Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wikileaks: Greece and the not so inscrutable Chinese

I've been reading some of the Wikileaks documents that Greek daily Ta Nea has been publishing. The extracts below relate to Sino-Greek relations (in view of the 2008 visit to Greece by Chinese leader Hu Jintao) and the COSCO saga – i.e. the agreement for the Chinese shipping and logistics company to operate a terminal at the port of Piraeus. What is revealed – if the US embassy in Greece is to be believed – is how feeble and fatalistic Greece's diplomats are when it comes to defending the country's interests – China abuses and insults Greece, and like a battered wife Greece feels it can do nothing other than accept its punishment –  and how imminent privatisation deals in Greece will likely be done.

The document from Ta Nea continues with another cable on Greece's doomed efforts to reform and liberalise the country's economy, but I've only included the opening remarks by the Americans regarding COSCO developments and the description of the workings of the mafia-type port authority trade unions. If the Greek people were wondering why their economy is a basket case, they would be advised to turn their attentions and ire not only on Goldman Sachs, the IMF and the country's politicians but also on the unbelievable (at least, to those of us exposed to Anglo-Saxon/northern European economies) unsustainable and crooked industrial practices that have developed in Greece since 1974.

Click here for Ta Nea's summary in Greek and within the document click where it says ‘Διαβάστε εδώ τα σχετικά τηλεγραφήματα του Wikileaks’ for full English-language Wikileaks document.


SUBJECT: GREECE/CHINA: GREEKS SEE PRC AS MORE "AGGRESSIVE" DURING PRESIDENT HU'S VISIT

2. (C) People's Republic of China President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to Greece November 24-26.  This was the first visit to Greece by a PRC Head of State since 2000.  Greek President Papoulias had visited China in June; PM Karamanlis last visited China in 2006.  During the Athens visit, Hu met  with Papoulias, Karamanlis, and the heads of the main opposition PASOK party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

THE CHINESE VIEW
----------------

3. (C) In a readout for us of the visit, Chinese Embassy Political Counselor Liu Wei said the Chinese had three goals. The first was to repay Greece for the visit of President Papoulias to China and the support Greece had shown to China with the Olympics.  Wei said it was important to the "Chinese mentality" to show gratitude…

4. (C) The second goal was renewal of Greek-Chinese friendship. Wei said Greece and China were not allies, as Greece and the U.S. were -- China did not make such alliances with foreign governments.  But Greece and China were "comprehensive strategic partners," as established in their 2006 agreement.  Wei defined precisely what that meant: "comprehensive" referred to the fact that China and Greece would agree on issues across the board and not cherry pick when it was convenient.  Their partnership at the same time was "strategic" because it focused on the global context and was long-term, not simply a marriage of convenience for the present.  Wei said Greece was the "most adamant" supporter of the one-China policy in the EU, and China was a strong supporter of the reunification of Cyprus. Such a convergence of views, he argued, made Greece and China "natural partners."  Greece was one of China's strongest advocates in the EU, and the Chinese President promised during the visit that China would never do anything to harm Greece.

5. (C) Expanding "pragmatic cooperation," that is, economic and business interaction, was the third Chinese goal.  Wei indicated China wanted to "go global" but had had problems in securing a foothold in Western countries due to mistrust. Such mistrust did not exist in Greece, according to Wei, and increasing economic ties between China and Greece was an important step for China.  Wei said that half of Chinese exports were carried on Greek-owned vessels, while 60 percent of China's oil imports arrived on Greek ships.

6. (C) During the visit, PM Karamanlis signed an agreement granting the Chinese firm COSCO Pacific Ltd a 35-year concession on the container terminal at the port of Piraeus. Under the agreement, which China was awarded in June and which represented the largest-ever such deal with a foreign power to control such an important aspect of the Greek economy, COSCO would pay 4.3 billion euro over 35 years and would renovate one pier and build another.  Wei admitted that the Chinese saw some difficulties in managing the Piraeus operation, due both to the global economic downturn and to Greek labor unrest. Greek dock workers continued to strike at the prospect of job or salary cuts under Chinese management, though Wei said China intended to have only one Chinese national running the container operation with an otherwise entirely Greek staff.  Additionally, four other minor agreements were signed, including two removing obstacles to Greek agricultural imports to China (Wei said Greek agricultural imports were quite expensive compared to domestic Chinese products but were nevertheless necessary in the production of high-quality goods for export.)  Other agreements covered cooperation between the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and the Chinese microchip supplier HUAWEI, and the sharing of programming between Chinese television CCTV and the Greek State-owned television ERT.

7. (C) Finally, when asked about potential military sales, Wei said there had been no such discussion during the visit. (NOTE: Greece has often helped cement deals or agreements in other areas through military equipment purchases.  For example, at the same time that Greece was sealing the Southstream gas pipeline deal with Russia, it also agreed to purchase more than a billion dollars worth of Russian armored personnel carriers (BMPs).  END NOTE.)  China was "very prudent" in arms sales and did not want to upset the balance between Greece and Turkey.  "Do no harm" was China's first rule in arms sales.

THE GREEK VIEW
--------------

8. (C) The Greek readout, provided by MFA A10 Directorate for Asia and Oceania deputy head Adam Adamidis, while covering the same basic territory as Wei's readout, was less positive and more cynical.  Adamidis said the Chinese had "imposed" the visit on Greece, providing only a month's notice, which forced Greece to cancel or delay some other high-level meetings, such as the visit of the Cypriot President.  This was in contrast to Papoulias' visit to China in June, for which the Chinese had required a year's preparation.  It was not clear why the Chinese had forced their President on the Greeks at short notice, though apparently they wanted to conclude the COSCO port concession agreement as quickly as possible.  Adamidis said the COSCO agreement had been stuck in the Greek bureaucracy for some time, but the visit had forced it out.

9. (C) During the visit, President Papoulias discussed most of the political topics, while PM Karamanlis confined himself to economic matters.  The COSCO concession, Adamidis said, had been Karamanlis' idea.  (NOTE: Press reports early on indicated that the Piraeus port concession was to be done by an open and fair competition, though as it developed politics may have played an increasingly significant role.  END NOTE.)  Adamidis took exception to the Chinese interpretation of the "comprehensive strategic partnership," saying that while Greece and China agreed on many things now, that certainly did not mean they would agree forever or on everything.  At the same time, however, he conceded that Greece was in a "subordinate position," due to its very large trade deficit with China: 12 billion euro, plus Chinese shipyards were building 20 billion euro worth of Greek ships. Greece accordingly generally supported positions of importance to the Chinese. Adamidis noted Greek support for China's receiving Market Economy Status in the world of trade and for lifting the EU arms embargo.  Also, unlike most other EU countries, Greece did not have an office in Taiwan, and Greece kept a low profile on human rights issues in China, for which the PRC was grateful.

10. (C) The Greeks clearly did not believe this show of support for China was reciprocated. Adamidis noted President Papoulias' discussion with Hu on the Macedonia name issue. He said Papoulias had told President Hu, "We support you on Taiwan, Tibet, and Market Economy Status, but we need your support on FYROM."  Papoulias went on to note that Greece had been "furious" at China for being the first member of the UN Security Council to recognize "FYROM" by its constitutional name (1993). The Chinese reply was "We are going to accept any decision by the two parties for a mutually acceptable solution." The Chinese President had also warned Papoulias that if the Dalai Lama were permitted to visit Greece, it would have a "severe impact" on bilateral relations. Adding to this list, Adamidis mentioned with some disfavor as well that in the runup to the Olympics in China, the Chinese had agreed to have Greece help with security at the games but as the event approach, "they dumped us."

11. (C) Summing up, Adamidis said the Chinese had become much more "aggressive" of late.  A few years ago, they treated Greece with more respect, but now they sought to impose their wishes on Greece.

12. (C) COMMENT: Due to its subordinate economic position stemming from its trade deficit and outstanding ship-building contracts with the Chinese, Greece apparently feels compelled to support Chinese positions on a range of international issues.  But Greece evidently is not getting what it thinks it deserves in return, and the Greeks do not appear happy with the relationship. PM Karamanlis may be trying to turn this situation around with the concession to COSCO on the Piraeus container port -- assuming that the MFA report is true that he and not a competitive bidding process was ultimately responsible for the Chinese getting the concession.  As is the case with Russia, the GOG appears willing to make concessions on current business deals to secure a better position later.  But whether such a strategy will work -- either with China or with Russia -- may not be clear for some time.

SPECKHARD

=======================CABLE ENDS===========================

SUBJECT: Greece: Government Manages to Suspend Port Strike, But For
How Long and At What Cost? 

1.  SUMMARY:  Confronting its first major challenge since taking office, Greece's new PASOK government negotiated a temporary suspension to a dockworkers' strike on October 17.  Latching onto PM Papandreou's pre-election promises to re-examine privatization agreements, dockworker unions at the port of Piraeus went on strike October 1, demanding that the government scrap a concession deal granted to the Beijing-based China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) Pacific.  COSCO is a shipping conglomerate scheduled to take over management of one of two existing cargo terminals on October 1 and to rebuild and manage a third terminal currently not used. The tentative deal to suspend the strike, about which few details are known, ended a 16-day saga that had paralyzed Greece's busiest commercial seaport, cost businesses and the government tens of millions of euro in lost revenue, and stranded over 10,000 shipping containers.

 2.  SUMMARY CONTINUED. On the surface, the suspension of the strike appears to be a win for the new government.  But it was not the decisive pro-business, pro-competition conclusion for which many affected business and potential investors had hoped, and it remains unclear what the government promised dockworkers to go back to work and whether it can deliver. Despite the suspension of the strike, and depending on any further negotiations, the PASOK government will continue to face challenges placating the powerful dockworkers' union as well as other labor groups looking to exploit the government's pro-labor leanings. More significantly, PASOK's apparently ambivalent approach to upholding the terms of the COSCO contract--signed by the previous government and approved by Parliament--raises fresh doubts over Greece's ability to attract and retain foreign investors in the midst of a global financial crisis that is forcing all to compete for a dwindling and increasingly risk-averse pool of foreign direct investment (FDI). In a battle that serves as a microcosm for the innate tensions in Greece between social democratic instincts and efforts to modernize and make the economy more competitive in order to attract much needed foreign investment, the victor remains elusive.   

COSCO: A Controversial Privatization from the Start

----------------------------------------
3. In November 2008, in the presence of former ND Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao, COSCO and the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) signed a landmark 4.3 billion euro (6.4 billion USD) port privatization deal granting COSCO up to a 35-year concession to manage one of two existing terminals and to rebuild a third terminal at Piraeus, Greece's largest port, near Athens, and the top container port in the eastern Mediterranean. Under the terms of the contract, COSCO's Greek subsidiary was granted, after a transition period, the right to manage all shipping transactions at terminals II and III. In exchange, COSCO promised to: a) retain for the time being all employees that currently work at the two terminals it will oversee (approximately 600 out of OLP's current Piraeus workforce of 1,500); b) invest millions of euro to upgrade the terminals' container-handling capacity, more than doubling the port's current capacity, thus creating 1,000 new jobs; and c) reserve 10 percent of new hires for the qualified children of current unionized OLP employees.  OLP, in turn, would retain exclusive control over the operations of terminal I. In the view of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), this landmark deal was a win-win for all parties.  For the GoG, which managed to achieve a major agreement prior to the onset of the financial crisis in Greece, the privatization and resulting expansion of port capacity was seen as helping to create greater role for Greece in Mediterranean shipping and transport. Export and import businesses and consumers hoped to benefit from increased port competition, which would decrease processing fees and reform the inefficient and corrupt offloading process, bringing down shipping costs and the cost of consumer goods over time. For labor in general, the deal maintained intergenerational job security and provided the possibility of new jobs.

4. Dockworker and port authority employees' unions, which had been calling intermittent complete and partial strikes and refusing to work overtime and weekends since the government announced the international tender for the port's operations in early 2008, immediately criticized the deal in November and continued to refuse to work overtime or weekends. Coinciding with the negative effects of the global economic crisis on shipping worldwide, strike action resulted in the Piraeus port suffering the biggest decline in container traffic among the world's 100 busiest ports,  caused several major shipping companies to temporarily forsake Piraeus for the Greek port of Astakos and other European ports, and increased the cost of transported consumer goods as a result of higher transport and processing costs.  While no specific statistics are available, EBEA indicated to DepEconCouns that many Greek export businesses were forced out of business as a result of delays and increased costs.

Dockworker Unions:  A Powerful, Corrupt Monopoly

5.The Dockworkers' Union and the Federation of Greek Port Personnel (OMYLE) have long held a labor monopoly over the operations of Greece's two major ports in Piraeus and in Thessaloniki.  Controlling exclusive contracts with the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), the unions have reaped substantial financial benefits, with ironclad job security, guaranteed hiring privileges for the children of union members, and annual dockworker salaries in the range of 90,000 to 140,000 euro (135,000 to 210,000 USD), once overtime and other benefits are factored in--far above the average Greek yearly salary of 32,280 USD (National Statistics Services of Greece, data for 2008). According to union contacts, EBEA, and media reports, dockworkers also benefit from systematized corruption, manipulating the customs processing bureaucracy to expedite the containers of shippers who pay an extra fee--or holding up imports for those who refuse. All of this translates into what EBEA describes as the most expensive port in Europe in terms of fees and costs for shipping companies, importers, and exporters.  Privatization and competition would change all this and lessen opportunities for rent-seeking behavior.  Post's union contacts described the COSCO deal as threatening long-established dockworker salary levels and inter-generational job security, as OLP will need to cut costs in some way in order to stay competitive with the COSCO-operated terminals. Union officials noted that while they traditionally wield powerful influence within PASOK, they were willing to fight any government seeking to reduce their benefits…

28 comments:

Hermes said...

Although I remain ambivalent about the Aganaktismenoi, the numbers and their rejection of union participation suggests that some Greeks (probably not enough at this stage) have woken up to the fact that one of the reasons for their poor employment opportunities, low wages and job satisfication is not only because of banks, large corporations and nefarious foreign interests; but, because the traditional unions are quasi-Mafias protecting the jobs and wages of a small few at the expense of the average citizen.

Hermes said...

A good discussion by Theodoros Georgiou on the philosophy and ideology of Neohellenism in relatively easy to understand Greek. He opens with some discussion on the late great, Panagiotis Kondylis....

http://www.antifono.gr/portal/Κατηγορίες/Φιλοσοφία-Επιστημολογία/Ομιλίες-Διαλέξεις/2857-Γεωργίου-Φιλοσοφία-και-ιδεολογία-του-νέου-Ελληνισμού.html

John Akritas said...

I don't know what to make of the aganaktismenoi either. Of course, they're right to feel aganaktisi, but aganaktisi is not enough or even that laudable an emotion, especially in relation to politics and when it's attached to a mob. I'm sorry to say – being a person with some leftist leanings, generally sympathetic to labour causes – but Greece needs trade union reform. It's a pity that because trade unions in Greece have become mafia-like or communist-front entities, Greek workers are not going to be properly protected by sensible and serious minded representatives and their conditions will deteriorate to third world status. Because Greece is desperate, these privatisations are going to be done in a vicious way and will be something of a rip off.

Hermes said...

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MF09Ak01.html

It looks like Turkey is falling out with Syria.

John Akritas said...

Yes, I read somewhere that the Turks were even providing weapons for the anti-Assad people. Syria doesn't need 'democracy' right now. I wonder if the Turks and Israelis will get back together. Turkey's regional policy seems to be going down the drain. So much for Davatouglu's zero problems policy. Quite funny, really.

Hermes said...

John, have you heard about The Palace? A short film made by a Greek Australian, Anthony Maras filmed in Cyprus and now showing at the Sydney Film Festival.
Cyprushttp://neoskosmos.com/news/en/a-line-drawn-in-the-sand-Maras

By the way Peter Stephanidis's short film, Pontos, which was recognised at Cannes, can be watched on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvXUc10KxdE

Anonymous said...

The fact that Turkey is turning on Syria shows that the Israeli fallout was either for show or a bluff. It seems nothing has changed here. There is no way Turkey would turn on Syria unless ordered to by the Americans.

Ted

John Akritas said...

In Stephanidis' film, I think the Pontian should kill the Turk. Don't know the Cyprus film. The trailer and an interview with Moras are on youtube.

Ted: it's all very fishy. Maybe the Turks are just making it up as they go along – and not doing a very good job of it. If only Greece… blah, blah, blah.

Anonymous said...

John, I read an interview somewhere of Stephanides of how we wanted to show there was a possibility of reconciliation. Not sure why he felt like making us the party making the first move. Also, he does not seem to understand the Turk. They would watch the film, and rather than feel guilt and remorse, they would see weakness. Deep down, they are a nomadic steppe people and civilisation does not apply.

Hermes said...

That previous comment was from Hermes

lastgreek said...

The Greek Government has hired Foreign Workers to Clean out the Underground Tunnel Leading from the Parliament to the Sea Port of Piraeus in Preparation for an Evacuation of all MPs

Link: here

Looks like the rats are getting ready to abandon ship!

Anonymous said...

I just read about the tunnel too lastgreek would love to see the rat politicians surprised by a group of nationalists at the end of the tunnel. I am proud of the everyday greek how they are fighting back. here in north america we will go down the tubes without a fight.

ted

John Akritas said...

I watched the clip, LG – or the first minute of it – and it is interesting; inasmuch as it's always baffled me the amount of idiots in Greece like the presenter and how it's possible that instead of being in a nuthouse this bloke calls himself (presumably) a journalist, has his own TV show and, by the looks of it, his own TV station. One of the reasons Greece is in the situation it's in is because the standard of public debate in the country is a joke; though it is interesting that the indignant have been expressing their indignation not just at politicians but at journalists too.

lastgreek said...

One of the reasons Greece is in the situation it's in is because ...

"324"

About the number "324" -- it's the number of residences in Athens that have declared ownnership of swimming pools for tax purposes. The actual number, as detected by aerial surveillance, is ... 16,974!

Conclusion: Honest Greeks -- all 324of them! --can be found in Athens :-)

Question: Why aren't these "324" running for public office?

Keeping with the number 300 ...

"321"

That, people, is the number of dead
Greeks over 100 still receiving government pensions.

Conclusion: Greeks have the uncanny ability to rise from the dead ... and collect pensions!

Qustion: Why can't a Basil-the- Bulgar-Slayer type Greek rise from the dead? Why only Greek cheats?

... the standard of public debate in the country is a joke

The only serious debate happening in Greece is in the streets.

...though it is interesting that the indignant have been expressing their indignation not just at politicians but at journalists too.

Former Minister of Defense Akis Tsohatzopoulos is alleged to have stolen about 110,000,000 euros in defense contract kickbacks while in office. The Greek press has reported this alleged crime. Why hasn't the Greek Ministry of Justice investigated this crime? Because the crime is "too big for proesecution", that is why. Tsohatzopoulos was not alone, he had accomplices ... lots of them ... mostly politicians and other bigwigs.

Question: What is left to steal in Greece?

Answer: Well ... since the Greek Treasury is bereft of funds, what is left is Greek public lands.

John Akritas said...

'The only serious debate happening in Greece is in the streets.'

What do you mean by this, LG? Do you mean these so-called People's Assemblies. I don't know what to make of these. There's a site here about them: http://www.peoplesassemblies.org/

I'm sceptical.

More generally, I think my prediction is coming true that Greece will fail not because the so-called austerity measures are too difficult to bear but because Papandreou doesn't have the vision/guts to dismantle the Pasok deep state and truly reform Greece. All P. has shown himself capable of doing is following IMF orders, effectively surrendering Greek economic sovereignty. But what has he done in those fields – political, social, cultural, legal, micro-economic – where Greece still has sovereignty and can effect change to make the austerity more short lived and so on?

lastgreek said...

I don't know what to make of these.

Actually, it's still a work in progress :-)

The Greek citizens/protesters -- "the Aganaktismeni" -- gathering in front of the parliament building are from all political stripes. What we are witnessing is a classic example of direct democracy, unlike the sham democracy inside the parliament building. Now, what direction this protest movement takes is uncertain. What is certain, and these protestors know it well, is that Greeks are about to be screwed.

More generally, I think my prediction is coming true that Greece will fail not because the so-called austerity measures are too difficult to bear ...

J, a quick point on this -- I don't think there is an example where IMF austerity measures have ever worked. Sooner or later, the countries defaulted.

Papandreou doesn't have the vision/guts to dismantle the Pasok deep state and truly reform Greece.

J, what do you get when you try to run a state with a modern Greek mindset?

A failed state.

Papandreou is a spineless buffoon. But, in fairness to this spineless buffoon, election after election the same corrupt, visionless, cowardly politicians are returned to the Voule by these modern Greeks.

All economic hell is breaking (or about to break) loose all over the world and the Germans (notwithstanding the dumb German bankers holding Greek debt) are doing just fine, thank you ver much. You know, the "dummies"in lederhosen land pay their taxes. (I think their effective tax rate is around 60%.) The modern Greeks?

I am trying my best not to lose hope with Greece, J. The only positive that Greece has going for it is that there are other countries worse off than she (if you can call that a positive).

John Akritas said...

'election after election the same corrupt, visionless, cowardly politicians are returned to the Voule by these modern Greeks'


This is correct, LG. I noticed in the latest opinion poll that the only parties that have seen their ratings rise are KKE, Syriza and LAOS, all of whom are the biggest bunch of idiots imaginable – even though LAOS is right about immigration and the national issues.

Generally, I'm torn between wanting to blame the Germans, the IMF and the banks for all this and thinking that Greeks are to blame for putting themselves in a position where they have had to go cap in hand. Don't tell me the Greeks didn't know that the way things were set up was completely unsustainable. They knew that no modern society can operate as Greece was operating and expect to get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments are negative and not constructive. Look at north america. Most of the high paying jobs go to people who know other in the public sector. The myth of socialist europe and free market north america are dead.
Of course the socialist state must be dismantled. But most greeks are not government parasites as portrayed here. the vast majority of the country works for themselves. Why should they pay taxes to support some fat class. Don't blame the common people for the people running the show and for the socialist pig government workers. The debt in greece is no worse than most western countires. We are all going down, they are just first. But look at personal finances most greeks are doing good in comparison. Just don't like hearing diaspora greeks talk about the greek mindset in some uppity anglo saxon way.

I am of the diaspora I find from experience all the greeks here in Canada who call greeks in greece lazy are totally dependant on their parents. first class losers to say the least. I have come across far more entrepreneurial greeks in greece than I have here. I know what you guys are saying the state is corrupt but look at the people they are fighting back. Fast forward to north america in twenty years we will see chaos and no one will know what to do.

ted

Anonymous said...

just to add to this just found out three times in a row just passed up for promotion by my boss who picked one of his friends again.This time he went as low to pick someone who has screwed up everyday at work he has been there. Cronyism isn't just greece it is alive and well here too more so than people admit.

Hermes said...

Special announcement: If there are any other Greek Australian readers of Hellenic Antidote, Savvas Kalendiris will be presenting at 7pm 17 June Panagia Soumela Sydney. The discussion will be on, "National issues: myths and realities". More details below.

Ο σύλλογος Παναγία Σουμελά Σύδνεϋ παρουσιάζει δημόσια διάλεξη με τον Σάββα Καλεντερίδη (εκδότης)
Θέμα:

"Εθνικά θέματα: μύθοι και πραγματικότητες"

ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗ 17Η ΙΟΥΝΙΟΥ 2011, 7.00 μ.μ. Aίθουσα εκδηλώσεων του συλλόγου 604 New Canterbury Road Hurlstone Park Είσοδος ελευθέρα

Hermes said...

On the Diaspora Greeks I have been making a few comments on Ardin.gr. Here they are:

Ο κ. Καραμπελιάς έχει δίκιο όταν λέει ότι τίποτα δεν θα έρθει από τους Έλληνες της Διασποράς. Παρά το γεγονός ότι είναι σε θέση να βοηθήσουν με τα χρήματα και ίσως διεθνείς επαφές, την πρώτη και δεύτερη γενιά δεν έχουν ελληνική συνείδηση ​​κυρίως επειδή δύσκολα διαβάζουν και γράφουν στα ελληνικά. Φυσικά, όπως γνωρίζουμε, δεν είναι ισορροπημένη αυτές τις πηγές. Ακόμα χειρότερα, πολλά από τα βιβλία που μεταφράστηκαν από τα ελληνικά έχουν γραφτεί από ανθρώπους όπως ο Θάνος Βερέμης.

Συμφωνώ απόλυτα μαζί σου για πολλούς Έλληνες ομιλητές στην Ελλάδα που νοιάζονται ελάχιστα για την Ελλάδα. Ωστόσο, η κατανόηση της συντριπτικής πλειοψηφίας της πρώτης, δεύτερης και τρίτης γενιάς στη Διασπορά της σύγχρονης ελληνικής πραγματικότητας είναι μέσα από το πρίσμα των άρθρων στο περιοδικό The Economist, The New York Times και Washington Post, τα βιβλία από τον Nicholas Gage και επισκέψεις στα hotspots διακοπών της Μυκόνου ή σε προγονικά χωριά. Επισκέπτης στα προγονικά χωριά είναι πολύ καλό, αλλά στην προκειμένη περίπτωση, όταν επισκέπτονται στα χωριά τους είναι πολύ δύσκολο να συνομιλήσει με τους ντόπιους γιατί η ελληνική γλώσσα τους είναι κακή. Η κατανόηση της σύγχρονης Ελλάδα είναι a la carte, ένα αμάλγαμα των ειδυλλιακή αρχαία ελληνική ιστορία, ορθόδοξη λειτουργία στην αγγλική γλώσσα και το ελληνικό ποδόσφαιρο. Έχουν πολύ λίγη πραγματική κατανόηση για παράδειγμα, των ελληνικών όρων εργασίας, το πρόβλημα της παραγωγικότητας της οικονομίας, τον αρνητικό ρόλο των μέσων ενημέρωσης, ύπτια πνευματική τάξη, την επίθεση στην ελληνική παιδεία και ιστορία και τα πολύ σοβαρά γεωπολιτικά ζητήματα. Είναι δύσκολο να δούμε πώς αυτοί οι άνθρωποι, με ορισμένες εξαιρέσεις, μπορούν να συμβάλλουν ουσιαστικά στην πνευματική σύγχρονου ελληνισμού. Τέλος, συμφωνώ ότι ορισμένες από τις πιο έντονες και ελπιδοφόρο τμήμα του Ελληνισμού είναι από Κύπρος. Επίσης, δεν έχω καταγωγή από Κύπρος.

lastgreek said...

Deconstructing Ted :-)

Some of the comments are negative and not constructive.

Ted, I am calling a spade a spade. Greece was downgraded to a CCC rating recently. Don't you think negative comments are apt? A CCC rating is actually quite humiliating.

As for constructive, I have mentioned countless times here that Greece should default on its debt. It can't get more constructive than that.

But most greeks are not government parasites as portrayed here.

You think, Ted?

Greece has more than five times as many "government parasites" PER CAPITA than Great Britain.

the vast majority of the country works for themselves.

Your killing me here, Ted.

About 40% of the country's GDP is accounted for by the PUBLIC SECTOR (i.e. "government parasites")

Oh! Immigrants (that's non Greeks, Ted) make up nearly one-fifth of the work force!!! Who do you think build the Olympic Stadium, Ted, Greeks?

Why should they pay taxes to support some fat class.

That's right. Who the hell needs infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, etc., to operate a state, right? Since ...

... personal finances [of] most greeks are doing good in comparison [to other nations].

That's good to hear. Maybe they themselves can pay for Greece's infrastructure and spare the Greek state from having to beg for freakin' funds at usurious rates of interest.

Just don't like hearing diaspora greeks talk about the greek mindset in some uppity anglo saxon way.

The ancient Greek motto ... ΖΕΥΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΑΙ ΝΙΚΗ.

The midieval Greek motto ... ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ.

The modern Greek motto ... ?

I better leave it to you guys to come up with something funny for the modern Greek motto. I mean, every one I have come up with has the word "αγγούρι" in it. Apropos when you think about how the modern Greeks are about to get royally screwed. Moreover, I have advocated for years now that the modern Greeks should replace the cross of their country's flag with the cucumber.

I am of the diaspora I find from experience all the greeks here in Canada who call greeks in greece lazy are totally dependant on their parents.

How's that, Ted? I'll give you a chance to elaborate before I rip you another one.

first class losers to say the least.

Here, Teddy, let me tell you about losers -- modern Greek losers of Greece.

On weekends, hospitals in Greece are jammed with old folks. Why is this? Well, modern Greeks love their weekend gataways. And since you can't go on a getaway with the wife or gomena when your parents need constant care or attention, what do you do? You dump them on the hospitals, that's what the modern Greeks of Greece do! It's a brilliant solution. Hooray for the modern Greek mindset. Though a bit on the cruel and disrespectful, don't you think, Ted? Btw, Ted, you think the hospitals can afford it?

I know what you guys are saying the state is corrupt but look at the people they are fighting back.

Why do I get the feeling they'll all be on the beach soon ... just like last year?

Fast forward to north america in twenty years we will see chaos and no one will know what to do.

You count your lucky stars your parents had the foresight to choose North America (Australia).

What do you do for a living, Ted?

lastgreek said...

"you're" not "your"

Anonymous said...

Not much to comment lastgreek, didn't really come here to fight as I like the blog but I will just agree to disagree with you. And when you mock the modern greeks you are with "The modern Greek motto ... ? " you are also mocking some of the greatest greeks of all time. Who gives a rats ass about alexander he lived a long time ago and he inherited the greatest army every. The modern greeks were peasants living in slavery under a cruel empire who had nothing but their will and determination when they got their freedom. In WWII greeks again under armed and outnumbered fought to the death. So please don't mock modern greeks and lets keep this on topic. Greece today has problems so does north america especially the UK, which has a larger foreing debt than any country on earth and so does australia. At least greeks know who they are. I would rather live in a poor country with an identity than live in a wealthy country and put up with multiculuralism andall the other PC pseudo BS. Obviously Greece has problems that is why people are taking to the streets. I am too far removed to go back to Greece but definately admire the spirit of the people there.

And what I do, well I am a parasite here. Used to be an engineer. I guess if I can`t beat them I joined them. I trade and make more money than ever being a parasite. This economy is so fake it isn`t funny. Its not just greece.

Anonymous said...

A bit sloppy what I wrote. The UK has the largest foreign debt and Australia also has problems along with the US and Canada is what I meant to say. Foreign debt of Canada and Australia is a lot lower than the other two countries.

Anonymous said...

lastgreek (first australian) said"I am of the diaspora I find from experience all the greeks here in Canada who call greeks in greece lazy are totally dependant on their parents.

How's that, Ted? I'll give you a chance to elaborate before I rip you another one.

"

Well first you ripped me nothing second the comment is self explanatory. Seems to me I hit a nerve.

Let me guess you work for your dad at his restaurant. Nothing wrong with that if you work hard at it.

I didn't make the comment directed at kids who work for their parents. Could be honorouble. Was talking more about the kids whose parents have successful business'. Then send their kids to university. Who then get crappy jobs but are subsidized by their parents. I know many greeks of the diaspora whose parens paid for their cars and made it possible to have a house. Nothing wrong with that as that is the beauty of our culture. But many have a chip on their shoulder and refuse to admit they couldn't do it on their own. And worse make no sacrifices to actually develop a career. Sit in crappy jobs. Never move and preach to others how hard they worked.

So you are in Australia couldn't think of a more irresponsible country along with Canada when it comes to housing. Turned your houses into Casinos. Let me know how that works out for you in a couple of years.

ted

John Akritas said...

On the one hand, the diaspora is overrated; but on the other can you really blame it for being disillusioned with Greece and not wanting to be associated with a country in the state Greece is currently in? The ardin description is largely accurate, though I don't think you should condemn a diaspora Greek for not caring about των ελληνικών όρων εργασίας, το πρόβλημα της παραγωγικότητας της οικονομίας, τον αρνητικό ρόλο των μέσων ενημέρωσης and so on. And I wish the last statement about Cyprus was true. I have my doubts.

I agree with you, Ted, about cronyism and how it operates even in 'meritocratic' Anglo-Saxon countries. The problem in Greece, however, is that people who get appointed because of connections get appointed to made-up jobs and/or to jobs they don't have the competence to do. And in the public sector, this applies right to the top of the food chain, to the bosses and so on – who get appointed as a reward for party affiliation.

lastgreek said...

The following Greek banks were downgraded today to a CCC rating. It means there is a high risk of not being able to withdraw cash, or ... bank simply becomes insolvent and you lose all your money:

National Bank of Greece S.A. (NBG),

EFG Eurobank Ergasias S.A. (EFG),

Alpha Bank A.E. (Alpha),

Piraeus Bank S.A. (Piraeus).

Bank deposits in Greek banks have been declining since the beginning of the year. The consequence of rich Greeks either taking their money abroad or transferring their money to foreign institutions with branches in Greece, such as HSBC Bank and Société Générale (France). I can't say I blame them. Better safe than sorry.

I'll comment later on your postings, Ted. I have to work now. (Kai akou ... I am not in the restaurant business ... found it too tough what with the long hours and great stress ... and my father was a steel worker, another tough job.)