Νέα | Ειδήσεις από Ελλάδα με άποψη. Άρθρα, εφημερίδες, καιρός. » English Editorial http://www.rizopoulospost.com Βρείτε στο rizopoulospost.com ειδήσεις και τελευταία νέα από την Ελλάδα. Δείτε ο καιρός σήμερα. Διαβάστε σημερινές εφημερίδες. Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:03:02 +0000 el hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 Can PM Samaras convince Obama in forming a Greek global bailout? http://www.rizopoulospost.com/can-pm-samaras-convince-obama-in-forming-a-greek-global-bailout/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-pm-samaras-convince-obama-in-forming-a-greek-global-bailout http://www.rizopoulospost.com/can-pm-samaras-convince-obama-in-forming-a-greek-global-bailout/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 20:49:20 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=35553 gr

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras “is playing his last card” with his trip to Washington. The outcome of his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama will define how Greece will look like in the years to come as numbers of future generations are to be lost if the situation continues as is. While in Washington, Samaras will also have a meeting with US Foreign Minister John Kerry, during which they will discuss the usual issues: Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus, Skopje. This happened so that the agenda of the meeting between Obama - Samaras will focus on the single issue at hand, the Greek debt, thus getting the rest out of the way… The meeting between the US President and the Prime Minister of Greece will be held behind closed doors. A sound decision provided that Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who will accompany Samaras, is considered a "red flag" for the Americans given the leaks of the Press Office of the Greek Finance Ministry during the visit of U.S. Treasury Minister Jack Lew could were considered counterproductive. “The spin could have been better coming directly from the German Embassy” a US observer commented. Greek government sources imply that the Prime Minister will ask Obama to put pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to “better manage” the eurozone debt-whatever that may mean. The Americans, however, are not expected to waste their influence for the sake of Greece; US officials after the Snowden scandal are not that popular. Nevertheless, the US wants stability in Greece amid geopolitical upheaval in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The US can help by redefining the Greek debt into matter of National Security. Better yet, if Washington wants to avoid acting alone the US Ambassador the UN can bring a resolution to the Security Council recommending measures in solving the Greek crisis (it would be interesting to anticipate Germany’s reaction). The US could even consider bringing in the G-20 or the G-8 countries. Greek debt must be set in the global agenda not merely as a financial problem but as a security problem and a threat to peace. If Greece "falls", no one can know the length of the "domino effect." The Greek problem could work as the ground for the implementation of a “debt forgiveness” pilot program in a global political negotiation and the USA can help. However Samaras has to decide whether he is willing to define the problem as such and ask for Obama’s help. To this extent the announcement of an emergency G8 summit in Athens in October, focusing exclusively on the drastic impairment of the Greek debt in terms of stability and sustainability, would be a success for Samaras and go a very long way in ending the crisis. But for this to happen, Samaras must convince Obama that it is worth it.]]>
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Merkel’s “hypnosis” and the imminent Union haircut http://www.rizopoulospost.com/merkels-hypnosis-and-the-imminent-union-haircut/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=merkels-hypnosis-and-the-imminent-union-haircut http://www.rizopoulospost.com/merkels-hypnosis-and-the-imminent-union-haircut/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 13:33:17 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=34969 4tet433ef34

Last May Der Spiegel mentioned that "during her eight-year tenure as Chancellor, Angela Merkel has thoroughly succeeded in reassuring the Germans and in shifting their attention from political conflict to their personal wellbeing". Der Spiegel added that "by depriving German democracy from its dynamic character, ‘Mom Merkel’ has led the country to stagnation. This is a paralyzing consensus." Merkel’s “gift” of being able to "hypnotize" the public seems to be working in terms of polls as we are entering the final stretch for the German elections. But Merkel’s "hypnotism" is leading Europe to a nightmare with unpredictable consequences. Germany’s refusal to print money is leading to the "haircut" of peoples’ life savings. The truth is obvious. However, “hypnotized” eyes cannot see it. Some fifty days before the German elections, the Christian Democrats of Angela Merkel are increasing their lead in voting intention. According to the latest poll released last Friday by the state television ARD-Deutschlandtrend, the ruling Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) and its associate Bavarian Christian-Social Party (CSU) get 42% of the vote intention -- a four-year record high. And this despite the fact that 70% of the respondents stated that they are not satisfied with the government's efforts to shed light on the NSA case and 78% do not even trust the Chancellor when she said that she became aware of the scope of the surveillance only through the media. Even the majority of her party’s supporters, namely 59%, were not persuaded from what she said. And while Christian Democrats are doing great in polls, their government partners, the Liberals (FDP), are fighting a true battle for political survival since once again they were not able to achieve the electoral threshold of 5%. In a poll just a few weeks before the election, they received 4% and it is extremely doubtful whether they will be able to be represented in parliament and to ally again with the party of Chancellor Merkel. The Social Democrats (SPD) have lost a percentage point and are getting almost 25%, Greens have gained one point and are climbing to 14%, while the Left remains stable at 7%. Everything suggests that Angela Merkel will stay in power after the election. A strategy that delivers results does not change. The Greek government and the Greek public are victims of her “hypnosis”, since they are naïve enough to hope that after winning the elections, Mrs. Merkel will make them some kind of a great "gift". All international rating agencies say that this is “too good to be true” while they publish bad news for the Europeans every day. Fitch has already downgraded the EFSF from AAA to AA +, just as it has recently done with France. Thus as Europe is enjoying its deep sleep the ceiling of 100,000 euros bank deposits will most likely slip away forcing EU citizens to look up directly to a sky of uncertainty. Contributing to this fact is that money is fleeing from Europe to other destinations continuously. Most importantly, as an educated observer could grasp the example of Cyprus imposes an even greater danger which is yet to be discussed: if it has taken months for Cyprus to come up with a final haircut figure in terms of a percentage, it will take even longer for a greater country or the entire Union for that matter to figure it out. This means that meanwhile deposits will be frozen…the size of the problem will then be imaginable. What is described above is not a prophecy. It is the natural progression of things if nothing is to be done swiftly. Unfortunately Europeans are proven to have a bad relationship with political timing. ]]>
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Schaeuble’s message to Greeks: “Put up and shut up!” http://www.rizopoulospost.com/schaeubles-message-to-greeks-put-up-and-shut-up/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=schaeubles-message-to-greeks-put-up-and-shut-up http://www.rizopoulospost.com/schaeubles-message-to-greeks-put-up-and-shut-up/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=34328 soible2

The infamous physician of Auschwitz, Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death", conducted experiments on Jewish inmates of the camp in order to draw conclusions about racial differences. Every day he stood with his flawless uniform and polished boots on the spot where prisoners were unloaded from the trains and with his leather stick he divided those who were arriving into two lanes. Around 70 to 80 percent were sent to the left lane. The remaining 20 to 30 percent were ordered to form a line on the right. The first were sent straight to the crematoria. The others were his “lab experiments ”, subjected to extreme conditions in order to measure their endurance. The allusion with Schaeuble’s visit to Athens is obviously not accidental. I'm not saying Schaeuble is a Nazi. What I am saying is that Germany is once again conducting dangerous experiments by exposing the entire European South to extreme conditions and Greece is already experiencing the effects of this dogmatic insistence. The arrival of the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has come to put things in place and to put an end to the fantasies of the two-party government coalition of A. Samaras’ New Democracy (liberals) and E. Venizelos’ PASOK (socialists). Fearing Schaeuble’s reaction the government did not place the issue of a greater debt haircut on the table. Instead the President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Mr. Konstantinos Michalos “took the initiative”. Mr. Michalos though received the following answer from Mr. Schaeuble: "Forget the debate about the haircut, it does not do you any good. Since you continue to receive financial aid, any reference on haircuts means that you are liars. Continuing in this direction is not correct." That was point number one. Let’s go to Brussels and point number two. The European Commissioner for the Economy Mr. Olli Rehn clarified that there are no thoughts and no room whatsoever for the departure of the Troika, and he was not only referring to the presence of the Troika in Greece. He was rather referring to its presence in the entire Euro area and the financial aid programs in which it has a key role. The conclusion is quite simple: Put up or shut up! You will pay back every cent that you owe. Let go of your delusions, remember that you have forfeited part of your national sovereignty, continue to pay your taxes in order for the aid program to succeed, and then we see what happens... The current Greek government has fully come to terms with the German experiment since there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide under the circumstances. PS1: Those who place their hopes that a possible change of leadership in Germany may lead to a different policy attitude are, the least to say, naive. In October, most likely the German Finance Minister will send the Greeks straight to the “left lane”.]]>
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The market does not confirm the Prime Minister’s unrealistic image http://www.rizopoulospost.com/the-market-does-not-confirm-the-prime-ministers-unrealistic-image/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-market-does-not-confirm-the-prime-ministers-unrealistic-image http://www.rizopoulospost.com/the-market-does-not-confirm-the-prime-ministers-unrealistic-image/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 14:46:04 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=26485 magic

It has become quite apparent that the combination of austerity measures and high taxation has brought the country’s economy and society to its knees. Voices against this policy are growing louder and stronger every day. Last night the Prime Minister gave a speech at the Economist conference in Athens during which he attempted to convey a positive image of today’s situation in Greece. However, it is obvious that the market’s view of the reality is quite contradictory to that of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. It is commonly accepted among business people that Greece’s international lenders (IMF, EU, ECB) have gone too far with austerity. In fact they have pushed so much that even if the continuing recession could stop today, it would take at least another couple of years for the economy to return to positive growth figures. The Prime Minister’s unrealistic image is based on tourism, the banking sector, European subsidy funds, and the payment of the Government’s debt to businesses. Let us look at each point separately though. With regards to the banking sector the Government has suffered a very strong blow with the collapse of the strategic decision of the merger between the National Bank of Greece and Eurobank. Nevertheless the Prime Minister was satisfied (!) by the recapitalization process, despite the fact that banks’ shares hit rock bottom yesterday. As per the European subsidy funds, the absorption rate of funds for all programs running is approximately 49%. Sectoral programs are at 47% and regional at 52%. These figures are disappointing considering that the program expires –in theory at least- at the end of 2013. Simply speaking, the funds’ absorption rate should have reached the 90th percentile by now. Is the money going to be absorbed as we enter the final straight? This appears to be wishful thinking since Greek public administration is hostage of an ongoing red tape process. The third point is the money owed to businesses. Ironically enough as the Government shies away from its obligations, quite so often the public experiences prominent businessmen being imprisoned for the same reason. According to the latest available data, the debt in February amounted to 8,132 billion Euros. It is obvious that the circumstances do not leave much hope that the debt will be repaid by the end of the current year as the PM promised last night. Even if he used all the money from the financial aid tranches he could still not deliver on his promise. Finally, regarding the “ace up the sleeve” called tourism it would be sensible not to keep our hopes very high. It is already mid April and many hotels have not even opened up for the season yet. Many businesses in the tourism sector are in despair. They are trying to reach an agreement with the electricity company –a monopoly controlled by the state which is the main shareholder and retains the company’s management- to settle their unpaid bills. They cannot afford to pay social contributions and employee wages, and they are struggling to keep up with their financial obligations towards banks since their loans are three or four times higher than their turnover. At the same time, due to the global competition they are forced to lower their prices and suppress their profit margins. Considering the above, I am not so sure that hotel owners will be smiling the coming autumn. So, without the slightest inclination to be a killjoy, the assumptions of the Prime Minister have serious gaps and do not reflect the reality of the livelihoods of real people in the real economy. What the Prime Minister and his cabinet should do is to really listen to the needs of the economy and abandon a policy whose destructive consequences have spread horizontally pushing the country into the abyss of a never-ending recession. ]]>
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Trading Greek debt for German war reparations http://www.rizopoulospost.com/trading-greek-debt-for-german-war-reparations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trading-greek-debt-for-german-war-reparations http://www.rizopoulospost.com/trading-greek-debt-for-german-war-reparations/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:09:57 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=26197 edito-15-4-eng

The debate regarding German war reparations has resurfaced. Although both legal and moral grounds siding with the Greek government are strong, an official claim has never been issued. Those who occasionally attempted to stress this issue have been treated either as ludicrous or as disruptive, since such an effort could damage relations with the Germans. Ironically enough, Germany’s Spiegel has published quotes of its own historians defending the Greek position. The German minister has already refuted liabilities of nearly 162 billion Euros. The fact that this time the discussion is taking place in the global media is the reason why Schaeuble is so alarmed and tried to close the subject immediately. He knows that this may prove to be the tip of the iceberg which could sink German prosperity, as it is certain that Greece could become a precedent providing the grounds for other countries to raise the same issue and there could even be a sort of alliance between countries which will be making the claim against the Germans. Let’s not kid ourselves. From Schaeuble’s perspective Greece remains – and will remain for a while – the “black sheep”. Schaeuble’s job is to serve German national interests. In response, it should be the Greek Government’s job to officially claim the reparation owed to the Greek citizens, clarifying globally that it is deeply hypocritical for a country to be raising the issue of credibility when it has not lived up to its own international financial obligations. This indeed is a “David and Goliath” clash all over. It is no longer a matter of responding to Germany’s arrogance. It is a matter of Greek national interests which if handled properly from a legal, political and communications point of view, grounds could be formed in order for Germany’s obligations to be traded for the Greek national debt. If not handled properly, this extremely vital case will end up being a lost opportunity, or even worse, a lost cause similar to the one of the Elgin marbles.]]>
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Love for Greece and common sense http://www.rizopoulospost.com/love-for-greece-and-common-sense/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=love-for-greece-and-common-sense http://www.rizopoulospost.com/love-for-greece-and-common-sense/#comments Tue, 22 Jan 2013 22:48:33 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=16021 lovegreece

In yesterday’s postscript I mentioned that the results of Metron Analysis’ latest poll revealed an overwhelming majority of the people who stated they had positive feelings about Greece (even though concepts such as “state”, “right wing”, “left wing” had lost all meaning). It is very likely, that under these conditions of social unrest, struggle and despair that Greeks are finally led to search out something real to believe in and support them. Support for the traditional political parties of “right”, “center” and “left” has dwindled and those that still do identify with any particular party haven’t any conscious reason to or motivation to declare their support publically anymore. In the same vein, the government is treated daily with open hostility, and blamed for being the source of all society’s ills and the demise of the economy. Truly the only thing left to turn to is Greece, the country, itself. What Greece means for every Greek is obviously a very subjective issue. However, there is one common denominator in this shift towards Greece and Hellenism- and that is the search for dignity. The majority of Greeks feel they have lost their dignity. As one man cannot pay his rent, another has a padlock in his shop, another who cannot financially support his children's education, others in jail because they chose to not pay their taxes in order to feed their starving family, all the time watching the country used as a guinea pig for recipes to recover from this crisis - all of which have failed publically but continue to be applied to no avail- it is no wonder that Greece itself is all there is left to love. The country found itself in the midst of the deepest crisis in the history of the country since the last war. The crisis deepened further because of the absence of a strong national leadership which could carry the burden of major challenges on its shoulders and give decisive battles to protect the Greek self-esteem.. This loss of national dignity inevitably has permeated the entire social structure and gradually eroded any sense of self-respect left in the populace. Greeks woke up one morning and saw their allies and partners put a gun to their heads. These allies were suddenly “lenders” and treated Greece as the enemy. The country was reviled; lost one battle after another throughout the negotiations and finally are threatened with economic ruin and social collapse. This really hurt Greeks deeply. Now, Greeks look back to their past, ancient and modern, in order to recover their lost dignity. The words of Dionysios Solomos, (author of the Hymn to Liberty, of which the first two stanzas, set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, became the Greek national anthem in 1865) come to mind: “One cries while telling the story of past achievements.” But this is not enough. Crying is perhaps the first reaction to the shock of loss. But life must go on. Greece is at a turning point and to this day nothing has changed with regard to the ability of this country’s leaders to manage the least of this country's critical issues. If we consider the privatization of DEPA (Dimosia Epichirisi Paroxis Aeriou - the Greek natural gas company) - the Russians have the money - the Americans have objections. What does the Greek government do? It ruins its relationship with both countries, as usual. Why? Because there is no strategy. One possibility would be to say: I will respect the objections of the U.S. but I would ask they back us up with the delimitation of the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) in the Aegean, since I can’t do it myself being in such a bad state. If the Americans help me here, I have achieved a strategic victory. If they decline then I just turn around and legally go for the money with the Russians. All this has to be negotiated by people who have the ability and experience to collaborate on a deal. What we can conclude from these statistics is that the less hopeful people are in the capabilities of the national leaders to negotiate the interest of the nation, the more the populace seeks their dignity in the “concept” of Greece. P.S. #1: The political system continues to do what it only knows how to do. It creates tensions in order to separate the Greeks into 'us and them'. However, more and more Greeks are realizing, as the poll reveals, that "we and they" is a game played by the political system and for the Greeks is the time has come for the "we." In order for this to be accomplished a key platform of any national leader in Greece- must guarantee national unity. P.S. #2: The platform can be a single line. "Love for Greece and common sense." No need for manifestos or "sheets" to conceal hidden agendas. ]]>
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Alexis Tsipras discovers America! http://www.rizopoulospost.com/alexis-tsipras-discovers-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=alexis-tsipras-discovers-america http://www.rizopoulospost.com/alexis-tsipras-discovers-america/#comments Sun, 13 Jan 2013 04:36:33 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=14286 akexstsipras

For many decades the Greek Left assumed that Americans were no more than murderers of “the peoples” and that imperialism was the one and only enemy. For members of the communist party’s youth, wearing Levi’s jeans and buying American rock and jazz records was a major ideological issue. Those who did succumb to the temptation to buy these items would desperately try to conceal these “weaknesses” in order to avoid being expelled from the party. As for Hollywood movies, they were considered as the "seeds of evil" and were heavily criticized by leftist movie critics who praised the greatness of the Soviet movie making industry. Everyone has the right to wrong ideas. But some wrong ideas are akin to tight shoes you can’t wait to take off your hurting feet. As it happens, a large part of the Greek Left has taken off these "tight shoes". The leader of SYRIZA (Party of the Greek Radical left leading the opposition), Alexis Tsipras is a former member of the communist party’s youth. It was his progression through the ranks of this party that brought him finally into a position to claim the leadership of the country. Now, he most likely realizes it takes a lot more than moving through a party’s rank to achieve this. A couple weeks ago we wrote about Alexis Tsipras’ planned journey to the US. We’ve confirmed it will take place the week after next. His itinerary has not been finalized yet, but it will certainly include a public speech at the Brookings Institute, which in the past has organized many visits of Greek politicians to the US. Socialist PASOK’s leader Evangelos Venizelos also gave a speech at the Brookings Institute and talked about the crisis (though many hinted that the entire trip was an excuse just to see his daughter, who studies at Georgetown University.) What else is there for Tsipras to do in the US? They are still trying to figure this out at the party’s headquarters. They say that meetings will not be officially announced and there will not be publicity photos just like during his trip to Latin America. Did they learn their lesson from their previous highly publicized failure of his other trip? We shall soon see. His goal is to at least try and see some members of Congress. From then on, meetings with members of the Greek-American community and entrepreneurs will be the "easy" part of the visit. The president of SYRIZA will be accompanied by two party officials who are active in the economy sector, George Stathakis and John Milios. I wonder what kind of discussion anyone can have with the Americans if they don’t endorse a market economy. But, this is a puzzle SYRIZA’s officials must solve. Rena Dourou, who is head of foreign policy will also be going along. Is Dourou’s capacity sufficient for such a trip? This I have mentioned in my previous article. It appears Alexis Tsipras is going on this trip for no real reason. He made sure that he will have visited Berlin prior to his trip to the US. Tsipras is moving along an axis of symbolic publicity moves, but I seriously doubt if there is any substance to all this. As a communications professional I understand that these trips are part of a publicity effort similar to Merkel’s visit to Athens and Samaras visit to Berlin. If Mr. Tsipras was capable of describing how the country would look like the day after SYRIZA would take over the reins of governance that might help his trip to America. Alexis Tsipras cannot deliver this. He does not have a programmatic proposal for the economy, nor for international relations and its place in the global system. And for him to find help from his party in this quest he unfortunately will go fishing in muddy waters. His party is busy battling in defense of the occupiers of ... Villa Amalia – a building in downtown Athens which has been used as a hideout for more than two decades by left extremists and which has been recently seized by the police! The Greek left’s attempt to absolve their guilty conscience for having anti-American sentiment is one thing. But, to visit the US as a potential prime minister is not as simple and easy as wearing Levi’s or listening to jazz. It requires knowledge, experience and a network of connections, which isn’t Tsipras strong point. In the previous election, it was published that Tsipras was supported by communication consultants from “the other side of the Atlantic” and the entourage of Gianna Angelopoulos (member of the Greek business elite, former President of the Athens Olympic Committee during the 2004 Olympic Games). I don’t know if this is true or if they helped organize this visit. The schedule seems too poor to have been professionally planned…seems like Mr. Tsipras is going to have to ... discover America on his own. P.S. # 1: Currently all the Greek Diaspora in the US is discussing the possibility that for the first time in history there might be a Greek Mayor in New York’s City Hall. The self-made businessman, John Katsimatidis, (although a staunch supporter of the Democrats under President Bill Clinton and later switched to the camp of the Republicans), is thinking seriously about running for Mayor of New York, after Michael Bloomberg steps down. Will Alexis wish him good luck? And if he does, how is he going to justify this to his party members? P.S. # 2: Since there is always room for surprises, we’ll deal with the results of the visit when the president of SYRIZA returns from the US. P.S. # 3: We are anxiously expecting the results (if there is any outcome at all) of the Prime Minister's trip to Qatar. ]]>
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Do they want revenues or prisoners? http://www.rizopoulospost.com/do-they-want-revenues-or-prisoners/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=do-they-want-revenues-or-prisoners http://www.rizopoulospost.com/do-they-want-revenues-or-prisoners/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2013 12:20:59 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=13977 housearrest-170x100

The government is facing a major political and communication problem, which has not yet been conceived to the extent that it should. So far the failures to achieve the fiscal targets are attributed primarily to the inability of authorized state mechanisms and secondarily to the general climate of recession. Today, a growing part of the public opinion which is monitoring and evaluating what is happening, is forming the belief or even the certainty, that the objective of fiscal consolidation - which practically means "put money in empty state cash drawyers" - is not served with devotion by the political leaders, and in some cases it is even openly undermined. In other words, the resourcefulness of the government and the supervising troika is reduced into measures of impoverishment and not consolidation. The decrease in net revenues of the tactical budget by 17% is indicative that the formula applied is wrong. This recipe impoverishes people and does not consolidate. One does not need to be Rubini in order to understand the complete failure of the assimilation of heating oil and diesel tax which has cost the state tens of millions of Euro in revenues. Yet the minister came out yesterday and said that there is no room for revision of the measure! There is inefficiency of measures, and yet there is a strange obsession with sticking to the mistaken approach which inevitably leads to de-facto second and third thoughts about what are the true intentions of the government and the troika. Another example is the prisons which are filled with inmates who are incarcerated for various financial offenses. It would be interesting to learn in fact how much this wave of detentions costs the Greek state, especially when they openly threaten that this will intensify. But that was is the challenge here? Are we merely looking to keep lazy prison officers busy? Entrepreneurs threatened with padlocks are not interested in whether Karouzos (businessman involved in real estate scandal) in prison or not. The unemployed who owes five months’ rents and his family is threatened with eviction does not care whether Tsochatzopoulos (former Minister of Defense of the socialist government imprisoned for his involvement in armaments programs scandals and money laundering cases) will continue to see the world behind bars, and the pensioners can no longer live with their meager pension which will not be increased by the custody of Lavrentiadis (businessman in custody for involvement in banking scandal). All this will be truly interesting for the public opinion only to the extent that it is translated into money going back into state cash drawyers, easing the burden placed upon the society and relieving people's lives. Otherwise, in this case also there will be room for second and third thoughts which do not have to do not with the fiscal consolidation that the government and the troika claim, but with the rearrangement of the broader political and business landscape. The suspicion is most severe. When the government does not do what is needed to increase revenues, it is reasonable to look for very different incentives than that of the achievement of fiscal goals. The government cannot threaten all of the society with imprisonment for debts of even 1000 Euro when they are not making any effort to take the money from those who have it and who by the way may be more willing to give than the government would like us to believe. We are not compassionate to those who have harmed the public interest. But when you really want to collect money you have to do whatever you can to succeed. For example, I hear that a bill is being processed by the Ministry of Justice for the decongestion of prisons which provides for the so called "wristband" which transforms custody into "house arrest". Under the circumstances that have been formed so far, this measure seems extremely right, under two conditions. First of all there should be a clear reasoning towards raising revenues into the bill and secondly to avoid falling victim of slow parliamentary procedures. It would actually be more practical if the bill was incorporated into the tax vote. At that point there could be two specific provisions. First, to allow the house arrest on terms of financial revenue depending on the offense, or second, to lease hotels which are insolvent so that those under custody may be able to pay a high price to ensure their stay and do their time. What good is an 18 month detention if, for example, each of the VIP inmates who are currently costing the state, could be paying one million Euro per month to be under house arrest or detained in a hotel? How many pensions would be coming through if such a measure was implemented? From every point of view it is more rational for the ones under custody to be paying the state than the taxpayers to continue paying for their detention. Is there political will on behalf of the government? Do they want revenues or inmates and why? PS: When a society is on the verge of collapse it is not easily fooled. Even if it is fooled, it will not be for long. It would be good if Prime Minister Antonis Samaras conveyed this message during his interesting upcoming meetings in Berlin.]]>
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Five questions to the new Prefect of Central Macedonia http://www.rizopoulospost.com/five-questions-to-the-new-prefect-of-central-macedonia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=five-questions-to-the-new-prefect-of-central-macedonia http://www.rizopoulospost.com/five-questions-to-the-new-prefect-of-central-macedonia/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2013 12:30:33 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=13982 Tzitzikostas-235x150

The fact that a young person takes up significant institutional responsibilities such as the position of a Prefect is undoubtedly a positive development, which I welcome. The new Prefect of Central Macedonia Apostolis Tzitzikostas is only 35 years old and represents an entire generation. Therefore, the stakes are higher and they also have a wider political significance. The succession of Panagiotis Psomiadis¹ is neither simple nor easy. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with him, Psomiadis could have been currently utilizing his electoral appeal in Northern Greece to have established a new party which under certain conditions could be stronger than the party of Mr. Kammenos, the Independent Greeks. Consequently, the success of Apostolis Tzitzikostas will not come because he is his father's son (his father served as MP of Thessaloniki and deputy minister of former New Democracy government) nor because his mother is a very active woman. His success will be the result of two factors: hard work and clear political positions. Regarding the first, when I met Apostolis during his studies in Washington he had huge ambitions which far exceeded his availability for real work. Today, several friends tell me that he has matured and that he can now balance between ambition and hard work. If that is the case then it will be for the best. With regard to political positions, Apostolis Tzitzikostas will have to answer five key questions: 1. Does he agree with New Democracy’s policy of implementation of ever more new measures? 2. What is his view on the image of the Thessaloniki sea shore? 3. What is his opinion about the fate of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair? 4. Will Thessaloniki ever have underground transportation? 5. What is his opinion regarding the works implemented during the time Vassilis Papageorgopoulos was in office as Mayor of Thessaloniki? In a year and a half from now regional and local elections will take place. The political year in Thessaloniki is different from that of Athens, since it flows at a slower pace. However, this should not be a reason for the new regional governor to be complacent, because the answers to the abovementioned questions will determine his political future and will also show what we can expect from a new political generation which is slowly rising to the forefront. Personally, I would like to wish him every success and and to assure him that the columns of this blog will be available to him to the extent that the he wishes to provide the answers needed. But, I can also assure him that the blog will be opposite of him if necessary. PS: Boutaris and Tzitzikostas both belong to the “bourgeoisie” of Thessaloniki. However, "good manners" alone cannot guarantee "peaceful coexistence". Sooner or later, the game will begin ...starting with jurisdictions and responsibilities! 1. Panagiotis Psomiadis is a Greek politician from northern Greece, Macedonia. He is former MP of the liberal party of New Democracy well known for far right political positions. He was also Prefect of Central Macedonia and was suspended due to his involvement in financial scandals.]]>
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Are there any brave ones left in PASOK? http://www.rizopoulospost.com/are-there-any-brave-ones-left-in-pasok/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=are-there-any-brave-ones-left-in-pasok http://www.rizopoulospost.com/are-there-any-brave-ones-left-in-pasok/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 12:58:38 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=13999 pasok

If we want to call things as they are, PASOK (Socialist party, member of the government coalition) should have already changed leader. Certain party executives should have been brave enough to show the exit to Mr. Venizelos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelos_Venizelos) as the circumstances require. And this is because the problem with the Lagarde list is not only that the names of three relatives of Papaconstantinou have been removed from it, but also the very important fact of why Greece is the only country that did not use this data to bring a few millions into the empty cash drawers. It is furthermore the very important fact of why Mr. Venizelos argued that the list cannot be utilized and left it in a drawer when at the same time he recommended a great opportunity to expand the tax base. The answer is already in the mind of every single citizen. At best, Mr. Venizelos did not want to "mess" with the special interests represented by certain names on the list, and at worst he wanted to protect those interests. On the other hand, if he had the suspicion that the list had been tampered with and therefore could not be of any use, he ought to have ratted on Papaconstantinou and should have requested the resending of the list, as it happened now. In any case Mr. Venizelos is politically exposed indeed. There is no need for SYRIZA to put the leader of PASOK on the spot. He is already on the spot because of actions and omissions that have to do with the Lagarde list and in a country where there is rule of law this should be investigated thoroughly by the preliminary inquisition committee which is to be established by the Parliament. Mr. Venizelos may be attempting to attack by saying that this is an effort to blackmail PASOK and shake the government, but in reality he knows that he himself is the problem. It is he who puts PASOK in a tough spot with his involvement, and it is himself who undermines the government of Antonis Samaras who has promised to deliver transparency and cleansing of the country’s public life. The country cannot afford to pay for PASOK’s leaders any more. The responsibility of the members and MPs of PASOK at this time is enormous. By remaining silent and continuing to cover up issues they condemn PASOK to extinction, they undermine the government’s reputation and they brutally provoke the public. On the contrary, if they find the bravery and courage to overthrow the president of PASOK right here and now then they will have set the foundations for PASOK’s future by showing that no one is exempted from the cleansing process. PS: In politics, time is of essence. If PASOK fails today to do what it would be pushed to do tomorrow then that would be the classic syndrome of self-entrapment which has long haunted the Greek political system which has never displayed the correct reflex response at the right time. But, after so much misconduct they should have learned their lesson by now. All of PASOK’s MPs are taking this very exam right now and should the fail it, it will be forever.]]>
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Freedom or death! http://www.rizopoulospost.com/freedom-or-death/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freedom-or-death http://www.rizopoulospost.com/freedom-or-death/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 11:45:31 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=13942 freedom-170x100

As the New Year begins with "flares" and "fireworks" looming over the dark sky of the country’s public life, people can sit back and observe the developments. After all, it is true from the ancient times that you must have a well -balanced equilibrium between "bread" and "entertainment". Given that bread is now scarce, the show will start to become more and more spectacular. The relatives of the former Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou are summoned by prosecutors for financial crimes while at the same time the procedure for the establishment of a preliminary inquisition committee is underway at the Parliament. The hard linewhich the leftist opposition party of SYRIZA has decided to follow by placing also in the "frame" President of PASOK and former Minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos, has brought ever closer the three coalition parties, New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left in tackling together the rhetoric of SYRIZA. To avoid being misunderstood I rush to clarify that I do not mean to say that this case and others which appear in the same way should not be investigated. I do wish to note however that while the recurring confrontation will provide many quotes for evening news broadcasts, we will be moving further and further away from the very essence of the problem we are faced with. The problem is called “development”. Maturities are "running" with 1 billion per month. Children are getting cold in apartments with no heating. People next door are lining up for food from public aid to sustain themselves. Homeless Greeks have multiplied exponentially. Padlocks and bankruptcies have taken the form of a snowball. The tranches of foreign financial aid are proving to be the slow death of the economy and the society. The government may be celebrating, but in fact it resembles a "junkie" who is full of joy because he secured yet another fix. The false hopes of reversing the recessionary climate are crushed by everyday experience. Development is not candy falling from the sky. It requires certain conditions and tools to support it. No such conditions and tools are currently available, and the government is trying to exploit the "fireworks" and "flares” of cases like Papakonstantinou, Papantoniou (former PASOK government Minister of Defence allegedly involved in armaments programs scandals),Carouzos and Lavrentiadis (businessmen recently prosecuted by the financial authorities) to keep the public eye away from what it intends to do. That is to give the final blow to the half-dead economy by passing the new taxation legislation. Samaras (PM), Venizelos and Kouvelis (President of Democratic Left) who form the coalition government have every reason to talk about "fireworks" and "flares" while at the same time they are preparing another tax raid which will deepen the country's economic and social disaster. However, all the “flares” in the world cannot hide the truth. There can be no development without freedom. And there can be no freedom when the state seeks to become a partner in the creation of real or even unreal income. This simple and basic truth, upon which the democracies of the Western world are formed, is brutally defied in Greece where the recipe "more taxes" is horizontally dominant across the political system. It is the same political system which tries to cover its weakness and inability to invent something different than constant tax raids by staging this savage cannibalism. The solution is not more taxation or to throw people in prisons. The solution is the Free Greeks who can think freely, create freely, and produce freely. "Freedom or death" applies primarily to the economy. PS: Conceptually, liberals are proponents of liberty. SYRIZA, PASOK and the Democratic Left boldly declare their aversion to freedom through their ideological devotion to the almighty “partner”-state. Now, do you believe that Samaras and New Democracy are proponents of liberty? The question is rhetorical. Liberalism is not currently represented in Greece.]]>
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A Happy New Year to our better selves! http://www.rizopoulospost.com/a-happy-new-year-to-our-better-selves/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-happy-new-year-to-our-better-selves http://www.rizopoulospost.com/a-happy-new-year-to-our-better-selves/#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2012 16:10:14 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=12660 rizo_235x340

A happy New Year to all with health and strength of purpose! We hope you have the patience for problems, and the commitment to find solutions. Despite of the smog of the crisis that has covered Athens what we need most today is to have our eyes open. The problematic Christmas that just passed showed that societal deposits of optimism have emptied. Only the Prime Minister and his government live alone in a state of “triumph” and “success.” The Prime Minister’s headquarters in Maximou Mansion is trying to create an artificial climate of technical euphoria using the dispersal of bailout tranches and the rating upgrade by Standard & Poor’s. Of course we will all understand if society sees this as a glass half full or glass half empty proposition in the first 100 days of 2013 where much will be determined. If the government can push beyond their 100 day deadline then they may win more time. If not we will be looking at going to elections about Easter time. One of the problems is that German economic paper Handelsblatt has declared the politician of the year as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. But this is exactly the problem because Samaras was really very good for “Europe” but not for Greece. Despite that the country is still looking for the “politician of the year” for Greece. Let’s not be confused. Europe and Greece at this historic phase do not always have common real interests. Firstly, the voting in of austerity measures does not automatically mean they achieve the aims they seek to achieve. The government can exercise its political timing with the series of measures they vote as laws, but the real implementation in the community shows how ineffective they are. We have already seen that car registration tax revenues have been derailed. And many thousands of registration licenses and license plates have been returned. Tax revenues are further affected by the equalization of motor and heating fuel taxes so now most people are burning wood even in Athens. Even the rise in Value Added Tax (VAT) on restaurants has just meant more businesses closing. The additional weight that people are being called on to shoulder in 2013 will only make it more socially acceptable to owe the state sector. Secondly, the unfathomable depth of the banking “black hole” doesn’t leave much optimism that the billions in recapitalization will end up in lending to the real market. At the end of 2012 the total loans in the red have surpassed the estimates of Black Rock and there is nothing that appears to ameliorate the explosion of bad private sector loans on the books of Greek banks. Therefore, without banking credit entrepreneurs can’t get on with things, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). And that also leads to doubt as to how much EU structural funds can be absorbed and utilized. Thirdly, the government is aiming for “The Wealth of Nations” with direct investments but has no strategy to achieve that. The Prime Minister takes trips here and there hoping something will occur. Strategically attracting investments means clarifying what you will give and where, so that basic geopolitical balances will be respected. To that end we don’t selloff but we try to calculate the geopolitical value added as an exchange for what we want. We share out investments to the largest players so they all think they have the best share. That is what political acumen is. Additionally we impose that nothing is done under the table so there are no middlemen around talking about bribes or payoffs. With the fact that there are no “revenues, liquidity, investments” the climate of technical euphoria is just another bubble which won’t survive until March. Is there light from anywhere? Greek society has been financially brought to its knees and the reasons that the accumulated rage haven’t broke out are to a large extent because: • The strength of the Greek family unit • The voluntary effort of society through different institutions, organizations, and associations, etc. • Local government institutions like supermarkets for the poor and centers for the homeless • Large programs for corporate social responsibility • The Orthodox Church through a massive charitable effort, in every neighborhood throughout the nation and with the voluntary participation of thousands of simple people. From the political parties that support the government and from the opposition positive surprises are not possible. So if society looks for light it can only find it in its better self. It has to reject indifference and it must extend a hand of voluntary care so that this grows systemically and turns into a social movement that grows. It can do so without party political colors, ambitions, or labels. It must happen without the evils of a welfare state that in the past served the clientist political system and to a lesser extent those who were in need. Whatever this government – and the two preceding ones before it – have done, they won’t destroy our humanity. Society is turning its back on the political system and instead people are supporting their colleagues, their neighborhood, their friends, voluntary organizations, and the food handouts at their local parish. This is the practical way people show they disbelieve the political system and the government can’t even understand it. While the government asks for fair mindedness from citizens to pay their debts and taxes, society has found better ways to show fair mindedness and charitableness can be expressed differently. If there is hope, we owe it those that look after those that have so little. We all have to adopt the notion of “our good selves” for a society that we want to strengthen. We must do it because it’s more effective means of dealing with immediate needs as well as because it’s the way to create the preconditions for a well-rounded political proposal for the protection of Greek citizens, their rights and welfare. This proposal must also cover the proper working of the political system and institutions as well as contain a positive vision of how Greece should look like in the next decade. This comprehensive political proposal will not emerge from one day to the next because it requires the contribution of many at various levels. We need to all take part and become a force for the change we want in Greece. Good ideas already exist as well as good people that help, support, create and subsidize solid values. The historic bet is whether in 2013 we make a good start so that in future larger steps forward are possible. PS. I hope the fact that in poll larger sections of people want new political parties is not wrongly understood. New parties cannot have leaders those who failed in the recent or much longer past. New things in politics can only be provided by new faces.]]>
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The secret of Christmas http://www.rizopoulospost.com/the-secret-of-christmas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-secret-of-christmas http://www.rizopoulospost.com/the-secret-of-christmas/#comments Sat, 22 Dec 2012 17:50:43 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=12629 rizochristmaspo

Christmas Day is not the most opportune time for political analysis and critique. Christmas is usually a festive occasion -as strange as that may sound in the current crisis that Greece and Greeks are living through. Christmas – usually associated with rampant consumerism in the past is now marked by a crisis that has turned everything upside down. A mood of “national despair” due to wage cuts and great loss has made it especially hard to find ways to celebrate. There is a way to celebrate though- that is actually quite simple. One must just remember that this is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ –the One who so wisely taught us to “love one another.” I suggest this is the way to rejoice. This Christmas can be the starting point for different kind of celebration which focuses less on money and more love; love and caring for those near to us, whoever they are -our brother, our friend, our neighbor or simply a stranger passing by. The secret of every celebration, not only the secret of Christmas, are the feelings and emotions that are experienced. And these are not created by consumerism, because no matter how much you consume- it’s never enough. True feelings presuppose honesty, authenticity and an open heart. These last years and in this age of pretense, many of the more loving and caring characteristics that define us as a people in Greece have been lost. One upon a time, when people were more impoverished, celebrations were held in neighborhood squares. People laughed with their hearts, not with sophistication. This open hearted authenticity, this surge, this fire, has been lost. Obviously, I’m not implying we have to return to the past because that just can’t happen. Time moves forward. One does not want to idealize the past as a time when things were perfect because no age was ever perfect. The challenge is- in this most imperfect world, full of difficulties and problems- to not to give up and to do the best you can. The other challenge is to turn our attention to more substantial things. And nothing is more meaningful than other people. 2013 may be a very difficult year. When you hear words like “all or nothing” it can only that mean tough days are ahead. That is why we need to psychologically organize ourselves so we can stay on our feet. We need to start thinking differently and more unconventionally. We need to become more creative and more effective. We need to open up our minds and our hearts to welcome this new time. As difficult as the transition seems today, its success is in our hands to achieve as long as we are all on the same side. We need to believe in ourselves and not turn against each other. In a Greece of small minded egos, arrogance and self-absorption - this may prove very difficult. If though we embrace a Greece of fair-mindedness and generosity, this might just be possible. Happy holiday to all! P.S. We would like to thank - from the bottom of our hearts -all our friends who do us the exceptional honor of visiting our blog everyday, who share our content and share their opinions and comments with us. Every day we receive more and more of your communications. This makes our responsibility to keep telling things like they are even greater. ]]>
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Alexis Tsipras, why take only Rena Dourou to the US? http://www.rizopoulospost.com/syriza-leader-tsipras-trip-reveals-he-needs-better-advice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syriza-leader-tsipras-trip-reveals-he-needs-better-advice http://www.rizopoulospost.com/syriza-leader-tsipras-trip-reveals-he-needs-better-advice/#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 20:15:58 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=11906 photo_editorial-235

According to our sources, the main opposition party leader of radical left, Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, is planning to visit the US after his trip to Latin America. In doing so one might think he would be accompanied by more experienced people than his foreign relations executive,  Mrs. Rena Dourou and improve his English language skills so the effort would have a more tangible effect and positive results for the country. I wonder if besides getting the invitation, Mr. Tsipras has also changed his views on international relations. He may have read the “Game Theory”, but that doesn’t mean he has the ability to run foreign policy as a prospective Prime Minister. Of course, this experience and knowledge gap could be bridged if Alexis Tsipras had a team who could assist him in organizing and implementing such a high level visit. Mrs. Dourou, though a very nice lady with only a little experience in advertising and as rumors say has worked for associates of the socialist politician, Akis Tsochatzopoulos (who is currently imprisoned due to his involvement in armaments programs and money laundering scandals) may not have a CV strong enough to guarantee the success of Tsipras’ trip to the USA. His trip to Brazil, where he met the former President Lula, a good friend of the former Greek socialist PM, George Papandreou, was a joke. Alexis Tsipras made the following statement in Greek to the state TV crew that accompanied him: “In President Lula we found a strong ally in the efforts of the Greek people to overcome the crisis and in the efforts to endure and denounce the barbaric neo-liberal policies.” This “statement” has no basis in reality. Brazil is actually funding Greece through the IMF- despite its will. On just about every crucial IMF board meeting it has voted against the continuation of financial support to our country. Moreover, it has even coordinated other Third World countries to also vote against the package. One could overlook all that if Alexis Tsipras was able- through his contacts- to accomplish something positive for the country, like for example, persuading large business groups of Brazil’s growing economy to make a significant investment in Greece and create jobs. Nothing like that was even remotely attempted- despite the fact that the Brazilian economy presents some of the most impressive opportunities. Sadly, Alexis Tsipras missed the opportunity to show he can bring victories for the country. Brazil’s only real contribution to the GDP of Greece will merely continue to be samba dancers at the Moschato carnival! This is why some of the more serious leading party members are advising Tsipras to study more. Inside information tells us that Tsipras’ office has been filled with loads of books on Greek modern history from the 20th century onwards. His aides insist he carefully study the former political giants like the Liberals - Eleftherios Venizelos, and later Georgios Papandreou as well as PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou. Tsipras probably made his whirlwind trip to Brazil and Argentina to escape his “homework” in Athens. We will keep you posted about the details of his trip to the US after official confirmation. P.S. #1: What about improving your English language skills Alexis? You certainly cannot rely on your current level for your trip to the States. P.S. #2: Pop Quiz for sharper minds: Why ever since the socialist party PASOK keeps losing ground in the polls- its leader, Evangelos Venizelos gets “meaner and meaner”?]]>
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Common sense of reintroducing Greek university cut-off marks http://www.rizopoulospost.com/common-sense-of-reintroducing-greek-university-cut-off-marks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=common-sense-of-reintroducing-greek-university-cut-off-marks http://www.rizopoulospost.com/common-sense-of-reintroducing-greek-university-cut-off-marks/#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2012 15:34:16 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=11710 spyros

The coalition government appears to be considering introducing the cut off mark of 10 out of 20 from high school students to enter tertiary institutes of higher education. It would be a good start to restructuring the local education system that has been plagued by flawed policy which has lost many of its values. I have written before about my background as a holder of a degree in teaching in a former editorial when I asked the government spokesman to study harder. When I went to the US to continue my studies I was given the nickname “the teacher” even though I never found the patience to teach and turned to communications in my professional life. However, I continue to respect the people who are real teachers at all levels of education. As few as they may be they do make a difference. For a good teacher to produce a good student they must have the proper conditions. Unfortunately schools in Greece became an experimental laboratory for policies that failed and produced the sole result of the loss of values and the abandonment of striving for distinction. At a time when Greek society was hitting a peak of unbridled consumerism, the quality of knowledge provided by the educational system was has hitting rock bottom. It got to the stage where students were gaining places in tertiary institutions with marks as low as 2 or 3 out of 20. So readers can understand the significance of what this means I can provide a suitable real life example. In my company we like to give young people opportunities so we have graduates come to work with us from the Kastoria Technical Institute from their department of public relations for their practical training. In most cases we could not communicate with them let alone try to induct them into the organization. The few exceptions were the ones who entered the Technical Institute with respectable end of high school marks, but those who had single digit scores out of 20 were representative of the general problem. This is a tough truth. Children and teenagers have to learn how to become better not how to find an open door and become comfortable. This lesson has been lost by the Greek education system which has to be restructured from the start. The cut off base of 10 out of 20 for prospective candidates to enter tertiary education has been a bone of serious contention. The cut off mark was legislatively introduced by the government of Kostas Karamanlis and then it was abolished by the government of George Papandreou. I hear today’s coalition government is mulling it over again. I think that is good that it is being debated again because its shows common sense is returning to the Ministry of Education. In reality the issue was never decided on educational terms. It became the subject of politicking and parochial interests of communities that lived off the local student populations at Technical Institutes across the country. With a cut off score of 10 there will be fewer tertiary students so there has been big pressure on the political system to abolish it. Will reintroducing the 10 cut off mark be sufficient to turn around the situation in education? Clearly not, but changes have to start somewhere to show the new policy direction. We have to aim for schools with order and quality and for modern universities that are connected to the labor market. However, instead of focusing on achieving these things the debate is being side tracked with talk of how such a cut of mark will benefit private institutes and colleges. It is not unusual for a “bogey man” to be created to hide the deep problems of the education system. The problem isn’t if there will be universities, but if there will be good private universities. It would be fantastic if Harvard or MIT came to Athens because they would create healthy competition so public universities become better. But in the Greece of mediocrity competition is a dirty word and should not be dare spoken by well-meaning teachers. PS. One person in the George Papandreou government named Giannis Panaretos was a fanatic of abolishing the cut off mark of 10 and used his personal blog to argue it had no reason to exist. His position dragged along the whole of the Pasok socialist government. There is serious power in blogging.]]>
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Greece needs to negotiate hard with multinationals http://www.rizopoulospost.com/greece-needs-to-negotiate-hard-with-multinationals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=greece-needs-to-negotiate-hard-with-multinationals http://www.rizopoulospost.com/greece-needs-to-negotiate-hard-with-multinationals/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 19:43:07 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=11281 piraeus

It is long past due time for Greece to sit down and engage in tough negotiations with multinationals so they no longer engage in tax minimization practices and commit to productive investments here as well as to use their global distribution networks for the advancement of local exports. If today’s meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras moves purely in the realm of “public relations” it won’t have any practical consequences and will only result in 30 second statements on the evening news. Multinationals do business and that means you can negotiate. This requires clearly stating what you want and what you will give in return. If you just beg for concessions then there won’t be any result. The first issue on the agenda must be transfer pricing. In the previous year multinationals took part in a “party” in this country cultivating extreme consumerism. They had massive turnover and made use of intragroup transactions. In simple words they overvalued their imports into Greece, because they did not want to show large profits that would be taxed at higher margins and they preferred showing greater profits in lower tax countries. The Prime Minister must make it clear to the multinational representatives that this game has to stop and that transferring pricing audits will be systematic, thorough and unwavering to assign breaches. Samaras should set them a two to three month timeline so that beneficial results show to the final consumer. That is the “stick” and so the “carrot” that the Prime Minister should carry with him is that those that lower prices on the shelf to consumer products will have priority in the return of Value Added Tax owed to them by the state. The second issue on the agenda is that there must be a framework for reciprocal benefits, just like there are in defense contracts. The Prime Minister should thank the multinationals for being in our lives for so long but explain to them that for them to continue to be present in this country, they also have to do something for Greece. Samaras has to tell them that in the market for defense systems there are compensatory or offsetting benefits that determine that one portion of the price of the program be applied to construction in this country. That way he must demand that productive investments take place in Greece. They should secure Greek products for their worldwide networks, and this must focus on agricultural products. There is no more efficient way to help the local economy become more extraverted that through the multinational’s global distribution networks. The recent example of Unilever’s small productive investment shows the logic of how things should progress. But to be clear we aren’t talking about just packaging goods domestically for the local consumer, it should focus on the foreign consumers of each multinational. The third and final matter on the agenda should be to turn Piraeus, in cooperation with China’s Cosco, into a Free Trade Zone. Dubai doesn’t have massive oil wealth and its growth is dependent on tourism and the fact that it has three zones free of taxes and duties. These are kilometers long regions where all transactions are tax-free. If there is a Free Trade Zone in Piraeus the import into Europe of goods will mean massive profits for the multinationals and simultaneously it will become an engine for growth in areas like construction, transports and logistics, as well as others. Of course for every multinational to have access for about 30 years to this zone free of all taxes they also have to give considerable consideration and reciprocal gains. It could indicatively be an amount of 1 billion Euro up front and the money collected could go to the reduction of the national debt. One may ask as to with the creation of this Zone whether there is conflict with our membership of the European Union? Yes, it probably does, but the circumstances in Greece are of the nature of an emergency. And as such the Treaties allow a member state under such conditions to look after its national security and we can bypass the general and restrictive laws otherwise in force. Given these circumstances our partners in the Eurozone must either give us a “green light” for the creation of a Free Trade Zone in Piraeus or they must give us the billions that we would have otherwise got from the multinationals. PS. The politics of polite smiles has long ago exhausted the benefits it may have had for the country. It is no time to raise our voices and make demands. Anyone that doesn’t want to or can’t do it has a patriotic duty to vacate their seat for the next person in line.]]>
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Greek entrepreneur: The Lavrentis Lavrentiadis I know http://www.rizopoulospost.com/greek-entrepreneur-the-lavrentislavrentiadis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=greek-entrepreneur-the-lavrentislavrentiadis http://www.rizopoulospost.com/greek-entrepreneur-the-lavrentislavrentiadis/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2012 15:00:21 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=10907 ΕοΥ

In 2013 my firm will be celebrating its 10th year in the business. Throughout the years we have had the honor of providing communications services at both corporate and political levels. In the midst of this journey- in 2006- I met Lavrentis Lavrentiadis. At the time, my company was responsible for the communications strategy of Ernst & Young in Greece. This was the same year Mr. Lavrentiadis was awarded "Entrepreneur of the Year" as prime stakeholder in Neochimiki. Soon after, Lavrentiadis was invited to represent Greece in the “World Entrepreneur of the Year 2007” competition in Monte Carlo in June 2007, which put him up against leaders from 40 countries. It was the first time that a Greek businessman was internationally recognized and my company was hired to handle the global press. His words from a moment in the past fill my head now. The incident happened while we were on our way to meet with the deciding committee and we got stuck in the elevator. This had never happened to me before. The appointment was at 15:00, we were ten minutes late, and we were trapped! He sensed my concern and he said… "Mr. Rizopoulos, don’t worry… there are far worse things in life.” Lavrentiadis, 40, suffered from a chronic rare disease of the nervous system but still managed to create two business giants: Neochimiki and Alapis. Creating a Greek multinational that can compete globally is not commonplace. I was also quite impressed by how patriotic he felt about his country. Towards these ends and to help measure his capabilities, he funded the Lavrentiadis chair at one of the most prestigious Washington think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). It isn’t necessary to describe how important an initiative this was for Greece. In a short meeting that I experienced personally, I remember Paulsen wondering why the Greek government at the time was choosing the IMF as option to solving its economic crisis. Immediately upon his return to Athens he informed the Office of the then Prime Minister George Papandreou. But now Lavrentiadis has been arrested. Regarding the legal process, I will be the last make an opinion on how the Greek judicial system decides to do its job. Most importantly I do not have the legal expertise to even try analyze the situation. However, since the moment I became aware of his arrest, a very simple question has crossed my mind: Lavrentiadis had the trust and did business with over 40 multinationals. He also was the only Greek entrepreneur who had financial backing from the world’s greatest global banks -such as Deutsche Bank and RBS. One would assume that they had made some background check of his business activities. Moreover, Lavrentiadis’ companies also engaged the services of several certified accounting global firms such as Ernst & Young and PwC-amazingly enough- no red flags or complaints from anyone all these years. So, were multinational, corporate, global banking magnates and international audit firms all wrong? Did they all conspire in favor of Lavrentiadis? To take my thinking process a bit further, are we to believe that any trace of illegal activities went totally unnoticed by worldwide professionals while a handful of Greek public servants were able to figure out? Seriously, an answer to such a question would be quite interesting. Now, as a communications specialist, I understand the effort launched by the Greek government these last few years to creating a Meme of “catharsis” in a country where unemployment is above 20% and no progress seems to be made in adopting policies for economic growth. But, this leads me to my next question: Is Lavrentiadis the only one to be singled out- the possible scapegoat – the weakest link in the chain or are the authorities going to continue their work in investigating the real oligarchs of this country? ]]>
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Greece: “Independent Greeks» party disintegration http://www.rizopoulospost.com/splintering-independent-greeks-never-real-option/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=splintering-independent-greeks-never-real-option http://www.rizopoulospost.com/splintering-independent-greeks-never-real-option/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2012 11:24:44 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=10884 Kammenos-2

The slow moving disintegration of the recently launched “Independent Greeks” party come as no real surprise since they never offered a platform that the bulk of center right voters could really back. They captured the electoral moment to win some seats in Parliament but they were a collection of little more than opportunists. The developments unfurling in the party created by Panos Kammenos earlier this year are comically tragic but also not illogical or unexpected given the chronic pathogens and the enduring amorality of the Greek political system. To begin with the party formed by Panos Kammenos was not built upon an ideological or political platform but exclusively on the instinct for political survival. Kammenos used to get the most votes in the voting region that envelopes Attica for conservative New Democracy but could see the problems to his reelection earlier than many other deputies that just sat tight. He knew to whom he was appealing so instead of trying to contain loss of voting support Kammenos used his electoral client base in the biggest voting prefecture in the country to sow the seeds for a new party. This gave him a new dynamism to enter the Parliament again. Several deputies from conservative New Democracy decided to follow Kammenos after their party leader and current PM Antonis Samaras did a policy U-turn on the Troika memorandum. It was clear to many at that stage that they would get slaughtered in the coming elections and they had few options. So they chose to follow Panos Kammenos not because they believed in him as a leader but because it was their only shot at political survival. The same exact logic appealed to some from the socialist Pasok party, particularly the populist left wing. They also saw they had slim chances of reelection under the Pasok banner so the Independent Greeks appeared to be their only salvation. They thought Kammenos would allowed them to build upon their comfortable political career. That is how this political patchwork party was created, without any ideological or political compass, and with Panos Kammenos who was never in fact a true leader but rather the coordinator of the whole tumultuous mess. The Independent Greeks pulled it off during the summer elections as they rode upon the new wave of their fresh presence. That was the way it also worked for Antonis Samaras when he broke away from New Democracy in the 1990s also got into Parliament with his new party Political Spring. That was a party that was also trying to capitalize on the moment and with a single issue agenda of the Hellenism of the name Macedonia. The tangible results were that others were allowed to milk the Hellenic Telecoms Organization (OTE) with lucrative supply contracts. Eventually, they also helped pave the way for the triumphant return of Pasok founder Andreas Papandreou to the political stage. So we don’t buy the theory that those who have broken away now from the Independent Greeks did so because they just can’t see themselves as allies of the radical left main opposition party Syriza. That is hardly a new discussion because it was ongoing during the two summer national elections and it didn’t move anyone. We believe their move to breakaway serves the interests of current conservative Prime Minister Samaras and they have received assurances in return for their actions, because that is how we think Antonis Samaras works. We conclude that neither Panos Kammenos or any of the deputies that left his fold are a political option for those on the right that wants an independent nation and independent Greeks. Therefore there will be a political vacuum on the center right because this backbone of the center right doesn’t find appealing options in the far right Golden Dawn party and has been disappointed with the broken promises of New Democracy. It is too early to say who or how many will attempt to fill this center right void but we will be watching closely. PS: “Grecus” asks a pertinent political question in today’s article «Είμαστε όλοι Έλληνες;» (http://www.rizopoulospost.com/eimaste-oloi-ellines) It’s a good start for the beginning of a substantive discussion as what kind of policy platform such a new political option should be offering for a truly independent Greece.]]>
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Greek hydrocarbons worth one billion…who says? http://www.rizopoulospost.com/greek-hydrocarbons-a-game-for-big-boys/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=greek-hydrocarbons-a-game-for-big-boys http://www.rizopoulospost.com/greek-hydrocarbons-a-game-for-big-boys/#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 11:49:37 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=10651 71494712803983385_QRwSmSzx_c

It seems fair game for anyone that has an uninformed opinion of deposits of Greek hydrocarbons that the country is resting on it laurels. At the same time it seems both premature as to what may be under the surface and also how such potential wealth should be handled. This wealth requires sober and serious reflections from big players and not superficial screams of “Eureka”. In the 1970s the then Soviet Union Politburo decided absolutely on political terms that it would be useful to its interests to have even more energy dependence from its satellite states. They also thought this energy dependency could be extended to the rest of Europe. That is how the majestic plan to construct pipelines from Siberia to the heart of Europe took shape. The plan had major technical setbacks due to icy geographies it crossed. And if that wasn’t enough the US Reagan administration imposed an embargo on the vital sales of equipment. Despite that the pipelines were created because the then USSR politburo decided as much without taking into account costs or a return on invested capital, etc. And the plan in accordance with today’s Putin leadership is based on succeeding due to sufficient natural gas wealth. Now they know approximately where these quantities are. Further, there is knowledge regarding how much will be internally consumed for needs in Russia, in balance with how much of the production will be used for exports. How does this compare in contrast with the goings on of the last few days with the potential natural gas wealth south of Crete? We have had secret reports to the Prime Minister of Greece that can be segmentally read in blogs as well as the questions of the far right deputies. These inquiries are perpetuated by reports based on academic findings and by former state owned enterprises civil servants. The latter are circulated as informational briefings from institutions like Deutsche Bank that are often aired on TV by people that are amateurs without understanding any geographical models and related to treasures that we are supposedly are “not allowed to extract.” The theory goes that anti-Hellenic interests don’t allow us to extract them. In the last ten days we have heard that the natural gas south of Crete is worth millions, if not billions of Euros. It is understood that the government is silently driving this agenda in order to create a positive climate, so necessary in a country where hope seems as a delicate luxury. Yet even amateurs in energy know that unless you drill you don’t know what you have. As those possessing knowledge would testify, Greece will also need to be prepared in terms of its foreign policystrategy to negotiate under treaties and the auspices of international organizations, should the findings show that the resources are spread in a greater area than the geography of the country. As for the process, drilling starts as a research procedure and will end in explorations and finds. That is how it works. So, honestly, I really wonder where the mentioned numbers these past days are coming from…. PS. 1. The management of such a “game” is a game for adults. And we have to grow up quickly or else the game may become a large disaster. PS. 2. We would like to thank “Grecus” for his contribution to today’s editorial.]]>
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Greek politics: speak to the psyche or become “psycho” http://www.rizopoulospost.com/speak-to-the-greek-psyche-to-avoid-psycho/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=speak-to-the-greek-psyche-to-avoid-psycho http://www.rizopoulospost.com/speak-to-the-greek-psyche-to-avoid-psycho/#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2012 19:22:44 +0000 http://www.rizopoulospost.com/?p=10130 psixo-h-psixi-170x150

There are very real schisms in Greek society reflected in conflicting political allegiances and these are fed by confusion and unclear thinking. Politicians who consider themselves leaders must answers some questions honestly to the populace and speak honestly to the Greek psyche to avoid a national personality split. We saw on TV a few days ago - Sir Anthony Hopkins, one of the most respected actors in the world, who played the role of one of the most distinguished directors of all time and one of the greatest masters of thriller movies -Alfred Hitchcock. The new Hopkins movie unfolds itself inside the filming of the classic horror movie “Psycho” and all that went on to produce it in the early 1960s. The basic idea of this old classic is there were two personalities fighting over the same mind, and only one of these could prevail. This tussle is the basis of the thriller. By analogy, we in Greece are living a real thriller ourselves. Greece today has two competing personalities. One lives in fear and understands the future of the country in one sided terms, as just a geographical dependency of the all-powerful Northern Europe. The other side of the personality is the one that does not know what it wants taking average voters to extremes. Some with nostalgia for the 1970s junta support the far right Golden Dawn party. Others from the extreme left are attracted by the radical left main opposition party Syriza. Even though their views don’t differ all that much, they do come into nasty conflict quite often. As long as the split personality tussle goes on the thriller will continue and we predict the scenes of terror will escalate. This is the inevitable recipe of Hitchcock, until the end when it is revealed that during the whole time of the film reality was replaced with self-deception and self-deception with reality. Let’s take a moment to ponder. Was there life before the Euro? Where there governments before that of Prime Minister Costas Simitis who brought us into the Euro? Was there a foreign policy which was multi-dimensional instead of blindly following the one that Germany marks out for us, as is the case of the last few years? One side of this personality split thriller won’t even ask these questions. That means that the other side must do it, instead of terrorizing Greek society with the prospect of a civil war, essentially playing its dual personality role in excellent fashion. Questions such as those above could lead to very interesting answers amid a world that is changing, becoming ever more complex, with new players that may potentially be allies or foes on the geopolitical scene. We hope the answers to the questions above replace the minor demagoguery that is on the daily menu. PS. Because time is fleeting we need to decide whether we become “psycho” or if we will speak to the Greek psyche.]]>
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