German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Greece on EU business. A bold visit when you consider that many Greeks hold her in some ways responsible for their current economic woes. It is not so much a belief that she created Greece's financial chaos but that she has been pulling the strings of those negotiating bail outs to the troubled country. This means that those who are at the sharp end of EU austerity measures hold her to blame.
Of course it is true that she has to protect the interests of her own people. Each leader should be doing that. Some compassion is needed in such dire times though. Already we have heard many comparing the financial bail out Germany received after the Second World War to current bail outs. They of course did not have to pay money back. Yet the war it has to be said was created by Germany.
Times have moved on but of course the older generation will remember Germany during its darkest days. oIld wounds do not always heal.
Expecting protests on the streets of Athens today police were out in force. 7,000 police officers, secret agents, snipers and commandos have been deployed in the Capital. Surprising perhaps when you consider public sector worker job cuts. They are after all public servants also. Perhaps the Greek administration erred on the side of caution maintaining high numbers of police officers for when times get tough. They may be tough now but could get so much tougher.
Merkel landed this morning in Athens. Already a Swastika flag has been burned by protesters. Some you see believe that having been unable to dominate Europe by force in the past, modern Germany wants to dominate by the economic route.
Around 25,000 protesters gathered in Syntagma Square. Stcks and stones were thrown although initially the violence had only involved a minority of protesters. In the last few minutes police have fired teargas at protesters. Things are beginning to take a turn for the worse.
Teargas is the order of the day in Europe and beyond it seems. In Paris a jobs protest outside of an Auto show resulted in police firing tear gas canisters into the crowd.
There will be protests throughout today in Greece. The leader of the main opposition party Syriza has called upon Greeks to get on the streets to show Merkel the real Greece.
Late yesterday protest gathering was banned by the Greek authorities. The people have opted to ignore this ban. It is laughable when you consider the West's opinion of Russia if it tries to curb protests. As usual we play the Hypocritical card and hope people have short memories.
Apart from Merkel and the eyes of the World witnessing Nazi flag burning, plus some in the crowd wearing nazi uniforms, banners were carried stating, "Merkel out, Greece is not your colony" and "This is not a European Union, it's slavery".
And that dear readers is the truth of the matter. The elite cause the mess and carry on regardless. Those less able to pick themselves up and start again suffer. Those who worked hard to make a lfve for themselves lose everything and no-one cares. Those who run banking systems, stock exchanges and governmnet pull the strings but care nothing for the man, woman or child on the street.
Merkel is in Greece to offer support to the Greek administration given the task of formulating a workable austerity package for the country. She will not care about those who are bleeding. She wants to make sure that the cuts go deep enough. She also has a vested interest in ensuring that Greece stays in the EU. The German people have money committed to this venture.
Merkel is the first German leader to visit Greece in decades. The media may class her visit as symbolic but the Greek people may see it as a red rag to a bull. A person rubbing salt into raw wounds.
Late Monday protest gathering on Greece was banned. Most people have chosen to ignore that. It is laughable when you consider the West's stance when Russia for example tries to curb its protesters. Yet once more the West is playing the hypocritical card and hoping that we all have short memories.
Updates will follow......
The second Greek Election in just six weeks is over. In reality though it is far from over. The winner by a majority was the New Democracy Party with 29.7% of the vote. It secured 129/300 seats. Hardly a resounding vote of confidence from the people. Enough however to form a government if they can find a political party willing to do business with them.
The Greek Parliament and the people now face many challenges. First and foremost of course is forming a government and quick. Political vacuums are bad news. They can lead to military coups and revolutions.
Who the NDP choose or rather who is prepared to play ball could also impact on the Greek people. Second place in the election was won by the Syriza Party who took 26.9% of the vote and secured 71/300 seats. Such a close run race means that plenty of people will be happy with a New Democracy coalition, but many will not.
The New Democracy is a right wing party. If it works with the Pasok socialist party to form a coalition it may not work. However both of these parties are pro the EU bailout. In times like these political allies may come from opposing ideals. What is being seen as the most important factor is who is pro and who is anti the bailout.
Syriza is anti bailout. This party will be hard to ignore in any new parliament. With such a large number of seats and votes it will have a voice in government. This could mean that it will have power to wield.
Merkel in Germany and Obama in the US are happy that the New Democracy Party has won the majority. They of course do not have to live in Greece under the austerity measures previously agreed. It is fair to say that all Europeans leaders will be happy with the initial outcome of the Greek Elections. The money men and women who manipulate our lives have already expressed their pleasure. How so? By boosting the stock markets.
There is however still a long way to go.
All Antonis Samaras won in effect was the right to be first to hold coalition talks. If the Pasok Party teams up with Samaras it will be a similar situation to the UK. That is a coalition made up of the first and third place in the people's vote. Hardly the people's choice.
Both the Pasok and the New Democracy Party have governed Greece for many years. Both are therefore blamed by many for the economic crisis Greece is facing. Syriza being a fresh new party has said that it will not join forces with others to form a coalition.
No such moral stand point by the old guard.
Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos has already come up with a novel suggestion. He has proposed politicians forget the usual procedure and go for a four-party coalition between New Democracy, Syriza, PASOK and Democratic Left.
It is worth noting that anti bailout political parties saw their share of the second vote in Greece increase from six-weeks ago. The Neo Nazi Party Golden Dawn had its share of the vote reduced compared to the earlier election.
Europe may have breathed a sigh of relief but now it is holding its breath as it waits to see if forming a Greek government is possible. Germany has already warned Greece that the bailout is not open for re-negotiation.
Earlier this week credit rating agency Standard & Poor cut Greece's long-term credit rating to 'selective default'. Now credit rating agency Moody's has gone one step further. Today's downgrade has been widely reported.
According to AlJazeera
, "Ratings agency Moody's has downgraded Greece to the lowest rating on its bond scale, saying that risk of default remains high even if a bond-swap deal with banks and other private investors, due to be completed this month, is successful." " Moody's lowered Greece's local and foreign-currency bond ratings to C from Ca, the lowest possible.It would seem that Greece and its people are in a no win situation. Whatever means are taken to address their debt crisis will result in a negative impact in the short term and maybe even the long term. With high unemployment already it is very hard for the ordinary Greek people. The "fat cats" of Greece will no doubt still prosper. Many ordinary citizens though have lost their homes as well as their means of making a living. Unsurprisingly the barter system is continuing to grow in Greece. It is difficult to see what Greece can do. It is now governed by a non elected leader and nationwide elections are almost upon them. Having been mismanaged for years, by successive governments, who will want to take on the mantle, who will the Greek people choose of the Greek Parliament and who can make any real difference for the people.Whilst countries such as Germany and France who are heavily tied into Greece's debts want to protect their own interests , those of the Greek people are ignored. Shame on you all. Remember the human cost of this crisis. Is it time to let Greece go?
will receive. Greek politicians have been toiling over the cuts required since last year. The deal will secure a 109bn (130bn euro) bailout but at a price. That is to be expected. When we borrow from the bank it is always at a price. However if we are wise we stay well clear of loan sharks who demand too much back. Greece has nowhere else to go and has no bargaining power. It has been forced to accept the package warts and all. Some negotiating may have eased the cost but how viable is the situation?
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi rubber stamped this latest bail out after speaking with Greek non-elected interim leader Mr Papademos. He told Mr Draghi that all parties in the Greek government had now agreed to the measures demanded
by the EU. What about the Greek people? Those who will live with the implications of these measures on a daily basis?Whilst the EU is not a charity it is supposed to be a community.News of the deal had an instant positive effect on the stock market. Yes many will make money on the ills of Greece and its people. There will now be some alternative cuts to those which had been rejected last year. These will include
a 22% reduction in the minimum wage and a total of 150,000 job cuts in the public sector, of which 15,000 will go this year.
On the face of it this looks as if there will be one section of Greek community being hard hit and that will be the poorest. Correct me if I am wrong. Those who run countries, banks, big business and the like will prosper. Those in effect who were responsible for the mess in the first place. Pensions are in line for a 15% cut which may now be increased. Yes hit the elderly too. Papademos and his measures are supported by the far right of Greece. It is noted thati n times of cirisis in Europe the far right tend to rise to the top before all hell breaks lose.More money will be wasted at further talks in Brussels on the evening of February 9, 2012 as leaders get together once more to see if they can squeeze Greece a little further.Economists generally believe that all of this will still not be enough. As the Greek economy contracts at an alarming rate the writing appears to be on the wall.Others believe that Greece has now taken a vital first step on a long road to financial recovery. Having got itself into debt it has learned a hard lesson and must pay the price. March 20 is an important date for Greece this year and could be make or break time. Greek debt is complicated and you cananalyze it until you are blue in the face but not if you live in that country. That must be a nightmare.
One that you would rather forget.Wherever you stand on the Greek crisis
you will be a lucky person if you are not an ordinary Greek citizen. It seems clear that Greece is in a no win situation, It faces an impossible task. Those who keep propping their debt up do so due to vested interests. Long ago a different solution should have been found. Now the EU is on a treadmill that is moving too fast for it to step off easily.Greek in this blogger's opinion is doomed either way. Is it time to say enough is enough?Note: Greece has to find
€325m of cuts before the coming weekend!
A deal has been reached over the next financial bail out
It is well reported that Greece has been experiencing extreme financial difficulties for many years now. The country, its people and its government have been tested almost to the limits. Their elected leader George Papandreou was replaced by a non elected technocrat, Lucas Papademos, late in 2011. Papademos was appointed to appease the EU leaders and money men and women of Europe. Papandreou had already begun to implement measures to reign in Greek expenditure but this has now got a whole lot worse.
Whilst Greece had to learn to live within its means implementing strict fiscal measures too quickly is a recipe for disaster especially personal disaster for many Greeks. Ordinary Greek people have never been the most affluent in the World. There will of course always be some that are but the majority of Greeks struggled to eek out a living. For many now that living has gone.
As series of protests and Strikes last year held back some of the changes but they did not manage to prevent them altogether. Greece is waiting for the next phase of its EU bail out and the wolves are already baying at the door. EU leaders such as Merkel and Sarkozy still want Greece to do more. They are not satisfied with the economic cuts and want further more swineging cuts in operation sooner rather than later.
But what of the Greek People? They are the ones living with the newly implemented austere measures.
Unemployment has sky rocketed in Greece. Those without any means of support are often having to rely on charitable soup kitchens and the like. Those affected come from all age groups and both sexes. Families have been particularly hard hit.
On January 16 UK TV aired a report on the poverty Greek families are experiencing. It is so bad that many have felt their only option has been to give up their children. Whilst you may sit back and say I would never do that pause for a moment. Until you are in such dire straits you do not know what you would do. People often feel so useless they feel their family would be better off without them.
The report centred on one orphanage that was struggling to make ends meet. There are reports of children simply being abandoned on the streets by desperate parents. In such times substance abuse, mental illness and crime tend to increase which can all add to the woes of children.
Shockingly one child was left at a school with merely a note. It read "I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.' The child was 4-years-old. One children's centre had children left literally on its doorstep. And on the terrible stories go.
Do not judge those involved though as you do not know thier personal circumstances. Whilst those involved may include a heartless parent most are truly heartbroken at the loss of their child or children. Ant it can only get worse in the short term.
Pharmacists are rapidly running out of stock. Greek government policy has led to many companies choosing to sell their medical goods abroad rather than in Greece.OPINION: Whilst the EU cannot simply keep throwing money at Greece it does need help. Western people often raise funds for good causes and surely the Greek people are just that right now. You can chew over why and how they came to this terrible state of affairs but that does not help those struggling to survive. In the end the children of Greece will almost resemble those starving children of Africa. Africa has its own set of problems including drought and more. As yet Greek children still have so much more than African children hit by famine. That could all change.Greece is in a financial mess. Fact. The 1% of the World though will continue to prosper often at the expense of the poor. That cannot be right. It is a step back a few centuries. We flatter ourselves that we are civilised human beings so perhaps we should start behaving as if we are. If you are able support charities, such as UNICEF and Save the Children, that try to offer assistance to children around the world. Every little will help.Of course there could be self-centered greed still existing in Greece, the EU and other countries. You do not have to be a party to that though, do you?
Just because EU debt problems have not been headline news for a while does not mean that they have been resolved. It is doubtful that they will be properly resolved, ever. So much depends on the people of the EU being prepared to take the nasty tasting medicine being doled out to them.Whist the technocrats and EU politicians sweat over bail out packages and deals which will benefit their own countries the people of Europe will be the ones tightening their belts. They can only tighten them so far. Soon they will be at their most extreme point.You can understand the frustration of the German people. They already have a much older retirement age than the Greeks. The Greek people are fighting extending their retirement age, tooth and nail. All EU countries are having to increase the age of retirement but that offers a mixed bag.
With unemployment high, a nation of mature workers continuing to work into old age is bad news.Today confidence in Europe and the EU has begun to slip a little. Again it is mainly about Greece. The country may now have its unelected technocratic leader at the helm but as yet their financial problems are far from resolved. The country's creditors have agreed to accept Greek losses. They have said that they are willing to accept 50% losses on the debt.
In reality no doubt we will all pay for this. Greece is set to face another debt crisis any time now unless the next stage of financial deals are sorted out. What a mess. It must be time to give up the ghost?
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is hoping to have an outline for the 100 billion-euro ($127 billion) plan next week. Perhaps hoping is the wrong word. Without it Greece will be scuppered. Bloomberg have the full story.So many countries have invested heavily into Greek debt and the EU. It may have been better to have called it a day sometime go. Now it seems that we are stumbling from one month and set of problems to another. The debts increase, economies wobble and it is hard to imagine economic stability being the order of the day again.
Early this week the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that Greece would hold a referendum. It was to be on the latest round of "debt bail" out agreed with the Eurozone.Papandreo threw a spanner in the works, so to speak when he announced a possible referendum.
Since then there has been much tut tutting, wringing of hands and shaking of heads. Papandreou was summoned to the head teacher's office to go before Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel.
In the following hours media reports have claimed that he will resign, Greece will leave the EU, Greece will remain in the EU and much more. Rumours abound as they say but as yet the only clear outcome seems to be that the Greek people will no longer be voting in a referendum.
It also seems highly likely that Papandreou will go, either by resiging or being forced out by a vote of no confidence. Perhaps this could improve the lot of the Greek people, but time will tell. For now it looks likely that a coalition of sorts may take over the helm of Greece.
By the end of today, November 3, 2011, Greece could have a new leader. The G20 leadewrs meeting in Cannes today will discuss Greece as a priority as that country's success or failure will impact on so many others.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has, November 2, 2011, been summoned to France by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. Such is the dominance of the Eurozone, by Germany and France, that these two leaders have summoned George Papandreou, like a naughty school boy. Maybe it is the fact that both of these countries stand to lose out financially, big time, if Greece defaults on its debts.
A meeting of the G20 leaders was already scheduled for Cannes, France, Thursday November 3, 2011. US President Obama will join the group, leaving the USA early this evening. George Papandreaou will take part in a special emergency meeting regarding his announcement of a Greek referendum
French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy made a televised announcement to the French yesterday saying, "This announcement, that is a possible Greek referendum, took all of Europe by surprise". I bet it did. With France due to host the latest meeting of the G20 tomorrow, it may be the perfect time for Sarkozy, Merkel and Papandreou to hold a meeting and thrash out any differences.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will meet with the top Eurozone leaders. All EU leaders it seems will be in France to discuss both Eurozone matters and G20 affairs. All have been summoned as the situation as far as some are concerned, is now grave.
A short while ago France and Germany made it plain that last week's debt deal is not up for re-negotiation.
Papandreou and his party may not yet be out of the political woods in Greece just yet. The "unanimous support" offered for a referendum did not have the wholehearted support of his own politicians. This means that it is unlikely he could survive a vote of confidence in the Greek Parliament.
Update: 23.00 GMT November 2, 2011
The latest news is that Angela Merkel has told George Papandreou that a referendum must ask the Greek people whether or not they want to stay in the EU. Maybe it is part of a double bluff. Greece will be out on a limb withou7jt the EU and yet in other ways that could be countries best chance.
If Greece defaults on its debts it will remain in the EU and cause more headaches for Eurozone leaders. At least this way if the debt deal is not accepted Greece could also leave the EU. The news is ongoing and it seems currently that a battle royale is under way. As a small country, Greece would not normally be invited to attend the G20, yet of course G20 leaders will be able to decide the country's fate.
Back in Athens the Greek Parliament is reported to have begun its 3-day debate, as to whether or not it has confidence in Papandreou and his cabinet. The Prime Minster will want to be home as soon as possible, no doubt, to plead his case. Then again he may not. Few can surely envy Papandreou his position of power right now.
In what for some will have been a surprise move, the Greek Cabinet has unanimously agreed to Prime Minister Papandreou's call for Greece to hold a referendum. In doing so the cabinet has in effect put its support behind the PM. Perhaps cabinet members feared he would resign, after all who would want to take over?
Currently Papandreou is in a no win situation.
He may have been temporary flavour of the month with Eurozone leaders such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, when he went along with their plans for Greece, but it must be for the Greek people to decide their future.
As this debt crisis in Greece has lumbered on the people have seen their standard of living savagely cut, violent protests in the street and less tourists visiting this wonderful country of theirs, which simply adds to financial woes.
At least now the people can make a choice. If they vote no to the debt package then it will probably mean that Greece will leave the Eurozone. In doing so they will attack the financial future of other countries in Europe, notably France and Germany. However if unity in Euorpe, as far as an economic community goes, is not possible so be it.
Why flog a dead horse.
One way or another we are reaching a make or break time as far as Europe and the EU goes.
The Greek emergency cabinet held today, November 2, 2011, was told that a referendum, possibly in December, would offer "a clear mandate" for the austerity measures demanded by eurozone partners. If the majority of the people vote "Yes" then this should put an end to some of Greece's problems, as far as the confidence of the people, disruption and strikes goes.
Already today the markets have tumbled further, on top of huge losses experienced yesterday. You can say that the Greeks are acting in a totally selfish manner but who can blame them? Eurozone and EU unity has become something of a standing joke in recent times. Each leader is simply protecting their own back yard and trading interests. Is it time to tear up the original design and start again?
The fact that such news of a referendum can cause such chaos in World Markets leaves this writer agreeing with the Occupy Protest Movement, that 1% of the people are controlling the finances and the future of the other 99%. That cannot be right, can it?
A week ago leading members of the Eurozone thrashed out the latest debt deal for Greece. It seemed that yet another life-line was on its way to Greece and this one was less harsh than earlier debt packages. Members had worked hard to come up with the deal but, once it was agreed, they patted themselves on the back and decided all was right with the Eurozone and Greece.
On Monday the Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreous threw the proverbial spanner in the works. He calmly announced that he was going to let the Greek people decide whether to accept the bail out or not. A sharp intake of breath resounded around Europe and today, November 1, 2011, the fall out has begun.