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Who burnt Greece? Hybrid wars: Putin, the South Stream gas pipeline, and the U.S.

Was Greece and the Karamanlis government destabilized and the country set ablaze as part of a hybrid war in response to Greece’s interest in Russian gas pipelines?

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Since the U.S. launched in earnest its unipolar bid for world domination in 1990 and once the Gulf war was in full swing, energy geopolitics came to dominate U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the European Union. During the 2000s decade, Greece was burnt severely in what almost everyone now believes to have been a CIA destabilization process to break up the arrival of Russian energy pipelines. Twice the U.S. blocked the arrival of Russian gas in the Balkans, once in Greece and once in Bulgaria.

Fires in Greece

For over a decade, Greece experienced fires which always magically emerged in locations where there were many trees or bushes and spread like wildfire (pun intended), as they erupted, coincidentally, on days with high winds. Anyone who observed the reports saw that the allegations centered upon theory: individual mistakes (such as cigarettes thrown out of car windows, electricity pylons catching fire, and grandmothers cooking carelessly and burning their food), and that behind each disaster were property developers out to make a killing.

The theories worked in so far as there was property development up until 2010 but there was one nagging issue: certain fires occurred near the tops of mountains where access would only be possible by helicopter. So building a house on a mountain top where you couldn’t even get materials up there or access any built property was an absurd notion.

Each summer, the deficiencies of the state were revealed. Not enough water planes were available to put out the fires and not enough firefighters were in operation. But everyone knows that a fire that is started deliberately is doubly difficult to extinguish. Indeed, reports have frequently surfaced from firefighters themselves that they have discovered incendiary devices at the site of the blazes. So, when observing a fire in real time, one can see one wing of it extinguished and then another front immediately flares up at a great distance. The corporate-controlled media always has an excuse for everything, claiming nonsense such as a smoldering cinders flew a couple of miles and started another blaze in another area.

Satellite image of major fires raging in the Peloponnese region and in the Parnitha mountain range outside of Athens, 2007.

When basic logic evaporates, then anything else can fill the vacuum, and the purpose behind that is to hide who the real perpetrators are and to put forth any sort of justifications ensuring that no questions are asked and no proper investigations are ever called for. Those are the politics of those who are apologists of the system: they never seem to see any ulterior motives. But history always works against those who require lies to cover the truth. The truth will emerge, sooner rather than later.

In the 2000s under the Konstantinos Karamanlis regime, Greece made a turn towards energy dependence on Russia. Large public buildings such as hospitals and schools would be provided with Russian gas, in particular after Greek shipowners pioneered the delivery of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in container ships, leading to its easier delivery and storage. But another part of the proposals encompassed the securing of a Southern EU-Russian pipeline, like the one that exists in Northern Europe (i.e. Germany).

What happened next is a case study in hybrid warfare. Without going public, the Greek government was destabilized by massive “wildfires” up and down the breadth of the country, resulting in numerous fatalities. There was no way the South Stream pipeline would be allowed, on American dictats. Karamanlis’ former classmate Christos Zahopoulos allegedly jumped off a building as a result of an affair, an unheard-of reaction in Greek society. The fires reached right next to Karamanlis’ summer house in Rafina.

After his election in 2004, Karamanlis met Putin, who then followed up with a visit to Greece. A deal was cut between Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy to set up the South Stream Russian gas pipeline.

A U.S. lobbyist by the name of Matthew Bryza, who married Turkish journalist Zeyno Baran, was the first to write against the Putin-Karamanlis deal regarding the South Stream pipeline. After all, this was the pipeline that sidelined Turkey. It’s an irony of history that as dozens of Greeks were burnt alive in the Peloponnese region, Bryza was marrying in Constantinople in 2007, on the 23rd of August. This was the period when Turkey was steadfastly pro-American.

American shenanigans

U.S. officials met then-deputy foreign minister Giannis Valinakis in Rafina in March 2007. Bryza got straight to the point: “[o]ther European countries have objections to the policies of the Greek government in the energy sector. Independently from your desires you are pursuing the dependence of Europe to Russian gas and therefore to Russian interests,” he said.

Out of many of the meetings they had in New York City, one of the meetings which they had in the Waldorf Astoria in September 2008 was characteristic. “Every time I tried to raise our own agenda regarding the Greek-Turkish situation, the conversation was steered back to energy issue, while in another meeting progress in national issues was linked directly to energy, i.e. the cancellation of South Stream pipeline” Valinakis recalls. American desires came to the fore: “We cannot help on issues that you raise like the Greek-Turkish ones, when you are advancing Russian interests’ Bryza stated. “You need to help us so you have assurances that there is no tension in the Aegean.”

In response, Valinakis states that he answered that “[t]he energy issues are dealt with directly between (then-foreign minister) Dora Bakogianni and the prime minister. Greece follows an independent energy policy.” Even when Valinakis spoke about the start of discussions with Gaddafi regarding independent oil drilling areas south of Crete he received the following answer: “That is good. You can negotiate with countries like Libya and others but not with Russia.”

Valinakis publicly responded to Bryza in May 2008, “[w]ith a serious and responsible manner, the prime minister and the government are advancing and protecting national interests in the best way on all fronts. As an extension, whatever advice is received from whichever quarter only creates noise and does not aid in any way.”

Secret meeting in Brussels

In 2007, the newspaper To Vima revealed the plan of shocking the three prime ministers (those of Greece, Italy, and Bulgaria) in order to muddy the waters and throw a monkey wrench in the pipeline talks. The issue of phone calls being wiretapped and intercepted had just broken out as a scandal in Greece, and the Americans were following closely all the steps of the prime minister. The Greek government tried to take matters into its own hands so the agreement would not collapse. Thus, in June 2007 a secret meeting was held in Brussels by the prime ministers of the three aforementioned countries.

This meeting was to take place while another meeting with European heads of state was being held in Brussels, thus providing cover. Karamanlis, Sergei Stanishev and Mario Prodi had coordinated amongst themselves to come out of the meeting at the same time and all those that followed them knew about it. They all went to the offices of the Greek representatives and ironed out all the petty details regarding South Stream.

Three days later, from Constantinople came the announcement that Greece and Russia had decided to deepen their cooperation beyond the Burghas-Alexandroupolis pipeline. The fact Karamanlis and Putin shook hands for the South Stream pipeline resulted in total astonishment on the part of the Americans. We are told in the report from To Vima that the U.S. ambassador immediately departed Athens.

It’s worth noting that in the documents of the Trilateral Commission, decisions were made in the 1970s to control European output in manufactured goods and energy. Hence coal mining was shuttered in most northern European states and European countries became energy dependent on imports of both coal and gas. Greece is fortunate enough to have an abundance of lignite, which provides around 50 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Over a two-decade period, the EU has pushed for the full-scale privatization and closure of the lignite mines in order for Greece to become fully dependent on imports. In a strange irony, Germany cut a deal with Russia and now has two pipelines supplying it with gas and oil whilst southern Europe still has none. The U.S. obviously wanted to supply southern Europe via the gas and oil reserves of Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan with the TAP pipeline.

As written by To Vima in 2007, “[t]he game is big and our country is small. Putin’s rushing and the reactions of the Americans show that Greece is in the middle of a serious conflict. It is clear we need careful decisions and a flexible approach. Greece should come out on top and not become a target of revenge-mania as we all know how big powers react.”

Eyewitness account from Evia, 2009

At the time, I was on the Greek island of Evia, which is close to Athens. From there, one could observe the outbreak of fires both on the mainland and on the island. Indeed, mountainsides erupted in flames out of the blue in more than one location at the same time. Firefighters on the scene mentioned pyrotechnic fire mechanisms which were either thrown from the side of roads or dropped from above. An unlucky pilot attempting to extinguish the fires flew low and crashed, killing himself.

Greece is mountainous in many areas, and such areas are impossible to access by foot easily or by a vehicle of any sort. It is therefore illogical to believe that fires would start simultaneously on mountaintops in more than one location, making it impossible for firefighters or military planes to put them out. Such was the case with the fire that burnt the Parnitha mountain range just outside Athens.

Reaffirmation by Vyron Polydoras

An argument broke out regarding South Stream pipeline amongst the then-minister of public order of the Greek Parliament Vyron Polydoras and the then-U.S. ambassador Daniel Speckhard in 2009. Speckhard had called in the interior minister of Western Samoa and six Greek MPs for a meal. Amidst all this, he said: “Whats gotten into you with South Stream?” to which Polydoras replied: “[i]t would be an ideal route.”

Speckhard’s response was firm: “[i]t’s not allowed, you understand, this is a geopolitical issue.” In response, Polydoras stated: “[w]e will go against Russia? Why don’t you ask Chancellor Schroeder? No pipeline competes with another. Europe requires four and five pipelines and still will not be satisfied energy wise.”

Back to the Future

If one looks at the plans of the two pipelines above, one pipeline originating from Cyprus is independent of Turkey and the second pipeline represents the original pipeline to replace the Russian South Stream via Turkey. The Greek portion of TAP is almost completed, but the issue is whether it will ever come online via Turkey.

Now, the irony of the situation is that Russia has cut a deal to have South Stream pipelines going to Turkey from the Black Sea. Turkey’s geopolitical role has suddenly been raised and America is now engaged in a turf war with Turkey, not wanting to allow it any further geopolitical power. As if history repeats itself, the new Italian government – shades of Berlusconi – seems to be friendlier towards Russia. Berlusconi had been instrumental in the 2000s in agreeing to the South Stream pipeline and was probably ousted as a consequence of that, having faced scandals not unlike those repeatedly faced by the Karamanlis government.

Oil and gas appear to be America’s weapon of choice in its attempt to maintain its global role and the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, when in reality almost all observers realize it is in full-scale retreat. The issue however remains: America does not appear able to supply southern Europe with energy, and two decades on, since this issue first arose, we are nowhere nearer to resolving the current geopolitical situation with respect to energy for the Balkans.

Timeline of Putin’s Meetings with Greek prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis:

07.12.04: Karamanlis visits Russia
08.09.05: Karamanlis meets Putin in Porto Carras (Halkidiki), Greece
04.09.06: Karamanlis meets Putin in Athens
15.03.07: Karamanlis-Putin meeting, first serious discussion by South Stream.
22.06.07: Karamanlis – Prodi – Stanisev meet in secret in Brussels
25.06.07: Karamanlis meets Putin in Constantinople (this is where the agreement was officially announced towards everyone’s astonishment, even Erdogan’s)
18.12.07: Karamanlis makes an official visit to Moscow
29.04.08: Working visit by Karamanlis to Moscow

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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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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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Greece: “Humanitarian Aid” Organization’s People-Smuggling

Greek NGO evidently received 2,000 euros from each illegal immigrant it helped to enter Greece.

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Authored by Maria Polizoidou of Gatestone Institute:


  • Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) describes itself as a “Greek nonprofit organization that provides emergency response and humanitarian aid in times of crisis….” It has reportedly abetted the illegal entry into Greece of 70,000 immigrants since 2015, providing the “nonprofit” with half a billion euros per year.
  • ECRI evidently received 2,000 euros from each illegal immigrant it helped to enter Greece. In addition, its members created a business for “integrating refugees” into Greek society, granting it 5,000 euros per immigrant per year from various government programs (in education, housing and nutrition).
  • With the government of Greece seemingly at a loss as to how to handle its refugee crisis and safeguard the security of its citizens, it is particularly dismaying to discover that the major NGO whose mandate is to provide humanitarian aid to immigrants is instead profiting from smuggling them.

Migrants arrive at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey in a rubber dinghy, on August 15, 2015. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

On August 28, thirty members of the Greek NGO Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) were arrested for their involvement in a people-smuggling network that has been operating on the island of Lesbos since 2015. According to a statement released by Greek police, as a result of the investigation that led to the arrests, “The activities of an organised criminal network that systematically facilitated the illegal entry of foreigners were fully exposed.”

Among the activities uncovered were forgery, espionage and the illegal monitoring of both the Greek coastguard and the EU border agency, Frontex, for the purpose of gleaning confidential information about Turkish refugee flows. The investigation also led to the discovery of an additional six Greeks and 24 foreign nationals implicated in the case.

ERCI describes itself as:

“[A] Greek nonprofit organization that provides emergency response and humanitarian aid in times of crisis. ERCI’s philosophy is to identify the gaps of humanitarian aid and step in to assist in the most efficient and impactful manner. Currently ERCI has 4 active programs working with refugees in Greece in the areas of Search and Rescue, Medical, Education and Refugee Camp Coordination.”

In spite of its stated mission and non-profit profile, however, ECRI — according to Greek authorities, has earned considerable sums of money from its serving as a conduit for illegal activities. ECRI evidently received 2,000 euros from each illegal immigrant it helped to enter Greece. In addition, its members created a business for “integrating refugees” into Greek society, granting it 5,000 euros per immigrant per year from various government programs (in education, housing and nutrition). ERCI has reportedly abetted the illegal entry into Greece of 70,000 immigrants since 2015, providing the “non-profit” with half a billion euros per year.

This revelation, however, does not begin to cover the extent of the illegal activities surrounding the entry of migrants into Greece. In 2017, for instance, Greek authorities arrested 1,399 people-smugglers, some under the cover of “humanitarian” operations; and during the first four months of 2018, authorities arrested 25,594 illegal immigrants.

More worrisome than the literally steep price paid to people-smugglers by the immigrants themselves — or that doled out by the Greek government in the form of integration subsidies — is the toll the situation is taking on Greek society as a whole.

According to Greek police statistics, there were 75,707 robberies and burglaries reported in 2017. Of these cases only 15,048 were solved, and 4,207 were committed by aliens. In addition, the police estimate that more than 40% of serious crimes were committed by illegal immigrants. (Legal and illegal immigrants in Greece make up 10-15% of the total population.)

In 2016, Greek prisons reportedly contained 4,246 Greeks and 5,221 foreigners convicted of serious crimes: 336 for homicide; 101 for attempted homicide; 77 for rape; and 635 for robbery. In addition, thousands of cases are still pending trial.

In a recent heart-wrenching case on August 15, a 25-year-old college student from Athens — on a visit home from his studies at a university in Scotland — was murdered by three illegal immigrants while he was out touring the city with a female friend from Portugal.

The three perpetrators, two Pakistanis and an Iraqi ranging in age from 17 to 28, told police that they first attacked the young woman, stealing money, credit cards, a passport and a cell phone from her purse, but when they realized that her phone was “old,” they went for the young man’s phone, threatening him with a knife. When he tried to fend them off, they said in their confession, they shoved him and he fell off a cliff to his death. After the interrogation, it transpired that the three killers were wanted for 10 additional robberies in the area.

In an angry letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, members of parliament and the mayor of Athens, the mother of the victim accused Tsipras of “criminal negligence” and “complicity” in her son’s murder.

“Instead of welcoming and providing “land and water” to every criminal and dangerous individual with savage instincts,” she wrote, “should the state not think first of the safety of its own citizens, whose blood it drinks daily [economically]? [Should the state] abandon [its citizens] to ravenous gangs, for whom the worth of a human life has less meaning than the value of a cell phone or a gold chain?”

Although those were the words of a grieving mother, they are sentiments widely felt and expressed throughout Greece, where such incidents are increasingly common.

On August 29, two weeks after that murder, six immigrants in northern Greece verbally assaulted a 52-year-old man on the street, apparently for no reason. When he ignored them and kept walking, one of them stabbed him in the shoulder blade with a 24-cm (9.4-inch) knife, landing him in the hospital.

Two days earlier, on August 27, approximately 100 immigrants, protesting the living conditions in their camp in Malakasa, blocked the National Highway for more than three hours. Drivers stuck on the road said that some of the protestors went on a rampage, bashing cars with blocks of wood. To make matters worse, police on the scene said that they had not received instructions from the Ministry of Citizen Protection to clear the highway or protect the victims. Gatestone was told upon further queries, that there was no official statement from the police or the ministry, just the drivers’ statements.

With the government of Greece seemingly at a loss as to how to handle its migrant crisis and safeguard the security of its citizens, it is particularly dismaying to discover that the major NGO whose mandate is to provide humanitarian aid to immigrants is instead profiting from smuggling them. The recent arrest of ERCI members underscores the need to scrutinize all such organizations.

Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece. She has a post-graduate degree in “Geopolitics and Security Issues in the Islamic complex of Turkey and Middle East” from the University of Athens.

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Turkey’s Latest Power Grab: A Naval Base In Cyprus?

“If Greek-Turkish tensions escalate, the possibility of another ill-timed military provocation could escalate with them… Moreover, such a conflict might open up an even greater opportunity for Russian interference.” — Lawrence A. Franklin.

The Duran

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Authored by Debalina Ghoshal via The Gatestone Institute:


  • The possibility of a Turkish naval base on Cyprus does not bode well for the chances of a Cyprus reunification deal, particularly after the breakdown of the July 2017 peace talks, which were suspended when “Turkey had refused to relinquish its intervention rights on Cyprus or the presence of troops on the island.” Turkey has 30,000 soldiers stationed on Cyprus, the northern part of which it has illegally occupied since 1974.

Turkey’s Naval Forces Command has “submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that Turkey should establish a naval base in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” according to Turkey’s strongly pro-Erdogan daily, Yeni Safak, which recently endorsed the proposal for the base in an article entitled, “Why Turkey should establish a naval base in Northern Cyprus.”

“The base will enable the protection of Northern Cyprus’ sovereignty as well as facilitate and fortify Turkey’s rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, preventing the occupation of sea energy fields, and strengthening Turkey’s hand in the Cyprus peace process talks.”

Having a naval base in northern Cyprus would also strengthen the self-proclaimed “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” which is recognized only by Turkey. Cyprus is strategically important: a naval base there would give Turkey easier access to the Eastern Mediterranean’s international trade routes and greater control over the vast undersea energy resources around Cyprus. In the past, Turkey has blocked foreign vessels from drilling for these resources; in June, Turkey began its own exploration of the island’s waters for gas and oil.

This is not the first time that Turkey has set its sights on the area’s resources. In 2014, Ankara dispatched surveillance vessels and warships to Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to search for hydrocarbons. This incident took place just before the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt deepened their an energy-cooperation, “freezing Turkey out.” As soon as the accord was signed, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades blasted “Turkey’s provocative actions,” saying that they “do not just compromise the peace talks [between Greek and Turkish Cypriots]… [but] also affect security in the eastern Mediterranean region.”

At the time, UN-brokered reunification negotiations, which had been renewed after a long hiatus, ended unsuccessfully yet again, as a result of Turkey’s search for hydrocarbons in the EEZ. According to a November 2014 report in the Guardian:

“Turkey’s decision to dispatch a research vessel into disputed waters last month not only resulted in talks being broken off but has exacerbated the row over drilling rights.”

The possibility of a Turkish naval base does not bode well for the chances of a Cyprus reunification deal, particularly after the breakdown of the July 2017 peace talks between Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. The talks were suspended when “Turkey had refused to relinquish its intervention rights on Cyprus or the presence of troops on the island.” Turkey has 30,000 soldiers stationed on Cyprus, the northern part of which it has illegally occupied since 1974.

Another factor that may be contributing to the Turkish Navy’s desire for a base in Cyprus is Israel. Aside from Ankara’s extremely rocky relations with Jerusalem, Israel and Cyprus have been working to forge an agreement to join their electricity grids and construct a pipeline to link their gas fields to mainland Europe. Although they are in a dispute over development rights of one of these gas fields, Aphrodite, they are invested in reaching a solution that will not damage their increasingly friendly relations.

Erdogan’s considerations should concern NATO, of which Turkey, surprisingly, is still a member, and the rest of the West. As Lawrence A. Franklin recently wrote for Gatestone:

“If Greek-Turkish tensions escalate, the possibility of another ill-timed military provocation could escalate with them. The ability of NATO to respond to other conflicts in the area could be affected, as well as NATO air and naval assets based in both countries. Moreover, such a conflict might open up an even greater opportunity for Russian interference.”

Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile issues, is based in India.

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