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The first victory in the right place, corruption resigns in Greece
by Thanos Kalamidas
2015-07-06 11:03:37
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The referendum in Greece yesterday, gave to “NO” an unexpected for most 61%. That was overwhelming and surprise for many even among the supporters of the negative to the enforcement new measures Greeks. But what I think that really happened has only pertly to do with the new measures. This was a multiple message with too many recipients that will take some time to translate.

Like most of you I have already seen the headlines and the announcements from both sides. Nobel awarded economist Paul Krugman, hours after the result in a blog, celebrates a victory for the whole of Europe while the Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä with a few more words said that Greece just signed her exit from the Eurozone. I think they both projected their personal wishes and not what really is going on.

The Greek referendum per se was for the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, to see how much the Greeks were willing to give in to stay in a currency zone that has caused them only problems till now. He wanted to see how flexible he was in those negotiations with partners that often acted as revengeful neighbours and not as partners in solidarity.

Usually acts like that are judged by the result and if Tsipras used the referendum as one more tool for a long and painful referendum we have a long way in front of us before some kind of result shows. Parenthetically, the resignation of the Finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis hours after the victory – the fearless champion of the NO - is a sign that Mr Tsipras is willing to do some compromise sacrificing his main negotiator. Most likely this is one more move in this gigantic chessboard difficult to analyse with certainty from outside.

sam01_400But as I said in the beginning the Greeks voted for many reasons that some of them never been clear to the foreign observers and actually one of them gave this overwhelming victory and it seems that the European political leadership has just started realizing. It was best put by the German Deputy Chancellor social-democrat Gabriel last week and during a thundering meeting of the German parliament.

“Neither the Greek people nor the new Greek government are to blame for the situation in this small country. It is due to corrupted policies applied the last three decades from the two ruling parties, the conservative New Democracy and the Socialist PASOK. Our mistake lies in the fact that we trusted exactly the same people to save Greece.”

This simple paragraph says everything. Says why Greeks were so angry, says why the measures never passed with the people even the necessary ones, says why they failed and everybody – including Troika – always felt misled, it says why nothing really never changed. Why the rich never stopped getting richer even under these circumstances and why all the measures targeted the poor. It says why people turned against everybody in the end.

Antonis Samaras, the Greek PM while all these measures where enforced was in the essence of this corruption that led Greece in thirty years to this situation. A man who was in the conservative party for one and only reason, far-right, fascist and Nazi parties always were too small to satisfy his ambitions. A self-centred politician who didn’t care how many dead bodies he will leave behind as long he would satisfy his thirst for power. And all the signs were there three decades before when he came to the main stage of Greek politics.

The man was part of the problem when he served as Finance minister and he became a problem when he served as foreign minister during early 1990s. He betrayed the founder of the conservative party for purely personal agenda and he betrayed the then prime minster Kostas Mitsotakis to serve his ambitions with result the fall of the government.

A man who acted like they stole his house when he lost the elections five months ago insulting in personal level the new-coming prime minster and leaving the prime mister’s office empty in a petty behaviour and informed the opposite side of the negotiation table in the Eurozone for every new move the prime minister was planning.

A man who served certain bankers, industrialist and media oligarchs with scandalous loans of millions of euros during the crisis and contracts with a state that didn’t have money to pay treatments for cancer victims. Who used the measures expanding them in convenience to serve better his personal “friends”, a man who has done so much damage to Greece that it will take long time for the Greek democracy to recover.

And this man was representing the “YES”, the slogan “We stay Europe”. There is no doubt why the 61% and if some haven’t been scared with all the lie conspiracy theories that spread last week this 61% could have been even 75% perhaps even more.

Last night and few hours after the final results had been publicized in a despicable nationally televised message and after showing for one more time how petty and despicable man he is, he announced his resignation from the presidency of the Conservative party making clear that he’s not resigning from politics leaving the party in the uncertainty that his intrigues are going to continue in a new field.

But Tsipras got rid from the inside enemy, an enemy that didn’t hurt only him but the whole nation and this is the greatest victory that came from yesterday’s result. The beginning of the end for the corruption that has destroyed this country. Hearing his resignation was the first time that night I felt like smiling. Hope has return and I sincerely hope that everybody can understand that. For the rest we can only speculate till results come.

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Emanuel Paparella2015-07-06 18:02:53
Indeed Thanos. You have identified the real political cancer affecting not only Greece but the entire EU, namely corruption. In all the 28 countries that comprise the EU, none excluded, there is corruption in one form or other, often in the form of high level of bribery and those levels are increasing as we speak. It is a sort of organized crime and three quarters of ordinary EU citizens admit that it is a real vexing problem costing the EU some 120 billion euros a year, the equivalent of an EU annual budget.

It stands to logic that if we had honest politicians and bureaucrats, i.e., if corruption were eliminated from the entire EU polity or euro-zone, the Greek debt problem could be solvable immediately.

But the effects of corruption are devastating not only for what they do to financial institutions and the depriving states of much needed tax revenue to run the government, when tax evasion occurs, but for the undermining of regular citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law, not to speak of the strengthening of a fallacious belief within a savage kind of capitalism that the only way to succeed is through political connections. In fact the biggest problem in the area of corruption is not so much with small bribes but with the ties, often hidden, between the political class and business. Even FIFA could be placed in such a category.

Obviously, within the EU, which is often portrayed as a shining example of democracy for the rest of the globe, there has been a failure to regulate their politicians’ conflicts of interest when it comes to business. The people have discovered this secret of Pulcinella that nobody knew but everybody knew, and are now voting no to further corruption parading as democracy and proclaiming that "enough is enough!" The corrupt politicians who favor certain industries in allocating contracts are not renumerated in bribes so much, but in positions in the private sector once they have left office. The likes of PM Adrian Nastase and Silvio Berlusconi jump to mind.

What is also intriguing is the fact that where most corruption occurs are in countries where there is the most poverty. And of course the people who end up shouldering most of the burden of corruption are not the rich who pay cash for everything and owe on interests on credit cards and have their wealth deposited in banks abroad, and know all the loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, but the poor (at the individual and collective level) who via credit cards have been enslaved to their debts for most of their life. Indeed, if that be democracy then the ancient Greeks who invented it must now be turning in their graves.

Thanos2015-07-06 23:57:15
Emanuel, the certain man (because I had the unfortunate luck to meet him) had the aura of corruption. There is a saying, “after shaking hands, count your fingers”; with him it was true. He became PM enforcing himself with a political and constitutional coup, he ruled manipulating the constitution and he was the trustee of the European leadership to save Greece.
You mentioned FIFA, yesterday the Greek sports minister in a European meeting explained that with the regulations FIFA has enforced in every country all sports are drown in corruption without control. After the latest corruption scandal (which resulted fights with hooligans) the government tried to put stricter laws and they were stopped by FIFA under the threat that if they touch football then all the Greek national teams will be expelled from all international games. This applies to every country, the local representatives of FIFA (organizers and participants of the local leagues) are above the local laws.
But let’s see. Tomorrow in Brussels we will all see the first singes of what is coming. And I don’t feel very confident. We have trusted the future of the continent into the hands of the people who destroy it. Think who’s leading the commission. Nearly all of them are failed politicians in their countries with some of them have even corruption accusations in the back. Think who Solana was. Somebody who became a joke in Portugal. Not to mention the director of IMF, a failed economics minister who coasted a few billion to the French taxpayers the brief period she was minister. This woman now holds the future of Greece in her hands.

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