If Europe Really Cared…


Acropolis from the Plaka Hotel, October 24, 2011
Acropolis from the Plaka Hotel, October 24, 2011 … Hey, is THIS for sale???

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Europe has never been asked what happened to what they gave Greece. They simply didn’t control it. Why not? Because Germany and France have done good business.

Petros Markaris

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Petros Markaris is a very popular Athens-based, Greek author and playwright who has created a series of novels based on an Athens police detective called Costas Haritos. Markaris was born in 1937 in Istanbul to an Armenian  father and Greek mother. The family moved to Athens when Markaris was 17. He went to university in Vienna and can write in German, Greek and Turkish. He has lived in Athens for four decades. He is a candid lover of Greece and an astute observer of its politics.

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Haritos, the cop, is a  cantankerous, middle-class Greek everyman, who encounters all sorts of criminals in his profession. The 7-book series deals with crime and corruption. Most of the series, begun in 1995, fictionally exposes the evil forces and division at the highest levels in Greece. Markaris owns a sophisticated analysis of Greek politics. His series was begun in the (now diminishing) hope that some healing might result between the politics of nationalism and socialism. Markaris, himself, is an unapologetic socialist at heart. I originally learned about him in April 2013, listening to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) podcast interview with the brilliant interviewer Eleanor Wachtel, on her Sunday afternoon program called Writers and Company. In that podcast (no longer available, but saved on my iPad), Markaris blames Andreas Papandreou, Harvard-trained Prime Minister of Greece, for giving away the money that the EEC carelessly sent Greece. He gave it to his cronies (“clients” – friends, party members, union leaders, influential businessmen…) between 1981, when it started flowing, and 1996, when his second term ended. Europe didn’t, in fact, follow through to ensure that the Euro windfall was well managed, because the leaders of Germany, France, et. al. were acting on behalf of their own “clients,” who stood to benefit from the new-found, temporary, Greek largesse. Some of the squandered wealth (huge when compared to the economy of Greece) trickled down to the average Greek via improved health care, education and overly generous pensions.

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Markaris said also that Greeks under the 1967 military coup, though poor, still had a wonderful attitude and sense of humour about their situation. Greeks spent their “fictional wealth” until 2008 without realizing that it hadn’t been earned or invested in anything permanent. Beginning in the late eighties, Greeks replaced their poverty ethic and sense of humour with an angry sense of entitlement so that, when the 2008 meltdown happened, they had not the strength or the morality to deal with it. The Golden Dawn fascist party gained a lot of newly-committed, racist followers, who blame the various waves of immigration that had occurred since 1950 for their misfortunes.

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Asked recently in an interview in German with Frankfurt’s The FAZ, Markaris was highly critical of the referendum theatre that Greece’s new “regent” had put them through. Jaundiced by his observations of Greek politics over the years, he gave little hope for political change, explaining that, as with every other Greek government, the same or similar “clients” would be all that will keep Tsipras in office. So, when I posted last week that the Greeks “Get It,” what I meant is they have known since 2008 that they’ve been the victims of what Noam Chomsky calls a “class war.” The clandestine “clients” in the financial capitals of the West “gets more, while the weak ones fade,” as the song goes. Coming soon to a place near you. That’s what we, on the other side of the Atlantic, don’t yet get: we’re all queuing up to fade.

If Europe and its “clients” really cared, they would publish and freeze the bank accounts of every major Greek and European figure that, beyond simply avoiding  taxes, skimmed off personal millions or billions from the two-decade-long EEC careless cash cow.

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Author: mytiturk

Travelbug Minstrel: Strum for my supper, croon for my cuppa Search for a sign, write for my whine

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