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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 August 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 AUGUST 2015 27 OPINION LETTERS Germany’s obligations to Greece Undoubtedly WW2 history is relatively fresh, well-documented and the evidence of atrocities are still visibly available in every corner within the Greek domain. Yes, some of the Nazi perpetrators were brought to justice and jailed, but that does not mean Germany's obligations to Greece must be erased and forgotten. Whatever Germany's Nuremberg court did to their Nazi leaders is an internal matter and has only some kind of emotional relief for the Greek victims and nothing more. We cannot accept that punishment as an excuse to forgive their atrocities, forget the unspeakable crimes committed against Greeks and to not demand they restore the damages they caused to the nation they destroyed. If we accept that logic, then all Greece has to do is bring to justice all those who caused this financial catastrophe, jail them and deny any responsibility to the loans they contracted. Obviously this logic is wrong and definitely will not be followed because the article does not talk about emotional merits but about practical steps to be followed in order to reach at the root of the problem on why Greece keeps losing every case against Germany in every court of law. Just a few months ago Greece lost again the case seeking justice for the victims of Distomo (www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distomo_massacre). On 10 June 1944, for over two hours, Waffen-SS troops of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Lautenbach, went door to door and massacred Greek civilians, reportedly in revenge for a partisan attack. A total of 218 men, women and children were killed in Distomo, a small village near Delphi. According to survivors, SS forces "bayoneted babies in their cribs, stabbed pregnant women, and beheaded the village priest." Compensation demands As the matter of reparations and restitution between Greece and Germany is not closed, survivors and relatives of the victims made claims for individual compensation and sued in the German courts and the European Court of Human Rights, which could have made Germany liable for several bil- lion dollars in reparations. The claims were denied by the European Court of Human Rights and by German lower courts, and in June 2003 were rejected by the Federal Court of Justice. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled in March 2006 it didn't have to pay compensation to individuals seeking damages over war crimes. This alone is a disgrace and an ugly stain in the books of justice system and we must make it our number one priority to demand the full publication of all the court decisions on these cases to find out what legal logic was used to deny justice to Greece. This is the main point and the bottom line of the article which is the purpose of publishing. My motivation in writing this article was not to collect emotional merits but to suggest pragmatic steps to correct the wrongs. Hlias Sourdis Manila The crisis As I was reading Dean Kalimniou's opinion piece on Saturday 15 August, pictures starting floating in my mind, like the little islands we visited during our recent travel to Greece, that seemed as if they were floating in the calm, blue sea. And although no-one snatched our two-euro worth souvlaki, we came across many desperate people (yes, they are people, and desperate, and hungry). You cannot avoid them, they are everywhere; like the disabled person who, without a miss, parked his wheelchair outside the local supermarket in Thisio, Athens, a handwritten sign asking for donations, and the radio playing songs at hand. I could not describe him as feeling miserable - he seemed happy being there, and getting any donations people could offer. I can say that this was his little happy world, seeing people coming and going, striking the occasional conversation with the local, escaping his loneliness and isolation. Or, this 80-year old, blackclad and bend yiayioula, asking if we could buy a packet of tissues worth 50 cents; giving her two euros resulted in her frantically searching her pockets for change, and when I said "no, keep it, it's OK", she insisted on me accepting at least another packet. I couldn't help but stop and give to every person begging some money, filling my pockets with change every day in preparation. Once, I overlooked such a person; "Dad," my son said, "what about him?" pointing in his direction. I felt that somehow a message has gotten through, especially when later in Chania, Crete, my daughter asked me to buy a soccer ball for the neighbourhood kids she was playing with, because theirs had too many holes and required constant pumping. My brother, residing in Athens told me: "Don't give, they are professional beggars." I noticed it too: the same people seen over many days, same places, begging. I suppose if you are without work, it can become a daily ‘profession’ to beg, since every day (like any employed ‘professional’) you will need money to buy food. However, I decided to change tactics: waiting at a pizza place at Liontarakia, Heraklion, Crete for our pizza to arrive, a young girl came begging for money. I refused, but told her that if she would like to come and get a few slices of pizza when they arrived, she was most welcome. She said that she'll be back in five minutes (a true professional, she did not want to lose time waiting!), and indeed she came back, took her slices and left with a smile. Not even five minutes had passed, and another pregnant woman (a teenager, maybe 19 years of age?) came asking us to buy roses. Again, I offered her the food option, and since she was pregnant a choice: pizza or souvlaki? She opted, very humbly, for souvlaki, and we went next door. Having surveyed the surrounds, I asked her if the little boy waiting further and surveying us was her brother, and we got him one as well, together with drinks. Thanking me, she tried repeatedly to give me a rose, for free, but I said "another time"; these roses may be counted one by one, and the money for missing ones may create trouble - this is the reality. I noted, though, that the shop owners and waiters Have Your Say LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you agree with Tsipras’ decision to quit and call for snap election? 51 % YES 49 % NO THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Should Gayby Baby documentary (about 4 children raised by gay parents) be screened at schools as part of curriculum? Yes/No Vote online now. Go to neoskosmos.com Published by Ethnic Publications Pty Ltd (ABN: 13005 255 087) of 169 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122. Printed by Rural Press Printing, Ballarat. 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Editor-in-Chief: Sotiris Hatzimanolis News Editor: Journalists: Christopher Gogos Michael Sweet Anastasia Tsirtsakis, Nikos Fotakis, Zoe Thomaúdou, John Pyrros Nelly Skoufatoglou, Contributors: Anthony Stavrinos, Dean Kalimniou, Theodora Maios, Alexandra Manatakis Proofreader: Graphic Design: Peter Kelidis Angela Costanzo Email your letter to: email@example.com were not hostile with all those people. Instead, they were conversing with them, making jokes, and even trying to give them this extra bit of ‘something’ when one did not have the right amount at hand. I suppose the saying ‘we all boil in the same kettle’ is applicable somewhere here. I enjoyed my holidays, I ate well, I drank, I swam, I visited places. But I also came back hurt from what I saw, afraid of what may follow. Should the grocer not throw in the garbage bin the halfrotten melons, but instead put them in a box next to it, knowing that people will take them? Should my sister carefully place any food leftovers in a plastic container and hang it outside the communal rubbish bin, knowing that at night people will come silently and take? (and that is not in Omonia, but Pangrati). So far I have always refused to visit places like Bali, Thailand, Burma, because I did not want to go and enjoy myself, knowing that a few metres behind the ‘paradise’ people are going hungry, suffer, are being abused. And sometimes now, when my mind thinks of these places, Greece is starting to get included, slowly, like in a slow but deadly stranglehold. I know also that there are some Greeks with a lot to answer for Greece's miserable state; but to hear so many affluent and well-off Australian compatriots exerting affluence in abundance and towards Greece in general is sad, especially when the vast majority of those welloff Aussies, migrants nevertheless, came here back in the ‘50s with a suitcase in hand, from an impoverished village, and starving. Let's be a bit more Christian (or Jewish I will argue) and try and help our compatriots in need - the crisis is starting now. Stelios Piakis Victoria What is wrong with the system What is wrong with this flawed democracy that we all brag about and praise as an ideal system of government but fails to provide? What is wrong with such a system that ultimately encourages corruption at the expense of the people who put their faith and hope for a better future? What is wrong with the leadership that promises one thing to the electorate and then stabs them in the back to remain in power? What is wrong with pettypoliticians and ‘representatives’ of the people who fail to act on behalf of the people but thrive on self-indulgence? What is wrong with the Greek people who fail to learn from their mistakes and continue to elect unworthy politicians and petty political parties? What is wrong with us all who continue to support such a flawed system knowing that it thrives on lies, nepotism and corruption? It is evidently clear that people here in Cyprus and Greece have both been betrayed by; the political elite; the parliament; the government; law enforcement agencies; the judiciary; the banking system and by other failed institutions. To the dismay of the electorate, Greece is having yet another general election, for the reign of power has broken down; it broke down because the existing disgraceful system protects the establishment and not citizens. The election of the SYRIZA party offered hope that oneday great changes were about to take place in Greece but instead they fizzled out; just like Mr. Anastasiades' shallow promises that have betrayed peoples' trust. Without a Revolution of the Mind nothing will ever change. That means people need to speak out against social injustice in demand for catharsis and a socialconscious education system (paidea) that produces ‘anthropous’ to think for themselves and not drones. The current political system offers no such possibility and neither any incentives nor examples of good citizenship in a caring compassionate society. That is what's wrong with the system of government and its time for a complete rethink. Andreas C Chrysafis Cyprus Please note that the submission of a letter does not guarantee that it will be published. We reserve the right to edit your letter for clarity, grammar, spelling and style. Letters that use inappropriate language will not be published. All letters published will include the author’s name and location. Comments posted on Neos Kosmos’website, facebook and twitter pages can also be included for submission at the editors’ discretion and will be edited accordingly.
22 August 2015
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