Mythmakers and problem solvers

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis for Cartoon Movement

A few years ago, Greece’s slogan for attracting tourists was “Live your myth in Greece.” The onset of the economic crisis seems to have given license to some people to make up their own myths about Greece. At regular intervals since 2009, they have ignored the complexities and various – domestic and international – causes of the Greek crisis to boil it down to a stodge of clichés, stereotypes, falsehoods and misinterpretations (accidental and deliberate).

It was alarming to hear an intelligent man like European Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen apparently became the latest member of this burgeoning group of politicians, policy makers, journalists and experts engaging in mythmaking. “It is difficult to convince people in countries like Estonia and Slovakia, where the average wage is 1,000 euros to lend to a country where the average wage in the public sector is about 3,000 euros,” he is reported to have told an audience at the Economist conference in Athens earlier this week.

It’s not clear where Asmussen got this number from but the facts indicate he plucked it out of thin air. While there are some public sector workers in Greece that earn, or cost the state, 3,000 euros per month or more, they are mostly limited to the Foreign Ministry and public utilities. A study of Greece’s civil service commissioned by the government and carried out last year by independent consultants found that the average monthly salary (annual pay divided by 12) was 2,077 euros before tax.

So, why does it matter that Asmussen made this mistake while speaking to an audience of a few hundred people? As Greece has found out to its cost, negative news spreads very fast. Within minutes of the ECB official speaking, his comments were being widely reported and another Greek-related misnomer had become an accepted part of public debate.

“In Slovakia, people live off a monthly pension of 280 euros and salaries stand at about 400 a month,” Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said during a visit to Berlin a day after Asmussen’s speech. “It is very difficult to explain to those people why Slovakia contributes to assisting countries where wages stand at 3,500 euros.”

And, there you have it: within 24 hours the promulgation of a falsehood created another fissure in the eurozone.

Standing next to Fico when he made his erroneous comment was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who did not deem it worthwhile to correct the Slovakian premier. Maybe she can be forgiven for not knowing the details, although that didn’t stopped her last year when she has publicly presented incorrect date about Greeks’ retirement ages and vacation time. What’s more worrying than Merkel’s inaction is that several members of the Greek Cabinet spoke after Asmussen at the Economist conference but none of them sought to correct the ECB official.

One of those who spoke at the Athens conference was Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis. To his credit, Manitakis had sought to put right another gross inaccuracy regarding Greece a few days earlier. An article in the local press, which referred to an unpublished troika report, claimed that the government had broken the rules it agreed with its lenders on public sector hirings. News agencies picked up the story and within hours the world was reading that Athens was flouting the terms of its bailout agreement.

The report was far from the truth and even alarmed International Monetary Fund representatives in Athens. In his statement, Manitakis explained that a change in the hirings rule in 2011 had led to Greece exceeding its recruitment target by just 1,057 civil servants. Troika sources, meanwhile, confirmed that Greece is on course to reduce the number of its civil servants it had in 2009 by more than 100,000 by the end of this year. The target is to have 150,000 fewer than by the end of 2015.

It’s true that PASOK and New Democracy have shown a reluctance to implement an evaluation process in the civil service and root out the bureaucrats who don’t deserve to stay in their jobs. Instead, they’ve sought to slash numbers through an attrition of older public sector workers retiring. It’s cowardly and it’s counterproductive but it’s not evidence of Greece shirking the demands made by the troika on this particular issue.


However, targets being achieved or narrowly missed don’t make as good a story as Greece steadfastly refusing to comply with its loan agreement and continuing to happily pay for a bloated public sector. An article about the woes of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) based on the notorious quote (from the 1990s) that it would be cheaper to send passengers by taxi rather than by train makes entertaining reading. An article which takes into account that the company was restructured in 2011 and that its operational arm, TRAINOSE, turned an operational surplus for the first time last December is more of a challenge to comprehend. Unburdened by a debt of almost 11 billion euros, which passed to the state, and operating an overhauled timetable with staff on reduced wages, TRAINOSE slashed a deficit of 187 million euros in 2010 by 87 percent to just 33 million last year. OSE, which is responsible for infrastructure, turned a profit of 15 million euros last year, according to figures published by the company a few months ago.

OSE, though, is also a good example of why Greece’s lenders have genuine reason to be frustrated. A number of legal complexities, which the government has failed to clear up over the last two years, have prevented the railway company being included in a portfolio of state assets that could be privatized. In fact, almost all efforts to generate revenues from privatizations have stalled so far. The current coalition government has promised to kick start the project. It will have a lot of lost ground to make up and trust to rebuild.

Greece has given the world abundant reasons for criticism both in the run-up to this crisis and in trying to deal with its fallout. It has failed, among other things, to close down superfluous public organizations, slash waste in the state sector, implement the liberalization of closed professions, reduce bureaucracy, speed up its justice system and overhaul its tax code. This, however, does not justify those who regularly give the impression that nothing is being done.

For all these failings, we should not forget that Greece has reduced its deficit in the middle of its worst post-war recession by more than almost any developed country has managed before. That’s not nothing, it’s something. While structural changes have been painfully slow, the OECD ranked Greece top of all its members states for reforms in 2010 & 2011. That’s not nothing, it’s something. Greece has not reined in public spending enough but some 100,000 people will have left the civil service by the end of this year. That’s not nothing, it’s something. Greece hasn’t cracked tax evasion but it’s employing new know-how and more than 500 evaders have been arrested since November. That’s not nothing, it’s something.

If we add up all these somethings, they’re not enough – much more must be done, and done quickly. But we should not lose perspective. At the start of this crisis, Greece started way behind most of its eurozone partners because of years of indifference, corruption and political timidity. Catching up would be a huge task at the best of times. Doing so when it is going through one of the longest recessions in modern international history, while dealing with the effects of political and social upheaval and constant speculation about the country’s future, makes it a painstaking process.

That’s why it’s so worrying that officials of the calibre of Asmussen – who spent part of his Economist speech praising Greece’s fiscal adjustment – should indulge in inaccuracies and perpetuate common misconceptions about the Greek problem. This constant repetition of clichés gives the impression of an international community that is happy for Greece’s situation to be reduced to a simplistic broth of character flaws and national backwardness, making it a so-called “unique” case. This provides the eurozone, ECB, IMF and banks a screen behind which they can hide their own responsibilities. Why speak about the flawed architecture of the euro, undercapitalized and overexposed banks and misguided austerity policies when you can focus exclusively on Greek weaknesses.

It’s not as if this tactic has not been used before. Greece’s case is often likened to the collapse of the Argentinean economy more than a decade ago. So, it’s interesting to go back to read the words of Paul Blustein, who wrote the seminal study of Argentina’s crisis “And the Money Kept Rolling In (and out)”. While accepting the tax evasion and corruption that many focussed on as factors in bringing about Argentina’s problems, he added: “But as reprehensible as these problems may be, they were peripheral contributors to the problem that was brewing… Just as Argentines will be better off accepting their own heavy responsibility, the international community will be better off confronting the facts of its role in the story.”

It seems this lesson has not been learned. This should be of urgent concern to Greek policymakers and those within Europe that realize a recovering Greece within the eurozone is in everybody’s interests. If Greece appears not to want to be saved, it is much easier to justify casting it aside. It will give those who want to cover up their own failings a scapegoat. Greece’s political elite will blame unyielding European and international forces, while those outside the country will point a finger at a nation beyond salvation. Those who want the best for Greece should be alarmed about the sarcastic comments made this week by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde – who recently had to clarify her controversial comments regarding tax evasion in Greece. She spoke of not being in the “mood” for negotiations with Greece, when the bailout program allows modifications following each quarterly review, and about the “excellent” numbers she expects the Greek side to present, when she knows that a deepening recession and the politically instability of the last two months will ensure the numbers are terrible.

At this delicate and crucial stage of the crisis, Greece and its genuine partners must wrestle back initiative. It is incumbent on the country’s decision makers to prove they are making the necessary changes to justify the continuation of assistance from others. They have to show to the world they’re willing to reflect the overwhelming public support for progress and are not content to just pander to the special-interest groups they’ve exchanged favors with for the last few decades. But they’ll need the support and understanding of those within Europe who appreciate the complexities of Greece’s problems and the challenges it faces in addressing them. In short, it is time for the problem solvers to put the myth-makers in their place.

Nick Malkoutzis

50 responses to “Mythmakers and problem solvers

  1. Louna Coumeri

    This article, as all the others, is really ‘something’!

  2. Another very well-balanced article, giving both sides of the issue, apart from
    doing the work for Greek government officials who should be putting things right, if they are monitoring what is being said publicly by EU officials about Greece. Well done, Nick!

  3. Another enlightening piece of writing which demonstrates the scale of the problems faced in Greece and gives a clear indication that there really are some things happening.
    I would like to think that this piece and your excellent response to Cameron have been read by Samaras,Lagarde, Merkel and other EU leaders.

  4. Estevao Veiga

    Dear Nick,
    As always, it is a pleasure to read what you write, but even if Joerg Asmussen is wrong, it still looks to me that his main point is not invalidated with your numbers. With your numbers it will look like these ““It is difficult to convince people in countries like Estonia and Slovakia, where the average wage is 1,000 euros to lend to a country where the average wage in the public sector is about 2’077 euros.” May it be possible to you to address this point of the argument?

    • First of all, the inaccuracy worries me because it seems to be part of a pattern. EU officials and European politicians express public views on Greece every day. You could make a very long list of all the times they have overestimated the size or importance of a problem. If this comes from misinformation, then out of respect for their own position and their counterparts in Greece, as well as the people of this country, they should get the facts right or refrain from comment.
      On the issue of 1,000 euros vs 2,000 euros, there is a danger of going down a very slippery path if we start creating divisions within the EU based on what we each earn, etc. Put simply, Greece had a more developed economy, it has been a member of the EU since 1981 and the eurozone since 2001. Wages in Greece had been rising longer than in the other two countries mentioned. It’s just an economic fact. As is the decline of these wages over the last three years.
      I’m not sure what the argument is here: It would be morally just for wages in Greece to be the lowest in the eurozone. This would collapse the Greek economy. The plummeting demand has already fuelled the recession. Greece has already reduced its minimum wage by 22% and by 32 percent for young people.
      Maybe taxpayers in Slovakia and Estonia also need to ask the French and German banks why they were lending to a country whose economy was in the terrible state that everyone has documented over the past few years. Then, maybe they should ask why their money was used to bail out these reckless lenders, not just the reckless borrowers in Greece.
      You know I never deny Greece’s culpability in all this but I am very concerned that so many people are looking for a convenient scapegoat to explain a complicated problem.

      • i disagree. Current problems are just showing, greece was not more developed… It was just paid on future bill. and future is now for greece i dont see reason, why countries like slovakia( which are more develop, but simply are not overpaying their people.) i am from czech , and i am very, very very happy, we doesnt have euro.

      • just 1 point more. for slovakia it is not even 1000. it is much less – its around 725EUR…

  5. Estevao Veiga

    Dear Nick,
    Thank you very much for your answer, how happy I would be if I discover one day that you have a powerful job on the government!

  6. Marios Lamprou

    Thank you Nick !!

  7. (Let me repost due to typos)

    Let’s get straight to the point. This article is a willful mis-attribution of the problem and the required solution.

    The problem, as it exists today for Greece, is caused 80% by a failed experiment in austerity engineered by amateurish Merkel policies. Whether the flawed austerity policies are contrived to give an advantage to Germany or an honest mistake by a nation that has no tradition in Nobel prize economics (but rather an emphasis in labor law) is a topic into itself.

    The other 20% of the problem is indeed domestic. Greeks need to improve governance and state efficiency, and this is the task where the article postulates that there is no time to lose.

    Such postulation is wrong of course because reforms of this type require serenity and collaboration at the political level (non existent yet in Greece where parties promote vastly different approaches to the problem), continuity of governance (also non existent at the present) and a bi-partisan approach to short, medium, and long term planning(also hardly evident in the Greek situation).

    Therefore, no matter how many strides and breakthroughs one could achieve for the 20% of the problem, it hardly makes any dent in solving 100% of the problem. This does not mean that Greece should not reform; it should. But such reform will take some time and effort, a stable political environment before anything of value manifests itself.

    Meanwhile, the ever-present austerity nonsense which by now constitutes a gigantic failure across Europe destroys any reform gains as well as acting like a negative feedback loop erasing any meaningful progress on the 20% front.

    And because the purpose of this blog is not really to make friends or follow the wisdom of the crowds but rather to find the truth, I will insist on my previous positions and critique. Which is, that by highlighting and emphasizing the lesser potent part of remedial program for Greece, one becomes a willful collaborator with those who would like to see Greece fail and her citizens harmed. And that is an issue of tremendous responsibility for a journalist, especially in Greece were journalism in the past has played the role of a king maker.

    Consequently rest assured that the new Greek government is fully aware of the challenges involved and by openly taking positions which notoriously challenge its competence and game plan, one actually produces more damage than good.

    What I dislike most about these type editorializing is the patronizing tone of a zealot who has absolutely 100% convinced himself of the righteousness of his mission and proceeds to evangelize the rest of us.

    But this is precisely what Merkel does. She has firm, rigid positions which constantly fail her and perpetuate the eurocrisis (Merkel krize, if you ask me).

    There is a fine line about viewing yourself as an apostle of positive change and acting as a Taliban in absolutist implementation. Problem solvers tend to be highly specialized professionals with a proven record in their field of expertise. Problem solvers are not the product of pressure produced by public anger and indignation.

    The Chinese have a saying about this reflecting their long and rich history spanning 6000 years (a point of similarity with Greek culture):

    They say:

    Never FORCE solutions to problems because then you create new problems.

    Take a minute and reflect on this distilled wisdom because it’s all you need to know about this crisis which has been been a product of forceful, yet erroneous, solutions from the very start.

    • “Willful mis-attribution”… “Wilful collaborator”. Great stuff Dean. I tell you what, when you come to Greece, you can arrange a court marshall and have me shot at Goudi and solve Greece’s problems.
      “Patronizing tone of a zealot”… “100% convinced about the righteousness of his mission”… “evangelize the rest of us”. You have the temerity to accuse me of this? For months, the only contribution you have made is to blame Merkel and attack anyone else who has questioned you. Dean, I cannot decide whether you are a hypocrite or a comedian.
      To set the record straight: I have consistently criticized the way this crisis has been managed by the troika, particularly the austerity policies. If you choose to wilfully ignore this, that’s your problem.
      I won’t, however, be an apologist for the Greek government when it makes mistakes (and it has made plenty). You say that the Greek government is fully aware of the challenges but allow me to have my doubts. Would you say, for instance, that a political elite that awards 1,300 parliamentary employees 1,000-euro bonuses for working a few extra hours following the last two elections is one that is in touch with the problems the country is facing? The public anger and indignation you mention is not just caused by Merkel, it is also caused by domestic decision makers who are unwilling to dismantle the nests they have feathered at the expense of the majority of the Greek public. Sitting in your office in California, or wherever it may be, it’s probably difficult for you to appreciate this.
      The other miscomprehension that you have is that you believe Greece can somehow will Merkel away. Well, she’s not going anywhere and even if her party loses to the Social Democrats in elections next year, don’t expect the German position to change much.
      This crisis has been mismanaged by the troika but it’s been mismanaged by Greece as well. We never had our own plan, our answer to the memorandum. As a result we are in a bind: the austerity is killing the Greek economy but Greece cannot survive without the loans it’s receiving. The only realistic way to change this is to win back the trust that has been lost (through reforms) and in parallel convince the troika to relax fiscal targets. This will keep Greece in the game as the eurozone moves toward a different approach to its economic problems, including a fiscal union, banking union, ESM recap and Eurobonds.
      This is the only realistic solution that the current dynamics in Europe present. Your dreams of a Merkel dethroning are wishful thinking and the luxury afforded to a man who can muse about these things from a distance and who doesn’t have to deal with the imperfect solutions available to Greece.
      Finally, remember that you are a guest here and as such I expect you to show me and other contributors the respect you receive. If you’re not prepared to do that, you can take your views elswhere.

      • Yet the government you seem so eager to criticize has been in power for a few days and has yet to declare its official agenda (hopefully today will do so). This makes you then someone who wants to criticize for the sake of criticizing. Or in other words someone with an agenda.

        Focusing on Merkel is the correct way to resolve the problem because her contrived “solutions” are arbitrary, have nothing to do with economics and have all to do with Germany’s joking for position in a yet to be completed European integration scheme. You say that Greece is in a bind because if Greece does not do as told then she receives no money. That, right there, is an arbitrary connection imposed by a semi-ignorant, certainly financially illiterate power whose only purpose is not to assist a partner state in need but rather to contain her self-imposed perception of potential losses.

        As to the rules of blogging conduct you are invoking, sorry but this is about my country. I am not a politician and I am not asking for your or anybody’s else vote here. This is all about the truth and nothing but the truth. The fact that some of your readers have never read Plato’s allegory of the cave and choose to live in the shadows it seems to me that is their problem not mine.

        If you can’t take the heat then stay out of the kitchen. And if you want to be treated as a detached, dispassionate voice of reason in matters concerning Greece then you better start with the image you have already created for yourself. You are far from being unbiased and you and your readers need to practice a bit more the “know thy self” stuff rather than opining about the contents of my “office in California”.

      • Dean, I’m not eager to criticize any government. I will criticize if there is something I feel should be brought to be people’s attention. In the article, I make only one criticism of the current government: that they let an ECB official tell an innacuracy about Greece without any response from Athens. It is in this government’s interest that they set the record straight. Greece has been losing the communications battle over the last three years. It’s time we stepped up our game. Beyond that, tell me where you see a criticism of the coalition in this piece, whose purpose is to defend Greece and the progress it has made under difficult conditions.

        Whatever we think about Germany’s position, it won’t change overnight. In fact that’s not how the EU or the eurozone works. The changes are incremental and take time. Greece’s task must be to stay in the game so it’s in a position to take advantage of the changes when they do come. There is nothing wrong with putting pressure on the Germans, in fact, it’s absolutely necessary. In the meantime, though, Greece also has to get on with putting its own house in order. We will simply get laughed out of the euro if we’re asking the Germans to change their stance while we fail to make further progress with our public administration (tax collection, civil service, land registry, justice system, etc).

        When I write commentaries, I express my opinion. As is the case when anybody expresses an opinion, it is my view of things and will be an expression of my beliefs and interpretations. If for you or anyone else, this is interpreted as bias, then so be it. Contrary to what you say, I have cultivated no image for myself, nor do I seek to do so. I share news and comment about Greece and other issues, nothing more, nothing less.

        This brings me to my last point. You are welcome to come here and disagree or express your views. However, I will not accept you attaching defamatory epithets to my name. I will also not accept you twisting what I have written or intentionally misinterpreting so it can fit your view of things. You claim to be a man of intellect but this behavior is cheap and degrading.

      • Nick:

        Now that the program is out in the open, you can proceed with any points you want to make. It just became available a few minutes ago.

    • As you’re a regular on this blog, Dean, (to which I’m fairly new) I read most of your comments. I will insist on what I wrote previously, also in response to one of your, let’s say more colourful criticisms levelled at our host, Nick Malkoutzis: different readers, different viewpoints. It’d be nice – indeed, it’d be appropriate, given the tone of the blog – to allow for the mere possibility that other opinions than your own are valid, don’t you think?

      Personally, I’ll be ever grateful to Twitter for leading me to this blog; all articles I’ve read so far are of an unusually high calibre, and a real pleasure to read, even though their topics are anything but (and even though I may occasionally disagree with a certain view). It’s also clear that here’s a journalist who, unlike scores of his colleagues (and unlike scores of high-powered officials, such as today’s guest-star, Jörg Asmussen), takes pains not only to check his facts but also to put facts above personal political inclinations as much as possible; a very hard task to which not everyone is equal (I hope you’re reading this, Jörg).

      Speaking of fact-checking, it’s Merkel-Krise, by the way.

      • Fini:

        Indeed, as you say. Nick’s prose and style of writing were never in question. His skills in the art of writing are better than mine.

        However, the point of our argument is not technique, rather it is substance. The serious and truly important matters of the state (any state) are matters of life and death to its citizenry and as such ought to be vigorously debated.

        Rhetoric has been an art admired in our democracy since ancient times and the art of persuasion was considered to be a gift given by the Gods.

        Yet rhetoric is not an art I personally excel in and as such I don’t wish to deceive anyone otherwise. Mine is a mission about the truth, no more no less.

        Before you plunge in back into the Merkel-krise, you may want to understand the essence of the Greek endeavor to achieve an ideal city (Polis) and its governance (politics) courtesy of Yale University:

        P.S. See if you can watch all 4 videos related to this one(you will be prompted at the end of the video). Plato’s “Politea” is truly a master piece.

      • BTW Fini:

        Let me give you an example of what we ought to debate here:

        PSI aka Possibly Stupidest Idea ever by Frau Ignoramus:

        So, while Merkel is eating our breakfast, lunch and dinner we are debating instead the merits of speeding up the process of meal preparation.

      • Dean, I’ve written critically of PSI several times. But guess what, they’re not going to take it back now. And certainly nobody would listen to Greece’s complaints about its unfairness at the moment. We have lost the communication battle and we have lost our credibility. It’s important we fix this quickly so people start listening again and that we can build alliances in the eurozone. PSI placed them one step closer to forcing Greece out of the eurozone while minimizing the impact for the financial sector. We have to avoid playing into their hands.

      • estevao veiga

        “The serious and truly important matters of the state (any state) are matters of life and death to its citizenry”
        “Mine is a mission about the truth, no more no less.”
        Last time that I heard somebody speaking like this, the guy was in a tribunal in Norway being accused of having killed 70 children.

      • Dean is clearly a passionate guy, which leads him to step over the mark sometimes. I hope we’ve cleared that up now and we can all continue to debate things here.

      • Agreed on what you said about the PSI, Nick.

    • Er, I was talking about the spirit of the articles, rather than about technique, but never mind. Apart from that, in my view, reducing a complex web of problems to a single thread – Angela Merkel – seems like a pretty pointless exercise.

      Sure, there is some superficial comfort to be derived from the feeling that an overwhelmingly tangled, huge mess can be contained within a single figure (most religions rely on this), or a single people, but both recent history and ongoing developments indicate that identifying Merkel as the source of all, or even most, Euro-evil, or indeed as the main malefactor of Greece, is as much a myth as the ludicrous, deplorable, and damaging notion that Greeks are the source of the Eurozone’s troubles.

      • PS I realise that I ought to add: Merkel’s bright ideas have had pretty dark consequences so far, not only on Greece and the Eurozone as a whole, but also, I’d argue, on Germany. So this is by no means to say that I’m defending Merkel in any way. My point is, she’s an impossibly long way to go to achieve the notorious near-omnipotence of Terminator, if you recall that caricature. And she’s had lots of help in damaging Europe from lots of politicians, bankers, and lesser mortals, i.e. regular voters across the EU.

      • O.k. Fini.

        But in politics you need to reduce things into a symbol or a figure that everyone could understand.

        So, I think calling Merkel Frau Satan kind of focuses the mind. Don’t you?

  8. Estevao Veiga

    Dear Dean,
    it beggar belief that (your words):
    Such postulation is wrong of course because reforms of this type require serenity and collaboration at the political level (non existent yet in Greece where parties promote vastly different approaches to the problem), continuity of governance (also non existent at the present) and a bi-partisan approach to short, medium, and long term planning(also hardly evident in the Greek situation).
    Constitutes 20% of the problem.
    Why is it so important for you to present Greece as a victim and not as an actor of it’s fate? By being a victim, you are impotent, by being an actor, you can progress. Is that what you wish to your country? To be a backward place, always dependent on the good will of others?

    • The law says that when any entity(Germany) acting as a monopoly causes damages (in this case the complete and utter wrecking of an economy) such party is then liable for treble (3 times) the regular damages.

      This is not about victims and actors. It’s about guilty parties, innocent citizens and the full application of the law in dispensing fairness and justice.

  9. Estevao Veiga

    Dear Nick,
    Please, don’t feel concerned by Dean interventions. Leave it to us to demean ourselves by trying to distill wisdom on him. Your blog is too good for us to lose it due to the interventions of somebody who is scarred and, by consequence, impervious to reasoning.

  10. Plassaras vs. Rest of the World

    Dean, I’ve got to hand it to you! I have gotten used to the fact that you would provoke violent dialogue among some of the weirdos who comment on Yanis Varoufakis’ blog but I would have never thought that you would manage to draw emotions with the participants in this honorable blog. As I have told you before – you should enter Greek politics. You really can excite people!

    But how about channeling your energies into positive and constructive (and perhaps even polite!) directions? Believe me, you do yourself the greatest disfavor by essentially discrediting any good points your are making through the rude if not even offending way you bring them across. Your points deserve better than that!

    Let me give you a personal example. Whenever you start on your routine that the taliban Merkel is to blame for everything, I automatically tune out. In the process, I may not even enjoy positive points of yours which may come afterwards.

    I have always found it nice when one can agree with others that one does not agree. It would just be so much nicer if you simply disagreed with others instead of telling them that they are full of something. I have been blessed with my fair share of attacks from you. I can tell you that they don’t make one feel good.

    Can you do that? Yes, you can!

    • Yes, Sir Herr Klaus! Will do. The offensive part is stylistic. You should know that by now.

      And BTW it’s nothing compared to what the Frau is doing to my people.

      BTW, here is a nice series for your entertainment:

  11. Estevao Veiga

    The offensive part is not stylistic, it is offensive. And bring nothing of value to the marvelous blog of Nick.

  12. estevao veiga

    “But in politics you need to reduce things into a symbol or a figure that everyone could understand.”
    If the people that you feel at ease with is the dumb ones, why on earth you are reading, and writing, on the blog of Nick? I am sure that the average reader of him is exactly the inverse, people who are interested on nuances, shades of gray, intelectually demanding articles, and not over simplifications.
    People who are interested in over simplifications read tabloids, not Nick.

    • Ah o.k.

      So let’s try to solve a problem crucial to Greece and her citizens by the use of nuance, grey areas, general accusations, mal-attribution of causes, false but intellectually stimulating nonsense with the occasional use of inverse hypothesis.

      Just in case you haven’t noticed, we’ve done all this and found Greece falsely accused. While the true criminals continue to roam freely and induce further damage.

      I get it. What you are saying is that in the long run we will all be dead and then Germany might escape her well deserved attribution of this horrific crime. As long as her bloody hands are covered by the appearance of civility and other cute French mannerisms.

      Because as Frau Incapable has stated on many occasions what Germany needs is a bit more time until more time is needed.

  13. Estevao Veiga

    Since this blog is in English, what you do with this kind of intervention is confirming the stereotype that many foreigners have about the Greeks.
    If this is your aim, you are succeding.

    • You lost me there. Why would the language be of any consequence? Is truth different in Greek than in English?

      If you are trying to say that this blog if for “birds of a feather flocking together”, then you should know why I am here. To tell these birds to take their features and do something useful with them. Last thing I want you to do here is to develop negative associations as well as breed misinformation and falsehoods.

  14. Estevao Veiga

    When Nick writes in English, he is allowing foreigners to have a different perspective that the one who appears in their newspapers.
    But, when every paper that he writes is followed by an intervention that confirm every prejudice that we may associate with Greece, the intelectual laziness, the lack of manners, the arrogance, etc… The message is lost.
    If your aim is blackening the reputation of your country, you are succeding.
    Is that your aim?

    • No. But I fail to see your aim.

      What’s with your obsession about how our country should be governed? and who asked you to have an opinion about our internal matters in a manner that seeks to emphasize the incomplete knowledge of outsiders with those on the inside(Hint: Check the title of this blog)?

      Frankly speaking I find it ridiculous that you wish to impose your point of view on matters completely out of your depth.

      And please cut out your patronizing tone. You are in no position to square with me on matters of my competence.

  15. Estevao Veiga

    I will be the first to appreciate your competence if, and when, you show it.

  16. Estevao Veiga

    And my aim is a simple one. That you stop blackening the reputation of the country of my children.

  17. Estevao Veiga

    My children speak the same language as you and have the same passport. But they are several times more polite 🙂

  18. Estevao Veiga

    And before you ask me which one of the national languages, they speak both, Greek and German, so they can understand when their boss is speaking :-))

  19. Estevao Veiga

    Bestimmt Herr Dean!

  20. Pingback: The chicken or the egg? « The Prodigal Greek

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