αναδημοσίευση

Εκεί που έλεγα πως ντρέπομαι να ταξιδεύω και να λέω «είμαι Ελληνίδα», μου ήρθε από το διαδίκτυο η δημοσίευση. Το ρεπορτάζ, από την άλλη άκρη του Ατλαντικού που μεταξύ άλλων, καταγράφει την άποψη της κόρης μου και την συμμετοχή της στους αγανακτισμένους. –Ανεξάρτητα από τις επιφυλάξεις μου για το πώς εξελίσσονται ακόμα και τώρα τα πράγματα, εκεί-

(η γενιά της που είναι πιο σίγουρη πως δεν συμμετείχε στην βρόμα, ταξιδεύει σαν ήχος και σαν φως με το κεφάλι πιο ψηλά, πιο γρήγορα και πιο σεμνά)

http://www2.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/story.html?id=4907320

Greek reforms spark unrest as country’s finances spiral

Peter O’Neil, Postmedia News
Published: Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ATHENS – Facing off against a wall of shield-wielding police protecting the Greek parliament, demonstrators gather here daily to bang pots, blow whistles, chant slogans and flutter their hands as a sign of contempt toward politicians who must decide this month whether to accept another brutal, foreigner-imposed austerity package.

Mostly students and the young unemployed and under-employed, they have wildly divergent ideas but are united in the belief that they aren’t to blame for Greece’s debt catastrophe.

In many ways they’re right, according to Athens-based hedge-fund manager Jason Manolopoulos, the Greek-Canadian author of Greece’s ‘Odious’ Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community.

Politicians have for years run a corrupt, inefficient system enjoyed by business elites who pay little, if any taxes, he said.

One outrage is a pension system unable to determine when recipients die, so thousands of Greeks born more than a century ago still get cheques that are greedily cashed by surviving relatives.

“Politicians have been running the show like a fiefdom,” said Manolopoulos, 36, who was born in Greece but spent his early childhood in Ottawa.

Demonstrators gathered for the 14th straight day Tuesday as Prime Minister George Papandreou looked for ways to convince his own governing party to accept a new dose of pain.

The International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank are demanding more austerity and a stronger effort to sell about $70 billion in government assets, including ports and utilities, by 2015 in return for the next instalment in July from a $160 billion EU/IMF bailout unveiled last year.

There are also reports that Greece will need another $85-billion bailout.

Papandreou, who won a vote of confidence from Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a recent visit here, has a narrow parliamentary majority but is facing a potential revolt from some backbenchers. He issued a threat Monday to hold a referendum on the austerity plan to cut spending this year by another $9 billion on top of last year’s restraint measures.

The threat came amid growing worries inside and outside Greece about the government’s ability to follow through on its pledges.

“Greece is at a critical juncture and has no time to waste. Now is not the time to slow down,” Bob Traa, the International Monetary Fund’s senior representative in Greece, told a conference in Athens on Tuesday. Counter-pressure from the street is also building. On Sunday, a massive crowd – police estimate 80,000 but others have pegged the turnout at as many as 250,000 – gathered on and around Syntagma Square, near the Greek parliamentary buildings, to voice their anger.

A demonstrator told Postmedia News on Syntagma Square last week she was scared and frustrated, but didn’t know how Greece can escape its fiscal quicksand.

“I don’t have a proposition (or) something new to say,” said Yanna Klitsa, 29, who for four months hasn’t received a single paycheque from her company in the educational-services sector.
“But if I can only be here with my presence, I think that helps also until we find out what to do.”

Klitsa is part of what many analysts say is a unique development in a country famous for its massive and sometimes violent protests. The peaceful daily gathering here, inspired by the Indignado movement in Madrid, is described as the first time such a demonstration has not been the handiwork of political organizers or the country’s powerful unions.

Yanis Varoufakis, who addressed demonstrators at the square Tuesday, said young Greeks shouldn’t be expected to know the solution to a $486-billion debt that now represents about 150 per cent of the country’s annual economic output.

“Of course there are no answers, we’re in the midst of a crisis,” said Varoufakis, who teaches political economics at the University of Athens.

Varoufakis, who is proposing a massive debt-restructuring plan to save and eventually revive Europe’s gasping PIGS economies (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain), said the crowds share a collective logic.
“Most people understand one thing and they understand it well – we cannot keep on borrowing at high interest rates in order to pay off bankrupt bankers while we are being ridiculed throughout the world as a spendthrift nation living off other peoples’ loans,” he told Postmedia News on Tuesday.

“They don’t know what to put in place, and there are some downright dangerous ideas about what to do. But they know this has to end.”

Both Manolopoulos and Varoufakis said the IMF and European Union are avoiding the inevitable by refusing to discuss a restructuring of Greece’s debt, which would require lenders to take a “haircut” that some fear could trigger a regional or global liquidity crisis.

Traa reiterated Tuesday the IMF’s opposition to a restructuring of Greece’s private-sector debt due to fears of a confidence crisis in Europe’s banking system.

“The fate of the Greek sovereign and the banking system remain closely intertwined. We do not favour a sovereign restructuring scenario,” he said.

While the Greek-Canadian Manolopoulos said restructuring should coincide with massive reforms to trim Greece’s bloated public sector and sieve-like tax collection system, Varoufakis said reforms in the current climate are counterproductive.

Any step that removes even more money from a shrinking economy will only worsen the country’s economic prospects and reduce the likelihood that Greece will ever rebound to the point where it can handle its debts, he said.

“A country which is in free-fall is unreformable,” Varoufakis said.

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