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February 27, 2015

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Theodorakis supports KKE rally against SYRIZA government

World renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis issued a statement expressing his support for a Greek Communist Party (KKE) anti-government rally, scheduled to take place at Syntagma Square on Friday afternoon against the recent Eurogroup agreement, only a couple of days after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

In his statement Theodorakis claims that after a month of the Left’s major electoral victory “three treacherous commitments still stand: handing over our national sovereignty, the universal binding of the Greece’s public property and the ban on implementing a national economic and foreign policy”.

Before meeting with Tsipras several days ago, Theodorakis urged SYRIZA to find the strength to “say no” to (German Finance Minister) Schauble’s "nein”.

KKE will be holding the rally at 19:00 on Friday night, and party general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumpas will deliver a relevant speech.

Earlier this week, KKE issued a statement accusing the government of “extending the bailout and continuing the anti-people policy”, while it claimed that a new bailout is going to be introduced over the summer. At the same time the Communist party described the negotiations between the government and Europe as being nothing else but an “advertising scam”.


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German Parliament Approves Greek extension - SYRIZA on fire With SYRIZA

The German Parliament on Friday overwhelmingly approved the Greek application for an extension of the loan agreement, as decided at last week’s Eurogroup session in Brussels. According to reports, 542 MPs voted in favor of the application, 32 voted against and 13 were absent.

With the CDU and CSU having decided to support the Greek application, the approval was never questioned. The SPD and Greens also supported the application, as did a number of Linke MPs.

In his speech, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble insisted that “the decision was not easy” and that recent reports “did not make it easier". At the same time he maintained that it remains to be seen if the Greek government will uphold its commitments. He further explained that the application was not for more money, but for more time to complete the program.

Each speaker who took the stand at the German Parliament noted their reservations, either over Athens’ resolve (such as the Christian Democrats) or the effects of the policy that is being implemented in Greece (Greens and Linke).

(Social Democrat’s Axel Schafer slammed the German daily Bild for launching the provocative “campaign” against Greece and denounced the newspaper for its inflammatory stance. He also noted that “the threats of exclusion from the Eurozone and talks of a Grexit” were “nonsense”, arguing that a Grexit would not only destroy Greece, but the European Union as well).

Ahead of the vote in Germany, the European Union's financial affairs chief Pierre Moscovici told German radio on Friday that allowing any country to leave the euro zone would simply raise the question "who's next?".
      "If a country, any country, leaves, the question will arise: who is leaving next?" the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs told Deutschlandfunk in an interview.
But he added that Greece had to meet its international commitments and ensure that any additional spending resulting from its economic policies were financed.
      "The reforms the Greek government wants to launch must be financed. It is not time to talk about debts. We'll talk about that at the right time. But it's important for me to say that this is not about a reduction of debt - there's no haircut."
Meanwhile, press reports are talking about a new 30 billion euro loan and a possibility that the SYRIZa government will sign a third bailout agreement with its lenders. The same reports claim that Greece is going to need a further 30 billion euros over the next tow years.

In Germany these reports keep increasing with the Rheinische Post arguing that Wolfgang Schauble is making preparations, while comments by other German politicians suggest that they have already accepted this possibility.

The SPD’s budgetary policy spokesman Carsten Schneider argued that the critical question will be posed just before the summer, whether Greece will remain in the Eurozone, or whether it will be given a third bailout of a few “tens of billions of euros”. Schneider added that appealing to the markets for loans to cover the financing problems is a delusion.

In Athens, Alexis Tsipras’ government is under major pressure. Reality about the country's economic state has turned out to be cruel and the landing for the newly elected Prime Minister and his MPs is more than bumpy.

Tsipras is facing reactions from ministers and party officers, the defeated opposition is taking shots and demands the submission and vote for the Eurogroup agreement in parliament and worst off all, he is already sensing that he is losing ground with his voters and the Greek people.

More exactly, far-left members of the ruling SYRIZA party have begun to complain about an abandonment of campaign promises to end the current bailout once and for all. Tsipras met SYRIZA MPs for 11 hours on Wednesday in a closed-door meeting to defend the extension agreement, which includes a slate of reform pledges by his government. Nonetheless, the mood was tense. Many of the government's 149 deputies are worried that the promised reforms are at odds with the SYRIZA’s own policy program approved by parliament.

The session was closed to the media and only limited information was leaked to the press. According to some reports Tsipras insisted on a show of hands asking those who oppose the deal say so.

Apparently Parliament speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou expressed serious doubts about the deal, while MP Rachael Makri stated that she abstained from the vote. On the other, Yannis Milios launched an attack on the negotiating tactics of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis writing that Greece’s economic team was ill-prepared for the talks with the creditors.

Panagiotis Lafazanis, who heads the party's hard line Left Platform, became the first government minister to publicly break from the deal, telling the newspaper Ta Nea he would halt privatisations of Greece’s state power, gas trading and oil refining companies — despite a vow from Varoufakis not to stop privatisations already under way.

References: AFP, Reuters, ANA-MPA, Kathimerini, To Vima

Editor's Note: As we can all see, the enthusiasm of the first days in power is gradually retreating and giving way to a major concern on the how Greece will make its way forward. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has no other choice other than to work hard and do whatever he can to safeguard Greek interests. The SYRIZA party still has the opportunity to prove to itself and its voters that it can successfully manage Greek affairs but if it keeps on stalling, telling lies to the Greek people, and concentrates more on its image rather than the real problems at hand, then it will take another seventy years for them to rise up to power again.


Chaos Returns - Anarchists Burn Athens, Smash Cars, Torch Storefronts

Late on Thursday night, a group of anarchists, who had taken part in a march that was protesting against the latest agreement with Greece's creditors, went on a rampage and began torching the city center. As a result they smashed store fronts, torched a series of automobiles and literally trashed the center of Athens after throwing dozens of Molotov cocktails at several riot police units.

The incidents were the first of their sort under the new SYRIZA government, and certainly took authorities by surprise (as well as those within the SYRIZA party who have never hidden their fondness to these vigilantes as well as to what they once described as repressive police tactics).

During the clashes, the Greek riot police did not intervene and despite of this they were still flooded with firebombs, rocks and slabs of cement from the rioting youths.

Earlier, following a march through central Athens, along with far-left ANTARSYA (Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow)party, which did not join in the rioting, the anarchists targeted jewelry and bank storefronts and bus stops.

Editor's Note - Time for SYRIZA to clean up house... and forget about having a riot police force that passes out flowers instead of calming down rioting vigilantes and hooligans.


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New Democracy Slams Gov't On Release Of Migrants From Detention Centers

The main opposition New Democracy party called on the government to guarantee the safety of Greek citizens earlier this week following its decision to shut down migrant detention centers. At the same time the conservative party slammed the government for wanting to grant Greek citizenship to well over 300,000 illegal immigrants.
      "The government suspended the deportation of dozens of irregular migrants and opened wide the gates of the detention centres, casting them adrift wandering the streets," New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis said adding that at the same time the SYRIZA government will grant Greek citizenship to 300,000 irregular migrants.
"Unfortunately, they demolish what was built with strain. Unfortunately, they put their obsolete ideas above the public interest," Karagounis noted.
He then called on SYRIZA to stop the demolition, to restore the operation of detention centres and proceed with their return to their country of origin.

Meanwhile, a report in kathimerini said that the government released more immigrants and asylum seekers from detention centers across Greece on Thursday. In fact some 315 persons have been released from a total of six camps. The figure included 17 unaccompanied minors who were transferred to a reception center in Volos, central Greece.

According to the article in Kathimerini, 110 people have so far been released from the center in Amygdaleza, north of Athens, 15 from Xanthi, 41 from Paranesti in Drama and 17 from Evros (northern Greece). Another 128 persons have walked out of the detention center in Corinth in the Peloponnese, while four have left the Hellinikon center in southern of Athens.

Commenting on the issue, Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou said on Thursday that the process would continue until most centers close down.

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BUSTED - Lawyer In Vatopedi Case Finally Convicted of Extortion

An Appeals Court convicted a Greek lawyer to 36 months in prison with a three-year suspension for extortion related to property transferred to the Vatopedi Monastery. The case is related to property claims of farmers renting land in Nea Redestos, which had been transferred to the Vatopedi Monastery on Mont Athos and was then sold to the company "Anthemias".

The case came to light when a video emerged showing the lawyer, Mihalis Koukouvinos, asking for money from a businessman to block the legal actions of the farmers.

Apart from extortion, Koukouvinos was also found guilty of fraud at misdemeanor level for a transaction involving one of his clients.

Here are the controversial videos that clearly show this criminal act and prove that the infamous Vatopedi case was based on a lawyer (or extortionist) who took advantage of an issue that had already been decided by the PASOK party in the late 90s. As you will see, the case has nothing to do with what you have come to know about the Vatopedi case.

Since the beginning, HellasFrappe has noted that this so called scandal was never a scandal to begin with. The only reason many may still believe that it was a scandal is because it was formulated to bring down the government of former ND leader Costas Karamanlis.

Keep in mind, that until the Vatopedi case came to light, Karamanlis was extremely popular with Greek voters and the establishment" who was desperate to bring George Papandreou to power was striking at his government (from morning to night via the Greek and int.'t media). Why? They were against Karamanlis' pivot to Russia -via the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline-, angry with Karamanlis' veto to FYROM's accession to NATO and certainly not pleased with Karamanlis' stance on the destructive Annan plan for Cyprus. They wanted to bring him down and out of the way.

After setting off a destructive plot (named the Pythia plot) to take down his government, as well as attempting to assassinate him, they took advantage of a local extortionist case and glamorized it to the international media by making it look like he was supporting greedy monks.

Below you can view the two controversial videos that were aired in late 2008 following George Papandreou's "money exists" speech at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair. A speech, which we all know, was PASOK's bow to the establishment and the beginning of the Troika's entrance to Greece. Following this, we have also posted a link to read the original story that is connected to this article which proves that there was never any scandal to begin with.

If you want to find out the truth about this issue then we suggest that you read HellasFrappe's Special Report by Clicking HERE
     When the Vatopedi case comes to mind people automatically characterize it as a scandal where money laundering and embezzlement walked hand in hand between government officials and simple Monks. This is because both the domestic and international press worked hard at spreading many falsifications about this case, which today are very difficult to prove otherwise.
     The reason is obvious: The case has never been presented to the public in the correct manner for all the obvious reasons. Vatopedi was the tool used by the "establishment" to bring down the popular Karamanlis government which we all know had turned its back on the West and was looking towards Russia and the BRICS countries for prosperity. (In terms of energy and pipelines).
      What some people do not know is that the Vatopedi issue basically surfaced -or made it to prime time- when the government of Karamanlis declined to help oligarch D. Kontominas out of a swindling deal. Kontominas, the enigmatic Greek billionaire known for numerous international financial swindles, and who is the owner of ALPHA Television channel in Greece, was accused a decade ago for criminal acts which his companies conducted in other foreign countries (especially in Africa). 
Read more by Clicking HERE

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STRATFOR - The Decade Ahead: EU Decay, Disintegration Of Russia & Communist China

The U.S. think-tank Stratfor (which some characterize as the silent CIA) recently released its new “Decade Forecast: 2015-2025” where it claims that the EU is going to decay, China should end up in “a communist dictatorship,” and Russia is set to disintegrate.

In the report, Stratfor says there are several key trends that have emerged. Here is recap of what they are forecasting:

  • The European Union (EU) has “entered a crisis” that “has increased in intensity“ and that “the EU will never return to its previous unity, and if it survives it will operate in a more limited and fragmented way in the next decade“.
  • Germany will “suffer severe economic reversals in the next decade and Poland will increase its regional power as a result”.
  • The current confrontation with Russia over Ukraine will remain a centerpiece of the international system over the next few years. The U.S. think tank believes that the Russian Federation cannot exist in its current form for the entire decade and is expecting “Moscow’s authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia”.
  • Turkey’s southern border is vulnerable with fighting, and the nation will be slowly drawn into the conflict. But by the end of this decade, “Turkey will emerge as the major regional power, and Turkish-Iranian competition will increase as a result”.
  • China has completed a high-growth cycle as a low-wage country and has entered a new phase that is the “new normal”. This phase includes “much slower growth and an increasingly powerful dictatorship” to contain the divergent forces created by slow growth. China will continue to be a major economic force but will not be the dynamic engine of global growth it once was.
  • The U.S. is expected to be the major economic, political, and military power in the world “but will be less engaged than in the past. The U.S. “will face major strategic threats with proportional power, but it will not serve the role of first responder as it has in recent years.

Stratfor concludes the report with this:
    "There is no decade without pain, and even in the most perfect of times, there is suffering. The crises that we expect in the next decade are far from the worst seen in the past century, and they are no worse than those we will see in the next."
Europe

Stratfor believes that the EU will be unable to solve its fundamental problems, which isn’t the eurozone, but the free trade zone. Germany is the center of gravity of the EU as it exports more than 50 percent of its GDP, with half of it going to other EU countries.

The report says that the “EU may survive in some sense”, but that European economic, political, and military relations will be governed primarily by bilateral or limited multilateral relationships that are going to be “small in scope and not binding”.

The economy of Germany — the world’s fourth-largest economic power — is hostage to the economic well-being and competitive environment in which it operates, the report says.

Multiple forces are working against Germany including Europe’s increasing nationalism that will lead to protectionist capital and labor markets and weaker nations adopting various sorts of capital controls, according to the report.

Stratfor sees Germany beginning “an extended economic decline that will lead to a domestic social and political crisis and that will reduce Germany’s influence in Europe during the next 10 years“.

Poland and Romania will benefit from as a strategic partnership with the U.S. as it looks to make their economies as “vigorous as possible”, to stabilize their societies and to make them capable of building military forces, the report says.

Russia

Stratfor believes that it is not likely that Russia is going to survive its current state and that its failure to transform its energy revenue into a self-sustaining economy makes it vulnerable to price fluctuations.

Moscow’s withering ability to support and control the Russian Federation will leave a vacuum and what will exist in this vacuum will be the individual fragments of the Russian Federation which will “create the greatest crisis of the next decade,” according to the report.
    "Russia is the site of a massive nuclear strike force distributed throughout the hinterlands. The decline of Moscow’s power will open the question of who controls those missiles and how their non-use can be guaranteed. This will be a major test for the United States. Washington is the only power able to address the issue, but it will not be able to seize control of the vast numbers of sites militarily and guarantee that no missile is fired in the process. The United States will either have to invent a military solution that is difficult to conceive of now, accept the threat of rogue launches, or try to create a stable and economically viable government in the regions involved to neutralize the missiles over time."
The Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East — particularly the area between the Levant and Iran, along with North Africa — is experiencing national breakdowns and in countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq, there has been a devolution of the nation-state into factions that war on each other and that cross the increasingly obsolete borders of countries, the report says.

The U.S. will act to mitigate the threat of these particular factions, which will change over time, through the use of limited force. But the U.S. won’t deploy multi-divisional forces to the region and as a result regional expectations will shift more slowly than reality, according to the report.

Stratfor believes that as reality sinks in, only one country has an overriding interest in stabilizing Syria and Iraq, due to its location: Turkey, as it has the means to at least achieve limited success in the region.

Turkey will continue to need U.S. involvement for political and military reasons, and the U.S. will oblige, however there will be a price: participation in the containment of Russia, the report says.

Stratfor says that Turkey won’t be able to withstand years of chaos across its border, and there will be no other country to carry the burden, and that Turkey will likely to try to build shifting coalitions that may ultimately reach into North Africa to stabilize the situation.

Turkish-Iranian competition will grow with time, but Turkey will keep its options open to work with both Iran and Saudi Arabia as needed and whatever the dynamic, Turkey will be at the center of it, according to the report.

Stratfor says that Turkey needs to find a domestic political balance awhile resolving internal political conflict and evolving its military, intelligence, and diplomatic services .

With that in mind, Stratfor expects to see an acceleration of Turkey’s emergence as a major regional power in the next 10 years.

East Asia

China has ceased to be a high-growth, low-wage economy, and as their economy slows, the process of creating and organizing an economic infrastructure to employ low-wage workers will be incremental, the report states.

China’s problem over the next decade are the political and social consequences of that shift, the report states.

According to Stratfor, Beijing’s growing “dictatorial tendencies“ and an anti-corruption campaign, which is actually Beijing’s assertion of its power over all of China, provide an outline of what China would like to see in the next decade.

China is following a “hybrid path that will centralize political and economic powers, assert Party primacy over the military, and consolidate previously fragmented industries like coal and steel amid the gradual and tepid implementation of market-oriented reforms in state-owned enterprises and in the banking sector”, the report says.
     “It is highly likely that a dictatorial state coupled with more modest economic expectations will result,” Stratfor says.
Our forecast is the imposition of a communist dictatorship, a high degree of economic and political centralization and increased nationalism, Stratfor says.
Stratfor concludes the report with this:
    "There is no decade without pain, and even in the most perfect of times, there is suffering. The crises that we expect in the next decade are far from the worst seen in the past century, and they are no worse than those we will see in the next."
Reference - OCC247

Greece's Defence Council To Change Top Heads of Air Force & Army

The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence, known as KYSEA, has decided to change the heads of the Greek Air Force and Army, following a meeting which was presided by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. According to a dispatch from the state news agency the Chief of General Staff of the Greek Air Force, Lieutenant General Evangelos Tournas is now going to be replaced by Lieutenant General Christos Vaitsis, the Chief of the Greek Tactical Air Force (HTAF).

The council also decided to replace the Chief of the Greek Army, Lieutenant General Christos Manolas, with the Commanding General of the First Army, Lieutenant General Vassilios Tellidis.

Hellenic National Defence General Staff (HNDGS) Chief, General Mikhail Kostarakos, is going to remain at his post, as will the Chief of the Hellenic Navy, Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.

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New "V for Varoufakis" Music Video Satirizes German-Greek Standoff (VIDEO)

A German show recently uploaded a video on Youtube satirizing the economic standoff between the finance ministers of Greece and Germany titled "V for Varoufakis". The video, courtesy of Now Magazine Royale, in an almost mock-Germanic tone, lists the Berlin’s achievements – the positive (the economy, large gold reserves, etc.) and the negative (such as starting two world wars). All the while, tense and poignant music plays in the background, while a slender military-looking German with a mustache proudly recites the achievements.
     “He’s the lost son of Zeus with a heart made of stone!”… "his body screams of sex”… “his leather jacket is made of skin from German shepherd puppies”… “He doesn’t negotiate, he simply kicks ass”. These are just some of the lyrics to the awfully catchy metal tune about Yanis Varoufakis that is taking YouTube by storm, with 6,300 views in just four hours.
The video is all done to tongue-in-cheek montage of Oktoberfest girls carrying beer and other such symbolism, interlaced with Germans doing back-up singing to the music, “Varoufakis! Relentless Varoufakis!”, as the whole thing descends into a heavy metal song. It’s topped off with a devilish Varoufakis, grinning away, his bald head gleaming in the dark as he plays the bouzouki like an electric guitar.
     “Dear Greek Folks, the time has come: we surrender! Take all our money, you may also take Helene Fischer, but please, keep this financial Hercules off us. We could only just bear with Costa Cordalis [a German singer of Greek origin], so this is clearly way too much!” 
The current economic standoff reached a new high, as Varoufakis claimed his country’s acceptance of Brussel’s bailout strategy for Greece amounted to a “sell-off of family silver at rock-bottom prices and in a way that doesn’t lead to development for the economy.”


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Turkish Media Slams Austria For Not Being Tolerant Of Islam Anymore

From an extremely twisted point of view, Turkey's Daily Sabah heavily criticized the Austrian government for altering its current law system to tackle extremism. The new laws aim to come down hard on Muslims who promote extremism and according to the Turkish paper this will set a time bomb in Europe. The law, according to the paper, is also going to limit the number of clergymen who are sent from Turkey to Austria and this is certainly something that Ankara does not like. Take the Greek example: When the previous conservative government decided to pass a law to ban the influx of clergymen from Turkey to Greece (who we all know were promoting the Turkification of the Pomak, Roma and Muslim people in Thraki), the Turkish consulate in Komotini went ballistic.) The paper says that the repercussions of this decision will eventually lead to extremism. This is indeed laughable and a twisted theory, which could also very well be warning, because we all know that Turkey is tolerant (and supportive) of the Islamic State. HellasFrappe applauds the Austrian government for these measures because we feel that it will set a positive pattern that should then be adopted by all member states, especially after the Charlie Hebo attacks in Paris earlier this year.
      "Austria was hailed by Muslims as the leading country in Europe that understands and respects Islam and thus should be an example for others. However, current developments show that shortsighted Austrian politicians are prepared to change all that and set a time bomb in the heart of Europe.
      "Austria officially recognized Islam in 1912 and thus has been living in peace and harmony with Islam for more than a century. However, growing anti-Islamic sentiments and the transformation of xenophobia into Islamophobia has prompted some Austrian politicians in responsible places to follow the trends in Europe and turn against Muslims and Islam.
      "Austria is currently passing a law on Islam that is simply a blow not only to the Muslim community living in Austria, but also a serious threat to Islam in Europe, which will eliminate those Muslims who are calling for moderation and promote extremist Muslim clergymen.
      "For the past 40 years the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey (DİB) has been successfully educating Turks living in Austria on Islam, it sends moderate imams and preachers to lead prayers at the 200 mosques in the country and is helping Muslims to stay on the path of peace and compassion and encourages them to live in harmony with the people of other religions, cultures, colors and languages.What Austrian politicians are doing is setting the clock back a hundred years and destroying what has been built in a century.
     "This is not only a great shame, but is also a prescription to encourage religious extremism, clandestine activities and destroy the culture of coexistence in Austria. This is to destroy everything that other European countries have not done and are thus suffering from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) crisis as their young Muslims raised by extremist imams are leaving these countries to join the religious radicals in Syria and Iraq. Then they go back to their European countries and sow the seeds of ISIS there, hence the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
     "The new Austrian law is directed at Islam and thus is fundamentally a discriminatory law. The law orders the moderate DİB's imams out of the country, bans any financial assistance to be received from Turkey for Muslims to learn Islam properly by moderate instructors and bans Turkish Islamic publications for Muslims from Turkey. In short, it amounts to banning DİB from Austria. What enmity, what shortsightedness?
     "The law also treats the Turkish Islamic Union of Austria as an extremist organization even though this organization helps DİB promote unity among Muslims as well as the supreme values of Islam like peace, moderation and compassion.
     "If people cannot learn their religion through legal and safe means they will then opt to learn it in a clandestine manner, which will throw them into the hands of religious extremists.
     "Austrian politicians and people in responsible places seem to miss the fact that the Catholic Church does exactly the same and may be more of what DİB is doing in Austria. The Vatican rightfully intervenes on issues regarding Catholics in Austria, it has a major say in how the Catholic Church is run and provides assistance whenever necessary. The fact that this new law targets Muslims directly and, that such measures are not even discussed concerning members of other religions, shows that the architects of this law do not mean well.
     "The Austrian government has said it wants Islam with an Austrian character. This is impossible. Islam has a universal character and attempts to create one's own brand of Islam will not work.
     "What is sad is that many European countries, and especially Germany, which houses a large Turkish Muslim minority is watching the Austrian example closely to introduce similar laws. The fuse that has been set off in Austria could well blow up in all of Europe. That is the last thing we need."
More at: Sabah

February 26, 2015

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MEMO to Varoufakis: "Game theory is fine but this is not a game"

By John Ward (The Slog) - The anti-‘deal’ leaks from the ECB, Berlin, the IMF and Brussels have been in full flow since Tuesday evening. It’s all terribly predictable: a clever process of suggesting that – purely out the goodness of their hearts – Troika2 is going to cut Greece some slack… even though T2 has – to tot up the list to date – ‘grave doubts’, ‘major reservations’, ‘worries about the lack of detail’, and ‘concerns about achievability’. There is slack rope, and there is enough rope to hang oneself.

The stench of hypocrisy in all this is vomit-inducing: Greece is being set up to fail, and in the meantime the ECB will continue its covert policy of creating bank cash-flow problems…ensuring that Syriza comes across as a Skid Row lush dependent upon never-ending welfare.

From Yanis Varoufakis, the Master of Game Theory, there has been little since the sign-off beyond rationalisation.

In an interview with the Irish Times’s Damian Mac Con Uladh on Friday, Varoufakis gives us:
     “Good compromises don’t always satisfy everyone, and leave in a sense everyone somewhat dissatisfied. But the mandate from our party, our government and my prime minister was very straightforward. To get a deal done. So, compromise. The question is if we have compromised our basic principle. And the answer is a big, fat no… Our mandate was to struggle against this black and white, this either/or, and to create a third way… It’s a triumph for democracy and marks the end of automated austerity… Anything is better than confining us to an austerity hole where we shrink every day.”
Compare and contrast that entirely reasonable attitude with this BBC interview on February 3rd:
     ”Europe in its infinite wisdom decided to deal with this bankruptcy by loading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders… What we’ve been having ever since is a kind of fiscal waterboarding that has turned this nation into a debt colony… [the Troika is] a committee built on rotten foundations… Greek democracy has chosen to stop going gently into the night. Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light… We are going to destroy the basis upon which they have built for decade after decade a system, a network that viciously sucks the energy and the economic power from everybody else in society.”
I’m being ironic: I vastly prefer the second (earlier) Varoufakis to the new relaunch.

Today’s Irish Times interview shows Damian Mac Con Uladh giving Yanis an unbelievable easy ride on the subject of a fat, hairy mammoth in the room: the now well-documented way in which the Greek Finance Minister was ambushed by the Euromafia at 4.30 pm last Friday.

I recognise perfectly well that I’m breaking from the optimist pack, but then I do understand the sociopathy of that Mafia better than most Greeks. To be blunt, I think Varoufakis underestimated it; and last Friday, the breathtaking, bullying illegality of their input caught him napping.

I do not believe Syriza has bought time, I think it has sold principles.

I’m sure Yanis knows all the tricks of Game Theory, but this is not a game. He is dealing with (as are we all sooner or later) a nasty and yet hopelessly splintered EU oligarchy of far greater venom than any existing in Greece. The division on the opposing side is what he missed.

It’s easy to define, and even easier to evidence: the Germans are fed up of the French, and losing faith in the Americans. That’s a very serious split, because the man with the most unaccountable power in the eurozone is Mario Draghi… who works for Wall Street.

The French, meanwhile, bitterly resent the idea that a nasty piece of work like Wolfgang Schauble will be eyeballing them during March… and if and when FiskalUnion ever comes to pass, telling them what they can and can’t spend 24/7.

The idea that Paris has the remotest desire to acquiesce in that arrangement is ridiculous. Apart from anything else, it would hand millions of votes to both Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage.

On top of that we have a general trend in Southern Europe towards euroscepticism: the continuing growth of Podemos in Spain, and europhobic Berlusconi attitudes in Italy. These can only be encouraged by a flat refusal by Greece to deal with the idiots who caused the problem in the first place.

This is the perspective from Syriza that I find flawed: the much bigger picture. Last week, Varoufakis focused on it, and then lost the plot on Friday. He was a refusenik, but now he’s a pragmatist.

SPORTS MINISTER on Super League Suspension: We will not accept threats and blackmails

The decision to suspend the Greek Super League soccer games for a week, which was taken earlier this week after recent clashes broke out between the administrations (and fans) of Panathinaikos and Olympiakos soccer teams is even worse outside the sports venues, Deputy Minister for Sports Stavros Kontonis told ANT1 tv on Thursday.
     "There will be no delays, nor will we accept threats and blackmails," Kontonis underlined adding that "the problem must be solved once and for all."
He said that incidents such as these inspire fans to behave in the exact same way (if not worse).

He then said he has consulted with the presidents of the Hellenic Soccer Federation (EPO), Super League and Football League, and it was agreed that the law obligating the issuing of electronic tickets would be implemented as soon as possible. He explained that the government has no other ultimatum but to enforce this law because the legislative framework of soccer is "rotten" (to the core), and as a result the government does not have the opportunity to intervene. He did, however, clarify that this too will be solved very soon via a draft bill.

It should be reminded that the Greek Super League soccer games were suspended for a week following violent clashes both in the stadiums and during a meeting of organization heads.

The minister is expected to hold another meeting with the Super League next Wednesday in order to determine whether or not steps were taken towards resolving the issue.

Meanwhile, Greece's police union said they submitted their proposals for dealing with this violence to both the Sports Minister as well as the Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis.


Flambouraris: There will not be a credit event

While speaking to MEGA tv on Thursday, State Minister for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris reassured all concerned about the liquidity issue.
     "There is a liquidity issue but we believe that in the immediate future, with the measures we will launch, there will be liquidity," he said and referred specifically to taxation and fighting tax evasion and the non-payment of social security contributions.
Regarding the repayment of the IMF tranche, he noted:
     "If we have not raised 1.4 and we have raised 0.8, we will ask for a two month extension" and added "there will not be a credit event; this is neither to their interest nor to ours."
On the VAT, he reckoned there was no need for an increase since, he noted, such a move does not generate revenues.

According to the minister, the 100 installment settlement will bring revenues and will not cause a financial problem.
      "The institutions cannot say No," he claimed and clarified that the relevant regulation will be tabled just as it was announced with the addition of a provision for a bonus to those "who have been paying properly up until now."
On the so-called "objective" property values, he noted "we cannot have  a horizontal reduction, there has to be a zoning" and "this will take a while."

On the restitution of the tax-free threshold to 12,000 euros he said:
     "This needs at least three months, I don't expect it any earlier than May or June."
He said the bill on the large property tax which will replace the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) is already being processed and called on citizens to pay the last ENFIA tranche.

Regarding the long meeting that SYRIZA's parliamentary group held on Wednesday, he said it was a very productive one, during which support

and criticism were expressed. He said that 18 deputies either opposed to the agreement with the lenders or expressed deep concerns; however, 5 MPs voted against it and 5 cast a blank vote. Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis was among those who cast a blank vote, Flambouraris said, while the President of the Parliament Zoi Konstantopoulou expressed her disagreement.

He said it was quite reasonable to have disagreements over such a text  "which was not clear and was not 100 percent along SYRIZA's lines."

Asked if the agreement will pass through the Parliament, he responded this has not been decided yet. His own view, however, was that the agreement should be submitted to the Parliament.

ANA/MPA

BANK OF GREECE - Greece needs progress in implementation of pending reforms

Greece needs to make progress in the implementation of pending reforms, while a new agreement between the country and its partners is a necessary precondition for the continuation and strengthening of an economic recovery currently underway, the Bank of Greece said in its annual report which was published on Thursday.

Presenting the report, central bank governor Yiannis Stournaras said that there were still many uncertainties in the growth outlook for 2015, based on the implementation of a transition agreement with its partners and a possible deterioration of fiscal conditions.
     "Pending obligations were relatively limited and have a low cost compared with the huge volume of changes implemented in the previous years and the heavy burden paid by the Greek society," Stournaras said.
At the same time he noted that the country needs a single cohesive growth program which is going to be based on strengthening production through investments and mostly through structural reforms.

,

New Democracy Says Varoufakis’ Proposal Is "Exact Copy of Bailout”

According to a 12-page “non-paper” that was issued by the main opposition New Democracy party, Minister of Finances Yanis Varoufakis list of reform proposals (that resulted in the loan agreement extension) is an exact copy of the bailout. The non paper points out that extracts from Varoufakis’ list have been copied from the previous bailout agreements.

ND notes that the government is trying to fool Greece’s creditors (by promising to complete the program) and its MPs (who were told the agreement is a “bridge” program, rather than a bailout extension). At the same time the main opposition underlines that the recent agreement is far worse than the controversial “Hardouvelis email”, which included commitments to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) on islands and reduce pensions, among others.

Skourletis: 751 Minimum Wage To Be Restored in 2016

Minister of Labor Panagiotis Skourletis said that he is preparing a draft bill which aims to restore the minimum wage to 751 euros and reverse a set of other labor reforms. Skourletis pointed out that the bill will be ready in March and that wages would gradually be restored by 2016. The bill seeks to overturn reforms on collective labor agreements, as well as collective dismissals, compensation and contract extensions, etc. It also aims to raise the powers of the Mediation and Arbitration Organization.

When asked if Greece’s lenders would support the bill, Skourletis said that there is going to be a consultation period. He also announced that SYRIZA is not going to be bound by the commitments of the previous administration, when asked about the existing legislation.

He described undeclared employment as “the most important reform”, measure that his party is going to undertake along with the “Medieval working conditions” that currently dominate the job market. To that end the Labor Inspectorate will be upgraded and supported to meet the modern needs of the market.

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ND To Vote In Favor of Loan Agreement Extension

Main opposition New Democracy party parliamentary spokesman Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that ND is planning to vote in favor of the agreement for the loan extension, if it is tabled in Parliament. Speaking to Parapolitika radio, he said that “a large part of the Varoufakis email has been ‘copy-pasted’ from the damn bailout” and predicted that a third bailout was imminent.

Mitsotakis argued that while a third bailout “is not good for the country”, the recent agreement includes “common sense reforms” that are set to allow Greece to set aside “the false bailout-versus-anti-bailout dilemma”.

Asked to comment on the budget shortfall, Mitsotakis noted that it is going to be very difficult for the government to cover, while he estimated that SYRIZA is not going to be able to explain how it will cover “major funding needs” in March.


CNBC: “The brain drain" is the real tragedy for Greece

The real tragedy in Greece, which is being ignored by most economists, is the unprecedented “brain drain” which is taking place in the country, according to a report by the American news channel CNBC.

Lois Labrianidis, an economic geographer who researches migration at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, told CNBC that off the estimated 160,000 to 180,000 university graduates who have emigrated in the past few years about half have doctorate degree, while 46% of Greeks claims to plan moving abroad.

Labrianidis  claims that “the brain drain has huge implications for Greece”, which, according to him, is allowing young scientists to emigrate because “the economy keeps sinking and there is no one left to create high-value-added products or services”, thus creating a vicious cycle.

The managing director of Endeavor Greece Haris Makryniotis stated that the uncertainty in Greece has gotten worse since the recent elections, which further pushes people from all walks of life to emigrate. The recent loan agreement extension has also increased uncertainty, as everyone waits to see what is going to happen in four months.

Skouries: SYRIZA To Repeal Licenses of Hellas Gold

The Ministry of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy has apparently decided to repeal the licenses of Hellas Gold, the mining company which is currently operating in Skouries, in northern Greece.

Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy Yannis Tsironis said that the goal is to determine whether the Hellas Gold’s activities comply with the licenses which have been issued to the company because it appears that its enrichment plan has been constructed without any building terms.

However, the Greek Minister clarified that the Ministry has only examined urban planning matters and not the mining operations as of yet so his Ministry has not yet reached a conclusion on whether to suspend operations or not.

Meanwhile, Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis declared that the government is against the mining operation and would seek out legal means to address the matter. He also noted that he would support the mine employees and their prospects.


Kozani Doctor Charges Patient Of Being Racist

While speaking about her experience on Mega Tv, a 29-year-old doctor in the northern city of Kozani, revealed that she had recently fallen victim to a patient who hurled racist abuse at her, as he was being treated.

Local press reports claim that the 29-year-old Godwin Solace Akpevwe, who is of Nigerian descent, was on call when the patient arrived at the hospital complaining about a shortness of breath. The patent's condition was apparently critical, so the doctor urged the patient to quickly lay down so that he could be treated. According to the doctor, the patient was bothered and began shouting at her, while his wife went on rant complaining about everything.

When the patient eventually calmed down and was administered the necessary medication he turned around and told the doctor that she needed “a Hitler” so the doctor contacted local authorities. When the police arrived the patient initially denied the allegation, but eventually confessed about his racist outburst and then attempted to apologize.


SYRIZA Says No VAT Hikes On Islands or Books

SYRIZA secretary Dimitris Vitsas said this week that the government is planning to streamline the Value Added Tax (VAT), after it was revealed that Friday’s Eurogroup agreement includes a commitment to revise the policy on VAT.

Speaking to SKAI Fm, he said that SYRIZA's goal is to raise revenue without having a negative effect on social justice, while limiting exemptions and “absurd discounts”.

In a separate interview to Real FM, he said that any “changes in a VAT rate” would not affect the “border area, books, the Press or of course the islands in the Aegean”.

He clarified that there are no plans for an increase in VAT for the moment, but should it be deemed necessary, SYRIZA plans to debate the matter first.


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