international situation in our area it is a good thing that life carries on as usual. Visitors to Greece often wonder by the amount of people having coffee and even the sheer amount of coffee shops. I believe that this continuous contact with other people, relatives, friends, acquaintances and the solidarity among us, the plain people, is what keeps us sane and smiling.

Farmakonissi: the medicine island of ancient Greece – the poison island of modern Greece

The story of the Farmakonisi tragedy has gone its rounds on the internet as well as on many of the major media. There is not much to add as far as facts are concerned: the immigrants claim that the port police tried to kill them. The port police state that they did their best to save as many people as possible. In a parliamentary enquiry meeting Mr.Bantias, head of the port police asked for forgiveness for the Farmakonissi events and  apologised to the victims’families and to the Greek people..  . Other port police officials stated that Turkish smugglers advise the people they carry in their boats to sink them (!) and throw away all their documents to prevent repatriation.  We can draw our own conclusions reading between the lines

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This is not an isolated incident: Tragedies like the one in Farmakonissi are not rare, ufortunately… Lampedusa has attained global fame for its inhuman treatment of immigrants. Spain, Malta, Greece, Turkey are the gates of the tortured people of Near and Far East into the relative haven of Europe. Europe of austerity measures and unemployment, Europe of homelessness and starving is much better than their countries of origin, countries where death lurks at every corner and hope does not exist.

Well, Europe must reconsider its policies towards these countries if it wants to stop the waves of immigrants. Europe and the so-called developed world need to examine why these people: immigrants, refugees, economic or environmental victims flee their homes, leave their loved ones behind or decide to endanger their lives in a desperate surge towards freedom, hope, survival…

The European Union’s policies in Africa, for example, have aggravated the economic difficulties while its absence of policies in the east (near or middle or far) allows the US to invade and impoverish nations, to loot their natural resources and control those they cannot loot – like water.

Farmakonisi is the most recent example – the people of Europe who revolt at the sight of such brutal and inhuman behavior should unite and revolt against the policies and not their results. The coming European Union elections can serve as a starting point to turn the poison of Farmakonisi into a medicine for the immigration problem. The people of Europe can show their interest in all European issues by voting massively in these elections, by supporting parties actively promoting new policies for these and other issues. It is our time to register our disagreement with such policies, our strong condemnation of the market driven policies which disregard the needs of society to satisfy the numbers of financial wizards.

Hippokrates used to collect medicinal plants (farmaka) on Farmakonisi  thence its name. Restoring the real meaning of healing to the word would be the best justification for the victims.

Roll call vote in Greek Parliament regarding the unified tax on landed property and other provisions

A roll call is being carried out in the Greek Parliament at the moment on a new (one more…) unified tax on landed property. According to news reports  Vyron Polydoras, majority MP, has voted against the law. He had already announced his intention.

PolydorasMr. Polydoras has been ousted from the New Democracy Parliamentary Group and thus the government majority reaches the crucial number of 153 from 154. On the other hand no one can be certain that Mr. Polydoras will oppose any other government laws.

The law was approved with 152 votes for.

Massive rally in progress in Athens center

A general strike of the private and public sectors is taking place today. A demonstration has also been called and is in progress as I write. 

The murder of the young antifascist activist, Pavlos Fyssas, has caused an additional rally for this evening together with a music concert outside the Polytechnic School on Patission street.

 

New Democracy 9th Congress

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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” .