Greece chooses neo-Nazi to occupy Council of Europe position

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 25, 2013

The presence of Eleni Zarulia, a member of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party (18 seats) as Greek representative at the Council of Europe has provoked a storm of criticism over the ambiguous position of the Government of Athens. European anti-racist groups have criticized the executive for failing to veto the participation of Zarulia, who once described immigrants as “subhuman”.

Zarulia, wife of the leader of the ultra, Nikos Mijaloliakos, spoke last year about the qualities “subhuman” immigrants, of which she said “have invaded the homeland”, to then “fill it with diseases.”

Several lawmakers showed opposition Zarulia’s presence in the European body, as well as that of Hungarian Tamas Gaudi Nagy, from antisemitic party Jobbik. They raised the possibility of expelling party delegates who were “racist and anti-Semitic”, in allusion to both.

The Italian Christian Democrat Fiamma Nirenstein recalled Monday that the values ​​of these formations, and the opinions of both-are inconsistent with the Council, but the Procedures Committee finally approved their credentials on Tuesday, stressing that its acceptance “should not be interpreted as an expression of support or recognition for their actions, ideals or political positions, which are different from those supported by the Parliamentary Assembly in its 63 years of existence. ”

Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe – no relation to the European Union – the European States have 47 members and is responsible for issues such as legal standards, human rights, democratic development and cultural cooperation.

But the incongruity splashes especially the Greek executive, whose main party, the conservative New Democracy (ND), had pledged in December to its coalition partners to exclude Zarulia as Greek delegate. In a statement released Wednesday, the European anti-racist organization EGAM described the decision by the Greek government as “indefensible” and a double game of the prime minister, the conservative Andonis Samaras, for allowing the presence of neo-Nazis in the Assembly.

After his initial commitment, Samaras changed his mind and, in a motion filed by the other two members of the government, the socialist PASOK and the moderate left Dimar, Samaras’s party abstained, allowing Zarulia, along with delegates from other Greek formations represented in parliament to be part of the pan-European body.

Samaras’ abstention may have to do with the the support of PASOK and SYRIZA. ND and SYRIZA are locked in a political brawl that worsens by the second, following acts of violence that have dotted the country in recent weeks: homemade bombs against five journalists and the brother of a government’s spokesman, an attack with Kalashnikov against ND headquarters and the explosion of a handmade explosive device on Sunday at Mall of Maroussi (Athens), the largest mall in the country. ND accuses SYRIZA of not condemning the violence sufficiently and Samaras of distracting from the crisis, which enters its sixth year.

The last chapter of this bitter and open warfare is a video in which a Syriza deputy presumably calls the Greeks to take arms. The video was aired on Wednesday by New Democracy, and in it, viewers can see Vangelis Diamantópulos suggesting that citizens should arm themselves in response to the crisis. ND accused SYRIZA of taking phrases out of context.

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Greeks Going Back to their Farming Roots

by Tania Georgiopoulou
ekathimerini.com
September 1, 2011

«Here you can go a week without spending a single euro over here,” says a man who moved back to Crete two years ago to live in the village of his birth. “You get fresh food from your farm and if you need something extra, like olive oil for example, you can get it from a fellow farmer. You only need money to pay for your gas and bills,” he says.

He is not alone. For the first time in years, Amari Valley in the island’s Rethymno district has turned green again as fields have been cleared and put back to use as farms.

Recent data on farming in Greece show that the number of jobs in the sector has gone up by 38,000 between 2008 and 2010. This increase is in stark contrast to the grim statistics regarding rising unemployment across most other sectors.

However, a closer examination of the data shows that these born-again farmers are for the most part pensioners trying to make some extra money — particularly by cutting down on their cost of living. Between 22 and 32 percent of those who have taken up farming in the past couple of years are aged between 45 and 64 years old. Some 70 percent of the latecomers in the Epirus region in northern Greece are over 65.

Giorgos Christonakis, a former employee at Hellenic Petroleum, lives between Athens and Amari. “After I retired, I went to look for a house in the village. I have since planted vegetables, I have my own olive trees and I plan to grow wheat so I can make my own bread,” he says. His children, he says, are not too keen on moving to Crete, so he has to travel between places. “But if the state breaks down and I end up losing my pension, what will happen then? At least we will have an alternative; we won’t starve to death.”

A friend of his, 60-year-old Pandelis Zoumboulakis, grows beans and tomatoes in that same valley. Zoumboulakis, a former municipal employee, retired two years ago but has yet to receive his first pension payment. His housing loan installment cannot wait, however. “I get an 800-euro advance on my pension each month. We are lucky my mother chips in to help,” he says.

His children are now independent, and the couple have returned to their family home in Crete to work the land. “We’re not doing it for the money; but at least we know what goes into our stomachs,” he says. “More and more people are coming back to the village to do the same,” Zoumboulakis says. His cousins from Athens recently visited the island to plant some trees. “When they retire in a few years, they plan to move here too,” he says.

On the island of Chios, the collection of mastic from gum trees, an age-old tradition, is experiencing a revival and production last year rose by 20 percent.

Lefteris Karakatsanis, 74, migrated to Germany in 1963 before trying his luck in the United States. In 1994, after he retiremed, he returned to Chios to live with his wife. In the early years, his pension was enough to afford them a decent life. As the euro rose against the dollar, it became harder for them to get by. “At least I make some mastic and we manage to earn some extra money,” he says.

“Mastic is a very good product,” says Giorgos Avdeliodis, 57, who used to work for the Public Power Corporation (PPC). He cultivates mastic trees, but also breeds animals. “Goats, chicken, pigs — mostly for our own consumption,” he says.

For many people on Chios, mastic collection is for pocket money, says Christos Koukouris, a retired naval officer and member of the island’s mastic production board. “But it’s still a tough job.”

Greece may Collapse in August, Economist

CNBC

A restructuring of Greek debt could happen as soon as August, when the Balkan country is due to receive another tranche of funds

The collapse of the greeks may just have been delayed, not avoided.

from its lending agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union, according to Carl Weinberg.

“You can’t take a country that’s over-borrowed and make it more creditworthy by lending it more money,” he said. “They’re throwing Greece further and further and further in the hole by not addressing the problem directly and properly.”Asked when a Greek default could happen, Weinberg answered: “at High-Frequency, we are advising people to take their cell phones on their August vacation.” He said a Greek default would be “harsh” for the euro.

Greek officials did not respond to CNBC.com requests for comment.

On Thursday, Nassim Taleb, professor and author of the bestselling book “The Black Swan,” told CNBC that the economic situation today is drastically worse than a couple of years ago, and that the euro is doomed as a concept.

But famous investor Jim Rogers said now may be a time to buy the single European currency, as there are so many investors who are bearish about it that a rally may be in the making.

IMF and EU funds worth about 7.5 billion euros ($9 billion), crucial for Greece to be able to pay foreign debt, are due to be disbursed at the end of August, Weinberg said.

“Unless (Greeks) meet the quantified adjustment targets that they agreed to in the memorandum of understanding with the IMF, they won’t get this money,” he said, adding that his bet is that Greece will not meet the criteria.

EU Won’t Let Default Happen

Under the memorandum of understanding, performance criteria include ceilings on the budget deficit, cutting government and social security spending, as well as revamping key public companies.

However, other analysts say the implications of a Greek default on the euro zone’s financial institutions and economy are so great that the two institutions will disburse the funds even if the country does not fully meet the criteria.

“By alimenting Greece, we are also alimenting the European banking system,” Hans Redeker, global head of foreign exchange at BNP Paribas, told CNBC.

“It is going to be tried to be protected as long as possible, to be sure that this country is viable economically,” Redeker added.

A Greek debt restructuring, if it happens, would be an orderly one, to cause as little pain to the euro as possible, Weinberg said.

Watch the testimony from Economist Carl Weinberg.