Saturday, 25 July 2015

Greek Politics 2015

Greek Politics 2015
 I find it is so very good to be at a distance from the Greek political drama, even though everyone still asks me what I think about it all.  

And because of these questions I’ve had to ask myself what I do think about what was happening. I know I still get very cross at the way it has been and still is being reported; with a selective group of people being interviewed and then the reporter putting their spin on their selection.

Newspapers being another lot of drama queens (beside the Greeks) they only want to portray ‘poor Greeks’ and ‘wicked Germans’ as that makes a better story.

The situation is much more complicated than that. But there are a few articles that go deeper if you search, and then you’ll catch a hint of a more complex situation. Unfortunately tourists and newcomers to Greece seem to expect that, as it is part of the EU, they’ll find similar conditions to those in other EU countries. When they read the papers they then may also feel the need to put the blame elsewhere.

For me it seems to me that Greece is not ‘European’, even though one of its myths has named that continent – named after one of Zeus' (as a bull) attempted conquests, that of Europa. Takis disagrees with me violently about this statement (that Greece is not European), but we do agree that Greece does not have easy solutions, and that many of its problems stem from its geography and history.

Because Greece is placed midway between that Europe and Asia, and it is largely composed of mountains and narrow valleys with hundreds of islands scattered in three seas, and while these formations of rock and sea are very beautiful this geographical structure has meant that groups of people have been separated, and though speaking the same language they have had to look after themselves – often with very limited natural resources.


And then, beside this, ‘Modern Greek’ society was shaped within the Byzantine Empire rather than within the Roman Empire, and today’s structures still reveal that history. Many Greek organizations are antiquated and overly complicated, having missed out on Rome’s organization ability.

What did Rome offer Europe?

Pax Romana (Latin for "Roman Peace") was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by the Roman military force experienced by the Roman Empire after the end of the Final War of the Roman Republic and before the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century.

While some others summarize this to mean that ‘In other words, imperial peace becomes civil peace insofar as the memory of the previously independent political units are effaced, insofar as individuals within a pacified zone feel themselves less united to the traditional or local community and more to the conquering state.’ 

And this might be what many Greeks felt about the EU! that they were being ‘pacified’ and ‘conquered’! However, Rome did give Europe a good foundation for later development. It gave Europe a network of roads, which in turn meant a means of communication, and along with that it provided a very efficient administration that ensured relative peace for hundreds of years. 


But the newspapers love the drama of the present situation in Greece, and rarely look at the present impasse in terms of Geography and History. 

While, in Greece, there is reluctance to make real change, because that would require a dramatic life-style reorganization.

Greeks in Australia

Nick Xenophon, a well respected Greek Australian who is an independent MP

From Wikipedia: 
Australia is home to one of the largest Greek communities in the world. Greeks are the seventh largest ethnic group in Australia, after those who declared their ancestry simply as "Australian". In the 2006 census, 365,147 people reported to have Greek ancestry, either exclusively or in combination with another ethnic group. The largest concentration of Greeks in Australia is in the state of Victoria, which is often regarded as the heartland of the Greek Australian community. The latest Census in 2011 recorded 99 939 Greece-born people in Australia, a fall of 9.1 per cent from the 2006 Census. 


Lemnos Politics: 2015

These are people who are calm and stoic, less driven to Greek dramatic outbursts. I can’t say if this is typical of most of the island peoples, or of folk who do not live in the major cities. I do know that there are many who are socialists and many communists in Lemnos, and Syriza had a large following on the island. And I also know they are tired of the long drawn out disputes, and the uncertainty about banks, about ferries. 

In the referendum their vote was counted with that of the island of Lesvos, 38% Yes, and 61% No , a result that largely mirrors the final outcome for the whole of Greece. But many voters were confused as to what they were actually voting for as both the EU and their government told them that it was also about staying in or leaving the EU, something most did not want to do.

And with what has happened since, confusion all round!


Two articles in the Melbourne newspaper The Age

These are typical of the coverage of Lemnos in the Australian press this year. 

John Pandazopoulos wrote this article. He is President of the World Hellenic InterParliamentary Association and a former Victorian Minister for Tourism, Employment and Major Projects and was member of the Victorian Parliament for 22 years. He writes, ‘You won't get a receipt for most things you buy in Greece and that is why no Greek politician will talk about something that will fix the budget – tax collection.’

The other articles that mention Lemnos are mostly about the 100th anniversary of the landing of the Allies in Gallipoli. For example,

A collection of letters that gives amazing insight into the lives of nurses who tended wounded soldiers evacuated from Gallipoli.

And my answer to folk who ask about the Greek Dilemma

I feel that any modern advance towards the ‘European ideal’ (while desired by well over half of the population) has long been held back by these constraints, it is a situation that requires different and complex answers to those of other European countries. For instance, there needs to be better access to the 400 or so islands and organizations less tied to Byzantine and religious formulas.

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