Posts tagged ‘greek news’

5.9 Earthquake shakes Cephalonia

 

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A 5.9 earthquake shook Cephalonia at 16.30 today, January 26 2014.

There are no reports of injuries but the earthquake was felt as far as Athens.

Cephalonia, in thesouth Ionian Sea lies in an earthquake prone area. It suffered great damages during the 1953 earthquakes that shook the island and its neighbor Zakynthos.

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Cultural resistance in Greece

December 20 – Christmas round the corner – and I realized how long I have been away from my blog!!

Events and developments in my country are fast, unpredictable and contradictory: Greek citizens watch in horror as the public health system is torn to pieces, universities do not operate, Golden Dawn, the extreme right, fascist party, whose MPs have been accused of forming a criminal organization still enjoys 7% of the popular vote (!), rumours of financial scandals involving politicians and institutions break out every other day and taxes are announced and taken back daily!!

university administrative employees on strike

university administrative employees on strike

Mass media unfortunately play a major part in this horror movie Greek citizens are watching, feeling absolutely defenseless, confused and insecure!!

Civil servants suffer salary cuts, pensioners see their pensions shrinking. The result is that the people’s buying power is lessening and the problems snowball: small tradesmen are forced into bankruptcy and the big international stores are firing people every day, taking advantage of the lax labor laws.

 

The only ray of hope comes – as it should – from the world of culture and the arts.

mikraanglia“Little England”, Pantelis Voulgaris latest movie, is an impeccable film. It has a strong story line, the photography is impressive  and the acting is almost Spartan in its precision and denial of easy emotionalism. All this directed in the background of Andros island, home to many a ship-owner for a long time, thence the title of “Little England” associated to the then Queen of the seas.

While actors’salaries have dipped to a 3.25 Euro per hour rate (rehearsals are not paid!) new experimental groups spring up offering free shows to unemployment card holders! Dario Fo’s play “the accidental death of an anarchist” is now on its fourth year and still plays to full capacity.spyros_620

So, during the season of hope I believe that salvation – if this is the right term – for Greece will come from the people of the arts and culture. They are the ones leading the real resistance.

 

Random Greek news items from last week

Wednesday morning the Greek Parliament lifted the parliamentary immunity of 6 Golden Dawn Parliament Members. 246 yes votes out of 300 allow Greek courts to sue the GD Members of Parliament for various pending cases: the so –called party has been accused with being a criminal organization and the Public order Minister has openly called them a neo-nazi formation.

In spite of all the revelations about their criminal activities Golden Dawn remains the third party in opinion polls. One more proof of the Greek citizens mistrust and disgust with the existing political personnel.

Thursday night news broadcasts were flooded with reports about an incident between the workers’ union of the Corfu hospital and a group of Health ministry inspectors. The inspectors claimed that they were obstructed in carrying out their mission, that they were isolated in a room and threatened. Health minister, Adonis Georgiadis, was uncharasterically cool about the episode. It is to the government’s interests to keep health care discussions as there are rumors of hefty cuts in health funds. These rumors are fuelled by the lack of the most elemental facilities.

kouneva-1The good news is that a Piraeus Court has ruled for Konstantina Kouneva in her case against Ecomet, her employer company.

Ms Kouneva, a cleaning lady,  had been attacked and seriously injured on the 28th of December 2008 by people unknown as a result of her unionist activities. A Bulgarian immigrant , Ms. Kouneva actively struggled against the exploitation of women immigrant workers and had often been threatened for it. She has been awarded 250.000 Euros damage payment with the amount of 80.000 to be paid immediately. 

 

Tsipras probe into submarines deal “shakes” the unity of the two–party Greek government

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Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA President, announced his intention to ask for a probe into a submarine deal signed in 2010 and which he claims has “an aroma of scandal”. Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, present Chairman of PASOK and vice-chairman of the present Greek government was the minister of defence when the disputed deal was signed.

The bad feeling between Venizelos and Minister of Defence Avramopoulos resulted from the latter’s reply to Tsipras that this government has nothing to fear and that whatever “underhanded business” is of an earlier date.

Venizelos took this as a personal affront from Avramopoulos and replied, during the Parliament discussion that ensued, that it is not  a Minister’s job  to” describe situations. Neither are they there to play the good guy to the opposition but to bear responsibility and bring results”.

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The Prime Minister’s office took no sides and in spite of Avramopoulos’ clarification that he was referring to the Tsohatzopoulos’case,  Venizelos continues to feed the feud. The PASOK press office released to day a letter sent to Avramopoulos the day before the Parliamentary discussion giving him “directions” on how to deal with Tsipras accusations.

A mixed bag of news, thoughts and arguments

Today is the first really cloudy, autumn like day in Athens. News is rampant from all sides and citizens go about their business with their heads lowered and lost in their thoughts.

The prevalent mood is despair and insecurity. While the government announces that we are on the “road to development” the Troika talks about new taxes and austerity measures.

The neo –nazi formation of Golden Dawn is officially accused of being a criminal organization and its leader is in prison. According to news reports the Greek Parliament will tonight discuss and vote on removing the immunity of three Golden Dawn MPs so that they can be prosecuted. At the same time the Metsovion Polytechnic School staff is staging a concert in memory of the 32 year old anti-fascist rapper murdered by Golden Dawn thugs.

The news broadcasts are dominated by long and detailed reports on Golden Dawn acts: attacks against immigrants, actors, and speeches during which leading members of the fascist organization openly threatened democracy!! To the viewers the reporters’ “surprise” at the Golden Dawn doings is to say the least insulting since it is obvious that they knew the activities and just chose to keep silent.

Three out of eight Greek universities have submitted the names of their administrative staff that can be laid off. The European Commission has given the green light to the takeover of Olympic air (the private company that “bought” the state run Olympic airways) by Aegean air. In this way a state monopoly is replaced by a private monopoly system. In a press statement SYRIZA, major opposition party, underlines the fact that this constitutes a threat to the country’s cohesion.

On the other hand, .there are still people struggling to keep their spirits up and safeguard their livelihoods against all attacks. In Chalkidiki, in Macedonia, in Aghios Panteleimonas in Athens and so on. It is an unfair battle but let us hope that justice and right will prevail over greed and might.

 

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.

 

 

 

Environment – one of the big losers of the Greek crisis

On Saturday 12 January 2013 Syntagma Square was occupied by a different kind of protesters: villagers, ecologists, farmers came all the way from Halkidiki to demonstrate against the establishment of gold mines in their area. There were about 3000 people with imaginative pickets and slogans who remained outside the Parliament for a few hours. Previously they had visited the Canadian Embassy who, they claim, is actively promoting the enterprise because of Canadian interests.

Manolis Glezos, always present, walked for the environment

Manolis Glezos, always present, walked for the environment

"Our silence is gold for them.

“Our silence is gold for them.

The Athenian rally was the climax of a year of struggles between Hellas Gold  a company 95 percent of which is owned by Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold Inc. and the remaining 5 percent by Greek construction company Aktor and local committees opposed to the project. More information on one of the blogs created by the local residents: http://antigoldgreece.wordpress.com/

SYRIZA MPs have submitted a question in Parliament stating that the Company is not following environmental directives which state that mining and building activities cannot be carried out in areas neighbouring with NATURA 2000 protected zones, stressing that while the police are very active when faced with angry citizens they are very slow in checking the Company’s illegal activities.

What prompt me to classify the environment as the “great victim of the crisis” is the continuous efforts to “sell” all open spaces around Athens, starting with the Ellinikon area, the area that was previously occupied by the Athens Airport.  All the ecological studies that are required or should be required for interventions of that magnitude are conveniently overlooked using crisis as an alibi.

It is obvious to everyone that the Greek government is taking the easy way out. Unfortunately the destruction of the Halkidiki forests or the building up of the Ellinikon area are actions that are not reversible. They undermine the future of the country and influence the European environment as well.