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by Euro Reporter
2012-04-17 08:08:05
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Elections in May will not solve the country’s many crises nor heal disunity

Like most Greek tragedies, the current political and economic crisis playing out in Greece today is not likely to have a happy ending. On Wednesday, the country’s technocratic leader, Lucas Papademos, dissolved Parliament and called snap elections, which will be held May 6. Papademos was appointed as caretaker of Greece in November when his predecessor, George Papandreou, resigned under pressure. In his five months in office, Papademos has passed unpopular austerity measures to qualify for European Union bailouts that have been met with an exodus of Greeks from the country, violent protests, and even a public suicide when retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, 77, shot himself in the head in Athen’s Sytagma Square last week. According to the suicide note in his pocket, he was desperate because of his debts and Papademos-sponsored pension cuts.

The May election will not solve the country’s many and varied crises. In fact, many political analysts believe elections will mark the beginning of an intensely volatile period. The country’s two most popular political parties, the Pan Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the New Democracy Party, which have led Greece for over a decade, are being edged out by older extremist parties and many new parties that have sprouted since the crisis began. Greece is in its fifth year of recession, and a poll on Thursday by Public Issue for Ekathimerini newspaper shows voters have little patience for the status quo. The young Independent Greeks Party, which was formed by a former New Democracy leader, is growing rapidly, polling at 11 percent. The Communist Party (KKE), Greece’s oldest political party, captured almost 12 percent in the poll, and the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) won the support of 12.5 percent of Greeks polled. Meanwhile the former leaders are losing ground. New Democracy is polling at 19 percent and PASOK at just 14.5 percent.

“All polls indicate a political earthquake,” Janis Emmanouilidis, a senior policy analyst at the European Policy Center in Brussels told The Daily Beast. “Based on these polls, the Greek voters are heading toward a grand coalition, which makes sense from a politically logical point of view.” There are now 10 parties with a realistic chance of getting enough votes to share power, says Roman Gerodimos, founder of the Greek Politics Specialist Group. Because large coalitions can cause even more instability when party faithful end up bickering with each over fine points, Gerodimos predicts that some groups will start forming partnerships and making deals ahead of the May 6 date. “Right now we’ll see protracted noise as these parties put forth their leaders to fill the power vacuum,” he told The Daily Beast. “But because the smaller parties lack political legitimacy, there will be a lot of confusion for the voters unless there is a swift deal.” Gerodimos says that the snap elections were inevitable but that the country will suffer more by not waiting a little bit longer. “It will get worse before it gets better,” he says. “There is a brain drain, economic distress, and rather than moving in the right direction, campaigning leaders are unfocused and ineffective. Elections do have to take place, but the political system isn’t ready yet.”

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Bronze-age town on Greek island of Santorini to reopen 7 years after fatal roof collapse

Greece is reopening a major archaeological site on the tourist island of Santorini, which was closed for nearly seven years after a roof collapsed, killing a Welsh visitor. The culture ministry said in a statement that the bronze-age town at Akrotiri will open on Wednesday, following completion of a new roof that shelters the entire site of the excavation from the elements.

The town was one of the main urban centers in the Aegean until its destruction by a massive volcanic eruption in the 17th century B.C. It was buried under ash and pumice, which protected and preserved the buildings. Archaeologists have discovered four-story houses, remains of an advanced plumbing system and fine art and craftsmanship, including spectacular frescoes, vases and bronze vessels.

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Will Russia pave itself a railway to Greece?


Russia in among three European railway companies reportedly bidding for all or part of Greece's railway business, as the debt-stricken country sells assets to satisfy its lenders. Russia's railway monopoly Russian Railways is in talks over buying all or part of the network.  Its head Vladimir Yakunin told Reuters, "We're keeping in contact with the Greeks … They haven't decided on the model yet, so it's too early to talk about our participation." Russia is targeting the entire Greek railway network and its operator Trainose, while Romania's largest private railway company, Grup Feroviar Roman (GFR), is interested in the cargo business, according to Reuters. With Russian investments in Greek railways estimated at up to $3 bln annually, Greece would become part of the Eurasian transportation network.

Russia has long been rumored to be seeking Greek partnerships, indicating its interest to invest in the Greek railways last year. Last autumn Mikhail Dmitriev, President of the Center for Strategic Research, said that it was Russia who was able to drag Greece out of crisis, while Greece might turn up as a vital junction of the east-west and north-south connections along the Eurasian land bridge.  However, last year, despite the Russians seeking to invest in Greece, the Greek government had reportedly rejected it. There was more speculation on Greece getting the French to run the railways in order to simply service the foreign debts. French railway company SNCF wants passenger and freight routes and has gone through a due diligence process, said one Greek official interviewed by Reuters. Talks were held in Athens and Paris in 2010 and late 2011, when they reached the level of the Transport Ministry. However, a SNCF spokesman in Paris said the French rail operator "is not in the running for the purchase of Trainose, nor is it in the running for the purchase of a railway company or a railway line in Greece".

Trainose, which officials hope will raise 200 million euros, and the Railway Organization of Greece (OSE), which owns the physical railway infrastructure, were one company before being split in 2008. Greece took over 10.7 billion euros of their debts in late 2010, about 700 million euros of it from Trainose. The success of a deal with the European railway companies hinges largely on the Greek state's ability to receive European Union approval for the state intervention. Athens is pushing for the green light prior to going ahead with the privatization. Trainose is among dozens of state-owned businesses put on the auction block under Greece's 130 billion euro bailout program with the so-called troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Under an EU timetable, the tender process for Trainose will open in the fourth quarter of 2012, and its assets will be transferred to the Greek privatization fund. The proceeds from a sale, slated to close in the spring of 2013, will contribute to the 19 billion euro target Greece aims to raise to cut debt.



        
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Ano Nymous2012-04-30 19:32:07
The pro-Russian Kammenos ANEL party in Greece is staged for big wins while political director Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin says the Russian church should provide the world an alternative to defunct capitalism. Just as Greece was supressed during the Crimean and Cold wars, we must divide the Balkans between loyal allies Italy and Poland to keep the soviets from the straits. Magna Graecia was Hellenized by the Spartans while Scythia was Hellenized by the Athenians, so Poland and Italy are more pure descendats of Ancient Greece than the Magog Mongol residents of Greece or Russia. Greeks now speak an asiatic "demotic" language which leaves them unable to read the ancient apostles and philosphers.


jack2012-05-18 17:47:11
As Greece was occupied during the Crimean and Cold wars, we must displace the current residents with Albanians (Kosovar Style) to keep them from giving the soviets access to the straits.


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