At this time of year, lists are usually a cause for celebration but this festive season there was no Santa Claus bearing gifts for ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, PASOK and Greece’s political establishment as a whole. In fact, following revelations that the Lagarde list of Greek depositors at HSBC’s Geneva branch was doctored, all of the above will feel as if the Grinch has come along to steal Christmas, which came early thanks to the disbursement of new EU-IMF bailout funding on December 14.
The seriousness of the accusations against Papaconstantinou cannot be underplayed. In late 2010, when he was finance minister, he was given a CD by his French counterpart Christine Lagarde containing the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts. Papaconstantinou was part of a government, led by George Papandreou, which had promised to clamp down on tax evasion. There is no evidence to suggest that all or any of the Greeks on the Lagarde list are tax evaders but under Papaconstantinou’s watch, authorities in Athens treated the data they had been given as if it was useless or even dangerous.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read my thoughts and share theirs. All the best for 2013.
Here’s an excerpt:
19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 89,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
Illustration by Manos Symeonakis
I have received a number of comments (positive and negative) regarding my response to David Cameron’s suggestion of a block on Greek migrants in the case of a euro exit. Thanks to all those who read the piece and took the time to comment, even if they disagreed.
A number of issues have been raised in these comments and I thought it might be useful to group the common themes in a Q&A by way of a response. This will be my last comment on the issue as I feel there is no use in dragging it out. It’s clear Cameron was saying something for domestic consumption and, as opposed to it as I am, I think dwelling on it simply breeds further division at a time we’re in desperate need for unity.
The UK is within its rights to block immigrants from another EU country
I am not an expert on EU law but from what I have read, the UK does not have the right to unilaterally block the entry of citizens from another EU member state. The free movement of people is one of the EU’s “Four Freedoms”. Article 46 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union prohibits the restriction to this free movement on the basis of nationality. Article 224 of the EU treaty requires any member state to consult with the others if it intends to prevent the functioning of the common market, even “in the event of serious internal disturbance affecting the maintenance of law and order, in the event of war or serious international tension constituting a threat of war.”
Discussing the situation in Greece with Revolution Boston’s Jeff Santos:
On KCRW’s To The Point show with host Warren Olney on Wednesday, June 30
On Revolution Boston with host Jeff Santos on the same day.