Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 September 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2015 27 OPINION LETTERS On Greek thyme and hard times A taxi ride through the Peloponnese is an eye opening experience. It's about 300 kilometres and a threehour drive from Kalamata to Athens. The fee is €250, or about $380; more than half a month's income for the average Greek. The views are breathtaking and the air is redolent of thyme and oregano. In the seventies and eighties the same trip could take up to seven hours by roads that meandered dangerously through precipitous ravines. There is no doubt that the European project has brought a great deal of progress to Greece. It's most striking contribution is the road system with its tunnels, highways and freeways. Long, wide thoroughfares lined with daphne plants and ample blue signage that provides directions. With these also come the omnipresent tollbooths which welcome you to each prefecture. They are a reminder that nothing is for free. Another feature of the Greek landscape is the endless concrete outlines of buildings abandoned half way through construction. Mile after mile, the silhouettes of pillars and slabs stand eerily against a solemn background. Abandoned tractors and olive groves, cars without numberplates and people without smiles. Millions of dreams that have been put on hold for Greece's European and international creditors. The average Greek has paid dearly for their 'European membership'. It's obvious on the faces and in the stoops of people on the street. The elderly are everywhere, distracted and broken. The young have left or are leaving. More than 400 'austerity suicides' a year and rising; unemployment, hopelessness, shame. 'Lazy Greeks', 'liars', 'launderers', 'Greek drama', 'Grexit... ' There's no end to the insults and innuendo. Many Greeks are convinced that what is happening in their country is some kind of conspiracy. The feeling of victimisation is palpable everywhere. The 'Europeans' want to prove a point. The Germans have no shame for WWII crimes. The British have the Parthenon Marbles, the Turks have Cyprus and Greece's northern neighbours taunt them with statues of Alexander the Great and Phillip II. The whole world is simply out to get them. One cannot help feeling that the Greeks are also suffering from a collective depression. There is very little to celebrate anymore. Weddings and christenings are a rarity. On the other hand, every day another humiliated and grief-stricken Greek ends their life. Referendum or not, 'Yes' or 'No', the general feeling is that nothing will change. The European Union was premised on an idealised symbiosis of nations; a kind cosmopolitan paradise of free movement, trade and cultural exchange. What it failed to take into account, however, was the gaping disparity between the living standards of the northern and southern states. Economies with different infrastructures and speeds were presumed to somehow keep up with each other; the advancing and poorer south with the advanced and affluent north. These were somehow expected to merge and ultimately coalesce into one great European family and economic powerhouse. It was also presumed that the southern European could somehow, overnight, morph into a northern European. No one is arguing that the Greeks are not responsible for a great deal of their woes; even they acknowledge this. Generations of corrupt politicians, institutionalised nepotism and complacency have all brought them to where they are. However, one can only take so much. It's time for some forgiveness so that people can begin the healing process. The IMF recently called for a 'considerable portion of Greece's debt to be written off'. It is understandable that many in the EU resent such a suggestion - particularly when there are other states that are also suffering. With an unemployment rate of 26 per cent and over 50 per cent amongst the youth, there is nowhere to go but down or out. Soon all of Greece's youth, brains and skilled workers will have left the country, which means there will be nobody left to pay the debt anyway. The Germans may indeed have a legitimate point about having to foot the bulk of Greece's bill, but ultimately, something and someone's got to give and perhaps now is the time to do it. Dimitri Gonis, lecturer in Modern Greek Studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia Dilemma: Citizenship equality There is a positive mood in the air created between Mustafa Akinci and Nicos Anastasiades, but one has to wait and see what happens next. What is for certain, however, under the present climate, is that Cyprus is to become a two-state nation, albeit some fancy terminology of a Bi-zonal Bi-communal Federation. No European country would ever accept such a solution through a military foreign invasion in their countries but it’s OK for Cyprus - a Pontius Pilate solution. The question arises, ‘where does it stop?’. What will happen tomorrow if other ethnic minorities start to demand a separate enclave within the new federation? In theory, if the Turkish Cypriots can break up the republic and win an autonomous state, others may also demand the same treatment and that's the dilemma: what does citizenship equality actually mean? Certainly not to enjoy special privileges others do not have. All Band-Aid solutions would incubate more conflicts in the future just like they did before. The only feasible democratic answer is to reunite the island as one nation and one citizenship; one-man-one-vote; equality and freedom of religion protected by rule of law. But most importantly, to revise and change or even scrap the badly flawed Cyprus Constitution and start from the beginning. This is a perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in the history of Cyprus; a chapter that would allow all citizens of the republic - irrespective of ethnicity - to vote at general elections and choose the best man to lead the nation forward and not to allow political party secret deals behind closed Email your letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org doors. Only then there may well be transparency, meritocracy and truly a revolution of the mind in Cyprus. Cyprus would then be a multicultural nation to grow in prosperity without preferential treatment to ethnic minorities but allow the law of the land to become the sentinel of people’s human rights as equal citizens of the republic. It is not a matter of trust. There is not much hope for the people of Cyprus to live and let live in a democratic state that shines with equality, transparency and accountability; for there is flawed democracy at that; a nation that does not practice transparency it has no democracy. The current negotiations on the Bi-zonal Bi-communal Federation (BBF) have been quite remarkable to say the least. The talks are shrouded in secrecy where the general public is kept in the dark. After months of ‘negotiations’ and bragging that a solution is near, the public knows nothing of what is being discussed and agreed on their behalf. In fact, they absolutely have no idea what's going to happen to their lives and the country. Yet the president holds press conferences and grumbles publicly for having been criticised and insists that the country should trust his better judgment. Why? Is he so much smarter and wiser than the rest of the nation? The political parties and the media also seem to be colluding and have their lips sealed; they reveal nothing. If the president expects citizens to trust him and respect his judgment, then under the same premise he should also trust citizens and keep them well informed so they can make well-informed decisions. They will then tell him what to do and not the other way around. Trust does not come Have Your Say LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: Should Gayby Baby (documentary about four children raised by gay parents) be screened at schools as part of curriculum? 24 % YES 76 % NO THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Should the image of the drowned Syrian toddler be shown online? 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. NEOS KOSMOS Published since 1957 Contacts Reception Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Fax: (03) 9482 2962 Email: email@example.com Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.neoskosmos.com Advertising letters Email: email@example.com NEOS KOSMOS - English Publisher: No. 5625 Address: Level 1, 169 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122 Mail: PO Box 6068 Hawthorn West, Victoria 3122 Subscriptions Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (03) 9482 2962 Letters should not be more than 200 words and they must indicate your full name, address and a day time telephone number for verification. By submitting your letter to us for publication you agree that we may edit the letter for legal, space or other reasons and may, after the publication in the paper, republish it on the internet or in other media. 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 The Neos Kosmos Facebook page and Twitter page give our readers a great way to interact with Greeks of the diaspora and those in Greece. Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/neoskosmos to let us know what you think by posting some of your own comments and feedback. FIND US ON - FACEBOOK.COM/NEOSKOSMOS FOLLOW US AT - TWITTER.COM/NEOSKOSMOS with the office automatically but like dignity and respect, it is earned to meet the demands of the highest office in the land. It is not a matter of trust but a matter of people’s democratic right enshrined into the constitution. Direct democracy demands that citizens have the right to publicly debate with openness constitutional changes free from political spin and propaganda. The entire country knows very well of bad decisions of the past - like EU- Troika's bail-in criminality that has brought disaster and poverty to a proud nation. We can only hope that a referendum on BBF agreement is not abandoned for EU and political convenience to allow politicians decide the fate of Cyprus and not the electorate. If that's under some devious consideration it's a bad move with unforeseen consequences in the future. Time will tell. 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.
29 August 2015
12 September 2015