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Viewpoint: Is Greece truly independent?

On March 25 Greeks worldwide celebrate Greek Independence, but Greece will never truly be independent until its people remove the shackles within.

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Original version aired on Dialogos Radio in March 2016.
Each year, on the 25th of March, Greeks around the world commemorate the beginning of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire. A commemoration which is closely tied into Greece’s national and cultural identity, and with the freedom and independence of the modern Greek state, after 400 years of occupation by the Ottomans.
But which independence and which sovereignty are we actually talking about here? The result of the Greek revolution of 1821 may well have been the end of 400 years of Turkish occupation and control, but what followed since then and what continues until today is a different sort of occupation, a political and economic occupation and increasingly a cultural one as well. Modern Greece has never been an independent or sovereign state.
In its modern history, Greece has been a colony and protectorate of the Bavarians, who soon after Greece regained so-called “independence” brought in their royal families to rule Greece. Greece was a colony and protectorate of the British, who employed divide and conquer techniques against the Greek people in order to assert control and dominance, as was the case immediately after the end of World War II, when the British turned their backs on the rebels who resisted Nazi occupation and sided with far-right, fascist, criminal elements who had been Nazi collaborators. Greece has been a colony and protectorate of the United States, who brought in so-called “patriotic” elements into power in the 1950s while emptying the country of its educated youth at the time, and who later on brought a full-fledged military dictatorship to Greece, in the name of freedom and democracy of course. And since 1981, Greece has been a bona fide colony of the European Union and later the Eurozone.
This sort of foreign control has become ingrained in the minds and the mentalities of most Greeks. It’s a mentality one comes across every day in Greece, that Greece belongs to Europe, belongs to the West, belongs to NATO, that Greece would be nothing without the European Union and the Euro and America, while you hear others saying that Greece must be saved by another power, by the Russians. You rarely, if ever, hear anyone talk about Greece standing up on its own two feet, as a nation and as a country, without being under the umbrella of some other power, some savior, without belonging to some sort of a so-called “alliance.”
Therefore, when this sort of neocolonial mindset predominates in your society and your national mentality, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When the so-called political leaders of your country, a bunch of ignorant and repulsive clowns and traitors, downplay the significance of this national day of commemoration and tell us that on March 25th of 1821 what took place was an “economic revolt” or that a new “nation” (pay attention to the word here), nation, was born, or that this commemoration belongs to the so-called European cultural heritage and inheritance, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When the totality of your parliament is comprised of political parties who have exactly the same position regarding Greece remaining part of the so-called “European family,” and is comprised of political figures who tell us that the memorandum and austerity agreements are a “blessing,” and there is absolutely no democratic debate of any kind regarding the issue of exiting the EU or the Eurozone, tell me, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When these so-called blessings, these memorandum and austerity agreements, have resulted in a GDP decline of 25 percent, a decline in domestic consumption of 28.5 percent, a reduction in pensions of 61 percent, an official unemployment rate of 26 percent, a 35 percent increase in the use of antidepressants, as well as 50 percent of the population living at or below the poverty line and over 500,000 mostly young and educated people abandoning the country and migrating abroad in the past eight years, tell me, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When the resounding result of the July 2015 referendum, which rejected new austerity measures, was itself rejected by the government which clueless people around the world hailed as a government of “hope” and “change,” by a fascist, authoritarian, and traitorous faux-leftist government which went ahead and enforced the harshest austerity agreement to date, a government which earned the electoral support of less than 20 percent of the Greek population, tell me, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When bills that are placed before parliament must also be reviewed and approved by Greece’s European so-called partners, when they have the unilateral right and ability to declare Greece as being in a “state of emergency,” and when they can decide, for instance, what crops Greece can and cannot grow, what amounts of these crops to grow, and where Greece is allowed or not allowed to export this production, when your government’s finance minister says that his government is signing anything that the Europeans ask them to sign, tell me, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When the Nobel Prize-winning European Union, in which Greece apparently must remain “at all costs” says that your country must accept hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants and when there are apparently great sums of money available to support them and to support the country, Turkey, that is trafficking them into Europe even though it is not an EU member-state, while Greece is told that there is no money for salaries or pensions or health care and that more cuts are needed, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When this so-called European “family” forces your country to accept an active NATO military patrol on your land and in your waters and forces you to accept the presence of police and military personnel from Turkey, while turning a blind eye to the thousands of violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters committed by Turkey each and every year, tell me, are you an independent and sovereign country?
When Turkey does not allow Greece’s official aircraft, in which the prime minister is traveling, to land on a Greek island and in a Greek airport, at the same time that Turkey has a police and military presence in your own country, officially and unofficially, and when Turkey considers any Greek attempt to explore for hydrocarbons in its Aegean or Mediterranean seaspace an act of war, tell me, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When your country does not possess its own domestic, national currency but instead uses what is in reality a foreign debt instrument, meaning the euro, and when you are unable as a country to develop and enforce your own economic, monetary, and fiscal policies, when your country is indeed forced to sell off all of its valuable public assets for ridiculously low prices to foreigners and the proceeds from these sales also go immediately to foreign hands in the name of repaying an illegal, odious debt, tell me, are you an independent and sovereign country?
When your very own government has watered down the teaching of your language, your history, and your culture, when it requires your children to learn at least two foreign languages, something which few other countries require, and when it enforces an education system which favors rote learning and does not allow even an inch for critical thought, when this very education system apparently teaches the new generations that they are European first and then Greek, are you truly an independent and sovereign country?
When all of the major avenues and thoroughfares in Greece’s major and smaller cities are named after Greece’s former foreign royalty instead of bearing the names of prominent Greeks from Greece’s ancient and modern past, when we have avenues named after Queen Amalia and King Constantine instead of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kolokotronis and Papanikolaou, are you truly an independent and sovereign country?
When you have altered and watered down the Greek language to the extent that practically half the words used in daily parlance in Greece today are English words, even though corresponding Greek words exist and were once used, are you truly an independent and sovereign country?
And the icing on the cake is that if you say such things in Greece, if you ask such questions and raise such issues, you are immediately branded as a “nationalist,” a “fascist,” a “Golden Dawn” supporter, a “racist,” and every other defamatory categorization one can come up with. In other words, in modern Greece today, one who stands up for their homeland, for their language, for their history and culture is now considered some sort of far-right fringe element. We’re European now, not Greek, we are told. When this mentality and this line of thinking predominates in society, especially among the young, tell me, is your country independent and sovereign?
Today, what Greece needs is a new March 25th. How can this occur though when the solution for Greece’s youth is to abandon the country, one that many don’t even consider their homeland, without a fight? How can this take place when the prevailing attitude in Greece is one of “woe is me, what can we do, we have no choice?,” and when there is such fear, indeed such terror, of leaving the so-called European family and missing out on the vaunted European dream?
Greece needs a new March 25th, but in order for this to happen, the people of Greece need to undergo their own personal March 25th, in their minds and in their attitudes. Will this ever take place though?
Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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After Embarrassing Defeat, NATO, EU and the West Try to Alter Reality in Macedonia

Amidst all the faux cheer and public displays of confidence of the pro-NATO/EU crowd, a palpable sense of unease hangs in the air.

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Authored by Aleksandar Pavic via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Although the September 30, 2018 name-change referendum in Macedonia, which was supposed to set that ex-Yugoslav federal republic on a path to (certain) NATO and (blithely promised but much less certain) EU membership, failed miserably, with only 36.91% of the voters turning out, well short of the 50% + 1 necessary for it to be valid – one would never know it from the reactions of its Western proponents and impatient beneficiaries. Indeed, a new term may be needed to adequately describe the reactions of the key pillars representing the reliquiae reliquiarum of the Western-led post-Cold War unipolar moment. Fake news simply doesn’t do them justice. Fake reality anyone?

The US State Department was firmly in denial, releasing the following statement“The United States welcomes the results of the Republic of Macedonia’s September 30 referendum, in which citizens expressed their support for NATO and European Union (EU) membership by accepting the Prespa Agreement between Macedonia and Greece. The United States strongly supports the Agreement’s full implementation, which will allow Macedonia to take its rightful place in NATO and the EU, contributing to regional stability, security, and prosperity. As Macedonia’s parliament now begins deliberation on constitutional changes, we urge leaders to rise above partisan politics and seize this historic opportunity to secure a brighter future for the country as a full participant in Western institutions.”

EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn wasn’t to be outdone in his contempt for the 63% of the Macedonian “deplorables” who stayed home in order to voice their disagreement with renouncing their perceived national identity and country name (it was to become “Northern Macedonia”) in exchange for the double joy of a) becoming NATO’s cannon-fodder in its increasingly hazardous game of chicken with Russia and b) the EU’s newest debt-serfs: “Referendum in Macedonia: I congratulate those citizens who voted in today’s consultative referendum and made use of their democratic freedoms. With the very significant “yes” vote, there is broad support to the #Prespa Agreement + to the country’s #Euroatlantic path. I now expect all political leaders to respect this decision and take it forward with utmost responsibility and unity across party lines, in the interest of the country.” He was seconded the following day, in a joint statement, by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission.

Understandably, as the most direct public stakeholder, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was particularly (hyper)active. As the disappointing results began to roll in, Stoltenberg went into immediate damage control, tweeting“I welcome the yes vote in Macedonia referendum. I urge all political leaders & parties to engage constructively & responsibly to seize this historic opportunity. #NATO’s door is open, but all national procedures have to be completed.” He reinforced his delusional missive the next day, releasing a similar statement co-signed by EU President Donald Tusk. And the day after, during a news conference, Stoltenberg even offered lightning-quick NATO accession to the unwilling Macedonians – January 2019, to be exact – if they would just be so kind as to urgently implement the very agreement that they had just so emphatically rejected. When NATO says it promotes democratic values – it means it!

But that wasn’t the end of the “democracy mongering” surrounding what may well prove to be NATO’s, the EU’s and the rest of the end-of-history West’s Balkan Waterloo. For example, the EU Parliament’s Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, although “regretting that the turnout was less than 50%,” nevertheless hailed the referendum’s results and “call(ed) on the opposition to respect the expressed will of the majority [sic] of voters.” The Group’s leader, Udo Bullmann, while also maintaining that, somehow, a voter turnout of under 37% still represented a “majority,” additionally used the occasion to chastise Macedonia’s President for having the nerve to call for a boycott of the referendum (he committed the crimethink of referring to it as “historical suicide” during his UN General Assembly address), as well as to decry – what else? – “reports about Russian interference in the electoral process.” It goes without saying that Bullmann offered absolutely zero proof for his assertion. On the other hand, according to numerous media reports, as September 30 approached, while no high Russian official was to be seen anywhere in the vicinity, a veritable procession of Western political bigwigs made the pilgrimage to Skopje in order to reveal to the natives their “true” best interests: Sebastian Kurz“Mad Dog” Mattis, the indefatigable StoltenbergFederica MogheriniJohannes HahnAngela Merkel. No meddling there, obviously…

Speaking of Angela Merkel, she also joined her fellow Western democrats’ show of unanimous disdain for the Macedonian voters’ majority opinion, urging the country to “push ahead” with the implementation of the majority-rejected accord, citing voters’ “overwhelming support” [sic], and arguing through the mouth of her spokesman that the required 50% + 1 turnout was actually “very high,” as voter registers purportedly included many people who had long since left the country.

Coincidentally (?), the same argument was used by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who opined that the “yes” votes cast in the referendum do, in fact, “represent the majority despite the low turnout because Macedonia does not have the 1.8 million voters entered into its electoral rolls but just 1.2 million since 300,000 people have left the country since the voter lists were last updated 20 years ago.” The fallacy of his reality-challenged claim is easily exposed if we just take a glance at the results of Macedonia’s last parliamentary elections (December 2016), in which voter turnout was just under 1.2 million (1,191,832 to be exact) or, officially, 66.79%. If we were to believe Kotzias and Merkel (who lodged no objections at the time), that would have meant that the turnout for the 2016 elections had been 99% – a figure that would make any totalitarian dictator blush with envy. On the other hand, since those elections did produce the “desired result,” enabling the current heavily pro-NATO/EU government led by Zoran Zaev to be formed, that automatically made them “valid” in the eyes of the high priests of democracy in Brussels, Berlin, London and Washington.

Needless to say, Zaev joined his Western patrons’ charade, hailing the referendum as a “democratic success,” and announcing that he would seek the Macedonian Parliament’s support to amend the constitution and get the agreement with Greece ratified (according to the so-called Prespa Agreement, the Macedonian Parliament must adopt the necessary constitutional amendments by the end of 2018) so that the Greek Parliament can do the same, which would seal the deal. However, Zaev and his Albanian political partners are currently well short of the necessary two-thirds majority (reportedly, they can count on 71 deputies, or 9 short of the needed 80), and will have to call early elections if they don’t soon succeed in securing it.

Yet, let it not go unsaid that Zaev was singing a rather different tune prior to the referendum, assuring that “citizens will make the decision,” and that Parliament would vote on the necessary constitutional changes only if the referendum is successful. But that was then, when confidence was still high that the usual combination of Western pressure, money and overwhelming domination of the media spectrum would get the job done. And then reality struck on September 30…

Still, amidst all the faux cheer and public displays of confidence of the pro-NATO/EU crowd, a palpable sense of unease hangs in the air. As a Deutsche Welle opinion piece put it, the “low voter turnout for Macedonia’s referendum is a bad starting point for the country’s future development.” And, according to DW in Serbian, a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commentary warned that “politicians who otherwise ceaselessly talk of democracy as a ‘special value’ should not call on the parliament in Skopje to accept the voting results.” In other words, Macedonia’s people (read – a large majority of the majority Slavic population) have “voted with their feet” and rejected the agreement, and no new parliamentary election, no matter the results, can change that unpleasant-but-immutable fact. That alone will delegitimize any Western-led effort to “manufacture consent” by ramming the agreement through the present or future Parliament – although, as we know, NATO doesn’t put too much stock in referenda anyway, while the EU is not averse to making citizens vote as many times as needed to obtain the “right” result.

But the West has lost more than just legitimacy in Macedonia – it has damaged its reputation, perhaps irretrievably. In the words of former presidential advisor Cvetin Chilimanov, “The West has humiliated us… Macedonians have rejected this media, psychological, political and propaganda aggression against the people, and that’s the tragedy of these days, that a large percentage of a people that had been genuinely oriented towards the West has changed its mind and stopped looking at the West as something democratic, something progressive and successful… That is the reason for the boycott. Pressure was applied against Macedonia, a country that had always been open to ties with the West, but which did not want to make this disgusting compromise and humiliate itself before the neighboring countries, before Western countries. We did not understand why that humiliation was needed so that we might become a member of Europe. What’s worst, perhaps that is now the thinking of a silent majority of the people, that they won’t forget this insult and this attack on Macedonia.”

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Greeks Owe A Stunning €182 Billion In Tax Arrears To The State

Greece repeatedly raised taxes during its international bailouts between 2010 and August 2018.

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Via Zerohedge


Data from the Independent Authority for Public Revenue show tax arrears totaled 182.5 billion euros ($214 billion) on Aug. 10, according to a note sent from the agency to parliament last week and seen by The Associated Press Wednesday.

“The Greek government is owed so much in tax arrears from households and companies that it could pay off more than half its massive public debts if it collected it all,” writes AP, adding “unfortunately for the government, that’s unlikely to ever happen.”

However, as KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, more than 80 billion euros of that represents interest and fines on delayed payments from debtors that include companies that have been out of business for decades.

The arrears come close to Greece’s total economic output, estimated at 184.7 billion euros ($217 billion) this year, and Greece’s total public debt is worth about 180% of these arrears.

Eurozone-member Greece repeatedly raised taxes during its international bailouts between 2010 and August 2018.

Some 3.7 million Greeks – about 60 percent of the total – are behind on tax payments, and while the EU governments have attempted to crack down on the so-called shadow economy, black market activity still thrives in Greece.

As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notesexamples of black market activity are pretty common, whether it’s a warehouse worker driving an unlicensed taxi between shifts, an electrician accepting cash payments without declaring his earnings or a simple drug deal in a shady alleyway.

However, the level of black market activity, also defined as the shadow economy, depends highly on your country of residence. Generally defined as businesses and individuals engaging in inappropriate practices without complying with certain legal obligations such as paying tax or maintaining acceptable standards of employment, the shadow economy costs governments around the world trillions of dollars every year.

According to the IMF, heavily regulated economies with weaker administration tend to have well-established shadow economies. It’s far smaller in natons with strong, well-regulated and efficient government institutions. Back in the late 1990s, this was readily apparent in former Soviet states like Georgia where the shadow economy was estimated at 64 percent of GDP.

Today, the shadow economy is booming across southern Europe, though the scale of underground activity can only be measured indirectly.

You will find more infographics at Statista.

According to a new study published by the Institute for Applied Economic Research at the University of Tübingen in Germany (IAW), Greece’s shadow economy is estimated to average 21.5 percent of GDP. In the United States, undeclared cash transactions seem to be rarer with IAW’s study placing U.S. shadow economic activity at 5.4 percent of the country’s GDP.

 

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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