Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Agora: a tale of Christianity against the Greeks

I managed to catch the Anglo-Spanish film Agora and an enjoyable romp it is too. The film is set in fourth century Roman/Byzantine Alexandria and purports to tell the story of the legendary philosopher Hypatia – neoplatonist, proto-feminist, Enlightenment heroine, described by her admirers as the 'last of the Hellenes' and as having 'the mind of Plato and the body of Aphrodite', who was brutally murdered by a mob of Christians as the sect gained the upper hand over Greek religion and the Greek way of life.

Indeed, the film – no doubt to make a point about contemporary religious fanaticism – adopts wholesale the version of events that has Hypatia as a martyr for reason and philosophy, a victim of religious dogmatism and bigotry, and portrays the hateful Christians as a barbaric mob of class warriors and misogynists and Christianity as an ignorant, anti-Greek doctrine; but the crudeness of its legitimate message aside, the film is not bad at all.  

You can download it, if you know how, here, from piratebay.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Cyprus and the tyranny of words

Below is a good article by Robert Elllis, who writes consistently well about Cyprus and Turkey, which summarises the history of the so-called Cyprus problem, and implies, correctly, that the differences in perception and aspiration between the Cypriot and Turkish sides are irreconcilable.

I also found this statement from Ellis particularly noteworthy: 'The Turkish special adviser on Cyprus, Professor Nihat Erim, in a report to Prime Minister Menderes in November 1956 proposed a middle course between union with Greece and a return to Turkey – partition. And it is this strategy, with the component elements of geographical separation, population transfer and the influx of Turks from outside Cyprus, which Turkey has since consistently followed.'

Indeed, Turkey has consistently followed, with the long-term assistance of the USA and UK, a policy of partition, ethnic cleansing and colonisation; whereas Greece's policy on Cyprus has been characterised by short-sightedness, indifference and a desire to ditch the Greek Cypriots, a policy which – particularly during the period of the junta – meant Greece actually accepted and abetted plans to dismember Cyprus.

Cyprus and the tyranny of words
By Robert Ellis

One of the characters Alice meets in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass is the argumentative egg, Humpty Dumpty. According to Humpty, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean”, which is the problem the two parties to the Cyprus dispute are now facing.

In essence, the conflict concerns two separate agendas, which for the last fifty-five years have collided and continue to do so. When three hundred years of Ottoman rule was succeeded by British administration in 1878, the thoughts of the Greek Cypriots turned to enosis (union) with their motherland, Greece. These thoughts were reinforced by the fact that Greece had shaken off Turkish rule fifty years earlier, and other islands such as Crete and the Dodecanese later became part of Greece.

Much of the later tragedy could have been avoided if Greece in 1915 had accepted Britain’s offer of Cyprus in return for Greek support for Serbia during the First World War. Likewise, in 1945 a plan by the British foreign minister Ernest Bevin and the Foreign Office to offer Cyprus to Greece was defeated by opposition from the Colonial Office and the Chiefs of Staff. But in a plebiscite held by the Church of Cyprus in 1950, 96.5 percent voted in support of enosis.

These plans were opposed by the British government for strategic reasons. As British prime minister Sir Anthony Eden explained succinctly in 1956: “No Cyprus, no certain facilities to protect our supply of oil. No oil, unemployment and hunger in Britain. It’s as simple as that.” 

However, the year before, Greek Cypriot patience was exhausted and the armed struggle against British rule began under EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) led by General Grivas and supported by Archbishop Makarios. In return, the Turkish Cypriot minority formed their own resistance group, Volkan, which was later replaced by TMT (Turkish Resistance Organisation), supplied and led from Turkey, which struggled for taksim (partition).

In 1956 the British government determined to resolve the issue – and retain control of Cyprus – by convening a conference ostensibly to discuss political and defence questions concerning the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Turkey were invited, but as Defence Secretary Selwyn Lloyd explained to the Cabinet before the conference: “Throughout the negotiations our aim would be to bring the Greeks up against the Turkish refusal to accept enosis and so condition them to a solution. which would leave sovereignty in our hands.”

The ruse succeeded, at least in part, because it gave rise to Turkish irredentism, although Turkey had renounced all claim to Cyprus in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). However, the Turkish special adviser on Cyprus, Professor Nihat Erim, in a report to Prime Minister Menderes in November 1956 proposed a middle course between union with Greece and a return to Turkey – partition. And it is this strategy, with the component elements of geographical separation, popúlation transfer and the influx of Turks from outside Cyprus, which Turkey has since consistently followed.

In the event, the American proposal for guaranteed independence was accepted, and a power-sharing constitution was brokered by Greece and Turkey, resulting in independence in 1960. However, after 13 amendments were put forward by President Makarios three years later, the constitution collapsed and fighting broke out between the two communities.

Already in 1955 Turkish Cypriot leaders called on their compatriots to cut financial and social ties with their Greek Cypriot neighbours, and in 1958 under Denktash a “From Turk to Turk” programme was enforced. Finally, in 1964 Turkish Cypriots were forced by the TMT into enclaves throughout Cyprus – all to prove that peaceful coexistence was impossible.  Meanwhile, Makarios clung to his dream of enosis, even enlisting the support of the Eastern bloc, which in 1964 almost led to a new Cuba crisis, earning Makarios the sobriquet “the Castro of the Mediterranean”. However, by 1968 he had abandoned this dream and opted for the “feasible” rather than the “desirable”. In 1977, three years after the failed coup attempt by the Greek junta and Turkey’s invasion, Makarios finally admitted: “It is in the name of enosis that Cyprus has been destroyed.”

Intercommunal talks

Years of intercommunal talks ensued, but in 1977 and 1979 two high-level agreements were concluded, providing the basis for a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution. Subsequent UN resolutions established the parameters for reunification talks, that a Cyprus settlement must be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession.  However, these principles were torpedoed by the declaration of “the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” in 1983, and in 1991 the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash added more fuel to the fire. In discussions with UN Secretary General Pérez de Cuéllar Denktash stated that each side possessed sovereignty which it would retain after the establishment of a federation, including the right of secession.

At an earlier meeting Denktash had proposed that the term ‘communities’ be used in a manner that was synonymous with the term ‘peoples’, each having a separate right to self-determination. Consequently, de Cuéllar concluded that “the introduction of terminology that is different from that used by the Security Council had thus posed more than a semantic problem” and that “any change in terminology could alter the conceptual framework to which all have thus far adhered”. 

In his letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon two months ago the new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu struck the same note of ambiguity when he mentioned “the principle of equal sovereignty of the two peoples” and “the existing democracies and institutions on both sides of the island”. Eroglu – with the support of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and his chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis – is a known proponent of the two–state solution, so the new round of reunification talks is more like shadow boxing.  When the Lord Privy Seal, Sir Ian Gilmour, visited Cyprus in 1980, he noted that the ‘tyranny of words’ prevailed. It still does.

Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press.

Source: New Europe

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sketching out a strategic vision for Greece

Below is an interesting article from the Jerusalem Post I came across today that suggests Israel, spurned by Turkey, is now looking to build strategic relationships with Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania. There's no mention of Greece, or any effort by Athens to exploit the latest developments, which is a pity since I was interested – though not completely convinced – by the argument put forward by Giorgos Karambelias in the video above against Greek thinkers like Christos Yiannaras who, motivated by a Byzantine distrust of the West, believe Greece should collaborate with a resurgent neo-Ottoman Turkey, and suggesting as an alternative that Greece turns towards the Balkans and forms strategic partnerships with Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and, ultimately, Russia – all countries with which Greece shares certain cultural characteristics. Of course, Karambelias, still unable to liberate himself from his obsession with the Palestinians, makes no mention of including Israel in this new dynamic, but if Greece shows itself too slow in recognising the potential to thwart Turkey's ambitions in the region by building alliances that stretch from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Balkans, then Israel will not and, again, Greece will be left as a peripheral player.

'Relations with Cyprus never better'

One positive ricochet from the recent tension with Turkey has been an improvement in Israel’s ties with Cyprus, something one senior diplomatic official said has been very helpful in dealing with the issue of boats setting sail for Gaza.

Cyprus could not have “been better” in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident on May 31, when nine people were killed after the IDF stopped a Turkish-flagged boat from breaking the naval blockade of Gaza.

“We would have had many more problems” without the cooperation of Cyprus, the senior official said.

For instance, a week after the incident, the Cyprus-based Free Gaza Movement announced it was leaving for London after the Cyprus government refused to let the organization use its ports as staging points for the Gaza-bound boats.

“Cyprus is not happy to have us here. They are cooperating with the Israelis and we don’t like this,” one of the movement’s heads, Greta Berlin, told the Chinese Xinhua press agency. “It is time for us to go.”

Xinhua quoted the Cyprus government as saying its decision had been taken to protect what it called “vital national interests.” Cyprus has not yet made an official comment on whether it would allow Lebanese boats destined for Gaza to stop there first.

Another diplomatic official said Cypriot cooperation with Israel was less out of a love for Israel than a hatred of Turkey, which has occupied part of the Mediterranean island since 1974.

In January, immediately following Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s dressing down of the Turkish ambassador for an anti-Semitic television program, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went to Cyprus. Since then, there have been a number of high-level visits back and forth, including one here last month by the Cypriot foreign minister.

The senior diplomatic official said the breakdown of relations with Turkey had also led to a strengthening of Israel’s ties with Turkey’s northern neighbor, Bulgaria, as well as with Romania. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov, who has been characterized in Jerusalem as one of Israel’s best friends among EU foreign ministers, is scheduled to visit here next week.

According to government officials, as Turkey no longer allows the Israel Air Force to train in Turkish airspace, maneuvers may in the future take place over Romania.

Likewise, as tens of thousands of Israeli tourists who in years past have gone to Turkey are now looking for other venues, Israeli travel agents – according to Israeli government officials – are looking to Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania as possible alternatives, and are eagerly being courted by tourist professionals there.

Another possibility is Malta, to where Lieberman is scheduled to travel on Wednesday. Malta is a small country inside the 27-member EU that has not been known for its sympathies toward Israel, but which Jerusalem is increasingly trying to neutralize as an antagonistic player within various EU forums.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Greece 0 v 2 Argentina

My heart sank when I saw Greece's line-up and realised Rehhagel had chosen only one attacking player – Samaras – which seemed to indicate that the German was more interested in stopping Argentina going forward than exploiting their weak defence. However, the tactic nearly paid off, with the boys (particularly Papastathopoulos) putting up an outstanding 2004-esque defensive display, but it wasn't enough. We were unlucky with the enforced substitutions – which not only meant we lost two of our better players, Torosidis and Katsouranis, but also that Rehhagel couldn't bring on more attacking options after the Argentineans went ahead. Ninis looked out of his depth. Ultimately, however, our downfall wasn't in this match against Argentina, but in the game with South Korea, where Rehhagel made some poor selections and the team played badly. Nevertheless, tonight's heroic performance and the victory over Nigeria means the boys can go home with their heads held high.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Greece 2 v 1 Nigeria

I now predict that Greece will win the World Cup. Not really. Tyche explains a lot in life, and was certainly at work in today's match. We looked all set for another terrible display and humiliating exit from the tournament when, first, the goddess possessed Sani Kaita to kick out at Torosidis and get sent off, then she inspired Salpingidis' shot to wickedly deflect off the Nigerian defender and into the net, before she went for Taiwo's groin, Echiejile's hamstring and the hands of the Nigerian keeper, who fumbled an easy Tziolis' effort for Torosidis to score the winner.

Obviously, for Greece to do well, the other team needs to be handicapped, but I can't see our good fortune extending to the game against Argentina, even if Argentina's prowess going forward is matched by their ineptitude at the back.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Greece set to surrender Macedonia

The name for Fyromia that Kathimerini says Greece and the Skopjans are close to settling on is Republic of Vardar Macedonia or Republic of Macedonia (Vardar). Vardar being the Slav name for the Axios river that runs through northern Greece and the southern Balkans.

This is capitulation by Greece, but of a funny kind, since Greece has no pressing need to run up the white flag and still holds strong cards in its hand, notably the ability to block Fyromia's membership of Nato and the EU, both of which would bring stability to Fyrom and prevent the country falling prey to increased agitation from the Albanian minority, keen to be part of the Greater Albania project.

No. What Greece – and specifically prime minister George Papandreoou – is doing in this instance is revealing that it's tired of the issue and wants to solve it in any way it can, no matter that the name 'agreed' on not only hands the Skopjans part of Greek history and culture but also accepts the Skopjan nationalist narrative that Macedonia consists of three parts, Vardar, Pirin and Aegean Macedonia – Aegean Macedonia being 'Greek Macedonia' – waiting to be united.

The indifference, exhaustion and lack of vision that characterises Greece's attitude to Macedonia is the same that lost the country Cyprus and is losing it Thrace, and I suppose the best Greece can hope for now is that the Vardaskans will realise that, with the 'name issue' resolved, the real threat to their existence does not come from Greece but from Albania and from Turkish ambitions in the Balkans and that they will succumb to Greek influence – except that so much of the Vardaskan nationalist narrative is bound up with hostility not only to Greece, but to Bulgaria and Serbia; a narrative that they're unlikely to abandon any time soon.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Greece 0 v 2 South Korea

I did warn that the omens for Greece's World Cup campaign were not good, that Greece's defence is hopeless and that they will struggle not to lose all their group games; and today's appalling display against a moderate South Korea team proved I know my onions when it comes to football and it was only a misplaced sense of patriotism that prevented me from putting a bet on Greece losing all their matches and making some money.

Just one more comment: it's pretty standard to suggest that the way national teams play football reflects the nature of the society they represent. Thus, Greece's performance today against South Korea was a shambles, lethargic, incompetent, lacking quality, creativity, imagination and intelligence – all characteristics of Greek society.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Israel and Turkey: it's complicated

This article by Christopher Hitchens is from Slate Magazine.

I hope that by now the state of Israel regrets its past collaboration with some of the worst elements in modern Turkey. It's not so long since American Jewish lobby groups, and reportedly even the Israeli ambassador in Washington, were successfully lobbying Congress to vote down the resolution condemning the genocide of the Armenians. (The narrow passage of the resolution this year seems to have contributed to the increasingly evident paranoia and megalomania of Turkey's thuggish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.) And, even as Turkish troops occupied one-third of Cyprus and expelled one-third of its Greek population, as well as mounted illegal incursions into Iraq in pursuit of rebel Kurds, the Israeli armed forces happily embarked on joint exercises with them. If this era of unseemly collaboration is over, then so much the better. Even so, there's something slightly hypocritical about the way in which Israeli crowds have suddenly discovered the human rights record and the regional imperial ambitions of their former ally.

Talking of hypocrisy, though, how do you like the way that the words activist and humanitarian have suddenly made their appearance in our media? Activist is employed to describe a core group of Turks and Arabs, very many of them identifiable by name as affiliates or members or emulators of the Muslim Brotherhood. (I suppose in fairness it also covers such figures as the credulous Irishman Denis Halliday, who used to campaign so loudly for the lifting of sanctions on Saddam Hussein.) And humanitarian is used to describe the materials that these worthies are seeking to donate to Hamas. But is it really humanitarian to make contributions to a ruling party that has a totalitarian and racist ideology and is in regular receipt of nonhumanitarian aid from Syria and Iran, two of the most retrograde and aggressive dictatorships in the world?

Those who care about justice and self-government for the Palestinians might want to be helping Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as they build up the institutions of an embryo state on the West Bank. And those who worry about the conditions of the Gazans might want to send convoys of aid to the many United Nations and NGO operations in the Strip that have a proven record of transparency and efficiency. But, from a Muslim Brotherhood or activist perspective, where would the fun be in that? It is only Hamas, with its thrilling violence and hysterical rhetoric, that is truly "authentic." Incidentally, in a little-noticed statement last week, U.N. special regional coordinator Robert Serry denounced a series of raids and lootings mounted by Hamas supporters on the offices of genuinely humanitarian operations in Gaza City and Rafah.

The near-incredible stupidity of the Israeli airborne descent on the good ship Mavi Marmara, by troops well-enough equipped to shoot when panicked but not well-enough prepared to contain or subdue a preplanned riot, has now generated much more coverage and comment than Erdogan's cynical recent decision to become a partner in the nuclear maneuvers of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It has also generated much more coverage and comment than Erdogan's long-term design to de-secularize Turkey, a design in which his recent big-mouth grandstanding on Gaza is a mere theatrical detail. What on earth are self-proclaimed humanitarian activists—as they will soon enough be called at this rate—doing in such an open alliance between one cruel and bankrupt Iranian theocracy, one religio-nationalist Turkish demagogue, and Hamas?

Israeli self-pity over Gaza—"You fire rockets at us! And after all we've done for you!"—may be incredibly unappetizing. An occupation that should never have been allowed in the first place was protracted until it became obviously unbearable for all concerned and then turned into a scuttle. The misery and shame of that history cannot be effaced by mere withdrawal or healed by the delivery of aid. It can only really be canceled by a good-faith agreement to create a Palestinian state. But Hamas is a conscious obstacle to this objective, as it shows by its dependence on foreign dictatorships and by the criminal and violent methods it has used against Fatah and the PLO.

Let me give another case in point: Hamas' charter and many of its official proclamations announce that it endorses the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a dirty anti-Semitic fabrication produced by Christian and czarist extremists and adopted by the Nazis. Would you, if you wanted to help Gaza and the Gazans, knowingly augment the power of such a flat-out racist organization by helping make it the proud and exclusive distributor of food and medicine?

Staying with this fascinating point for a moment: What if the international community put one simple question to the Hamas leadership? We will consider lifting the sanctions if you will renounce a barbaric and discredited concoction of lies that identifies all Jews everywhere as targets for murder. (The name notwithstanding, the Protocols have nothing to say about Palestine.) And what if the journalistic community—just once—was to ask a similar question of the "activists"? Do you endorse the Protocols: Yes or no? We would instantly be much closer to understanding what was meant by humanitarian.

While we wait for this puncturing of the current balloon of propaganda, we might as well savor the ironies. As well as being the two most intimate allies of the United States in the region, Turkey and Israel possess large and educated populations that want in their way to be part of "the West." They also both suffer from mediocre and banana-republic-type leaders, who are willing prisoners of clerical extremists in their own second-rate regimes. Turkey cannot be thought of as European until it stops lying about Armenia, gets its invading troops out of Cyprus, and grants full rights to its huge Kurdish population. Israel will never be accepted as a state for Jews, let alone as a Jewish state, until it ceases to govern other people against their will. The flotilla foul-up, pitting former friends against each other, only serves to obscure these unignorable facts.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Signs of things to come between Cyprus and Israel?

A couple of immediate advantages have accrued to Cyprus as a result of its refusal to facilitate the Free Gaza flotilla and the crisis in Israel-Turkey relations following the killings of Turkish jihadi invaders on the Blue Marmara.

Firstly, as Cypriot daily
Politis reports, Israeli tourists have been cancelling their trips to occupied Cyprus, while the planned ferry link between Haifa and occupied Famagusta, which would have brought thousands of Israeli tourists to northern Cyprus, looks as if it will not now go ahead.

Secondly, as this report
(taken from the Cypriot daily, Simerini) on the Greek National Pride blog states, Cyprus and Israel have now stepped up negotiations to conclude a deal on delineating sea borders and rights to hydrocarbon exploitation. Apparently, Israel has discovered vast quantities of natural gas in the waters between Israel and Cyprus and the need for an agreement is pressing, as is, following the breakdown in Turkish-Israeli relations, the will to achieve it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

What if Turkey detaches itself from the West?

Let's make the assumption that this rift between Israel and Turkey is long-term and points to a significant realignment of partnerships and strategies in the eastern Mediterranean, in which Greece and Cyprus, without abandoning good relations with the Arabs, find common interest with the Jewish State, at least in their opposition to neo-Ottomanism.

Let's also recognise that such an assumption would mean that Turkey would find itself increasingly drawn to countries such as Iran and Syria – and away from the West – and that Turkish society and politics would become even more dominated by a virulent combination of radical Islam and ferocious nationalism. The dangers of having such a neighbour on Greece's doorstep are obvious; but no more dangerous than today – where Greece is, largely as a result of strategic ineptitude, isolated and deluding itself that there exists the possibility of Turkish-Greek 'friendship'.

For Cyprus, the emergence of a Turkey like the one I've described would mean that a 'solution' to the Cyprus problem would become impossible – Turkey has only considered doing a deal on the island because Cyprus is an obstacle to its goal of entering the EU – and the occupation of the northern part of the island would continue ad infinitum.

In such circumstances – with Turkey drifting away from Europe and no end in sight to the occupation – it could be argued that what Cyprus needs is a 'solution' as quickly as possible, before Turkey's new place in the world takes shape. The point being that since any 'solution' is bound to be unsatisfactory to Greek Cypriots and hence only interim, Greek Cypriots would at least, thereafter, be in a good position – unlike in the 1960s – to use the new strategic environment to reverse the 'solution' and pursue their goal of properly re-unifying and re-hellenising the island.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Pope visits Island of Aphrodite

The Pope has been in Cyprus. Something to do with ecumenism, an expression of support for beleaguered Christians in the Middle East, and a pilgrimage in the footsteps of saints Paul, Mark the Evangelist and Barnabas – all heavily associated with the spread of Christianity in Cyprus (and elsewhere) and the formation of the Cyprus church.

Cyprus’ communist president used the occasion to make points about the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, as did Archbishop Chrysostomos, who repeatedly made reference to the deliberate destruction of Cyprus’ Greek and Christian heritage in the Turkish occupied part of the island. Cyprus’ Roman Catholic population is small, consisting of Maronites, Latins and immigrants from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. There was minor controversy when some senior Orthodox clerics – including the bishops of Limassol and Kyrenia – expressed opposition to the Pope’s visit, declaring that the pontiff was a ‘heretic’ and they would be boycotting events held to honour him.

While on the island, Benedict said he regarded Cyprus as part of the Holy Land and even though the island doesn’t market itself as such, given the pivotal role of Cyprus in early Christianity and the demonstrable devotion of Cypriots for the last 2,000 years to the Greco-Judaic faith, I suppose it is. Ironically, Cyprus markets itself as the Island of Aphrodite, who reached the rest of the Hellenic world via Cyprus, a stronghold of the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality, said to have been born from the sea foam (aphros) off Paphos – but whose cult was ultimately deposed and eliminated by the Christians, and their cult of sin, shame and pain.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Cyprus and Greece take Gaza initiative – honestly!

This seems like a smart move from Athens and Nicosia, trying to be useful to both the Israelis and Palestinians while showing up the Turks as hotheads and a disruptive influence. The report is from the People's Daily Online.

'Cyprus and Greece have undertaken an initiative to provide "humanitarian support" for the Gaza Strip, a Cypriot government spokesman said Friday.

'The spokesman said the program was agreed upon during a telephone conversation between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

'The spokesman did not elaborate on the initiative but said that Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, currently in Israel, has already had a series of meetings, including some with Palestinian National Authority officials, on the issue as Christofias' emissary.

'The Cypriot government last week refused to allow a Gaza-bound aid flotilla to use Cypriot ports as staging points, reversing its past warm support for pro-Palestinian activists.

'The government cited "vital interests" of the island state as the reason, while the Free Gaza Movement, sponsor of the flotilla, believed that Israeli authorities had exerted pressure on Cyprus…'

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Greek journalists: as absurd as you can get

Greece's journalists have been on strike today, so there's been no newspapers and no TV news bulletins. The sky could have fallen in on the country or the Turks invaded and we wouldn't know about it. We don't even know about the strike – how many supported it, how it was manifested and so on. It baffles me that Greek journalists are striking, what this is supposed to achieve. According to Panos Sombolos, leader of the journalists' union, his members are 'fighting so that the anti-popular and anti-social security measures of the government do not pass'; but it seems to me that only in Greece have journalists been identified as 'fighters' on behalf of the 'people' and only in Greece has it been determined that this 'fight' is carried out not by writing, reporting and broadcasting, but by avoiding work and marching in the streets. In fact, the journalists' strike is gratuitous. I don't even know if the journalists want to strike, if there's been any sort of ballot or if the proud members of the Fourth Estate just go along like sheep with what their union bosses decide on their behalf. It's an entirely absurd situation, and one which reveals the wider absurdities that plague Greek society and from which, evidently, there is no escape.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

World Cup omens not good for Greece

Greece have just been beaten 2-0 by Paraguay in the last of their World Cup warm-up matches (see goals above). Greece were poor throughout and conceded two sloppy goals early on. As in the 2-2 draw with North Korea last week, Greece were shocking at the back and Paraguay could have scored at will. Offensively, Greece did create chances, but couldn't convert. Sotiris Ninis, who played right-wing, did well, but was substituted at half-time. I hope Rehhagel has the courage to play him in South Africa. In the three warm-up games Greece has played, they've lost 2-0 to Senegal and Paraguay and drawn 2-2 with North Korea. Senegal, Paraguay and North Korea are very ordinary teams. The matches were played to try and replicate the style Greece will face in its World Cup group, where they've been drawn against Nigeria, Argentina and South Korea, and unless the boys suddenly click I fear we're looking at three defeats for Greece.