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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 April 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 APRIL 2016 23 GREECE tives, for fear of meeting the fate of the Greek socialist party, PASOK, which has not recovered from forming a coalition with ND) - and, more importantly, with a UK referendum on whether to stay in the EU altogether scheduled in June, the last thing the EU wants is another front of instability, especially given the risk of a new win for Tsipras, if he opts to campaign for keeping austerity measures limited to what has already been agreed upon. In a recent analysis, Bloomberg suggested another option for Tsipras: a referendum on the lenders' proposals. This further enhances the deja-vu effect, reopening the recent wounds of last year's referendum, when the Greek people expressed their opposition to the bailout deal, only to see the government ignore the outcome and concede to a set of harsher austerity measures that further crippled the middle class. BENDING LAWS TO APPEASE THE MARKETS Both options undermine whatever progress has been made so far in the talks between Greece and its lenders and leads the country to an almost certain default. Hence, pragmatists seem to agree that the situation leaves Tsipras with only one option: to concede to all the creditors' demands. If only it were that simple. Recent numbers show Greece showing a surplus, if only by a marginal 0.7 per cent of the GDP, and all sides agree that it has met its bailout commitments. The two sides have already agreed on ‘95 per cent’ of upfront measures equal to three per cent of Greek GDP, but the lenders insist on Greece preemptively legislating additional belt-tightening measures equal to two per cent of gross domestic product, which would kick in automatically, if the government falls short of the budget targets envisaged in its bailout agreement. government of ‘National Unity’, with a clear mandate to implement the set of - largely unpopular - reforms set out in the bailout deals: privatisations, slashing of wages and pensions, abolition of worker's rights. There is only one reason for Tsipras to go down that road, given that there's a big chance of him losing the elections, and that is to strong-arm EU officials into conceding to a favourable bailout review. With elections looming in Spain, after the Socialist majority failed to reach an agreement with the anti-austerity leftist party, Podemos (and was reluctant to form a government with the right-wing conserva- Greece rejects this proposal as unconstitutional. Laws in Greece are voted to take effect immediately and cease effect only when another law is voted; there's no provision for contingency legislation. The Greek side, has, in turn, proposed to establish a permanent budget correction mechanism, to be activated in case of deviations from targets, which would see to the implementation of €3.6 billion in standby measures, in case of failure to reach the primary surplus goals of 2018 and only then. This proposal has been met with sympathy by many among the European creditors, not least among them German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, but it has been met with resistance by the IMF. Trying to reconcile the two sides, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who presides over the Eurogroup, acknowledged the "legal constraints" that the EU "can't and won't break", while promising that a way around them can be found. "We will design [the mechanism] in a way that delivers credibility ... and (is) legally possible," he said. A THREAT TO EUROPEAN UNITY It is this kind of attitude that has seen the EU institutions distancing themselves from the member states. When the states' legislation is seen as irrelevant and the outcome of an election cannot affect the policy implemented on a country, then elections altogether become redundant, or worse, are reduced to becoming leverage in negotiations between opposing sides. "Only a fool or an arsonist would want elections at this time," stated Dimitris Papadimoulis, a SYRIZA MP, who is the vice-president of the European Parliament, echoing the prevailing view of elections as a factor of instability. Nothing would underline the EU's political failure better than this kind of demonising of the election process as playing with fire, and this is precisely what gives Tsipras permission to use the elections ‘threat’ as leverage. It's a risky gamble for Greece: if it fails, the country once again faces the threat of being expelled from the eurozone, or even the EU altogether, left to deal with the refugee crisis on its own, becoming Europe's dumping ground for desperate asylum seekers - an option that many in the EU welcome. But there is an even greater danger; by showing this kind of disdain towards member state laws and to elections in general, the EU practically devalues democracy as a whole, in favour of the financial doctrine imposed by the markets, via the IMF. Even a technocrat, Italian economist Mario Monti, who briefly served as his country's PM to tackle the crisis, went on to express his concern that the EU is going through a crisis which would see it head towards disintegration. The combination of the refugee crisis and the terrorist threat, topped by an ongoing financial instability, has put the EU under unprecedented pressure and the only winners so far are the nationalist movements and parties emerging throughout the continent. Yes, somehow, playing with fire is the appropriate term to apply in this scenario. PHOTO: AP/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU . Airport concession ruling imminent The Greek Parliament is expected to approve the concession contracts of 14 regional airports set to be operated and upgraded by the Fraport-led consortium, just after the Orthodox Christian Easter this weekend. According to a report in Kathimerini, the draft law is almost ready and expected to include two concession contracts, each referring to seven airports, in relation to the the tender that was proclaimed by state privatisation fund TAIPED. To have reached such an advanced level, the Greek government is believed to have secured the approval of the country’s Competition Commission, in addition to the opinion of European Commission competition authorities that the contracts do not constitute a state subsidy. With people of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and other civil servants preventing Fraport officials from entering the airports, the biggest obstacles reported at the terminals of Thessaloniki and Cephalonia airports, passing of the law is expected to ease pressure. Questions have emerged as to who is in fact backing those preventing the entry of Fraport officials to the Makedonia Airport. In Cephalonia’s case, protesters appear to have been encouraged by a so-called referendum carried out by the head of the Ionian Islands’ Regional Authority on the concession of the airports. Though an online poll showed 75 per cent of voters were against the concession, it was noted that only three per cent of the region’s 200,000 registered voters took part. Ancient mural sends a 2,400year-old message of hedonism It depicts a reclining skeleton with the message ‘Be cheerful - enjoy your life’ written in Greek How do you say "YOLO" in ancient Greek? A 2,400-year-old mosaic might have an answer. Discovered during excavations in Tur- key's southern Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border, the mural depicts a skeleton lying down with a jorum in his hand and a wine pitcher and a loaf of bread on the side. The word ‘Eyfrosynos’ (joyful) is written above him, while the mural also bears an inscription in ancient Greek, saying: "be cheerful, enjoy your life". The ‘skeleton mosaic’, as it is commonly referred to by archaeologists working on the site, is believed to belong to a dining room of a wealthy home; it is part of a larger mosaic from the third century BC, which was first discovered in 1012, during works to build a cable car in the province of Antakya, or Antioch. The ancient Greek-Roman city was established by Seleucus I Nicator - who is one of Alexander the Great's generals- in the fourth century BC. It is known to be the first place where the followers of Jesus were referred to as Christians. The Roman elite of the period was famously - or infamously, according to different sources - hedonistic, enjoying a lush life. Hatay is known for its vast collection of Roman-era mosaics, though most researchers agree this new discovery is definitely one of a kind.
23 April 2016
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