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June 26 2015

02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Die formale Demütigung des Schuldners in den „Verhandlungen“ (man sollte statt Verhandlungen eher davon sprechen, dass hier übermächtige Gläubiger einen Schuldner fünf Monate lang am ausgestreckten Arm haben verhungern lassen) wird nur noch überboten von der materiellen Demütigung. Inhaltlich hat die Athener Regierung das genau nicht erreicht, was der Kern der Forderungen von SYRIZA war, nämlich die Möglichkeit, dem Land und der Wirtschaft neue Impulse zu geben. Genau das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Es werden Steuern erhöht, Ausgaben gekürzt und die „Flexibilisierung“ des Arbeitsmarktes wird weiter vorangetrieben. In einer Situation, wo der Einzelhandel eines Landes so am Boden liegt wie in Griechenland (siehe die unten stehende Abbildung aus unserem Konjunkturbericht von dieser Woche), ist schon der Gedanke an eine Mehrwertsteuererhöhung absurd.

Picture4

[...]

Insgesamt gibt es wiederum – wie schon von 2010 bis heute – keinen Hauch einer Vorstellung davon, wie man die griechische Wirtschaft so anregen könnte, dass sie in der Lage wäre, ohne weitere Katastrophe bei den sozialen Bedingungen im Land die Primärüberschüsse (also Überschüsse der staatlichen Ausgaben über die Einnahmen ohne Zins- und Tilgungszahlungen), die jetzt angestrebt werden (von ein Prozent 2015 bis zu vier Prozent in vier Jahren), zu erreichen. Nicht eine Maßnahme in dem Papier kann eine depressionsgeschüttelte Wirtschaft wieder zu einem normalen Leben erwecken.

Damit haben sich, jenseits aller kleinteiligen Kompromisse, die Gläubiger und vorneweg Deutschland vollständig durchgesetzt. Sie haben ihre Ideologie von der Flexibilisierung, der Privatisierung und dem Rückzug des Staates ohne Rücksicht auf die konkrete Lage und die schlimmen Folgen der seit 2010 verschriebenen Flexibilisierungsmaßnahmen durchgedrückt. Das ist ein Ausmaß an Borniertheit, Ignoranz und Arroganz, das seinesgleichen sucht. Es ist das Ende des Europas, das einsichtige Politiker einst suchten, als sie nach den Wirren des Krieges den Menschen Hoffnung auf eine bessere und gerechtere Welt machen wollten. Die Folgen werden verheerend sein, und das ganz sicher nicht nur für Griechenland.

----

http://www.flassbeck-economics.de/das-katastrophale-ende-des-griechisch-europaeischen-trauerspiels/
— Das katastrophale Ende des griechisch-europäischen Trauerspiels | Heiner Flassbeck - 2015-06-26
Reposted byiggy iggy
02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Es ist ein hartes Erwachen, wie nach einer durchwachten Nacht. "Die Isolierung von Tsipras auf dem Gipfel" titelt die konservative griechische Zeitung Kathimerini am Freitag. Auch die linken Blätter sehen den griechischen Premier mehr denn je in der Enge. Noch am Donnerstagabend hatte der griechische Wirtschaftsminister Giorgos Stathakis gehofft, die EU-Regierungschefs würden den Knoten in Brüssel durchschlagen. Nun wissen Alexis Tsipras und seine Mitstreiter: Angela Merkel und die anderen EU-Chefs werden es nicht richten. Der Ball ist zurück bei den Finanzministern. Das ist bitter für Tsipras.

Was der Premier auf dem nächtlichen Gipfel in Brüssel erlebt hat, das lässt sich nach griechischen Quellen nun in etwa so rekonstruieren: Heftige Kritik an Athen kam ausgerechnet von den Iren und den Portugiesen. Die mussten selbst schon harte Sparauflagen erfüllen, ohne dass es überhaupt ausführliche Debatten auf EU-Gipfeln gab, wie der irische Regierungschef Enda Kenny anmerkte. Früher habe Tsipras beklagt, Athen sei nie dieselbe Flexibilität bei den Reformen gewährt worden wie Irland und Portugal. Aber, so fragte Kenny den Griechen: Wo sind eure Strukturreformen?

Auch mit EU-Ratspräsident Donald Tusk hatte Tsipras einen Zusammenstoß. Als Tusk auf Englisch sagte: "The Game is over" (das Spiel ist aus), explodierte Tsipras, wie die Zeitung Ta Nea schreibt. "Das ist kein Spiel", sagte Tsipras und betonte, hinter ihm stünden "1,5 Millionen Arbeitslose, drei Millionen Arme und Tausende Familien ohne Einkommen, die von der Rente ihrer Großeltern leben". Tusk, so drohte Tsipras, sollte nicht unterschätzen, zu was ein "gedemütigtes Volk" fähig sei. "Künftige Historiker" würden nicht verstehen, "dass wir mit unserem Vorschlag zu keiner Einigung kamen".

Besonders hart ging der bulgarische Premier Bojko Borissow mit Tsipras ins Gericht. In seinem Land betrage die Durchschnittsrente nur 180 Euro, weil man sich nicht mehr leisten könne. Borissow zeigte sich auch verärgert, dass Griechenland es schon seit Jahren nicht schaffe, eine gemeinsame Zollfahnder-Einheit mit Bulgarien aufzustellen, um den Grenzschmuggel zu bekämpfen.

[...]

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/griechenland-bittere-stunden-fuer-tsipras-1.2539155
— Bittere Stunden für Tsipras | SZ - 2015-06-26
02mydafsoup-01
[...]

STANDARD: Was braucht es neben einer kräftigen Lohnentwicklung in Deutschland noch, damit Europa wieder aus der Rezession kommt?

Flassbeck: Es braucht wieder einen makroökonomischen Dialog, bei dem die Lohnentwicklung in Europa koordiniert wird. Da muss entschieden werden, wie sich Länder an ihre Produktivität anzupassen haben – und sie müssen sich anpassen, das ist das entscheidende.

STANDARD: Politisch schwer machbar.

Flassbeck: Tja, dann gibt's halt keine Währungsunion mehr. Eine Währungsunion bedeutet, dass ich entsprechend meinen Verhältnissen lebe. Ich kann weder systematisch über noch unter meinen Verhältnissen leben, und beides ist aber der Fall. Griechenland hat über seinen Verhältnissen gelebt und Deutschland unter seinen Verhältnissen. Österreich ist auch ein wenig darunter.

STANDARD: Ist Deutschland zu mächtig für diese EU?

Flassbeck: Das Problem ist, dass in einer Finanzkrise Gläubiger unheimlich mächtig werden und Deutschland ist der größte Gläubiger. Und die Sache ist, dass Deutschland nicht begreift, dass diese Macht des Gläubigers nicht eine gottgegebene Macht ist, sondern ein reiner Finanzmarkteffekt. Kluge Politiker würden mit dieser Macht sehr behutsam umgehen, aber kluge Politiker sind in Deutschland weit und breit nicht zu sehen.


http://derstandard.at/2000018011161/Oekonom-Flassbeck-Ich-halte-es-fuer-eine-Absurditaet

— Ökonom Flassbeck: "Es ist nicht nur Griechenland" | derstandard.at - 2015-06-26
02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Sollte Griechenland aus der Eurozone ausscheiden, wäre ein Domino-Effekt zu befürchten: Griechische Banken drohten bei einem Bankrott ihre Tochtergesellschaften in den südosteuropäischen Staaten mit in den Abgrund zu reißen. "Wir schließen die Möglichkeit staatlicher Unterstützung für Banken nicht aus", erklärte die Agentur. Sollten diese Hilfen dann die Staatsfinanzen deutlich schwächen, könnte das negative Folgen für die Kreditwürdigkeit der Länder haben.

Der Marktanteil von Ablegern griechischer Geldhäuser wie der Alpha Bank, der Piraeus Bank und Eurobank Ergasias reicht laut S&P von 15 Prozent in Rumänien und Serbien bis hin zu mehr als 20 Prozent in Bulgarien und Mazedonien. S&P hatte zuvor erklärt, die Agentur gehe weiterhin davon aus, dass Griechenland in der Eurozone bleibt. Der langsame Fortschritt der Gespräche sei dennoch ein Zeichen, dass ein Ausscheiden des Landes aus der Währungsgemeinschaft möglich ist.
Angst um Zypern

Innerhalb der EU werden auf politischer Ebene und innerhalb den Notenbanken bereits seit Wochen Notfallpläne für den Fall diskutiert, dass Griechenland aus dem Euro ausscheidet. Bisher im Fokus standen dabei Bulgarien und Zypern. Für beide Länder gibt es nach Angaben von Euronotenbankern bereits konkrete Überlegungen, um eine Ausbreitung der Schockwellen bei einem Grexit zu verhindern.

[...]

http://derstandard.at/2000017981501/SP-warnt-vor-Dominoeffekt-in-Suedosteuropa
— S&P warnt vor Dominoeffekt in Südosteuropa | derstandard.at - 2015-06-24

June 25 2015

02mydafsoup-01

Erfrischend präzise moderiertes Interview im ORF (24.06.2015) von Johanna Jaufer mit Heiner Flassbeck

Euro, Griechenland, Deutschland, Europa
Itlien, Frankreich, Spanien

Merkantilismus, Monetarismus, Austerität,

Einkommen, Inlandsnachfrage, Ausfuhren,
Wohlstand, Lohndumping, Neuverschuldung,

Rechtsruck, Populismus

June 21 2015

02mydafsoup-01


Eine ehrliche Politik hätte Angela Merkel womöglich das Amt gekostet. (...)

Der «Spiegel»-Kolumnist Wolfgang Münchau hatte völlig recht, als er nach dem Wahlsieg der Syriza im Januar 2015 schrieb: «In den vergangenen fünf Tagen ist das Ausmass von Angela Merkels katastrophaler Antikrisenpolitik so deutlich geworden wie nie zuvor. Die von ihr erzwungene Sparpolitik führte zu Deflation im Euroraum und zu Dauerrezession in Südeuropa.»

Gescheitert ist vor allem Merkels Idee, dass man die Krise aussitzen könne. Bei vielen politischen Themen mag das möglich sein. Skandale kommen und gehen, Konflikte lassen sich eindämmen, wenn man sich mehr Zeit zur Kompromissfindung lässt. Aber bei der Europäischen Währungsunion ist dies genau der falsche Ansatz. Die Probleme werden grösser, nicht kleiner, wenn man zuwartet.

Wie schlimm die Situation in Griechenland geworden ist, zeigt ein Blick auf die Gesundheitsversorgung. Die Ausgaben wurden seit Ausbruch der Krise um 50 Prozent gekürzt. In den ersten vier Monaten dieses Jahres erhielten die 140 Staatsspitäler mehr als 90 Prozent weniger als letztes Jahr, weil der Staat kein Geld mehr hat. Griechenland steckt seit längerem in einer humanitären Krise. Ein griechischer Arzt, der ein Gratisspital betreibt, gab kürzlich ein erschütterndes Interview mit dem Berliner «Tagesspiegel». Das Fazit: «Wer kein Geld hat, stirbt.»

Die verheerende Wirtschaftspolitik wäre nicht nötig gewesen, wenn die Weichen beim Ausbruch der Krise 2010 richtig gestellt worden wären. Jeder einigermassen gut informierte Beobachter wusste, dass das Austeritätsprogramm die Schulden nicht reduzieren, sondern erhöhen würde. Das ganze Programm war ökonomisch sinnlos. Griechenland war bereits bankrott, es hätte einen schnellen Schuldenschnitt gebraucht, nicht eine Verschiebung der Probleme.

Als Joe Ackermann 2010 öffentlich zu bezweifeln wagte, «ob Griechenland über die Zeit wirklich in der Lage ist, diese Leistungskraft aufzubringen», reagierte die Bundeskanzlerin unwirsch. Sie liess über ihre Sprecherin ausrichten: «Es ist nicht an der Bundesregierung, die Meinungsäusserung von Herrn Ackermann zu kommentieren oder zu bewerten.» Es gebe «keinen Anlass und keinen Nutzen, darüber zu spekulieren, ob Griechenland fähig sein werde, seine Schulden zurückzuzahlen». Die Bundesregierung halte das Anpassungsprogramm von Griechenland «für realistisch» und habe «keinen Zweifel an der Entschlossenheit der griechischen Regierung, das in den nächsten Jahren umzusetzen».

Als der Bundestag im Mai 2010 die erste Kredithilfe an Griechenland verabschiedete, erklärte Merkel:

   "... Herr Präsident! Meine Damen und Herren! Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Der jetzt vorgeschlagene Lösungsweg einschliesslich der vierteljährlichen Überprüfungen der Umsetzung des griechischen Programms bietet mehr Chancen als jede andere Alternative. Er bietet die bestmögliche Gewähr dafür, dass der deutsche Steuerzahler, der über den Bund für die Kredite der Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau bürgt, von einer Inanspruchnahme verschont bleibt. ..."

Möglicherweise hätte sie eine ehrliche Politik bald das Amt gekostet. Dann hätte sie aber wenigstens für sich in Anspruch nehmen können, dass sie das Richtige tun wollte. Ein Ehrenplatz in der Geschichte wäre ihr sicher gewesen. Nun wird die Nachwelt eher ungnädig urteilen: Machterhalt statt Problemlösung.

Zudem gibt es Vorbilder, die eine politische Kehrtwende vorgenommen haben, ohne dass sie aus dem Amt gedrängt worden sind. Ein Beispiel ist Charles de Gaulle. Am 1. Juni 1958 wurde er zum Ministerpräsidenten Frankreichs gewählt und machte sich sogleich auf nach Algerien, um den dort lebenden Franzosen seine Unterstützung im Algerienkrieg zu versichern. Auf dem Balkon des Regierungssitzes in Algier sprach er den berühmt gewordenen Satz: «Je vous ai compris.» Die Algerien-Franzosen jubelten und hofften, er werde die Aufständischen besiegen (hier ein kurzes Video).

Wenige Jahre später beendete de Gaulle den Krieg, weil er sah, wie sinnlos es war, sich der Unabhängigkeit Algeriens zu widersetzen.

[...]

http://blog.tagesanzeiger.ch/nevermindthemarkets/index.php/37350/ausgemerkelt/

— Ausgemerkelt | tagesanzeiger.ch 2015-06-17
Reposted bydarksideofthemoonSirenensangschaaf

January 20 2014

European Citizens Call for the Protection of Media Pluralism

For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and 'like' the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

Website: MediaInitiative.eu. For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and ‘like’ the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.

The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative - a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:

Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.

A short video presents the campaign:

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

January 14 2014

30 People in Greece Have a New Job, Thanks to a Twitter Hashtag

Graffiti in Greek reads,

Graffiti in Greek reads, “I don't hope for anything, I am not afraid of anything, I am unemployed,” a rephrasing of a famous quote by a Greek author. Photo by SpirosK photography via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

At a time when unemployment has reached a staggering 27 percent in Greece, a hashtag on Twitter has helped about 30 people in the country find work.

#aggeliesergasias (jobadverts) was created by user @dimitrischrid in the beginning of October to help social media users share information about job opportunities in Greece and abroad. On December 11, the hashtag was a trending topic on Greek Twitter for 11 hours, thanks to its use by Twitter users and well-trafficked employment portals.

It has become a symbol of solidarity on the Internet against the increasing problem of unemployment in the country. Several Greek media outlets have referred to the initiative, characterizing it as simple, smart and effective. The blog Keep Talking Greece, dedicated to sharing the stories of “real” Greeks affected by the crisis, wrote:

Within a few days, the hell broke out: Twitter users started to post job offers they knew or heard about, while job seekers started to post their request. ReTweets and Favorites added quickly to the success of this modern, social media way to get to see a job offered in Athens or Xanthi, in London or Preveza, in Cete or in Geneva. 

Creator @dimitrischrid explained to news website Protagon the effect that the hashtag has had so far: 

Μέχρι τώρα, που είναι ακόμα πολύ νωρίς και πολλοί δεν γνωρίζουν προς το παρόν αυτόν τον τρόπο εύρεσης εργασίας, μου έχουν στείλει περίπου 30 άτομα μήνυμα που μου είπαν ότι προσλήφθηκαν και θέλησαν να με ευχαριστήσουν για το καλό που τους έκανα. [...] Ο καθένας από εμάς μπορεί να φτιάξει ένα hashtag, δεν υπάρχει τρόπος να πληρωθείς ποτέ την επιτυχία του, αλλά η ηθική ανταμοιβή που παίρνω καθημερινά, αξίζει όλα τα λεφτά του κόσμου».

Up until now, and it is very early yet and many don't know about this way of searching for a job, around 30 people have sent me messages telling me that they have been hired and wanted to thank me for this. [...] Each one of us can make a hashtag, there is no way to get paid for its success, but the ethical reward I receive every day is worth all the money in the world.

The effort has also expanded to Facebook.

December 19 2013

Mapping the ‘Urban Commons’ of Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Athens

Street protest of teachers in Rio de Janeiro (Oct 7, 2013). Photo shared on the Facebook page Mapeando o bem comum do Rio de Janeiro

Street protest of teachers in Rio de Janeiro (Oct 7, 2013). Photo shared on the Facebook page Mapeando o bem comum do Rio de Janeiro (Mapping the commons in Rio de Janeiro, in Portuguese)

A group of activists, artists, social scientists and students of various studies are working to map the urban commons of Athens, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. Urban commons refer to non-private or institutional resources which are shared by all and generated as a result of collective participation. The “commons” include natural resources, urban public spaces, creative works and even cultural traditions and knowledge which are exempt from copyrights.

The project Mapping the Commons is part of a survey carried out by Pablo de Soto (@pablodesoto), a doctorate student of the Communication School of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The hypothesis raised by de Soto is whether it is possible to map out the commons through collective creativity as a form of debating the control governments have over society's commons:

Which is the commonwealth of the contemporary metropolis and how can it be located? How are the commons being protected from enclosure by totalitarian neoliberalism’s public-private enterprises? Which new practices of commoning are emerging in the cycle of struggles that began in 2010-11? What are the advantages and the risks of such a cartography in times of crisis and rebellions?

In practice, the research method proposed by the project is based on nomadic and temporary workshops where the urban commons are discussed, parametrized, charted and represented in short videos.

Mapping Rio's commons

In October 2013, the researcher brought [es] the project to Rio de Janeiro, thus starting the mapping of the “practices of common doing” in Brazil, as explained [pt] in the Portuguese language page of Rio's project:

O Brasil, como América Latina toda, é um país especial nas práticas dos commons. O comum bebe de tradições ibéricas (faixanais, rossios, propriedades comunais), da cultura afro (quilombos, criação cultural coletiva, propriedades conjuntas) e indígenas (propriedade coletiva, malokas). Do mutirão ao conceito de ‘comunidade’ que substitui a palavra ‘favela’, o Brasil é uma celeiro de práticas do comum. Porém, o mercado e o capitalismo estão castigando o comum sem piedade.

Brazil, as the whole of Latin America, is a special country regarding practices of the commons. The “common” derives from the Iberian traditions (faixanais, rossios, communal properties), from the African culture (quilombos, collective cultural creation, joint properties) and from the indigenous cultures (collective property, malokas). From the mutirão (crowdsourcing) to the concept of “community” which replaces the word “favela” (slum), Brazil is a storehouse of common practices. However, both the market and capitalism are punishing the common without mercy.

Taking on the concept of “rebellious cities”, coined by social theorist David Harvey, de Soto adds that recent protests in Rio de Janeiro – “the demonstrations, the popular assemblies, the urban interventions” – point to a new demand for the right to the city, “a new common and participative space of coexistence”. He also explained to the English-language audience of the website that:

Rio de Janeiro, a city branded as “the marvellous city” has probably one of the most exuberant assets for natural and cultural commons in world. Those commons are disputed in a metropolis of enormous inequality and historically under state of exception.

Present days where the city is going to host mega events as the World Cup and the Olympic Games, where conflicts of housing evictions flourish in many areas, where protests that began last June have pointed to the mobility as a common and the right to the city, have opened an excellent opportunity for a political discussion on the urban commons.

Between 21 and 23 November 2013, there took place the mapping out workshops

#MapeandoOComum (#MappingTheCommons). A mapping workshop on “The struggle for the shared commons” took place in Rio de Janeiro from November 21-23.

The Mapping the Commons activities, which took place in Rio last October, included the seminars Metrópoles globais e Cidadania Insurgentes (Global metropolis and emergent citizenships) [pt] and O que pode a cidade? (What can the city?) [pt]. Working groups were created to take care of the parametrization and the mapping of the commons in Rio. The process has been disseminated through Facebook on the page Mapeando o bem comum do Rio de Janeiro (Mapping the commons in Rio de Janeiro) [pt]. The final presentation of the results of the project took place on December 14. 

Athens, Istanbul and the commons

Before being introduced in Brazil, the Mapping the Commons research project had already been discussed in workshops in Athens (2010) and in Istanbul (2012). The videos which resulted from these workshops were also presented in Rio.

The rescue of Gezi Park, for instance, and the popular turmoil which took hold in the central area of Beyoglu, Istanbul in 2013, when the population camped on site against the demolition of the park as part of a urban renewal project, were the subject of the research.

The video below shows how the rescue of the commons in Istanbul turned into political strife after the police reacted with brutality against the demonstrators:

The video produced in the Greek capital, Athens, focuses on language issues, taking as a starting point the literature by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their book Commonwealth:

Language like affects and gestures, is for the most part common, and indeed if language were made either private or public — that is, if large portions of our words, phrases, or parts of speech were subject to private ownership or public authority — then language would lose its powers of expression, creativity, and communication.

A philosophical elucidation about the commons, as suggested [pt] by de Soto on the project's Facebook page, can be found on Iohannes Maurus's blog [es], which links the theme with Marx's perspective. 

November 10 2013

FIFA Fines Croatia and Greece for Fans’ Racist Behaviour

In November 2013, Croatia and Greece joined the growing list of national football teams that FIFA has fined for racist behavior of their fans or team members. In Maqy of 2013, FIFA began implementing stricter sanctions aganist racismand discrimination. FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated recentky that this global governing organization must introduce harsher punishments to battle these issues, adding that FIFA was now even willing to “eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points” to that effect. Al Jazeera reports more details regarding the fines issued to the Croatian and Greek national football associations:

FIFA fined the Croatia Football Federation 35,000 Swiss francs ($38,000) for incidents during its 2-1 loss against Belgium in Zagreb on October 11.

“Croatian supporters made far-right salutes which were used during World War II by the fascist Ustase movement,” fan monitoring group Fare reported to FIFA.

FIFA fined the Greek federation 30,000 Swiss francs ($32,500) following reports of far-right banners displayed when Greece beat Slovakia 1-0 in Athens on October 11.

October 01 2013

Video: Anti-fascist Solidarity from Turkey to Greece

“We made this video to tell you we are with us. We had nothing more in mind.”

A moving video with testimonials of anti-fascist solidarity from Turkish activists in the memory of Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, slain by neonazis in Athens last month, was uploaded on YouTube, subtitled in Greek. The video was set to a dirge written by Turkish composer Zülfü Livaneli and Greek lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos, and performed by famous Greek singer and political Maria Farandouri, an icon of the struggle against the Greek military junta in the late 60′s.

August 31 2013

July 13 2013

How Europe's Solution for Economic Crisis is Actually the Problem

Europe's current crisis is more than economic. Between the German government advocating a dangerous austerity policy and European authorities lacking any other suggestions, it is clear that the 2008 financial crisis is no longer solely responsible for the downward spiral of Europe.

The GDP for countries in Europe has fallen by a considerable amount: 5.3 percent for Greece, 3.9 percent for Portugal, 4.1 percent for Cyprus, 2.3 percent for Italy, and two percent for Spain. This is without even mentioning the recession into which France is entering. In the first quarter of this year, the European Union economy contracted by 0.7 percent, or one percent when only taking into consideration the eurozone.

If it was only the 2008 economic crisis that was responsible for all this, Europe would not be one of the only one to suffer so much. For example, the United States, the birthplace of this crisis, registered a 1.9 percent increase in their economy in 2013 [fr] while their unemployment rate was at its lowest in four years.

Europe, which for a long time has aimed to maintain growth that compares favorably with  United States, now finds itself completely lost among incoherent policies and disputes between countries [fr].

One of the main reasons for this current instability in Europe is the evident failure of the European policy authorities when their proposals seem more than enigmatic. Restricting interchange fees as proposed by Michel Barnier, the European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, is a perfect example of is a perfect example of  the Commission taking measures that will not have any concrete impact.

Capping interchange fees, bank charges paid by retailers when they make a card payment, would not only increase personal bank charges [fr], as the banks would want to recuperate the money lost by this cap, but the retailers profit margin will also increase, as they rarely lower their prices just because their costs have decreased.

The other significant issue which has notably accelerated the decline of Europe is the restricted austerity policy which the majority of EU countries have undertaken. It would be more logical for Europe to take inspiration from the countries that have pulled through, i.e. the United States, in order to stimulate the market rather than only focusing on reducing the deficit.

Le taux de chômage des jeunes en Europe de 2005-13 via Les crises, domaine public

Youth unemployment rate in Europe between 2005-2013 via Les Crises – public domain

The most frustrating aspect about this issue is that the majority of the European leaders agree on this point, but no one dares to confront the life-long defenders of austerity, also know as « Sparkurs » [de] in Germany and its strict chancellor, Angela Merkel [fr]. But there are also critics of austerity on the German side. Last week, Gilles Moëc, head economist at Deutsche Bank, admitted to the news outlet Agence France-Presse that “there were some errors” [fr] in the selected strategy.

However, it's not as if the Merkel method was fully tried and tested, in fact, it was far from it. Portugal, for example, had never been in such a terrible state until it was subjected to the European austerity policy. In two years, its unemployment rate increased by 5.3 percent, its budget deficit by 1.1 percent. As for its public debt, it's now 123 percent higher than its GDP.

Julio Salazar Moreno, Secretary-General of Spanish worker's trade union USO, believes that the countries within the European Union need to stop with the austerity policy [pt], according to online newspaper Público:

Os países da União Europeia (UE) têm de parar “de uma vez por todas” com a aplicação de medidas recessivas, porque os cidadãos, alerta, estão a viver no limite dos sacrifícios

The countries within the European Union (EU) must refrain from enforcing austerity policies “once and for all” because the alert citizens are living at the very limits of their possible sacrifices.

The sledgehammer approach is just as inefficient for Greece, claims Gregor Gyzi, a president from a left-wing parliamentary group in Germany Bundestag by addressing the Greek readers [el] of news247:

οι επιβληθείσες, κυρίως από την γερμανική κυβέρνηση, περικοπές σε μισθούς και συντάξεις, οι απολύσεις και οι ιδιωτικοποιήσεις, όχι μόνο ώθησαν την Ελλάδα σε βαθιά ύφεση και κοινωνικά προβλήματα, αλλά κατέστησαν και αδύνατη την επιστροφή των δανείων στο εγγύς μέλλον

Imposed primarily by the German government, salary and retirement cuts, redundancies and privatisations, are not only going to push Greece into a major recession and cause social problems, but its also going to make loan repayments equally impossible.

Emigration figures for Europe are also far from surprising. In two years, 2.5 percent of the Portuguese population left the country. Who would have said ten years ago that today many Europeans would leave the continent to work in countries like Angola or Brazil?

Facing this alarming development, it is even more depressing to hear the responses of others, like that of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, also the former minister of the Eurogroup, who recently gave his thoughts on the European crisis [fr] and concluded that what Europe needs is some “TLC”: a statement which speaks for itself.

July 11 2013

VIDEO: Police Brutality Under the Acropolis

Blogger alepouda remixed footage from a 2007 Greek tourism campaign promoting the “true Greek experience” with a video of police aggression against protesters at a rally on 10 July, 2013 in Thisseio in support of anarchist Kostas Sakkas, accused of terrorism and detained without trial since December 2010, who is in the terminal stages of a hunger strike.
(more…)

June 12 2013

02mydafsoup-01
Il y a un entré chez http://seenthis.net/messages/147185 - avec quelques chiffres et des arguments malheureusement assez connus comme stratégie de l'austérité guidant au chemin d'un état autoritatif qui sont bien caractéristiques pour des sociétés ex-socialistes depuis des années 1990, comme ainsi pour des états postdémocratiques autoritatifs.

April 22 2013

Greece: #BloodStrawberries Boycott Over Migrant Workers’ Shooting

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Supervisors shot and injured dozens of undocumented migrant workers from Bangladesh in the strawberry farms of southwestern Nea Manolada for demanding months of owed wages, the latest incident in a country where antipathy toward immigrants is on the rise.

The horrific show of violence on April 17, 2013 sparked uproar throughout Greece, prompting netizens to launch a boycott of the “blood” strawberries that originate at the scene of the crime.

Following national and international outcry, Greek police arrested three suspects in connection with the shooting, and charged them with attempted murder on April 19, 2013. The country's citizen protection minister promised that none of the victims would be deported from Greece, and the ministry announced that it is considering granting them residency permits on humanitarian grounds.

This grainy mobile phone video, posted on YouTube by Kathimerini journalist Kostas Onisenko, shows the injured migrant workers laying on the ground a few minutes after they were shot:

Racism and ethnic nationalism on the rise in the economically devastated country, with extremists, such as the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party, thriving on racist rhetoric, systematic violations of human rights, and the ill-treatment of immigrants.

Just three days before the Manolada incident, Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias, as well as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, were criticized in a report issued by the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights for rhetoric stigmatising migrant. Dedalos (@dedalos_gl) commented on Twitter:

@dedalos_gl: What was the greek government's answer to the late report for the human rights in greece #Manolada#Dendias_resignation

Initially, mainstream TV channels barely — if at all — mentioned events in Manolada. It was Twitter users from Greece and those responding from abroad that drew public attention to the incident, as Craig Wherlock (@teacherdude) pointed out:

@teacherdude: Greek TV news shamed into covering #Manolada shooting. This afternoon, it was 6th item on NET and not reported at all on Star. See my TL

As news of the shooting spread, Twitter erupted in shock and outrage. User @MavriMelani shared a photograph of the wounded workers:

@MavriMelaniΦωτογραφια με τραυματισμενους μεταναστες μετα τη δολοφονικη επιθεση που δέχθηκαν#Manolada

@MavriMelaniPhoto of injured immigrants after the murderous attack they received #Manolada #rbnews

Giorgio (@Zorzinio) commented on the violent scene in the photograph, referencing the bombings that killed three and injured hundreds in Boston that same day:

@Zorzinio: Οταν είδα την φωτο νόμιζα ότι ήταν απο Βοστώνη!! #Manolada #rbnews

@Zorzinio: When I saw the photo I thought it was from Boston!

Cyberella (@Cyberela) invoked the American far-right white supremacist group the Klu Klux Klan:

@Cyberela: Reviving the KKK at #manolada. Migrants being shot because they demanded their 6 months owed fees. #bloodstrawberries

Questioning how something so terrible could happen, Katerina Kanelidou (@KatKanelidou) wrote:

@KatKanelidou: How do we allow such things to happen? Do we still call ourselves ‘civilized'? #manolada #Greece

Harris (@hchrono) saw the tragedy as a step backwards for Greece:

@hchrono: Slavery and barbarity. Greece welcomes the Middle Ages #manolada

Combining the titles of the famous song by The Beatles and a film about the Cambodian genocide, Bilibidon (@bilibidon) quipped:

@bilibidon: Strawberry Killing Fields Forever… #manolada

 

Boycott Manolada strawberries graphic, tweeted by @giannisg_

Graphic urging a boycott of Manolada, tweeted by @giannisg_

Citizen media boycott

A citizen media campaign [el] was launched to urge consumers and businesses worldwide to boycott the #bloodstrawberries, as protesters are calling them, from the Nea Manolada farm:

@moumouris#greece #manolada field workers are paid with bullets. don't buy #bloodstrawberries

@IrateGreek: My mum was at the fruit stand in the supermarket. An old man behind her whispered: “Don't buy strawberries.” #manolada #bloodstrawberries

@alepouda: 2 supermarkets in #greece are banning #bloodstrawberries of #manolada after emails send by people http://goo.gl/ax96L #boycott

@myScarletCarpet: Do you like strawberries? What about #BloodStrawberries? http://scarletcarpet.blogspot.com/2013/04/too-many-strawberries-will-kill-you.html …

International response to the campaign prompted an official reaction from the EU Home Affairs Commissioner on Twitter:

@MalmstromEU: Shocking news about shooting of migrant workers in Greece. I expect full investigation by the Greek authorities/CM bbc.co.uk/news/world-eur…

“My little sister is boycotting #bloodstrawberries”. Photo tweeted by Maria Sidiropoulou

A form of modern slavery

Although the severity of the incident is unprecedented, it's not isolated. Efforts have been made in the past to draw the attention of authorities to this form of modern slavery, such as a 2008 investigative report by journalists Dina Daskalopoulou and Makis Nodaros for which an English translation is available here.

There have been similar incidents before in the same area, with scant coverage in mainstream media, as the writer and activist collective The Multicultural Politic wrote:

[...] Activists from Greek Communist Party [initiated] a campaign in 2008 for a daily wage increase from 22 Euros to 25. The workers and campaigners were met with a violent confrontation in which many workers were beaten suffering serious injury. [..] Further investigations by journalists revealed how local municipal officials were selling fake documentation to migrant workers, and police prosecutions meant that employers in the town became very hostile to “Athenian” journalists which might partly explain the limited information that has been reported about the most recent violence.

In August 2012, an Egyptian worker was dragged with a car through the streets of Nea Manolada town, but the incident didn't trigger a closer look at the working and living conditions of farm workers in the area by authorities. One of three foremen awaiting trial for the latest shooting was the suspected perpetrator of the car dragging.

Journalist Yannis Baboulias explained the reasons for the continuing impunity:

The farmers of Manolada, praised many a times for their entrepreneurial spirit from government and media alike, have enjoyed this impunity for years. Nodaros’ report speaks of shacks in which the workers are forced to live and pay rent for to their bosses, illegal supermarkets among them selling expired products at two and three times their price, and a shocking tolerance from the authorities who have done nothing to stop this despite the 150 plus cases on file against them.

@Cyberela: In conclusion it seems that #Greece‘s officials knew about the conditions & celebrated @ European forums the “red gold” innovation #Manolada

At the time of writing this article, a dedicated blog has been set up to promote the boycott call in seven languages [en, de, es, fr, it, pl, pt], and cancellations for standing orders of strawberries from Nea Manolada are continuing.

The incident was storified by journalist Nikos Moumouris and by GV author Asteris Masouras, who contributed to this report, while BeatriceDeDante collected the imagery of the incident.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Chronicles of the Unemployed in Greece

Journalist and author Christoforos Kasdaglis started The Diary of an Unemployed [el], a project to collect stories [el] and data [el] on Greek unemployment, consistently driven to record figures for years on end by the debt and austerity crisis. 27% of Greeks were jobless in January, a rate that has tripled since the crisis began in 2009, while youth unemployment is reaching 60%. More than 120,000 Greeks are estimated to have left the country since the crisis began.

(more…)

April 21 2013

Detained and Desperate – Undocumented Migrants in Greece

Stories of despair were transmitted through Twitter, when politicians, journalists and anti-racism activists visited a detention facility within the Drapetsona police station in Piraeus city, where more than 100 unauthorized migrants are living in cramped, dark and deplorable conditions.

One detainee said he hadn't seen the sun for months. Another had attempted suicide.

I was part of the group that visited the detention facility outside capital city Athens on April 6, 2013. In this post, I describe the conditions of the migrants through my tweets and include testimonies from other people who also visited the facility or #GreekGuantanamo, as it was referred to on Twitter.

Protest against inhuman immigrant detention conditions in Drapetsona. Photo by author

More than 60,000 migrants have been detained in police stations ever since sweep operations, under the name of “Xenios Zeus” (ironically, the name of the Greek god of hospitality) were initiated in August 2012. Only 4,000 have been formally arrested.

Since the 1990s, Greece has become a popular entry and transit point into the EU, for hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Anti-immigration, fascist groups, including the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party, have increasingly become vocal in a country with a weakened economy and few jobs. According to some statistics, illegal immigrants currently make up 10% of the Greek population.

For the second time in two months, a delegation visited this particular police station to record the conditions under which unauthorized migrants that fail to meet Greece's legal living  requirements are forced to endure.

Most members of the visiting delegation were motivated by a detailed letter [el] from George Karystinos, a member of the Antifascist Front of Piraeus, who was a part of the first delegation that visited the police station and witnessed the conditions there. What he described was utterly shocking. About 100 migrants were detained in a 70 meter-square space, some of them for more than 9 months.

Some migrants were on hunger strike after a fellow 28-year-old Palestinian detainee, had tried to commit suicide because of the conditions there, and they were allegedly beaten by police officers to end their strike.

During the first visit, one of the detainees started injuring himself in front of the committee as a way to show his despair. George Karystinos writes [el]:

The police department commander announced that the detainee who injured himself, as well as the Palestinian who had tried to commit suicide, would be set free. What was his message? You will have to attempt suicide in order to be released, and if you get lucky, you'll survive in a hospital.

Recent photo from the Drapetsona precinct detention. No windows, no outdoors. Photo posted by @eleniamorgos on Twitter

Recent photo from the Drapetsona precinct detention. No windows, no outdoors. Photo posted by @eleniamorgos on Twitter

Our visit coincided with a protest outside the facility. Twitter users present at the protest reported the extensive presence of police forces outside the police station [el]:

@Cyberela: Εχουν κλείσει τα ρολά του ΑΤ. 3 σειρές απο ματ. #greekGuantanamo

@Cyberela: Police station's shutters down. 3 rows of police special forces. #greekGuantanamo

I was also outside the police station, about to enter as a member of the committee, and tried to report what was happening on Twitter through my account @WonderMaS:

@WonderMaS: Outside the police station of Drapetsona with the Antifascist Front of Piraeus, Amnesty International, and two members of Parliament, Dritsas and Lafazanis who are just coming out of the police station.

After MP Dritsas, of the Syriza party negotiated the number of people that would be allowed inside, with the precinct commander, we entered and I tweeted:

@WonderMaS: Just came out of police station in Drapetsona, Pireaus. Immigrants there living like animals, eating twice a day, first meal at 16.00 #rbnews

@WonderMaS: One immigrant told me he hasn't seen the sun for months #rbnews

A member of the Antifascist Front of Piraeus tweeted [el]:

@eleniamorgos: Δεν σταματάει η κράτησή τους όταν περάσει ο νόμιμος χρονος, λόγω γραφειοκρατίας του αλλοδαπών

@eleniamorgos: Their detention isn't terminated even when the assigned period of time has come to its end, due to Immigration (ministry's) bureaucracy.

@eleniamorgos: 2. Δεν παρέχεται ιατρική περίθαλψη όταν νοσούν ή κάνουν απεργία πείνας

@eleniamorgos: They are not provided with any medical care when they get sick or when they go on hunger strike

The precinct chief also made clear that they are trying their best to improve holding conditions, with little or no help from the Ministry. Teseris told us that he has to bring medicine from home to cover the department's deficiencies.

@WonderMaS: commander of police dept, Teseris says this isnt a proper place to detain ppl for months, only for 2-3 days detentions #rbnews

Some of the detainees told me there are no proper health facilities, and sometimes they don't have soap. Others told me that not all police officers are civil to them, even though they don't beat them. Most of them don't have any lawyers or contacts outside, and the ones that do have legal help, told me there hasn't been any progress in their situation.

The majority seemed desperate, and were looking at me as if I were their only hope.

As I tried to have a look inside their cells, I noticed some washing hanging from clotheslines. With all their inconvenient conditions, they still try to keep their prison proper, a fact which only reminded me that these people are coming from homes and families that taught them how to be civilized and cherish dignity. For some maybe their quest for dignity, brought them to these living conditions.

Their attendant psychologist was firm on the desperation these detainees were experiencing:

Abatzidi Dionusia is a psychologist at Drapetsona police dep, said those ppl are desperate

Some of the detainees told the delegates that there was no physical violence; this time, at least, as an activist pointed out [el]:

@Cyberela: Το ότι δεν διαπιστώθηκαν ξυλοδαρμοί στους κρατούμενους στη σημερινή επίσκεψη δεν σημαίνει ότι ξαχάσαμε τους προηγούμενους. #greekGuantanamo

@Cyberela: The fact that there were no visible beatings administered on the prisoners prior to today's visit doesn't mean we have forgotten about the others #greekGuantanamo

One of the detainees also told us that since the first protest and outside visit, some things had changed, “they fixed our lights, the lamps had been off for days”. Other visitors concurred:

@Cyberela: Δριτσας: οι κινητοποιήσεις έχουν βοηθήσει την κατάσταση των συνθηκών. Οι χώροι αυτοί είναι για κράτηση το πολυ 48ωρου #greekGuantanamo

@Cyberela: [Syriza MP] Dritsas: the mobilization has helped their situation. These facilities are made for a 48 hour detention, at the most #greekGuantanamo

A few days after the visit, Mr. Dritsas announced [el] a parliamentary inquiry, demanding from the Citizen Protection Minister to call off the “Xenios Zeus” program of immigrant sweeps, that clearly results in a series of human rights violations.

Photographer Stefanos Koufopoulos published a photoset of the Drapetsona protest on the Dromografos blog. Global Voices author Asteris Masouras collaborated in editing this report and curated resources on Storify.

April 12 2013

You're Sponsoring Neonazis on Greek TV!

@northaura#xa_advertising is about a twitter movement protest by email in #Greece to push advertisers off ever again supporting pro-neonazi TV shows.

Blogger @ypopto_mousi started a campaign to inform the sponsors [el] of a highly controversial SKAI TV panel featuring four neonazi Golden Dawn MPs, that they are sponsoring hate speech. The blogger is urging netizens to email advertising companies, providing sample emails [el] and addresses of advertising companies, while blogging [el] and posting regular updates on Twitter on the campaign's results under the hashtag #xa_advertising.

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