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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Greek government imposes more Austerity

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 8, 2012

The same worn out ineffective policies that have done nothing to help Greece come out of the dire situation it has been for years have found more support at the highest levels of the Greek government. Congress in that country had the guts to adopt more of the same hunger causing measures that took Greece from being in a bad recession to a complete and open economic depression.

The Greek government managed to give new impetus to the austerity policies demanded by the EU and the International Monetary Fund but that were again rejected on the streets and partially in Parliament, where the new austerity measures were approved with a very small majority. For Greece, however, this late awakening by some of its congressional leaders, may be too little, too late.

On Wednesday the Greek Parliament approved the latest round of austerity measures with 153 votes in favor, 128 against and 18 abstentions. One congressman was absent during the voting.

The so-called coalition government led by banker accomplice and Prime Minister Andonis Samaras, gained control of 175 of the 300 seats in Congress which facilitated the approval of the measures, despite the last-minute challenges issued by some opposition leaders.

The new austerity package includes, among other goodies, the dismissal of about 25,000 government employees by the end of 2013, reduced pensions and health co-payment.

“We voted to remain within Europe or return to the drachma, international isolation, social insurrection and civil war,” Samaras said in Parliament during the debate period previous to the approval of the list of demands written by bankers in Brussels.

“Some of the measures included in the bill that we voted today should have been adopted years ago. Others, such as wage and pension cuts are unfair and that is something we should not hide,” confessed Samaras. During the debate, which was hoarse and thick with shouts and interruptions, the opposition branded the new austerity package as “unconstitutional” in both its content and the procedure for approval.

As in many other countries, the artificial sense of emergency, gave Congress little or no time to actually read the 279 pages of the proposal that did not get to Parliament until late Monday. The same has been done in countries like the United States, when George W. Bush and the American Congress approved the TARP legislation and when they decided to bailout banks and General Motors.

Congressman Dimitris Papadimulis, warned after the vote that the new measures “will hurt seriously the Greek society and the economy” and called on the population to “prevent it” fighting against a government which he said had experienced significant losses. The rejection of the new austerity measures, both before and after the approval was clearly felt on the streets of Athens, as people participated of a general strike of 48 hours.

Before the vote was taken, anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people showed up to Syntagma Square, just outside Congress to demand the rejection of the legislation. Although the protests remained largely peaceful, the approval of more austerity resulted in riots between protesters and police. The disturbances spread along the avenues and squares nearby, where protesters resorted to burning garbage containers and destroy barricades placed along the streets.

Police actions against the protesters rendered at least 70 people arrested. Most of the Greeks who tried to put some pressure on Congress to reject the new austerity policies remained outside Parliament premises while they shouted and demanded that their voice be heard. As in all other occasions, the Greek leadership did exactly the opposite; they listened to the bankers and not their people.

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