She’s making a list, he’s checking it twice

makingalist_390_3112At 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 so-called Lagarde list was just one piece to the jigsaw created by Herve Falciani, who worked at HSBC’s IT department between 2006 and 2007, when he stole the details of thousands of customers. In 2009, Swiss authorities asked for Falciani’s arrest, suspecting that he was trying to sell the data he had hacked. In a search of the computer technician’s home on the French Riviera, local authorities found details of about 100,000 accounts on his computer. Rather than hand them over to Swiss officials, the French decided to use the information to track tax evaders. They shared the relevant information with other European Union countries, which used it to varying effect. France reportedly collected 1.2 billion euros in unpaid taxes from some 4,000 depositors, Italy gathered just 570 million euros, Spain is said to have raked in 6 billion and the UK has sought private settlements with about 6,000 people.

In each country the process was more or less the same: authorities announced they had the information and gave account holders who had something to hide an opportunity to come forward and pay their taxes. In Greece, the authorities who had the information acted as if they had something to hide.

Papaconstantinou is alleged to have never officially logged the receipt of the CD from Lagarde and to have only asked the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) to conduct a preliminary investigation into a tiny sample of the names on the list rather than a full probe. Now, he stands accused of deleting three accounts, belonging to two of his cousins and their husbands, from the list before it was passed on to authorities.

Papaconstantinou insists that he asked for a full investigation and that he had no knowledge his relatives – the two daughters of late foreign minister and New Democracy MP Michalis Papaconstantinou – were on the list. He is also adamant that he did not play any part in the alleged doctoring of the list. Despite the understandable public anger at the latest developments, which compound the impression that a select, rich and privileged few are escaping the impact of the crisis entirely, it’s in the interest of justice and the proper functioning of Greece’s institutions, that the ex-minister should be taken at face value and given a chance to defend himself.

A thorough investigation is needed not just because there may be more to the latest allegations than meets the eye but because the lack of respect for proper procedures and the undermining of Greece’s institutions is one of the main reasons we are where we are, not only in terms of the Lagarde list but as a country. That’s why it’s hard to see this affair ending just with a verdict – be it from a parliamentary inquiry or a courtroom – on whether Papaconstantinou obstructed an investigation into possible tax evasion.

The role of SDOE and two of its chiefs – Yiannis Kapeleris and Yiannis Diotis – will also have to be scrutinized, as will that of PASOK leaders Evangelos Venizelos, who succeeded Papaconstantinou at the Finance Ministry. So far, Venizelos’s explanations about why there was no proper use of the Lagarde list during his watch have been less than satisfactory. A statement issued by PASOK on Friday insists that the revelations about the missing accounts clear Venizelos of any suspicion of wrongdoing. It even asked for his critics, mainly those in SYRIZA, to apologize for casting aspersions about his integrity.

Yet, Venizelos also has serious questions to answer. For instance, why did he accept SDOE’s supposed argument that the list could not be used because it was obtained illegally, when other countries had managed to utilize it without such obstacles? Also, how did the list, originally on a CD, end up in his drawer on a memory stick several months after he left office, at a time when none of the other officials knew what had happened to it? Why did Venizelos’s ultimate successor at the Finance Ministry, Yannis Stournaras, know nothing about the list until late September, when Papaconstantinou publicly admitted he did not know what happened to it?

It is clear that, in the best case scenario, there has been a total breakdown in Greece’s institutions. The list should have been a matter for the country’s tax authorities to investigate, with the relevant finance minister checking the job was being done. Instead, we ended up with a game of pass the parcel.

The value of the Lagarde list in financial terms is not a game changer given that the total deposits amount to less than 2 billion euros. However, its value in terms of providing a moment for Greece’s political system to start correcting some of its fathomless problems and winning back the public’s trust is priceless.

Despite its continuing weaknesses, the establishment has shown some signs that it is willing to reform and instill fairness in society. While the HSBC issue has rumbled on, Finance Ministry officials searched the details of 54,000 Greeks who transferred money abroad over the last couple of years. Letters were sent to 15,000 of these people, who authorities believe could not justify their wealth based on tax records. The government hopes to recover 2.5 billion euros in taxes from this process.

This will not be enough, though. An increasingly distrusting public will want to see heads roll, which is why the political reverberations from this affair are likely to be felt deeply. If the coalition government attempts to preside over a process that simply leads to Papaconstantinou being hung out to dry, skepticism and anger among voters will only mount. Trying to continue with the fiscal consolidation program in these circumstances will be very difficult for the tripartite administration, whose parliamentary resources are limited, as are its reserves of support in society.

Alternatively, a much more thorough investigation will lead to more officials being implicated and more doubts being raised about the country’s political elite. PASOK, in particular, will come under severe scrutiny. Heading towards a party congress in February, Venizelos will be in an extremely weak position if his actions come under examination. In these circumstances, the Socialists’ continued presence in the government and even their existence as a party cannot be taken for granted.

The infighting at PASOK reached new levels on Friday, when Venizelos ousted his former cabinet colleague Papaconstantinou within hours of the financial prosecutors sending to Parliament the results of their probe into the latest version of the Lagarde list obtained from French authorities last week. In its statement, PASOK essentially accepted the suggestion that Papaconstantinou had tampered with the list, which he was accused of handling “in the worst possible way”.

Papaconstantinou, one of a dwindling number of Papandreou aides left in PASOK, hit back by indirectly suggesting Venizelos had a motive to incriminate his predecessor at the finance ministry and to block any investigation into the content of the Lagarde list.

As this Machiavellian exchange goes on, SYRIZA is moving in for the jugular. It senses that PASOK could be on its last legs and that a decisive blow against the beleaguered Socialists could deliver it a surge of support large enough to unseat the current government and make the leftists the next party of power.

SYRIZA, though, may not have to do very much to turn public opinion. A discredited political establishment could be irreparably damaged if Greeks begin to ask questions about Papaconstantinou and Venizelos based on their recent behavior as well as anything uncovered by the investigation to come. People might wonder, for instance, about the competence of these two men, who were at the forefront of negotiating with Greece’s lenders over the country’s two bailouts, deciding which policies should be implemented and understanding the consequences of their decisions for the economy and the Greek people. Greeks might ask themselves if they sent naughty boys to do the job of serious men. This realization might prove the most devastating gift of this festive list.

Nick Malkoutzis

95 responses to “She’s making a list, he’s checking it twice

  1. Without doubt we sent naughty boys to do the job of serious men (and this gentle description is far too kind for two hardened politicians) . At the simplest level of competence their failure to use the list is damning enough. Their claims to have ‘lost’ it is a pitiful joke, given that the French, English and Italian governments would have re-supplied it at the drop of a hat.

    If criminality and corruption is proved on top of this, so be it.

    Either way, we can only hope that it is good riddance.

  2. Nick there’s absolutely NO safe technical method to find out who tampered the data Unless we can get our hands on the first arrived file

    • I don’t doubt that, Peter. In a sense, though, it’s almost a secondary issue as all these guys will have to explain why the list sat there for so long without any effective action being taken. That’s a crime in itself.

      • Well it’s nothing but secondary Nick You see, from the moment Papaconstantinou ordered the file(s) to be transferred from the CD (Read-Only and unalterable) to USB (writable and thus fully alterable) the whole case changed Especially after the original CD was, so conveniently, lost (without it is next to impossible to determine when or by whom the list was altered, if at all) I myself doubt -if in position of any of the guys that “handled” the list afterwards- I’d do anything with the USB The possibilities for an ambush setup were, both technically and politically, endless.
        The above is what makes me strongly believe the only guilty in this is G Papaconstantinou and no one else
        If he hadn’t given the order (and hadn’t “lost” the CD) everything would be clear and nobody would dare to keep the files in a drawer. Now IMHO they are fully justified. They have a zillion reasonable and valid excuses for keeping it hidden.
        Happy New Year with health love and happiness:-)

      • dendrolivanos

        So? We await the latest excuses. These politicians are ‘past-masters’ at manipulation of the truth and deceitful schemes to deceive.

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  4. First things first.

    Warm congratulations to Nick Malkoutzis for a superbly written piece. This and a series of late articles by Nick show a level of maturity and gravitas which is both usual and surprising for the Greek press. Obviously Nick is on a roll and he needs our encouragement and applause to stay the course. Therefore let’s make it official: Bravo Nick this is a job well done!!!

    Now, if you allow my 2 cents on the current events of the Lagarde list. My view is that they represent politics 101 in the sense that not long ago we were talking about a government reshuffling(following the release of the latest tranch) which would have seen Venizelos take on more power and prominence in the coalition government. Therefore the immediate observation is that the Lagarde list developments put an abrupt stop to such ambitions. The timing and circumstances of such reversal of fortune for the ambitious Venizelos is a clear indicator that there is an ND and Samaras finger behind the whole thing. That ND is the biggest beneficiary of the unfolding events is by no means accidental.

    In my opinion the person who most likely buried and tampered with the list is Venizelos rather than Papakostantinou. And the whole affair would have been forgotten if Venizelos did not press for more power in the present feeble coalition government. But Venizelos is the sum of his personal ambitions (and nothing more than that) and voila here we talk about the Lagarde list when we ought to be talking about growth and the false promises of new investments in Greece which were basically guaranteed by Samaras in asking us to take the latest conium of European aid(aid is of course a euphemism for rape of sorts).

    The real crime in Greece has very little to do with this list. The real crime has to do with the state sponsored terrorism of a potential Grexit(both promoted by domestic and foreign Talibans a la Samaras and Merkel) which lead to the fleeing of roughly 65 -80 Billion euros of Greek bank deposits overseas. This ruined the Greek banking system, which was subsequently raided twice by the Venizelos PSI 1 and Samaras PSI 2 nonsense and today is in a ruinous condition, unable to support any Greek economic reconstruction.

    Not only the present government is impotent to deliver growth, or even a shadow of new investments but it has telegraphed to the whole world its intent of transferring its public burdens into the private sector in the most brutal way possible. Plus it has the nerve of inviting the same private sector absent a healthy and private banking Greek system towards some imaginary reconstruction effort. This ladies and gentleman is the biggest crime of all: the systematic transfer of public burdens on to private shoulders in a manner prohibitive of sustainable future growth. Instead of this amateurish government being liable to the Greek people for the depth of its ignorance and mismanagement, we are entertained instead and divert our attention by some Lagarde list of dubious benefits while the German Employee of the year is eating our public lunch and hides behind irrelevancy and scapegoating.

    • Let me restate:

      “Warm congratulations to Nick Malkoutzis for a superbly written piece. This and a series of late articles by Nick show a level of maturity and gravitas which is both UNusual and surprising for the Greek press”.

  5. Warm congratulations to Nick, yes! – and warm congratulations to Dean for reminding us all of the big picture. Stuck too close to the daily grind of greek news, clearly we all need a holiday. So Happy New Year everybody, and may we all keep the big picture in mind!

  6. I disagree with you, Papakostantinou for the party, . However the Tsoxatzopoulos revelations will be even more disturbing.

  7. There’s nothing quite so ludicrous as a couple of incompetent criminals.
    In the absence of fingerprints and CCTV (!!) the circumstantial evidence is so clear and indisputable that both Papakonstantinou and Venizelos,, unless they think they can continue to hoodwink the Greek populace, should both stop obstructing the serious processes of parliament with their denials and counter accusations (which no doubt they are preparing) and admit their culpability without further delay.
    Then we can get rid of them and proceed to save Greece.

  8. Nick and Dean: To let you know that in Ekathimerini I go by the pseudoname of ‘grecian7’. You may guess my actual ‘Christian’ name by translating this one, which I got on ‘worldpress’ almost a year ago.

  9. I don’t agree with any of your comments Dean. Why blame Samars and Merkel for funds leavuing Greece and not Papandreou who made promises for the first loan and did zilch. This is when many Greeks realised that he had no intentions of keeping to the original demands, and played it safe. Just who do you believe will save Greece, TSIPRAS. Where have you been living all these years, the same culprits that supported PASOK in it’s hay days are now supporting SYRIZA. Where are your investigations going, why do you consider Papakonstantinou wasn’t the guilty party, have you checked into his past record with OTE. Your remarks are purely speculative and I assure you many would disagree with your reasoning.

    • Ann:

      None of my comments are speculative. They are very well researched and substantiated. Germany has invented the Grexit terror for its own self-interest. Papakostantinou is a small fish and by all accounts not rich at all. His Deutch wife made a very eloquent plea the other day of their personal condition. I am willing to bet that Papakostantinou had nothing to do with the Lagarde list fiasco. This has Venizelos’s footprints all over.

  10. Let’s not forget the music:

  11. Just because we assume (sometimes correct, sometimes not) many Greeks are fraudsters, does that mean that Mr. Papaconstantinos must be guilty. Is there a chance he’s telling the truth and he’s innocent?

    • Yes, Sue. I think there is a big chance that he is telling the truth and this is an elaborate political show for power grab as this new coalition government considers a re-shuffle and thus deny political advantage to junior partners.

  12. Dean, you’ll have read my comment in Ekathimerini. Here it is again:

    The evidence is circumstantial; there may not be actual fingerprints but:
    1). Papaconstantinou received a CD from Ms Lagarde in 2010. It listed over two thousand names of Greeks with secret bank accounts in HSBC Geneva branch. Were details, such as balances, shown?.
    No matter what he asked the fraud investigators to do, we know that at a later date, not a CD but a memory stick was passed on the Venezelos. Why not the original CD?
    2). Now that we have a copy (from France) of the original, it is clear that sometime, somewhere several names of account holders (with details?) have been deleted.These are relatives of Papaconstantinou……..
    3) ……who says that he did not delete them. He claims that Venezelos did that in order to implicate him. It stands to reason that if Venezelos wanted to do that and IF the family names were included on the memory stick, he would have left them there for future action!
    4). But why did Venezelos not act immediately, names or no names of Papaconstantinou’s relatives? Instead, for some so far unexplained reason, he kept the memory stick hidden for two years. Did Venezelos have something to hide? Did he invite bribes from those others named; doctors, lawyers and other account holders, with the promise to delay revelation until they could transfer or reduce their hidden accounts to levels which would not invite investigation for tax evasion, and questions as to origins of large assets?

    THIS circumstantial evidence is beyond question, personalities involved,motives, actions and all.

    It seems that any prolonged arguments and aggravation, lies as usual and time-wasting is absolutely futile in this case. Opportunity for SYRIZA to do further muddy the political waters must be avoided. For once let us see PASOK admit their culpability with alacrity, maybe saving themselves from further vilification (deserved though it is).

    • DL:

      Many scenarios could have happened. Have you considered the possibility that Lagarde herself deleted the Papaconstantinou relatives names because at the time she needed Papaconstantinou’s allignment of sorts with French positions? Who knows what happened. Why assume that the Lagarde list of when she was actually the Finance Minister of France and the Lagarde list as of when she became head of the IMF are the same? Was Lagarde back in Paris when the new list was released to Greece as of late? Why do you assume that the Europeans are doves in this game and all guilt has to be found somewhere in Greece?

      On my part I assume nothing. I want a full investigation and then I will have opinions. Otherwise citizens become instruments in self-serving games perpetrated by all sorts of self-interested groups.

  13. We can add something which did not strike me earlier, but which is discussed in the most recent ‘Opinion’ about Mr Papaconstantinou who testified that he had lost the original CD, and ” he did not submit the names
    of the relatives concerned to a probe into the provenance of his and his family’s wealth. And thirdly, he did not react when the list was published without the contentious names after being leaked to a journalist.”

    • DL:

      Many things could have happened. Instead of focusing on Papakostantinou, I would focus on the PASOK leadership at the time. Most likely Papakostantinou made the pASOK leadership aware of the entire list and asked what to do next. The decision – probably – was made to take some random 20 names and beta test them for fraud. If those 20 names were found to be tax evasion cases then the whole list would be acted upon. SDOE dropped the ball on legality issues. There is a lot more than meets the eye here. When the crime fighting agency drops the ball on investigations then we have much deeper problems.

      Doesn’t it strike you as very odd the fact that only PASOK suspects are talked about on such list? Not a single New Democracy person. Not a single Samaras collaborator. Not a single right wing politician and their entourage (who by definition have most of the wealth in their hands). How is this possible? How is it possible that the Lagarde list only uncover suspects related to PASK and the defeated socialists? How do you explain this? That tax evasion is only a defeated party’s crime and the whole thing becomes an issue when the opposite party is in power and is trying to cut its coalition government partners down to size?

      • dendrolivanos

        Dean, you speculate that PASOK was consulted.
        They were the government at the time and thus would have read all the names. If ND as well as PASOK names were there, why did they not immediately take action, as did other countries, who were given lists by Lagarde, at the same time? A selection of just 20 names is ridiculously inept, unless it was an intentional ploy to divert attention from the rest.

      • DL:

        What I am saying is this. The whole Greek crisis errupted from the fact that a departing ND government under Karamanlis circa October 2009 had the official debt to GDP ratio for Greece at 3.5% and in leaving their posts they left no record behind (I am sure a tradition from old PASOK administrations also). Upon consultations with the EU Papandreou then estimated the Greek debt to GDP (within a month of taking over) to 12.65%. Provopoulos (the Central banker of Greece) said that the debt was actually 15%ish. (debt to GDP ratio)

        At that point all hell broke lose.

        Therefore my point is this: How is it possible for all sinners so far to be primarily PASOK? It makes no sense at all.

        If there is corruption in Greece the pie chart ought to show 60% ND and about 40% PASOK. The right wing of Greek politics has been feasting on Greece for ages. How is it possible for the Lagarde list to have only one suspect, namely a defeated and out of power politician (aka Papakostantinou) when the majority of corruption in Greece has been a steady profession of the Right and of course some of the Left as well for the last 100 years?

  14. One point nobody is mentioning is that Andreas Papandreou actually condoned crimes of graft by public officials as being normal. We are losing track of the main issue that not all corrupt practices were for personal gain. Where did PASOK find the funds for extravagant election campaigns, free coaches and boat trips for literally hundreds of thousands of Greeks for rallies in Syntagma. Funds for bribing local authorities, the media, the judiciary. This also applied to the ‘favoured companies’. As for Merkel wanting a Greek exit from the Euro, who could blame her if you knew what had been happening here in Greece over the past 40 years. I agree with others on this blog and Kathimerini blog, we want the EU and IMF here, we want this mess straightened out because this country is a shambles.

    • A very relevant observation.

    • Ann:

      Grexit is a fabricated term. The Lisbon treaty does not allow it.

      Therefore when you say “who could blame Merkel” you show financial and political ignorance.

      It’s a crime to fabricate terrorism terms at state level and then spread the propaganda like a Taliban on drugs.

      It is a crime punishable by law.

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  16. Do you want this country to change, this is the whole point. The only way that this is possible is to have the TROIKA here watching every move we make and EU technocrats to assist us in modernising our public system. Apart from our lack of public structure, we have a flawed constitution and a corrupt judicial system. For the first time we are seeing changes and it will take time but I honestly believe this is the only way. Look at today’s article regarding unpaid taxes. He has accused private businesses from withholding VAT, and quite rightly he states that this is stealing, which it is. However, he failed to consider the fact that many businesses have not been paid the VAT although they have issued the invoice. Why, various reasons. The customer promised to pay the following month, or an agreement was made that he would pay monthly, the payment was by cheque which when presented was without funds, etc
    . I have repeatedly explained that due to the fact that our courts take years to reach a verdict when presented with an invoice with a stamped cheque, customers invariably delay payments. They know that the company would prefer not to go to court due to the high legal costs, and if they do, then it gives them time to transfer all their assets and in fact sell the products so that the company cannot even claim back the goods. If you want growth here in Greece then you have to provide a system where a business can operate.

    • Reform is a long term process by nature and good reform even more so.

      By focusing on long term reforms you are playing the German game of responsibility avoidance and horrific damage to the Greek economy cover up.

      Insisting on things that by definition take a number of years you are neither a friend of Greece nor focused on the real issues.

      • dendrolivanos

        So, agreeing that reform of many Greek institutions is needed so that we can focus on the real issues, do you imply here that reform should be rapid?
        There are people in dire conditions of poverty to be cared for. Should the Troika money be allocated in entirely different ways? Should we be thinking about a system of support such as the ‘Micro-finance’ as seen in many ‘third-world’ countries, in the absence of major banking and loan facilities?
        Worth thinking about? In Greece there is a move back to the villages and land, food production, exchange of goods by barter, as described in Ekathimerini, and recently on Aljazeera TV.

    • Anne, you make the point that “Apart from our lack of public structure, we have a flawed constitution and a corrupt judicial system.”
      This is very true and I’ve been ‘saying’ this for weeks. I hope some journalist will take the trouble, at least, to look into this.
      The Constitution was rushed through in 1975, without much discussion (I think) and although there have been amendments since then, it can be seen as the source from which the present disaster has developed, unrestricted and unquestioned.

  17. In reply to Dean, I said I wouldn’t blame her. Come on Dean, all they had to do was to refuse to fund us, how could we afford to pay pensions to 40 year olds and our mammoth public workers running around with manilla files in their hands while the computers sit on the floors. No oil, no medication, not even enough food. No end to the corruption. I cannot understand your logic.

    • Ann:

      If someone put a gun to your head in order to rape you, would you accept it because of lack of alternatives?

      Why do you consider unethical behavior o.k. because someone has power over you?

    • Ann:

      The reason you don’t understand my logic is because your own hypothesis is both illogical and baseless.

      You are assuming – incorrectly – that the Merkel recipe is based on some scientific principal and economic precedence. Nothing of the kind. The Merkel preconditions for funding Greece are both arbitrary and never applied before anywhere in Europe or the world. They are a 100% flawed political product with not even an iota of generally accepted economic principles.

      Instead of focusing on the 100% wrong German medicine, you want to have a discussion on how soon reforms based on flawed concept could be implemented.

      What logic is this? Since when Germany is known to understand anything about economics when all the brain power of the world in such matters are in the Americas, UK and maybe the BRICS.

      Who died and made Germany Pope on economic matters? The only thing German economists understand are labor markets towards exports. For the rest of economic matters Germany is a ridiculous joke. Her acceptance in the world scene of serious finance and economics is subzero.

      Who asked you to sign up on the German nonsense with the fervor of a teenager? And why this adherence on you part to the German propaganda? When did Germany establish without a doubt that her recipe is correct when all evidence says it’s not?

  18. Please don’t be personal Dean, I am certainly not a fervant teenager, but a European that spent half my life in a Northern European country and the other half in Greece, which in many respects resembles a third world country. Germany knew that they did not have the experience to deal with our many problems and this is why they called in the IMF. Whether we are in the Euro, Drachma or barter goods, nothing would change until we clamp down on the wide spread corruption, which is the cause of our current problems. I agree with you that due to it’s geographical position and well organized logistics, Germany has become the import/export centre for Europe. This has definitely benefitted the economy there, which has given them the strong economy, however, as their economy depends on the exports to other EU countries, there is no way that they want to see poverty in any other EU countries. At the same time don’t blame Germany alone, simply because Merkel has taken the lead, none of the other Northern European citizens are inclined to support a country which has continually wasted EU funding and is notorious as a corrupt state. Every tourist that isited Greece over the past years has exclaimed surprise at the villas and new builds all over Greece. Funds that should have been spent on infrastructure, roads, rail links, waste disposal etc and modernisation of our public systems. That private citizens are now suffering hardship is a tragedy, however, for the first time we are seeing ordinary Greeks helping each other, not just family and friends but rallying to support others in need. This wasn’t the case in the past, most charitable works were handled by foreigners and a Greeks from old established money families. Logically, we can do this, 10 million people in the most beautiful country in Europe. Most of it still undeveloped, the perfect climate for agriculture, no other country with our heritage of archaeological sites to attract tourists. We need a just system, cut down the rampant corruption and that isn’t possible without help from foreign technocrats.

    • Well done Ann Baker. You state your opinion, from experience, clearly and incontrovertibly.
      I agree 100%.

    • This is 100% the German propaganda you are stating. Which both leaves me indifferent and angry to hear it repeated.

      There should be a big fine levied on people like you for being agents of German nonsense in my country.

      The first thing I would ask you to do is to pack immediately and get out. Never to be heard again.

  19. Your country Dean, I like many foreigners sold my UK business and my home there and came with my Greek husband to live here. We started a business together and employed young professional Greeks. Our company manufactured and exported and our products received commendations in the foreign press. Many foreign friends of mine have invested in Greece over the years. So who loves Greece more, those of us that have adopted her and taught our children to respect the law and their heritage or the Greeks that have destroyed it over the past years. I feel your anger is directed in the wrong quarter, instead of blaming the Germans and those of us that don’t consider they are to blame for our situation, why isn’t it aimed at the very people that misused EU funds and took away the pride of a nation. Sorry Dean I’m not packing, I will see this through along with friends and neighbours and work our way out of this shambles. No more blogs from me, I will stick to Kathimerini and leave you here in peace.

    • Ann:

      It would suit you better if you took the time to be better informed on the issues and abandon your bias about a “good” Germany. Deeds speak louder than words:

      “There is a huge difference between the public rhetoric and the behavior during negotiations, especially with the German chancellor. In public, she stresses common interests, but none of it remains once she is behind closed doors. She seems pedantic and mercantile. This doesn’t mean that the Germans should always be the ones footing the bill. But a policy of trying to avoid payment at all costs isn’t enough.

      The summit also shows that Chancellor Merkel isn’t leading, even though she ought to be. ”

      There is nothing more dangerous to democracy than ill-informed citizens:

      • @Eleni & Co.

        Not only in Greece, I guess in all member countries suspicions about ‘that EU in Brussels’ are growing. And, in my opinion, the EU bureaucrats have great skills to come up with ever new ideas which literally drive ‘normal EU citizens’ bananas (I still can’t get used to those new light bulbs and now they want to organize water consumption in our bathrooms!).

        Anyway, Greece has no reason to have persecution ideas about ‘that EU’. After all, Greece, since joining the EU, received over 200 BEUR in non-repayable subsidies from the EU out of Structural and Agricultural Funds.

        I do remember, however, that when I once mentioned in another blog that Greece has received over 70 BEUR in agricultural subsidies to date, someone came back an argued forcefully that this was part of an EU master plan. A master plan to ruin the Greek agricultural sector (and, possibly, the Greek economy altogether). Well, I think anyone who thinks that way needs to have his/her head examined.

        Actually, it’s quite simple. Greece today has the lowest EU-ranking in terms of ease of doing business and the highest EU-ranking in terms of corruption. Turn those two rankings around and Greeks will live happily every hereafter!

    • Ann, There is a psychological impasse here, manifest in a denial of reality, of the historic facts of the past 30 years, an accompanying lack of insight into the human predicament and no positive ideas about the way out of this mess. Thus we can not go along with this discussion, which is unproductive.

  20. OK, yes Dean, I managed to read about Eleni and Marina and their husbands, as you imply up-to-their-eyes. Italian naval armaments, no problem for Marina’s husband and such connections with foreign companies for Eleni….didn’t understand everything in detail. Both clever ladies!!.
    At this point I see no difference between ND and PASOK on the evidence so far (over many months) gleaned. Remember I’ve not been living in Greece for very long…mostly in West Africa, the US of A and Britain….with Greece in between.
    Well, we’ll see how it goes! .

    • My point DL and Annie is for you to not get sucked into this endless grievance case against Greece (government et al). The problem is elsewhere.

      Greece is ruled by an oligarchy and Germany eyes to replace them in the same position.

      That the Greek politicos are far less sophisticated than they ought to be, I concede. But don’t fall for the reform trap. Talking about reform and having the Samaras party oversee it is like installing Satan as the head of the Catholic Church in Rome with expressed instructions to spread Christianity. Wrong guy, wrong party. Samaras is just a German employee and that’s it.

      Wake up to the German game – which is payment avoidance at all cost – and smell the coffee.

      This is not a quest for the lesser evil. This is a very serious business at resetting the Greek clock to deliver Swiss time. Set your ideologies aside and open up your eyes. Maybe Greece has no political class capable of anything right now. It’s not like we have to place doll house and pretend we have to have a competent governing class. If we don’t have it then we don’t have it. And we are not going to invent it under artificial pressures of EU funding either.

      • dendrolivanos

        Dean, Just read this, in Ekathimerini today….and more to come for sure:.
        “A report probing the country’s three main agricultural cooperatives points toward the mismanagement of millions of euros of state money with large amounts being spent on trips and rent for senior members of the unions, Kathimerini understands.” Read on in EK.

        Is Germany, the EU, the IMF and whatever institution you choose to name outside Greek jurisdiction, responsible for this?
        Look no further than the Greek public service, which has been criminally negligent, criminally greedy, incapable, lazy, receiving baksheesh (I use this word so that you can shift responsibility to the Ottomans) abusive and grossly overpaid, with guaranteed ‘feather bedding’ and life-time security, at the expense of (in this case) farmers.

        Who are the enemies of Greece? These so-called ‘servants’ of the country, and everyone who has exploited the system which depends on the faulty Constitution.

        You can read as much as you like; absorb all the alternatives, including the reverses of policy and the varying arguments about the memorandum and its purpose, and you are left with these indisputable facts.

      • DL:

        Nobody said don’t reform Greece and shrink its public sector. But in the big picture this is small potatoes.

        BTW, since you are such a big fan of public sector reform why don’t you tell us on where and how we begin to reform the Greek military which is both oversized and obsolete? If you are such a man, instead of picking a fight with the desk job bureaucrat why don’t you show us the way of cutting the military down to size and provide Greece with a state of the art modern armed force?

      • dendrolivanos

        I re-read the comment from Eleni Gigantes.
        There will always be other considerations and hidden agenda between the givers and the takers, here the EU and Greece, which can be interpreted in several, even multiple ways. [Similarly the Lagarde list, search for the truth, is bogged down in alternative explanations of fault and counter-fault]

        Eleni, ‘forums’ is now correct in English. I got this from ‘the horse’s mouth’, a professor of poetry, who happened to be doing a course with the OUDCE at the same time as I was. We were putting our ideas, each week into the current forum. and I asked about the correct plural. But we continue with one agendum and several agenda!.

      • Ann and Dendrolivanos,

        I am glad you have not abandoned ship and thank you for the grammatical advice. In fact I had abandoned this ship, only to be drawn back in by your post.

        I am a professional, with a business (now from home to save rent) and from an ultra-upright, achingly honest, greek family. And there are many like us, I assure you, not all of Greece is sunk in theft and graft. I mention this to say that I understand your empirical observations, sympathise with your frustration.

        What I do not understand is your loyalty to Samaras and co. Only part of what they do concerns the Troika, and this is mostly the work of a decent and admirable technocrat economist, Stournaras, who is not a member of their party.

        The parliamentary soap opera aside of the Papaconstatinou affair, I would like to bring to your attention to the activities of the privatisation committee, from which Eleni P. resigned this week. One would imagine that such an important committee would be filled with incorruptibles from all sectors, since they are answerable to the greek public not only now but in years to come, and that its activities woud be transparent. But no. The committee consists entirely of consultants (like Eleni P.) and senior officers of greek “oligarchic” companies. The privatisations underway consist almost entirely of greek uber-rich interests bidding for assets. It should not surprise us then to learn that this committee has voted to drop the requirement for a % to remain with the greek state.

        Thus we see not only ND/PASOK ‘business as usual’ but a last chance saloon grab of public assets into private hands at bargain basement prices. I personally cannot be dismissive about this ‘agenda’ and see it as criminally underhand and also a form of theft.

        Unlike you, but like most greeks I feel that nothing can have a chance of changing until these parties are out of power. Note that I use the word ‘power’ and not office.

        Tsipras – whom I see you revile – is NOT the only alternative. Drasi is an alternative and they need all hands on board. You both have energy, please get involved.

        There is much to be done in Greece. If you read the Troika quarterly report you see small improvements underway. But sadly, not the enormous improvements and sea-change necessary.

  21. The Greek left incorruptable, oh come on Dean, they are the very people that supported PASOK and kept them in power, without the support of your incorruptables they would have died a death years ago. Wow now we are moving back in times, China, Russia, South America and the Far East are all capatilist countries far more so than any of us in the West, however now that the rest of the world sees that communism simply doesn’t work, Greece will show them how. If Tsipras ever takes the reins here in Greece, there will be no EU aid and in case you haven’t noticed the Middle East is at our back door.

  22. So who/where is the Greek MOSES that will lead us into a promised land,

    • There is no Moses, Greek or otherwise.

      Why should there be a Moses when “ortho-logismos” (correct reasoning, proper framing) is already part of the Greek legacy and tradition?

      • dendrolivanos

        These thoughtful, reasonable, honest individuals went out with the advent of the 1975 Constitution, if not before….buried under a mass of corruption. Let us hope for a resurrection..

      • DL:

        Are you trying to say that Greece during the junta military disgrace had a constitution and in 1975 it lost it?

        I don’t understand your point. Do you mean to say that during the Greek vermin period of 1967-1974 Greece was anything resembling a constitutional state?

        Furthermore, are you aware that the Greek constitution has been revised 3 times since then? Which part of the constitution do you want to change?

      • dendrolivanos

        Dean, ””correct reasoning” disappeared from Greece with the advent of the 1975 Constitution, and was on the way out before that. It may still be found in private discussion but is ineffective because the electorate has not applied it to political choices.

  23. Unfortunately Dean the people with these skills have thrown up their hands and left Greece. Reading your comments, you have no alternative plan and at this time there is no responsible opposition party . For this reason I still maintain that we let the TROIKA breathe down their necks so that our public structure is modernised which will make graft and corruption far more difficult. Now I definitely will return to KATHIMERINI because the ideas and sentiments on this blog are not practical enough for me. No I’m not a political animal, but I would like to see a government with technocrats instead of lawyers, actors , etc.,and one that supports private business, which we have never had here in Greece. Only the chosen few Companies that contributed to their own pockets and parties.

    • Ann:

      I understand why you want to return to eKathimerini blogosphere. It’s a typical superficial impressions place(vs. substance) where each day you could post a pre-conceived label of opinion pretty much like football fans make declarations about their teams. This gives you satisfaction as an “agitator” of public opinion rather than a contributor of ideas for public benefit.

      What you are doing there is the easiest job in the world. Display your bias and then have people waste time for your and their collective amusement.

      What we are doing here is something quite different. We forge ideas which should be first tested under the most severest conditions before we allow them to float. Unfortunately what we do here will make you feel as a student most of the times rather than in cotrol of your own tribe.

      Therefore I understand. When you want to graduate from the pre-K, censored and heavily restricted blog of ekathimerini and you feel like mixing it as a pro, we will be here or even if we are not Nick will always be.

      Just in case you haven’t noticed we have exchanged more replies here than an entire week or more on e-Kathimerini. One is a restricted environment and the other a streaming debate for which there is no rescue other than your own skill.

      • dendrolivanos

        Anne’s blogs in EK are based on practical experiences, not ‘pie-in-the-sky’ harvested from reading ‘opinion’ here and there,which suits her mind-set!
        And have you never noticed that many comments in EK diverge radically from those expressed in ‘leading articles’?

        Ann is not in the field of invention, void of factual evidence!

      • DL:

        Anytime you want to compare my practical experience in business and Ann’s be my guest.

        When was the last time you saw something deep as the Grand Canyon?

    • Ann,
      Dean’s idea is to ‘pick and choose’ where to attack. I wrote this:
      “These thoughtful, reasonable, honest individuals went out with the advent of the 1975 Constitution, if not before….buried under a mass of corruption. Let us hope for a resurrection.”.

      ….which opened the door to further irrelevent comment, simply by ignoring the ‘qualifying’ words “IF NOT BEFORE”. I did learn how to recognise this type of deceit at school. (analysis of texts) and I expect you did also.
      Dean’s superfluous comments about the 1975 constitution show that, in fact, he did not take the trouble to read and understand my comments, in EK, in past weeks on that very same subject.

      Selective, as I say, picking and choosing..

  24. To Eleni Gigantes | January 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm | (there is no ‘reply’ attached) Especially for the information about Eleni Papaconstantinou, I thank you. I do not read Greek well…I read, but need to use a dictionary. From the link Dean provided it was clear that she was in the business of privatisation, …..but not the detail. Names of foreign companies…lots of them.
    It has been in my suspicious mind that Greek ‘fat cats’ (for want of a better word), the oligarchs, unaccountably wealthy, with their hands on lots of cash could very well be eyeing up possibilities to grab publicly owned assets. So here is the means.

    I do not vote in Greek elections now. After a divorce I chose to keep my Greek name and thus lost Greek nationality. Incongruous situation. With a Welsh name I could be Greek.

    Samaras and ND, for me, fall into the same bog as PASOK. My point of view is one of eternal anxiety: the need to avoid another election. However the Andreas Papandreou premiership did nothing to enhance any opinion I might have had about PASOK.

    • ND & PASOK are in the same bog for sure…. 2 sides of the same coin. And now the only people left in these parties are the carpetbaggers.

      Dendrolivano, I recommend you download Google Chrome and sign up for their automatic translation facility. It takes 2 minutes. The translations are computer generated but understandable. Google chrome is a server like Safari or Explorer – keep the one you already have and just use Google Chrome for reading greek news. I recommend (Ta Nea), tovima, (an online newspaper) and of course

      In the meantime the best (and funniest) English language news site is KeepTalking Greece ( which can be delivered direct to your in-box.

      My mother was born in Llandarf and raised in Cardiff, so maybe we get together for tea & welsh cakes one day & talk revolution!

  25. To Dean and Eleni. Manos and DRASI would have made a good alternative to ND however unfortunately Manos is too old, they don’t apeal to the ordinary Greek citizen especially the greek youth that were looking for a young leader. Most Greeks won’t take the chance to vote for them as it will be a vote less for ND that is the only party keeping SYRIZA in opposition. I have never had any of my blogs doctored by Kathimerini, even though many have been complaining about the lack of morals shown by the press which should have uncovered most of these scandals years ago. Nor by my many disagreements with Nick Malkoutzis articles. However, I am banned from Keep Talking as I was one of the few that stated we should support the coalition simply because we need foreign technocrats to modernise our state system. I also considered it dangerous when one blogger suggested attacking policemen in their homes. I certainly don’t consider that site to be amusing, and never found any sensible suggestions for improving our situation, simply the same as all the blogs complaining but without a sensible alternative. I blog in the hopes that somebody in authority might just read my comments regarding private business here in Greece, and the difficulties faced by small companies that work very hard but are prevented from growth due to bureaucracy, corrupt government officials, ridiculous labour laws regarding wages, working hours , and over employment of the public services, which we and our workers paid for. I fel that in general the professional /g/reeks that should be setting an example to the ordinary Greek citizen have let them down by their corrupt practices instead of setting them an example. I cannot honestly blame the EU, although I agree it has many faults as we were responsible for our actions. I will stress that the worst period for corrupt practices was during the Simitis PASOK government’s period in power simply because they knew they wouldn’t win the next election. I also agree that Karamanlis was a waste of space. However, I certainly don’t want to see Nick Malkoutzis opinion that Greece could erupt into a civil war, and I feel this is far more likely under Tsipras as he has no program, no experience and his party is a hot bed of opposing priniciples.

  26. 1. On the Lagarde List:
    I hope Papaconstinou isn’t guilty, as I thought him an effective finance minister. He made mistakes, sure – the austerity was too front-loaded. But the IMF were the experts, and they weren’t insisting on only gradual fiscal consolidation, back in 2010. . But it seems unlikely to be ever cleared up, since there’s unlikely to be a record of how and when and by whom the list was manipulated.

    2. On german intentions and plans (the discussion between DeanP, AnneB and others). Here’s the most perceptive profile I’ve seen of her, in english.

    Does she have the “best interests of greece” at heart? Not necessarily, no. The account of her selection of the “domino theory” over the “ballast theory” on Greece is particularly interesting.

    It’s also blunt about just how many mistakes she’s made, and how little she tells her own electorate the truth.

    • Richard:

      Here are the German intentions for Greece. To turn her into a German protectorate/colony for economic exploitation.

      The German influence in the Greek economy is odious and suspect. Given Germany’s role in the current economic disaster, the only morally acceptable thing for Germany is to quickly divest of all of its Greek positions and exit Greece for good. The anger people feel about the German crime is beyond description.

      Take my advice: Get out! Fast and now!

      • Yes, I realise the anger people feel in greece about germany is intense and widespread. And is, of course, reflected in the various parties electoral platforms. War reparations, and all that. You’re expressing a widespread popular opinion, that has never actually made it into a formal diplomatic conflict.

        Naturally enough, occasionally a german politician makes the obvious point that it’s pretty pointless lending money to people who think that you owe them that money already, even if the various greek governments have never, funnily enough, ever got around to demanding reparations formally.

        Not just Pasok / ND either, Syriza too, in fact. It’s in their platform, but do you think anybody mentions that to Tsipras, when he’s on one of his european “socialist solidarity” trips? Hardly!

        As regards “divesting itself of positions in greece”, that’s really pretty difficult to do, since we’re in a common currency and common internal market with each other. But inward investment into greece from germany is down near zero.

        Presumably this is something that makes you happy? Despite the effect on unemployment and GDP?

      • Richard:

        The effect on unemployment and GDP based on the flawed German recipe is enormous. Are you suggesting now that after burning down the house, Germany might give Greece a hose to do what exactly?

  27. You have to understand Richard that Greeks will never take responsibility, even for their own mistakes. They have to blame somebody else, Dean and other bloggers will blame the Germans which makes them popular with their left wing voters while Golden Dawn blame the immigrants. There is however a small proprtion of us that consider it’s our own fault for cooking the books and joining the Euro, and allowing the corruption to spread throughout our system, otherwise we could have simply devalued and got back in the market. Unfortunately in a few years time we would have been back to square one as without the TROIKA hanging over us, nothing would change. You will find that 90% of Greeks living abroad are also of this opinion, probably because they saw what a hole we were digging for ourselves and that’s why they left.

  28. Let’s sum up, shall we?

    What we now know is this:

    None of the deleted people have a tax problem. The manipulation of the Lagarde list was done by Thiotis, an right wing SDOE apparatchik whose outer appearance alone invokes Mafia type feelings.

    The Lagarde list fiasco was nothing more than a failed Samaras ploy to deny more influence to his coalition partners in a possible government reshuffle.

    Nothing more, nothing less. The ploy failed and now Samaras will pay big time for it. That’s politics folks: you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

  29. Thiotis isn’t right wing Dean. Frankly don’t care if men from Mars come here, as long as some foreign technicrats sort out the structure of our public services and get them all on line. This includes all pensions, health service, employment records of public workers, a proper tax system instead of taxis, ordinance survey maps instead of land measured from the walnut tree to the rock, etc etc. Get rid of the corruption in our /Greek courts and change the /Greek constitution.

    • Ann:

      Yes, of course. It has been said that Thiotis is PASOK. But let me tell you this. Half of these SDOE people spy for ND and the other half for PASOK. Thiotis could have started as whatever but by now it’s quite obvious that he makes more money by pre-selling information to those that might be “affected”.

      As to your idea of getting rid of them all, it finds me 100% in agreement. Greece on a given Friday, by the end of the business day, ought to fire all of its public employees and by the following Monday begin to re-hire them selectively based on skill. It may take a month or so to restaff but Greece has way too much unproductive public sector whose only job is to spy on the other parties’ appointees and in the process ensuring the country comes to a grinding halt.

      • dendrolivanos

        Estimated useless public servants, in comparison with Britain
        amount to 90%! Of course an inefficient technical structure in Greece has a bearing on this.

    • I don’t know the political affiliations as you and Dean do. But, most importantly we must get all the public services sorted out and, for the first time in more than 30 years, working FOR the people, not just for the so-called ‘elite’ (thieves mostly).

      • DL:

        It’s not hard to understand. Let’s say you have 2 political teams: the Greens and the Blues. When the Blues(Right) are in power (and they have been in power for the most part of Greek history) they appoint a certain number of public sector employees completely loyal to them. When they fall from power and the Greens(socialists) take over, they too bring new public sector hires which are added to the pile of public sectorhood.

        The old guard of public sector then begins to keep an eye on the new hired class. When the Greens fall from power the Blues come back with another wave of hiring. About 50% of time spent by these public employees goes to interpret their job with strict ideological criteria. They are fully aware of what the other faction is doing, they tend to be antagonistic and also entrapping their own class of bureaucrats in the performance of their duties.

        In fact when a political party (either greens or Blues) lose power to the other, the losing party heavily relies on those permanently planted into the public fabric for information as well as for acts of sabotage against the ruling party. Think of it as a constant form of warfare where the ultimate objective is to defeat your political opponent (Blue of Green) at all costs. When you lose power you rely on your own people left behind to sabotage the enemy and thus prepare for your return. Each return to power brings a whole new class of new hires, thus replenishing the system with more of your own before your eventual fall which then your “troops” will be tasked with preparing for your resurrection.

        As you can see the whole affair has also religious and spiritual tones in which the party (just like Jesus) never dies but always comes back to life and therefore it’s an extension of divinity which then the church also blesses as a “miracle”. This all goes back to Byzantine politics where the emperor was though of to be an extension of the Divine and as such both undisputed and legitimate.

  30. Where are you living Dean and where are you getting your information from, you are completely wrong not only about Thiotis who was strong left wing and has jpoined SYRIZA but now your blog states that ND were in power here in GREECE longer than PASOK. This is completely untrue as PASOK came to power with Anreas Papandreou and from then Greece went to pieces. I do concur that Karamanlis did zilch to make necessary changes but during the past thirty odd years PASOK have been in power for lost of this period and are definitely responsible for the amount of corruption. Secondly, the public services didn’t work for any political party they worked for themselves, they filled their pockets and the last thing they wanted was any modernisation to our public structure. This is because it was easier without computerised records to cheat the system and secondly they filled the services with their own friends and family. Don’t make the mistake of blaming politicians for everything, the law courts, hospital managements, SDOE and tax departments etc., were not working for anybody else but themselves.

    • Ann:

      The political history of Greece does not start with 1974. Before 1974 the elder Karamanlis party was called ERE (Ethniki Rizospatsiki Enosi) or close to English translation National Radical Union. Before ERE there was Metaxas and the pro-royalists always gravitating around conservative and pro-German (due the KIng’s heritage) politics. The true Venizelos was the opposite party based on more liberal politics.

      Today’s Venizelos has nothing to do with Cretan heritage. His family was refugees from Asia Minor (today’s Anatolia) that changed the name to Venizelos but without any connection to the Venizelos heritage whatsoever.

      You may want to get a refresher on modern Greek history to understand how political parties after the 1821 revolution influenced Greek politics (those supporting England vs. those supporting France vs. those supporting Tsarist Russia).

      Generally speaking the old supporters of Venizelos were pro-French and the PASOK has its roots there. The more hardened pro-British, almost always pro-German parties became ND. Syriza and the radical Left in Greece has more of a Russian flavor because after the Lenin revolution the influence became more on ideological grounds rather than Great Powers.

      • As historical actuality, this, Dean, we all know this. [My own special interest is in the post second world war treaties and the ‘Greater Greece’ fiasco]

        So, please do not be patronizing. We have a big disaster NOW and that is where our minds should focus.

      • Oh yes. I forgot to warn you. Wikipedia is useful, but never recommended as an exclusive source. Certainly not by Oxford University’s continuing education department.

    • Ann:

      The Greek Right does not start in 1974. It has a odious history which you can find here:

      Hellenic State (1941–1944)

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Jump to: navigation, search

      Not to be confused with the Hellenic Republic.

      Hellenic State
      Ελληνική Πολιτεία
      Elliniki Politeia

      Puppet state of Germany and Italy



      Coat of arms

      “Eleftheria i Thanatos”
      Ελευθερία ή θάνατος
      “Freedom or Death”

      Ýmnos is tin Eleftherían
      Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν
      “Hymn to Freedom”






      Greek Orthodox

      Political structure

      Caretaker government



      Günther Altenburg


      Hermann Neubacher

      Prime Minister


      Georgios Tsolakoglou


      Konstantinos Logothetopoulos


      Ioannis Rallis

      Historical era

      World War II

      Battle of Greece

      6 April 1941

      Battle of Crete

      20 May 1941

      German withdrawal

      12 October 1944


      Greek drachma (₯)

      Map shows the prefectures of Greece and the Bulgarian annexation of Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace.
      The Hellenic State (Greek: Ελληνική Πολιτεία, Elliniki Politeia), also translated as Greek State[1] was the official name of the collaborationist government of Greece during the country’s occupation by the Axis powers in the Second World War.

      [edit] Background

      After the fall of Greece, General Georgios Tsolakoglou was appointed as Prime minister of the new Greek government on April 30, 1941. As King George II had left the country with the legitimate Greek government in exile, the new regime avoided all reference to the Greek monarchy and used Hellenic State as the country’s official, generic, name. The collaborationist regime lacked a precise political definition, although Tsolakoglou, a republican officer, considered the Axis occupation as an opportunity to abolish the monarchy, and announced its end upon taking office.[2] The existence of a native Greek government was considered necessary by the Axis powers, in order to give some appearance of legitimacy to their occupation, although it was never given more than an ancillary role. The country’s infrastructures had been ruined by the war. Raw materials and foodstuffs were requisitioned, and the government was forced to pay the cost of the occupation, giving rise to inflation, further exacerbated by a “war loan” Greece was forced to grant to Nazi Germany. Requisitions, together with the Allied blockade of Greece, resulted during the winter of 1941-42 in the Great Famine (Greek: Μεγάλος Λιμός), which caused the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people.

      The Hellenic State lacked the infrastructures and latitude for action to face the great difficulties of the Occupation period; it was also devoid of any political legitimacy, and was widely considered a puppet government. Tsolakoglou demanded greater political rights for his government, and soon threatened to resign.[2] The proclamation of a mandatory work service in Germany for Greek citizens proved widely unpopular and hastened the fall of Tsolakoglou : on 17 November 1942, he was sacked and replaced by his deputy, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos. The new government announced that 80,000 Greek citizens were to be sent to Germany. This led to widespread demonstrations and strikes, and the decision was eventually revoked.[citation needed] Logothetopoulos, who had protested against the measures taken by the Axis occupation authorities, was himself sacked on 6 April 1943. Against the wishes of the Italians, who favored Finance Minister Sotirios Gotzamanis, he was replaced by Ioannis Rallis, a monarchist politician. Rallis, who was looking beyond the German withdrawal from Greece to the restoration of the post-war political order, and who was alarmed by the growth of the mostly Communist-dominated Greek resistance, obtained German consent for the creation of the Security Battalions, armed formations that were used in anti-partisan offensives.

      The collaborationist Greek government ceased to exist after the withdrawal of German forces and the liberation of the country in October 1944. Although Tsolakoglou, Logothetopoulos and Rallis were all arrested, the restored monarchist government made no major effort to punish collaborators: this contributed to the escalation of political enmities in Greece, which in turn played a part in the outbreak of the Greek civil war.[3]

      • And before the war there was Metaxas’ so-called ‘soft’ fascist coup and dictatorship, which only somewhat redeemed itself on 28 October 1940 when he said “Oxi” to the Italian demand to ‘move through’ Greece, ie invasion.
        When push came to shove, fascist brotherhood came 2nd.

  31. I sold my business in the UK and my home and started an electronics business here in Greece. After thirty five years, I can only agree with Antoinette. The corruption has spread from the top throughout Greek society. That there are still honest citizens, I agree this is logical otherwise our country wouldn’t run at all. The comments regarding the fact that once a business starts to make a profit and show it’s face in the international market then the wolves are at your door is quite correct. Nobody can do anything here in Greece unless we have the EU/IMF breathing down our necks. There is no point in having any programs for growth until we can produce an environment where it’s possible to run a business, which means cleaning out our public systems, law courts first, because this is the source of corruption here.

  32. Dean, When I said that I do not know the political affiliations I mean where particular persons stand with their aims and behaviour and in fact their philosophy. I’m talking political philosophy, not political science which is what you have you have given: a list of historic facts which are well known and which have been described and analyzed in detail.


    • DL:

      Even if you knew the philosophy it would be hard to derive any useful conclusions. The situation in Greece is fairly simple.

      Greece is an economic disaster due to actions @ EU level and Samaras – in theory – the most conservative and theoretically able to fix.

      In reality though, Samaras has dealt a catastrophic blow to the Greek banking sector (which apart from tourism and shipping is the only “other” endogenous industry) to ensure his EU funding. As a result Samaras can not engineer growth. Structural funds from the EU and similar are not enough and are largely wasted because they go after fashionable projects such as solar installations for example which are subsidy driven and not a real(lasting) factor to the economy.

      In order to fix the economic situation in Greece one has to apply 100% macroeconomic solutions instead of 100% political schemes directed by Merkel and others.

      Greece is an economic disaster zone induced exclusively by faulty European politics. Once you understand that, then an effective economic remedy needs to be completely independent of said politics. You might also get a sense of why really nothing currently available leads to any solution.

      This is all pretense theater. Pretending to reform, or even reforming in the process, but without an ability to reach closure. The Greek government needs to abandon its collaboration disaster, restore its banking by removing the false terms of current recap and private participation (not a chance for such participation under the current terms) and begin to restore its own economy via growth(which the current plan prevents in reality but not in rhetoric).

  33. I simply implied, originally, that I (as a relative newcomer) do not know what the particular intentions (if that suits you) of certain individual politicians involve. Really it does not merit another ‘tour de force’ of your often stated opinions!

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