March 4, 2015

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Gov't recalls controversial order to release all illegal migrants, asks for resignations

Note: HellasFrappe will following this story all day because it is still developing, please log in later on for the latest updates

Update 1:

Three former Ministers for the Protection of the Citizen literally slammed Panousis later on Wednesday by revealing that an officer cannot issue an order unless he receives a green light from the commanding Minister (in this case Panousis).

Speaking on Skai Tv Nikos Dendias said: Noone can issue an order (or circular) without the consent of the minister, "even verbally."

Kikilias: The order was issued from Panousis' office, why is he complaining?

Voulgarakis: "It is impossible to issue an executive order, on his own," leaving it to be understood that Panousis was well aware of the order.

Original Story

Alternate Civil Protection minister Yiannis Panousis vehemently denied he had any involvement in a controversial document issued by his ministry on Tuesday night which ordered authorities to resit from arresting immigrants who enter Greece illegally but rather simply record them, claiming that he is going to ask for the resignations of those who were involved in its release.

The issue, which became widely known by SKAI Tv on Tuesday night, concerns an alleged order by Panoussis not to arrest undocumented migrants crossing into Greece but rather provide them with temporary residence papers for up to six months. The issue came to light after the Border Guards union blasted the decision and spoke of "hordes of migrants" entering Greece unchecked and contributing to criminality. The same order would also allow the release of all detainees in detention centres on Wednesday, unless they were charged with crimes and misdemeanors.

The document, which was signed by the Brigadier General Georgios Nitsas, provoked immediate condemnation by opposition parties who swiftly accused SYRIZA of being excessively soft on immigration and generated criticism throughout the social networks. The ND leader and former PM, Antonis Samaras accused the government of turning Greece into a ‘magnet for illegal immigrants’ saying that the new policy would have catastrophic consequences for tourism, public safety and Greece’s relationship with Europe. Samaras said it is "unbelievable, unthinkable and provocative".

After denying that he issued the order, and pointing out the document only bears the signature of a brigadier, Panousis said that he would recall the order.
     "I have recalled the order. I had absolutely no knowledge [of the order] and neither did any political figures," Panousis told journalists at an extraordinary press conference on Wednesday morning.
He said when he heard the report in the media he was also left in awe.
     "A brigadier cannot take such decisions," he added, saying the fact that the story was presented by the media without double-checking with his ministry for validity created a "jungle of misinformation".
The Minister said he spoke with the head of the Hellenic police who said he “was also angry” about the order and has asked for the resignations of all the officers involved.

After being pressured by reporters, he finally admitted that the document was made up of an amalgam of scattered directives already in affect but clarified that they were gathered out of context.
     “This does not create a policy,” he said. “The various reference to scattered articles already in effect. This on its own doesn’t create a policy because policies concern priorities, hierarchies and the way in which laws are put into affect.” In his opinion, it has a political base it is not a government policy.
According to him, the controversial document was never brought before him to be formalized and slammed the media for trying to pass it off as a new policy unknown to himself.

While speaking to SKAI Tv on Wednesday morning, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis also defended Panousis statements claiming that the document was released by the initiative of a department official without the knowledge of the minister.
     "The country’s immigration policy can only be decided by the competent ministers," Sakellaridis said.
The order was also denied by Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis who was quoted as saying that responsibility for this issue lies with the person who signed the order and not with the relevant ministry.

Refernece: Skai Tv, enikos

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SPECIAL REPORT - SYRIZA should stop tending to its DEH unionist friends & consider the needs of the masses

Worker unions have a right to claim better wages and working conditions for their members but when this happens in a period when Greece is desperately trying to gather funds to pay back its creditors it is just not feasible , but rather scandalous. The recent agreement signed between employee union GENOP and the management of DEH once again only proves that Greece's public-sector continues to reign, while the real economy -or private sector- is heading towards complete destruction. Instead of taking the opportunity to finally crack down on this country's tax evaders SYRIZA last week proved that it is only concerned about massaging the ears of its voters (just like all other governments before them). Shame...

It should be reminded that last Friday the unions of Greece’s Public Power Company (DEH) signed the scandalous collective bargain agreement with the management and thus granted themselves an additional wage per year in form of benefits. It has a duration of three years and was signed by 13 of the 24 DEH-unions. It is the first collective bargain agreement signed under the new SYRIZA government.

Here are the main points of the collective bargain:

  • 1) Six euros per day for food “with the purpose to serve the operational needs of the company, the work conditions improvement and the productivity increase,” as stated in the bargain. (This translates to roughly an additional 150 per month in pay or an 8%-10% salary hike).
  • 2) Ensure that no salary cuts will take place.
  • 3) The DEH Management is now obligated not to proceed with any dismissals for any economic-technical reasons.
  • 4) The management of DEH is obligated to pay a benefit to these workers for “successful subsistence,” and “subsistence”. The first refers to employees who have reached the top of the wage scale but are unable to file for retirement benefits because of the recent changes in legislation so they are going to now receive an allowance equal to "half step on salary scale." The second benefit refers to employees who have been unable to climb into the wage scale on account of their  “incompetence” and even their “lack of skills” (totally preposterous).
  • 5) Employees at the DEH's customer service centers (or offices) are going to be given four additional (paid) days of vacation every year.
  • 6) Unionists are going to receive a “shift allowance”, and at the same time benefit from a “unionists’ leave” even if they are not "physically present at work.” (In other words, unionists will be paid whether they work or not.)

Without a doubt all the above is scandalous.

Greek Public Power Company (DEH) is a state-run enterprise with  some 15,000 employees. In all fairness, some of DEH unions reacted strongly to the collective bargain agreements especially the “shift allowance for unionists” (and for good reason).

GENOP-DEH Chairman Mr. Fotopoulos, a former hardliner of the PASOK party, shifted over to the SYRIZA party several years ago and was even planning on running with the radical left party at the recent national elections but did not do so because of strong reactions from other SYRIZA members as well as voters.

On Tuesday he had the audacity to advise Greeks to drink vinegar in order to soak up their bitterness (or jealousy) over the wage hikes.

It should also be reminded that Fotopoulos and his 14 union "comrades" were charged several years ago for allegedly organizing a sit-in/occupation of the main public power offices in Athens on November 24-28, 2011, for cutting off power supply to Greek households. Prior to this, a number of senior officials at GENOP-DEH were also charged for receiving millions of euros in repayments for luxury trips and/or visits abroad which they never actually made. These cunning workers also apparently received expenses for trips by colleagues from other countries who never even travelled to Greece, and funds for consultancy entrusted to friends and relatives who never provided assistance. In fact in the 2008-2010 period, these unionists spent more than 800,000 euros (885,497) and presented bills for 1,194,497 euros. The report, which had been featured in the To Ethnos newspaper, had said at the time had revealed that between 2005-2006, some five million euros were spent on social tourism programs without the appropriate receipts being attached and without a reason being given for the journeys or the activities carried out during the trips.

(The above scandal was exposed in April 2011, when the inspector for Greece’s Public Administration body, Leandros Rakintzis, asked SDOE to intervene in the case after discovering that certain companies had issued excessively high bills for services provided to both GENOP-DEH and OKDE. Reports at the time quoted Rakintzis as saying that the SDOE report showed “great squandering of public money with a system of over-calculation of bills,” which was totally and without a doubt illegal, since Greek legislation forbids entrepreneurs from subsidising union organizations. On its part, GENOP-DEH rejected the accusations and instead spoke of a plot by entrepreneurs who wanted to sling mud at them, while Fotopoulos demanded the opening of the bank accounts of all of the company’s union figures, noting that he would be prepared not to resign, but to kill himself if so much as one euro could not be accounted for.)

HellasFrappe agrees that many DEH employees work under difficult conditions, but despite the wage and benefit cuts (since the beginning of the Memorandums) they are still in a much better situation than the majority of other citizens who for example are employed in the private sector.

Let us not forget that thousands of people who were employed in the private sector lost their jobs and their businesses because they could not bare rising energy costs.

Why are their wage hikes scandalous?

Simple, because the unionists and the DEH management did not carefully weigh the social cost of their agreement before they went ahead and signed it. These funds, which will now provide these already privileged workers with yet another yearly salary, could have been used to relieve thousands of unemployed persons from the private sector, who agonize over their daily survival.

If SYRIZA is fixed on proving that social solidarity prevails over any claims, then it will take back this decision. It has to stop thinking beyond its narrow interests and consider the needs of the masses rather than its unionists friends. If not, then SYRIZA will lose a huge chunk of support.

Also, the  move only once again proves that Greece operates a truly unfair social system. Those on the "inside" benefit unduly, (meaning those who are supporting the government and belong to the public sector), at the expense of others and it is always "clientelism" as usual.

Some could argue that in the context of Greece's fiscal situation, the new benefits to DEH employees are peanuts, but they are a slap in the face of everyone who dreamed that this new government would introduce fairness as a social principle. Greece's unemployed and all those who have months to be paid must now be very angry when they see that a portion of the population who has been protected for years is now once again being rewarded with benefits.

I know this writer is.

It is scandalous and infuriating to learn that public workers are once again going to enjoy ridiculous benefits and/or allowances while those who work in the private sector have to be content with temporary and part-time jobs, decreased wages that range from 520–700 per month and uncertainty.





PASOK calls on SYRIZA MPs to return their savings back to Greece

PASOK MP Odysseas Konstandinopoulos urged SYRIZA MPs to return their deposits from foreign banks back to Greece in a letter to Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou.

In his letter, Konstandinopoulos maintains that apart from the European Central Bank, it is necessary that all citizens contribute to the stability of Greece's banking system by returning all the money that was taken out of Greece over the last few years beginning with MPs.

He especially called on many SYRIZA MPs who have openly admitted in transferring their money to foreign accounts instead of keeping it in Greek banks.

According to him, this is a "sublime patriotic duty" of all Greek MPs, and would set a positive example for the Greek citizens.

According to some reports, there are more than 700,000 Greek citizens that transferred their savings (said to be more than 300 billion Euros) in foreign accounts over the past few years -or since George Papandreou's PASOK government seized power-.

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NEW SCANDAL - Defence Ministry to probe purchase Of NH90 helicopters & submarines

Following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on Tuesday that the armed forces’ internal affairs department discovered evidence of wrongdoing in two military procurement cases and is now planning to send this evidence to the judiciary.
     “We agreed with the prime minister that even though these cases are in the first stages of investigation... they should go immediately to the Greek justice system so they can be added to the case files already under examination,” Kammenos told reporters.
He revealed that the cases involve the purchase of NH90 helicopters in 2003 and the deal to purchase four Type 214 diesel-electric submarines, which date back to 1998.


Prosecutors propose conditions for release of Golden Dawn MPs

Public prosecutors on Tuesday announced the conditional release of Golden Dawn chief Nikos Michaloliakos and the party’s second-in-command, Christos Pappas, since their 18-month maxim detention period ends on March 29. Both officials are facing charges of organizing and leading a criminal organization.

Greek prosecutors proposed that Michaloliakos also post 125,000 euros in bail and be placed under house arrest following his release.

On the other, prosecutors proposed (among other conditions) that Pappas be banned from leaving the region of Attica and report to his local police station three times a month.

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Russia Cannot Exempt Greece From Food Embargo

Greece is not going to be excluded from the embargo imposed by Russia on its farm production, but other forms of cooperation could be discussed, including the supply with Greek raw materials of food-sector joint ventures on Russian soil, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. His comments come after the Greek government asked Russia to lift sanctions on supplies of “key agricultural production” such as peaches, strawberries and oranges that are being left to rot due to a lack of a market.
     "There are quite straightforward rues of the World Trade Organization, and Russia, as a WTO member, cannot choose. We cannot impose sanctions against EU member states and selectively lift sanctions on one of the countries," he told newspaper Izvestia.
However, in this case direct deliveries of agricultural products can be substituted by "imports of raw materials with an investment in Russia-based food processing facilities," Peskov said.

Earlier in February President Putin said Moscow would be able to cooperate with Hungarian agriculture despite sanctions and added that the establishment of joint ventures will help avoid the difficulties caused by Russian countermeasures against Western sanctions.

References: RT, enikos

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ANALYSIS - The bankruptcy of Syriza and of the globalist 'Left'

By Takis Fotopoulos (Pravda) - A month ago, just before the Greek elections, I stressed the following about the SYRIZA party in Greece, (whose victory was widely predicted at the time) and Podemos, its 'brother party' in Spain: Given the commitment (of SYRIZA in Greece and Podemos in Spain to the EU and the Euro there is no possibility whatsoever that they will take any of the radical steps required to really alleviate the appalling economic condition of the majority of the population in both countries, and particularly in Greece, within the constraints imposed by the EU and the constitutional Treaties that institutionalized neoliberal globalization at the European level.[i]

Clearly, this conclusion was contrary to the prevailing view among the 'globalist' Left and its numerous publications all over the world.[ii] This is the Left which explicitly or implicitly takes globalization and its institutions (e.g. the EU) for granted and only aims for their improvement 'from within' (we used to call this kind of "Left" reformist in the past to distinguish it from the antisystemic or anticapitalist Left). However, the strong anti-globalization movement that developed in the late 1990s, on both sides of the Atlantic, was largely an antisystemic movement, which was crushed by the combination of state violence (Seattle, Genova etc.) and the systematic effort of the globalist Left that developed at the time, with indirect support of the mass media controlled by the Transnational Elite (i.e. the elites mainly based in the G7 countries). In fact, the role of globalist Left was crucial in eventually managing to emasculate the anti-globalization movement, from an antisystemic movement into a reformist one.[iii] The inevitable result was the demise of the entire antisystemic movement against globalization, to the great delight of Transnational Corporations, which were obviously behind this huge campaign.

The main difference between the globalist Left and the antiglobalization movement, which was not explicit at the time but became evident later on, concerns the very object of social struggle.

Thus, for the antisystemic movement against globalization, the cause of the growing concentration of economic power in a few hands is globalization itself that has led to the present unprecedented inequality, which, on current trends, means that by next year, 1% of the population will own more wealth than the other 99%.[iv] Furthermore, globalization, as I tried to show elsewhere,[v] in a capitalist market economy can only be neoliberal. That means that neoliberalism, contrary to the mythology of the globalist Left, is neither a "doctrine",[vi] nor the 'bad' policy of some baddies controlling transnational institutions like the EU, as Syriza and Podemos assert, in an obvious attempt to disorient working people.

No wonder Tsipras and other Syriza cadres have actually participated in the globalist Left, in the form of the World Social Forum, which was the main organ used to emasculate the antisystemic movement against globalization! No wonder also that Thomas Piketty, the great new star of economics, who is massively promoted by the TE media, like the Financial Times as a kind of 'new Marx' fighting against inequality, is a prominent member of the same globalist Left explicitly stating "if we don't find a way to convince people that everybody can gain from globalization the risk is that a growing faction of the population will turn away from it, against globalization."[vii]  However, at least Piketty, as far as I know, did not have the effrontery to call himself a "Marxist", unlike the new 'pop star' of economics, again massively promoted by the same TE-controlled media, who is also (both in theory and in practice) a prominent member of the globalist Left.

I refer of course to Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister of Syriza, who calls himself a 'libertarian marxist', but, as I shall show below, had no qualms about playing a leading role in breaking the pre-election commitments!

In fact, Varoufakis theory and practice has nothing to do with either Marxist or left libertarian theory and practice, as one could easily conclude from his self-presentation, massively promoted by The Guardian (the well known flagship of the globalist Left which supported all the wars of the TE in the globalization era). In effect, he is a 'liberal pseudo-Keynesian (i.e. the theoretical version of social-liberalism which is of course utterly incompatible with Keynes' work!)) and a fervent globalist, as statements like the following show:

What good will it do today to call for a dismantling of the eurozone, of the European Union itself, when European capitalism is doing its utmost to undermine the eurozone, the European Union, indeed itself?[viii]

Yet, all this did not prevent Counterpunch, a leading organ of the globalist Left to publish an article under the eloquent title "Ironman Varoufakis's Revolutionary Plan for Europe", clearly showing the utter bankruptcy of this sort of "Left", which did not have any qualms about concluding that Varoufakis plan is "Revolution from within. Just don't tell anyone in Berlin"! [ix]

Therefore, for the globalist Left, the cause of the economic catastrophe in countries like Greece is the austerity policies applied by neoliberal and social liberal governments, with whom this sort of "Left" has no objection to compromise, as Syriza has just shown in practice, even on the implementation of neoliberal policies! The usual devious argument they use to justify the obvious u-turns that this implies is that this is a matter of some genius strategy, so that a new 'good' Europe of the peoples develops which would abolish neoliberals and the relevant policies. This is why they never raise the issue of exiting from the EU and creating instead a new real Europe of the peoples, and not of capital as at present. This is also why what they fight against now is the austerity policies imposed by those neoliberal 'baddies', despite the fact that such policies are of course the inevitable policies that have to be applied by a government which does not control its open and liberalized markets (as a result of the integration into the New World Order of neoliberal globalization) and bases all of its growth strategy on foreign investment and on improving competitiveness, so that foreign imports do not crowd out domestic production, while at the same time it struggles to  expand exports.

However, although such policies may indeed lead to a kind of growth resulting in huge inequalities and poverty for most, it surely cannot lead to restructuring of production so that the economy could become competitive. Thus, domestic workers in EU peripheral countries would in effect have to compete with either foreign workers abroad working under almost slavery conditions (e.g. India, Pakistan, China and so on) as well as immigrants from similar countries, or with workers in highly advanced countries in terms of research and development, associated with much higher productivities (e.g. Germany). No wonder in an economic union consisting of countries at unequal levels of development the peripheral countries have no chance to compete with the advanced countries at the centre, where the elites controlling the economic policies of the entire union are based.

It is therefore a disorienting myth that a union like the Eurozone could ever be democratic, as Varoufakis shamelessly declared that he is the co-author of the policies imposed on Greece by the EU! A democratic union presupposes members of equal economic power, i.e. sovereign nations, and Greece has neither any economic nor national sovereignty within the Eurozone and under the neo-colonial rules imposed by the troika (read the TE). On top of this, only a liberal cretin (or a crook) could assert that a democratic relationship could ever exist between the lender and the borrower, or, alternatively, between those controlling the European Central Bank's purse and the rest. Systemic writers fully understand this, as when Dominic Lawson wrote that:

"as about a quarter of ECB funds are backed by German taxpayers, Schäuble's opinions count much more than those of Varoufakis... So it is hardly surprising that Varoufakis has been humiliated. The terms agreed late on Friday involve acceptance that the bailout package continues to be set and monitored by the International Monetary Fund, the ECB and EU finance ministers; and that if this troika is not satisfied with Greek commitment to economic reform, the money will be frozen - exactly what Syriza swore it would never accept."[x]

On the basis of such considerations, I concluded in a post election article[xi] that:

Τhe two main options available to the new Government were: a) the road of submission to the demands of the Transnational Elite (TE) and the EU, with some concessions granted by the elites in exchange, and b) the road of resistance, which involves the immediate unilateral exit from both the EU and the Eurozone that will allow the introduction of strict capital controls and the re-introduction of the national currency, the nationalization of all banks including the Bank of Greece, the socialization of all key industries covering basic needs, as well as those involving the social wealth (oil, lignite, gold, etc.).[xii]

Even at that time, just a week after the elections, on the basis of the first signs then available , I was able to write "it is safe for one to conclude that (a) above is the option chosen by the disorienting reformist Left that took over in Greece! The inevitable result is that none of Syriza's promises before the election is on the way to be met by the government". I mentioned then the four major commitments, which were on the way to be "forgotten" at the time and have been transformed as follows in the 'list' of structural reforms just agreed with the institutions. Here I will add some more crucial commitments 'forgotten' now:

  • a)    The commitment to throw out the Troika, (consisting of representatives of the Transnational Elite, (i.e. IMF, EU, ECB), which was checking the implementation of the memorandum conditions in the past and actually were involved even in designing the appropriate legislation and then in checking its execution. In fact, far from the Troika being thrown out, it was simply renamed as "the institutions" consisting again by the same institutions (perhaps represented by different personnel. The only (fake) change was that formally decisions will have to be taken in the future by the "institutions" and Greece, as co-authors, according to democratic procedure. Clearly, the  Greek Finance Minister wanted us to believe that there could ever be a real democracy (which implies an equal distribution of political power) even without a corresponding equal distribution of economic power, particularly in a capitalist system![xiii]

  • b)    the commitment to tear down the 'memorandum' (as the bailout agreement is known in Greece). Today, the Syriza government implements in fact the existing memorandum (now called a list of structural reforms), which was expanded with some painless to the institutions additions, so that the false impression could be created that this is a new program that was in fact co-authored by Syriza and these institutions, as Varoufakis disorientedly stressed. This is why Syriza took care to change its name by deceptively distinguishing between the main loan contract and its appendix in the memorandum, when everybody knows that the latter was simply describing the conditions under which the loan was granted (as it is also mentioned in the main loan contract). So, what Syriza did was to pretend that the list of structural reforms which was agreed yesterday was not in fact the old memorandum reforms plus some painless (to the institutions) reforms but a new program co-authored by Greece. This, despite the fact that Varoufakis himself admitted that 70 percent of the old memorandum reforms are adopted by Syriza. Furthermore, Greece's 'partners' demanded that it will not get any more financial help from the EU or the IMF unless and until the present list is completed with some further  reforms to be agreed  by the end of April and only after an assessment by the institutions, will any further funds will be released!  Then, once the present program ends in June it could be replaced by a new program (i.e. a new memorandum) provided the government has implemented the present list of reforms to the satisfaction of Greece's partners. 

  • c)    The commitment to have the debt (or most of it) cancelled. This commitment has disappeared completely from the present 'bridge program' and was replaced by a vague promise that some sort of debt relief will be introduced in the July memorandum. However whereas the lenders and the institutions refer, at most, to possibly extending the period of the loan and/or lowering interest rates, Varoufakis throws various ideas in his 'smart debt engineering' in order to achieve even some sort of virtual reduction of the debt (e.g.. bond swaps with perpetuity bonds, (i.e. bonds of no fixed maturity date yielding only interest), or bonds whose repayment will be linked to GDP growth beyond a certain threshold, etc.--ideas mostly ignored by the "institutions".

  • d)    The commitment (the most important, for them, aspect of their 'radical' program) to replace austerity with growth, as they consider austerity mainly responsible for the present economic and social catastrophe in Greece. Yet, the entire list of structural reforms just agreed between the 'institutions' and the Syriza government is just the usual neoliberal list of measures suggested by OECD, IMF, the Wold Bank etc. That is reconsideration of public spending (including even spending on social services like Health), with the aim to cut the cost of provided services, i.e. to further cut the size of government spending, on top of the massive cuts imposed in the last four years! This is of course an austerity measure under a different name.

  • e)    The commitment to use fiscal policy for growth rather than as a means of austerity as at present. For a country 'under a bailout program' like Greece this requires the creation of significant primary budget surpluses of 4 percent per year or so. Here, all that the hard renegotiation by Syriza achieved was some promise to reduce the size of the surplus required. Yet, the lower the primary surplus the less money will be available to cover public spending including interest payments, which in practice usually means a further cut in public spending. That is, more austerity! But, the TE has no alternative. A drastic cut in the budget surplus requires a significant haircut on the debt,[xiv] which is anathema to the lenders.

  • f)      The commitment to reverse privatizations agreed by the previous crisis governments, which were considered to be a sell out of social wealth by Syriza itself (e.g. energy industries). This commitment has effectively been shelved. The government is now committed not to touch any completed privatizations or even those "in the process" as long as the procedure has begun. No wonder that when the energy minister who belongs to the left wing of Syriza stated that the government would not go ahead with the sale of the main electricity utility PPC (DEHr.AT) or power grid operator ADIME, that drew an angry response from Berlin, where a finance ministry spokesman said Athens could not decide to delay or stop privatisations on its own,[xv] implicitly referring to a clause in the agreement signed that no unilateral actions from Greece would be tolerated, implying that any such actions will be met by a cut off in liquidity.

  • g)    The commitment to protect labor and abolish flexible labor relations. This commitment has been abandoned altogether now and replaced by a new commitment to adopt "the best EU practices", i.e. the best neoliberal practices on the field given that flexible labor conditions have already been introduced almost everywhere in the Eurozone. Even the related commitment to increase immediately after election the minimum wage level to over 700 Euros had now been replaced by a commitment to do so sometime in the future and always in consultation with the "institutions"! This, on top of the usual commitment to further open and liberalize markets "as part of a broader strategy to face established interests' (by which it is usually meant syndicalist interests).

  • h)    The commitment to take care of the humanitarian crisis as a result of the massive impoverishment of the last few years is also emasculated. Thus, the measures to be taken have to be mainly non-monetary (e.g. food vouchers) and, anyway, all this battle against the humanitarian crisis should not have any negative fiscal impact!

It is therefore clear that SYRIZA has negated all its main commitments which would differentiate it from the previous governments, essentially appointed through the "institutions (i.e. the TE). This complete about turn by the Greek globalist Left (in Greek, kolotouba) was very simply achieved by the EU through the European Central Bank which used the highly successful "Irish" model for this, which has since been applied in Cyprus as well. Thus, when Ireland was in the brink in 2010 and the TE were pushing the Irish government to seek a bailout which naturally was resisting, it was threatened by a cut in 'Emergency Liquidity Assistance' (ELA) to Irish financial institutions, i.e. to cut Ireland off. Last week ECB first made Greek banks entirely dependent on ELA and then it did not approve a request for a 10b Euros allowing instead an increase of only 3.8 bn in full knowledge that with a mini liquidity panic that was developing at the moment the existing cash reserves were going to run out by the mid of this week.[xvi] With depositors fleeing and markets refusing to do business with them, Greek banks have nowhere else to turn. If the ELA is turned off, they will be unable to meet customer demands and default.

A shrewd BBC liberal economic analyst aptly summarized the the bankruptcy of Syriza in an article entitled "Syriza dumps Marx for Blair" describing what he called "the world's fastest reinvention of what is to be socialist":

In the reforms proposed by the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to secure a four-month extension of its life-or-death bailout, vanished are the party's seeming implacable hostility to privatisation, determination to re-hire sacked public-sector workers, and desire for rapid rises in minimum wages. Or to put it another way, the platform on which Syriza won the recent general election has been significantly reconstructed. In its place are what we might see as "New Syriza" measures: commitments to improve the efficiency of the public sector and eliminate waste, to promote competition with a strengthened competition commission, to reform labour markets, to streamline pension schemes, not to reverse privatisations and take a pragmatic approach to future sales of government assets.[xvii]

However, Peston, sees only the changes in the political 'superstructure' and ignores the seismic changes in the economic structure which were the ultimate causes of the changes in the political structure. That is, the emergence of the NWO of neoliberal globalization which makes not only Syriza but also Podemos and any other parts of the globalist Left irrelevant today. But, some may find  surprising the fact that even most of the Marxist antisystemic Left make the same mistake , as shown by the following extract from the World Socialist Web Site:

The abject capitulation of the Syriza government exposes the utter political bankruptcy of the myriad petty-bourgeois pseudo-left organizations throughout the world who just a few weeks ago hailed the electoral victory of Tsipras as an earth-shaking event. Far from denouncing Syriza's betrayal, these groups will work overtime conjuring up excuses and justifications. But broad sections of the Greek working class will see the agreement for what it is: a cynical and cowardly act of political treachery.[xviii]

Clearly, in view of the above analysis, Syriza's stand is not a matter of treachery. Any left party not determined to break not only with the EU and the Eurozone but also with the NWO and its institutions (WTO, IMF, NATO etc.) eventually will be forced to follow the same policies that Syriza adopts presently. Similar arguments apply to the Paleolithic anti-imperialist Left which sees the conflict as one between the 'bad' neoliberal Empire and the peoples. Thus, as James Petras stresses,

The election of Syriza on a platform of recovering sovereignty, discarding austerity and redefining its relations with creditors to favor national development has set the stage for a possible continent-wide confrontation[xix]

Of course this is another myth usually promoted by the globalist Left. There was never such a choice between, on the one hand, recovering sovereignty and national development and, on the other, capitulation, unless the people are determined to break with this order-- something that this sort of Left cannot understand, as it thinks we still live in the era of nation-states!

On similar grounds one may criticize the "left' minority within the Syriza party (Lafazanis, Lapavitsas[xx]), whose panacea for all problems related with the present Greek catastrophe is Grexit, i.e. the exit from the Eurozone but not also from  the EU, let alone a break with the NWO and its economic and political  institutions. However, although such a "solution" may in the short term benefit the Greek people, as a result of the associated devaluation of the new currency (the drachma) that will be introduced following Grexit, in the medium to long term Greece will be in a similar crisis to the present one, even if it combines Grexit with a cancellation of part or the whole of the Greek debt. This is because this approach is also globalist, i.e. it takes the NWO of neoliberal globalization for granted and therefore can never lead to the restructuring of production and consumption in Greece that only a policy of self-reliance could secure. But such a policy is ruled out when markets are opened and liberalized, which supporters for Grexit also take for granted.

The conclusion is therefore: unless the antisystemic Left which, mostly, lacks of any theory and strategy on globalization, urgently tries to fill the gap left by the globalist Left and the Paleolithic antisystemic Left, it is just the nationalist Right that will succeed in doing so, which lately shows very worrying signs of turning from the old anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, supported on this even by Zionists![xxi]

The author, Takis Fotopoulos, is a political philosopher, editor of Society & Nature/ Democracy and Nature/The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy. He has also been a columnist for the Athens Daily Eleftherotypia since 1990. Between 1969 and 1989 he was Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of North London (formerly Polytechnic of North London). He is the author of over 25 books and over 1,000 articles.


  • [i] "Left mythology and neoliberal globalization: Syriza and Podemos", The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 11, Nos. 1/2 (Winter-Summer 2015) 19.01.15
  • [ii] see e.g. Serge Halimi "A modest and crazy dream:, Le Monde Diplomatique, Febr. 2015; "The Greek deal is fair and democratic", Observer editorial, 22/2/2015; Tom Walker, "No, Syriza has not surrendered", Red Pepper/Znet, 24/2/2015
  • [iii] see Takis Fotopoulos, "Globalisation, the reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation 'Movement'", Democracy & Nature, vol.7, no.2 (July 2001), pp.233-280
  • [iv] Larry Elliott, "Half global wealth held by the 1%", The Guardian, 19/1/2015)
  • [v] Takis Fotopoulos, The New World Order in Action (published shortly by Progressive Press), ch 5
  • [vi] see e.g. Naomi Klein's best seller, The Shock Doctrine, Penguin, 2007
  • [vii] see Martin Wolf, 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century', by Thomas Piketty', Financial Times, 19/4/2014; see, also, Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press, 2014
  • [viii] "How I became Marxist", The Guardian, 18/2/2015
  • [ix] Mike Whitney, "Ironman Varoufakis's Revolutionary Plan for Europe", Counterpunch, 19/2/2015
  • [x] Dominic Lawson, "Four weeks of Greek hubris, then repulsive humble moussaka", Sunday Times, 22/2/2015
  • [xi] "Syriza's climbdown or the end of the Left's dream", The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 11, Nos. 1/2 (Winter-Summer 2015) , 04.02.2015
  • [xii] see for details of the short and medium term measures required in case of the resistance option being selected "The imperative need for popular fronts of national and social liberation in the globalization era", The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 10, Nos. 1/2 (Winter-Summer 2014)
  • [xiii] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy (London: Cassell 1997) ch 5
  • [xiv] Wolfgang Münchau, "The skirmish is over - let the Greek debt battle begin, Financial Times, 22/2/2015
  • [xv] L. Papadimas and S. Brown, "Greece sees problems repaying IMF, ECB; Germans air mistrust", Reuters, 25/2/2015
  • [xvi] Philip Aldrick, "it's not the Germans frogmarching Greece into a deal-it's the ECB", The Times, 21/2/2015
  • [xvii] Robert Peston, "Syriza dumps Marx for Blair", BBC News , 24/2/2015
  • [xviii] Robert Stevens, "Syriza Capitulates to the EU", Global Research, 21/2/2015
  • [xix] James Petras, "The Assassination of Greece", Global Research, 22/2/2015
  • [xx] Anthee Carassava, "Greek government split on bailout deal", The Times, 26/2/2015
  • [xxi] Adam Sage, "French Jews turn to Le Pen after Muslim attacks", The Times, 24/2/2015

March 3, 2015

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Kotzias: Greece & Cyprus could be a "bridge" between EU and Russia

Greece and Cyprus could play the "bridge role" between the EU and a country such as Russia, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Russian foreign-language news agency Sputnik in an interview.
     "We've never waged wars against each other, there have never been opposing powers, we've never had any kind of negative characteristics that exist between EU member states. This means that we are the country that could play the role of a ‘bridge,'" he added, noting that both Greece and Cyprus are not only members of the EU, but do not even reckon themselves outside the EU, despite their traditional relations with the BRICS countries.
      "We are especially connected with such countries as India (in the ancient times), China (when we were two big civilizations and cultures – China in Asia and Greece in Europe for three-four thousand years) and Russia with which we have always had deep historical, cultural and religious ties," he said.
Referring to sanctions against Russia, Kotzias said that Greece spoke up as "In Athens we've stopped thinking that there is a European policy without us which would be coming from Brussels to us," adding that the EU must take Greece's interests into consideration.

"Over the last 50 years, Greece did not have a voice in Brussels as there were no ears to hear it. I think that beginning with January 29 when we discussed the issues of sectoral sanctions [against Russia], the ears of the Europeans opened, and we now, respecting all other member-states, contribute to the creation of European politics," he said.

According to the report, the minister "recalled an ancient Greek myth about Zeus abducting the beautiful Europa, daughter of the Mediterranean, and taking her to the mountains of Crete" as "without this abduction Europe would not have existed today."

Greece believes that economic sanctions are useless in attempts to force another country to change its political motives, Kotzias said.
     "In the history of the international relations there are sanctions that actually served, but only in the sense that they eased or brought to negotiations. As I have already said, in most cases sanctions are not efficient, especially when they originate from a burst of anger or a wish to subordinate your opposing side," Kotzias noted.
He said the new Greek government was against sectoral sanctions on Russia while "Other kinds of sanctions were imposed long before we set up our government."

Kotzias referred also to past experiences by Greece: "We should remember the Greek experience. Greece laid sanctions and embargo against FYROM and as you know these measures led to a situation that the only winners were some oligarchs who committed raw materials smuggling. It was proved that sanctions are not an efficient instrument, and they are not efficient in any case," Kotzias said.

Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias has also commented on the new gas pipeline that the Russian side has put forward to replace the South Stream one. "Greece is planning to be a connecting link including the ideas concerning the pipeline that comes from Turkey," Kotzias underlined.
     "We think that what is needed is the stabilization of peace in Ukraine and Europe should not come to rupture in its relations with Russia, as well as Russia should also avoid taking actions that do not lead to trust relations with the European Union," Kotzias added.
     "In the long-term perspective Russia has to be affiliated in the European security architecture and there should not be formed a security system against Russia," Kotzias noted.
Reference - ANA-MPA / Sputnik News

Flambouraris: Loan Extension To Be Shown To Political Leaders Only

While speaking to the "Sto Kokkino" radio station on Tuesday, State Minister Alekos Flambouraris announced that the extension of the loan agreement is going to be presented to the Greek parliament for discussion, but on the level of political leaders, where there is no need for a vote.

Referring to the austerity policies in Europe he noted:
      "There is no other way, Europe cannot continue to live in this way with citizens with no electricity and heating and searching in the bins for food. This will be reversed, we happened to be the first, others will follow. And we will have time and we will stay for many years because we have the people by our side."
Turning to privatisations, he underlined that the water supply and the energy (PPC, EYDAP and EYATH) are not going to be touched by anyone. Flambouraris pledged on the review of the privatisations and of the companies whose contracts have not been completed, for example for the 14 regional airports of the country. He also referred to the development of the State assets that reach 300,000 million euros and ruled out their sell off.

When asked to comment about the banking system, he reiterated that the government will proceed with the change of their management.
     "The banks are a lever of development so they must have a management that will be under the state and the social control in order to be obliged to finance small and medium sized enterprises." 


Stratoulis: Political will is the implementation of the Thessaloniki program

The Thessaloniki program can be implemented in its entirety, Alternate Minister for Social Insurance Dimitris Stratoulis told Skai Tv on Tuesday morning, noting that SYRIZA's political will is the implementation of the announcements that its leader Alexis Tsipras made during the Thessaloniki Trade Fair last September.
     "Like it or not, we will be judged by that," he said adding the Thessaloniki program is going to be implemented gradually.
Stratoulis said that the government aims to write-off of a big part of the debt since this is the only way to render it sustainable. The Alternate Minister for Social Insurance did not rule out the possibility that the government may have to settle for an intermediate solution.

According to him, pensions are not going to be reduced, while he once again reassured all concerned that social security funds have the necessary funds. According to Stratoulis, the new settlement for overdue debt will yield some 400 million euros.

On the subject of minimum wage, the Minister said that it is going to be gradually restored by 2016 and added that the draft law for collective labor agreements should be tabled in Parliament in the next two weeks.


Eurogroup Spokeswoman: Brussels not considering third bailout for Greece

Responding to comments made by Spain’s Minister of Finances, Luis de Guindos, who said that Eurozone members were debating a third rescue package for Greece (worth 30-50 billion euros), Simone Boitelle, the spokeswoman for Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said on Tuesday that the Eurozone Ministers of Finances have no such thoughts.

One day earlier, de Guindos said that the new rescue package would give Greece greater flexibility, which at present has no other funding options. de Guindos, who was addressing a conference in the northeastern city of Pamplona, revealed that a new bailout could provide between 30-50 billion Euros.

On her part Boitelle clarified that the bailout that de Guindos outlined “is not something that is being discussed.”

In Athens, the Greek finance ministry said in a statement that de Guindos only outlined “a hypothetical third program for Greece” that would have to be negotiated by the Eurogroup.

References:, enikos, ProtoThema, To Vima

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Eldorado Gold threatens action over Skouries mine, while 21 suspects stand trial

Eldorado Gold Corp., battling to develop a mine in Greece in the face of government opposition, said it was blocked from completing construction of a processing plant at the site.
     “The company believes the decision of the ministry of Productive Reconstruction, Energy and Environment has no legal basis and will, if necessary, act to protect the legal rights of the company, employees and stakeholders,” Eldorado said.
A spokesman for the ministry declined to comment on the Eldorado statement.

The notice from the newly elected Greek government indicates that it may reverse the decision once it completes a review, the company said in the statement. (Source: Bloomberg)

Meanwhile it was reported that a total of 21 suspects have been referred to the Felony Appeal Court of Thessaloniki, where they are going to stand trial for the assault against the controversial mining facilities owned by Hellenic Gold in Skouries in February 2013. The 21 suspects are charged with the formation of a criminal organization, while they are also set to face other felony charges such as attempted manslaughter, possession of explosives, arson, etc.

All 21 suspects are residents in the north east of Halkidiki and are members of the movement that is opposing the mining investment. They have all rejected the charges.

Local residents have vehemently opposed the mining operation as it will have a severe impact on the environment and their livelihood.

The courts are to decide at a later point on referring a further 29 people for their participation in the violent demonstrations that followed soon after.

Combibed reports: Bloomberg, To Vima

Bank of Greece records impressive tourism statistics in new report

The Greek tourism industry is a decisive factor and a great concern for all stakeholders who are engaged in this sector. The Bank of Greece  recently published its annual report with the results of the tourist activity in 2014, painting a favorable picture of this industry’s performance.

According to the results, 2014 marked a record year in terms of arrivals. Without including the cruise industry, Greece apparently received more than 22 million travelers (or twice its population) and 14 billion Euros in tourist receipts, marking an increase of 23% and 10% when compared to 2013.

The report claims that the French seem to ave shown a greater interest in Greek destinations, raising the number of French travelers to our country by almost 30% (or a whopping 1.5 million tourists).

The target for 2015 has been set at 25 million visitors and tourist officials are optimistic, given that the current 2014 figure of 22 million does not include cruise passengers who are expected to reach 2 million.

View statistics:

Greece referred to European Courts over sewage pollution

The EU is pressuring Greek officials to finally take drastic action over the sewage situation in eastern Attica. According to local reports, an estimated 150,000 cesspool tanks have been constructed and are polluting streams and other areas across this region.

As such a hefty fine was imposed on Greece eight years ago for the insufficient waste management facilities it operates in 23 settlements across the country. The situation improved in many areas but worsened in five districts near the Greek captial (namely: Artemida -Loutsa-, Rafina, Markopoulos, Koropi and Nea Makri).

As such, the Hellenic State was referred to the European Courts in 2013 and a 11.5 million euro fine, as well as a further 47,462 euros per day, were slapped on Greece to finally shape up and comply with EU legislation.


Varoufakis Reveals What Schauble Told Him At First Meeting - VIDEO

While speaking to journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou on Monday night on the television talk show "ston eniko" live, Greek Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis revealed that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble had told him that he did not envy his position when they had first met.
     "Who would have liked to be finance minister of Greece in the last 50 years?", Varoufakis asked as he stressed the difficulties ahead, and in particular the scheduled repayment of bonds in next July and August.
He said that Schauble had initially “disagreed" with his views that the "Greek debt should be restructured”. He did add, however, that the relationship between both men "is good"and that there is "mutual respect“ on a personal level as well.

The video is in the Greek language

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Lapavitsas to The Guardian: “Austerity will not end with the euro”

In an interview to the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, SYRIZA MP Kostas Lapavitsas reveals that the compromise which was reached between Greece and its creditors was achieved under economic duress. He expresses the certainty that the government will face major difficulties in passing the April review conducted by the “institutions” to secure the release of much-needed funds and even if the government does successfully it will still need to re-enter negotiations with the EU for a long-term financing agreement in June.

In the article Lapavitsas leaves it to be understood that the SYRIZA government has paid a high price for its choices but things will become even more difficult by the parlous state of the Greek economy. He estimates that the next four months are going to be a “period of constant struggle” for the Greek government and reveals that “in June Greece will have to re-enter negotiations with the EU for a long-term financing agreement”.

The SYRIZA MP argues that in order to avoid “collapse or total surrender”, Alexis Tsipras' government must be “truly radical” and stick to the program that allowed it to gain power by forbidding house foreclosures, writing off domestic debt, reconnecting families to the electricity network, raising the minimum wage and putting a stop to privatizations. He concludes by stressing that SYRIZA can gain from the European left, but only if it first shakes off its own illusions and begins to propose sensible policies.

Here is the article as featured in the Guardian (click HERE):
     The agreement signed between Greece and the EU after three weeks of lively negotiations is a compromise reached under economic duress. Its only merit for Greece is that it has kept the Syriza government alive and able to fight another day. That day is not far off. Greece will have to negotiate a long-term financing agreement in June, and has substantial debt repayments to make in July and August.
     In the coming four months the government will have to get its act together to negotiate those hurdles and implement its radical programme. The European left has a stake in Greek success, if it is to beat back the forces of austerity that are currently strangling the continent.
     In February the Greek negotiating team fell into a trap of two parts. The first was the reliance of Greek banks on the European Central Bank for liquidity, without which they would stop functioning. Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, ratcheted up the pressure by tightening the terms of liquidity provision. Worried by developments, depositors withdrew funds; towards the end of negotiations Greek banks were losing a billion euros of liquidity a day.
     The second was the Greek state’s need for finance to service debts and pay wages. As negotiations proceeded, funds became tighter. The EU, led by Germany, cynically waited until the pressure on Greek banks had reached fever pitch. By the evening of Friday 20 February the Syriza government had to accept a deal or face chaotic financial conditions the following week, for which it was not prepared at all.
     The resulting deal has extended the loan agreement, giving Greece four months of guaranteed finance, subject to regular review by the “institutions”, ie the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF. The country was forced to declare that it will meet all obligations to its creditors “fully and timely”.
     Furthermore, it will aim to achieve “appropriate” primary surpluses; desist from unilateral actions that would “negatively impact fiscal targets”; and undertake “reforms” that run counter to Syriza pledges to lower taxes, raise the minimum wage, reverse privatisations, and relieve the humanitarian crisis.
     In short, the Syriza government has paid a high price to remain alive. Things will be made even harder by the parlous state of the Greek economy. Growth in 2014 was a measly 0.7%, while GDP actually contracted during the last quarter. Industrial output fell by a further 3.8% in December, and even retail sales declined by 3.7%, despite Christmas. The most worrying indication, however, is the fall in prices by 2.8% in January. This is an economy in a deflationary spiral with little or no drive left to it. Against this background, insisting on austerity and primary balances is vindictive madness.
     The coming four months will be a period of constant struggle for Syriza. There is little doubt that the government will face major difficulties in passing the April review conducted by the “institutions” to secure the release of much-needed funds. Indeed, so grave is the fiscal situation that events might unravel even faster. Tax income is collapsing, partly because the economy is frozen and partly because people are withholding payment in the expectation of relief from the extraordinary tax burden imposed over the last few years. The public purse will come under considerable strain already in March, when there are size able debt repayments to be made.
      But even assuming that the government successfully navigates these straits, in June Greece will have to re-enter negotiations with the EU for a long-term financing agreement. The February trap is still very much there, and ready to be sprung again.
     What should we as Syriza do and how could the left across Europe help? The most vital step is to realise that the strategy of hoping to achieve radical change within the institutional framework of the common currency has come to an end. The strategy has given us electoral success by promising to release the Greek people from austerity without having to endure a major falling-out with the eurozone. Unfortunately, events have shown beyond doubt that this is impossible, and it is time that we acknowledged reality.
     For Syriza to avoid collapse or total surrender, we must be truly radical. Our strength lies exclusively in the tremendous popular support we still enjoy. The government should rapidly implement measures relieving working people from the tremendous pressures of the last few years: forbid house foreclosures, write off domestic debt, reconnect families to the electricity network, raise the minimum wage, stop privatisations. This is the programme we were elected on. Fiscal targets and monitoring by the “institutions” should take a back seat in our calculations, if we are to maintain our popular support.
     At the same time, our government must approach the looming June negotiations with a very different frame of mind from February. The eurozone cannot be reformed and it will not become a “friendly” monetary union that supports working people. Greece must bring a full array of options to the table, and it must be prepared for extraordinary liquidity measures in the knowledge that all eventualities could be managed, if its people were ready. After all, the EU has already wrought disaster on the country.
     Syriza could gain succour from the European left, but only if the left shakes off its own illusions and begins to propose sensible policies that might at last rid Europe of the absurdity that the common currency has become. There might then be a chance of properly lifting austerity across the continent. Time is indeed very short for all of us. - The Guardian

March 2, 2015

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Police arrest Xiros' accomplice Angeliki Spyropoulou

Police officials on Monday arrested Angeliki Spyropoulou, the 22-year-old female accomplice of notorious Nov.17 convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros. She is suspected of being a member of the Conspiracy of Fire Cells (SPF) terrorist group. Authorities had launched a manhunt to arrest Spyropoulou, since the capture of Xiros early in January.

According to MEGA tv, the 22-year-old was arrested in the area of Salamina (an island off of Piraeus in southern Athens). More precisely, she was found her at the home of Christos and Gerasimos Tsakalos (brothers), who are both serving a sentence for belonging to the same terrorist organisation.

Spyropoulou, was allegedly aiding Xiros when he was a fugitive, as well as in a plan to spring imprisoned members of the extreme-leftist terror gang Conspiracy of Fire Cells from Korydallos prison.

The mother of both the Tsakalos brothers, who at the time of the arrest was giving testimony at the office of the investigative magistrate on a different aspect of the Xiros case, was immediately arrested by authorities for harboring a criminal.

The arrest comes after three other suspects were detained at the weekend, all of whom also face similar terrorism-related charges.

One of the three detainees includes a 32-year-old man who is accused of passing on a number of items to Spyropoulou, which were to be used in the Korydallos prison break plan. The list of items includes digital files, about 6,000 euros in cash, a GPS jammer and even laser scopes which were to be used in the assault on the prison.

The other suspect, according to one report in the To Vima newspaper, says that another detainee, a 36-year-old woman, is suspected of acting as a liaison between Xiros, Angeliki Spyropoulou as well as a third suspect. The same report also points out that DNA traces of the third detainee, a 39-year-old man, were discovered in a mail bomb that had been sent to prosecutor Dimitris Mokkas in September 2013, as well as a time bomb that was sent to the Korydallos tax office in March 2014 and an explosive bomb that was delivered to the Itea Police Department director in April 2014.

On the subject of Greek terrorists, three Greek convicted terrorists who are currently being held in the Domokos high security prison (central Greece) on Monday announced that they were beginning a hunger strike to protest against anti-terror laws, and in favour of the abolition of high security prisons.

Dimitris Koufontinas, 57, serving multiple life sentences for crimes related to his membership of the November 17 terrorist organisation, and Kostas Gournas, convicted for his membership in the terrorist organisation Revolutionary Struggle, co-signed a statement saying they protest, among others, against anti-terror laws.

The same was announced in a separate statement, signed by Nikos Maziotis, convicted for membership in the Revolutionary Struggle terrorist group.

Background to story HERE and HERE

References - MEGA tv, To Vima, ProtoThema, enikos, kathimerini, ANA-MPA


EFSF: Memorandum to Greece 'has no termination date' - Full statement

The Memorandum of Understanding on which the loan assistance to Greece depends, has no termination date, says the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), contradicting the Greek government's claim that the Memorandum no longer exists.

The EFSF clarified, in a statement released Monday, that the loan agreement whose extension Greece and its Eurogroup partners agreed to last week requires "Greece’s compliance with policy reform measures set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was agreed by Greece, the European Commission, and the ECB."

The EFSF further said that the Memorandum does not need an extension, because "it has no termination date."

Here's the full EFSF statement:

The Greek Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement (MFFA) is a legal contract between the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the Greek government, the Greek central bank, and the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), which is Greece’s national bank recapitalisation fund. It specifies the terms and conditions of the financial assistance to Greece, regarding e.g. the loan amount, availability period, fees, interest and repayment. It is signed by the EFSF CEO and the Greek Finance Minister. The provision of financial assistance under the MFFA is conditional upon Greece’s compliance with policy reform measures set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was agreed by Greece, the European Commission, and the ECB. The MoU is a separate and self-standing document, but is linked to the MFFA - no disbursement can be made without MoU compliance, which is assessed by the institutions.

The Greek MFFA originally expired on 31 December 2014. But on 19 December 2014, the EFSF Board of Directors decided to grant a technical extension until 28 February 2015.

On 27 February 2015 the EFSF Board of Directors decided to further extend the Greek MFFA by four months until 30 June 2015.

In addition, it should be noted that the MoU is a document that is often updated when a review takes place, potentially reflecting new circumstances and the need to adapt the list of policy measures to be implemented. The MoU (unlike the MFFA) did not have to be extended because it has no termination date.

The statement appears to directly contradict a statement put out by Greek government officials announcing that the loan agreement will be debated in the Greek Parliament despite there being no obligation to do so.

The statement says that the "nullification of the Memorandum... has been achieved... An extension of the loan agreement does not imply any extension of the Memorandum. The Memorandum has been abolished, since there is no provision that the so-called 'current program' will be 'successfully concluded'.

The statement was dispatched by the state news agency ANA-MPA

Eurogroup deal is not going to be approved by parliament, says gov't spokesman

Greek government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said on Monday that the extension of the agreement, approved in the most recent Eurogroup meeting between Greece and its creditors, is not going to be submitted to the Greek parliament for approval.

While speaking on the Real FM radio station, Sakellaridis noted that the government wants the "political legitimacy" granted by a parliamentary vote, but is not going to opt instead for a parliamentary debate.
     "The reason the government chooses not to bring the agreement to parliament for approval is because this is just an extension of the loan agreement. We don't want to give more weight to the text. At the moment, we accept the signature of the finance ministry. But the debate will be open, transparent," Sakellaridis told journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou.
The government spokesman said that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is not opposed to a debate in parliament, nor afraid of objections from within the SYRIZA party.

Sakellaridis' comments were immediately slammed by all political parties. PASOK described the move as "a flagrant violation of the Constitution and an insult to the Parliament’s legislative jurisdiction while the Potami party (The River) said the PM must bring the deal for approval to achieve the widest possible consensus.

On the other hand the Greek Communist Party (KKE) said that "the pretexts used [by the government] to avoid its obvious obligation are aimed solely at hiding the fact that it is... not only committed to maintaining the same obligations and laws included in the Memorandum, but also adopts similar practices as those of the previous government."

Asked by Chatzinikolaou on whether or not Greece will be able to repay its loan installment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Greek government spokesman said that the government is looking at all possible solutions to the problem and is going to fulfill all its debt obligations.

References - Real FM, ANA-MPA

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PROVOCATION - Turkey issues NOTAM in Aegean - Athens to raise issue with NATO


The Greek government delivered demarches to the United Nations, NATO, the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), condemning Turkey’s plans, following Ankara's release of the initial NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) on February 27, (for the reservation of a large portion of airspace over the central Aegean Sea in order to hold an unprecedented a 10-month military drill). Almost immediately Ankara issued a new NOTAM (No. 0900/15) revising the original notice (No 0889/15, issued on February 27) by excluding the island of Limnos from the area reserved for military use.

The initial notice, which constitutes a violation of international law and Greek sovereign rights,, provocatively designated a large section of the Aegean Sea – from the central Aegean island of Skyros northeast to Limnos – as an area where the Turkish armed forces could conduct exercises until the end of the year.

Original Story

Greece is protesting Turkey's move to reserve a large chunk of airspace over the Aegean Sea for military maneuvers until the end of the year, a Greek foreign ministry spokesman said at the weekend. Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras was quoted as saying that Ankara has unilaterally issued a Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM, reserving an extensive airspace over the Aegean Sea from March 2 to December 31, 2015, for military use.

The Greek government notes that the move intrudes into Greek airspace, interferes with traffic to two regional airports and affects two international traffic routes.

In the meantime, Greece's civil aviation authority issued a navigational warning stating the Turkish NOTAM is null and void.

The foreign ministry spokesman said that the Greek government plans to take the matter to NATO, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).

This is the second major Turkish provocation in the Aegean in the past two months. On the 31st of December 2014, Turkey issued two NAVTEX broadcasts, reserving large areas in the north and central Aegean for 2015.

The latest Turkish provocation came as a surprise, last Thursday the Greek government offered to begin talks about Trust Building Measures between the two neighboring countries. Turkey agreed to Greek request, making the latest provocation even more confusing.

Reference in Greek -

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