Comments for en-gb 30 Wed 28 Jan 2015 01:42:05 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at WebAliceinwonderland But then, Nik, that's Federation, and you are not in a Federation but in the EU which is another pattern - surely there are some handles there that can be pulled - but you need to know the clock mechanics for that. In here, for example, say a region wants something expenisive beyond its means of local taxes collection. Say, St. Petersburg wanted a new harbour.So, either Kremlin gives Fed money or instead does not take Fed taxes due from St. Petersburg for the same amount or the 3rd way - city , of own taxes, scratches up money itself.When the thing is useful for all, like a harbour to serve bigger region than the city itself one can count on Fed money (or no-tax time, from St. petersburg side).The bidders by the way (granted a Dutch company won) were international, to build, not Russian Federation ones' only. So I mean I don't understand why your EU should be particularly "only from within the EU" partners for big projects. So if Greece wants to run a joint project with Russia Taiwan China or USA or whatever - even if it happens on common EU money (I have very vague idea if you've got a common fund, and equivalent of our Federation fed taxes, to spend) why not, if the bidder wins the bid and all. Best value for money idea or something. As min. that's how we, the beginners :o))) understand capitalism :o))) but may be the EU has a different kind of capitalism in mind? :o))))In Greece place, I'd apply the principle "if you can't convince them confuse them" , I'd immediately ran a bid "who'll better protect Greece from Turkey flying over violating our airspace". Send an offer to the USA direct - the first thing. Then to Britain. Then to Russia. These 3 key interested will be enough, and see what happens :o))))So to say, do "a reconnaissance by battle" :o)))) Sat 13 Feb 2010 00:06:53 GMT+1 WebAliceinwonderland Chechnya got it international airport, to fly to Saudi Arabia :o))) as much as they like, to pray, and get variou suspicious "exchanges" :o))) on sharing "experiences" :o))) but the fact is they got what they wanted, as Kadyrov complined all last year he wants own Customs' clearance point, not to depend on neighbouring regions. Because most have direct flights cargo andd all ffrom abroad, can trade and communicate with the world direct, without neighbours or centre, so are they red-haired how to say :o))) or what? Got it. Fri 12 Feb 2010 23:08:42 GMT+1 WebAliceinwonderland Nik, @46 "However that is exactly the problem!!! EU does not "exploit" Greece as much as it should!"Nik, I think I heard it before. I heard it, I think ? last time when there was Sergey Kirov :o))), Leningrad city mayor, addressing USSR Communist party with such a suggestion. That was not abot Greece :o), but the message was the same - "we ran USSR idiotically. Every region example Leningrad area, Daghestan, Black sea coast, polar circle - everyone - should figure out for itself its strong points, focus on a handful of industries and directions, and focus money resources on these, driving itself out of the common mess. And Communist party should recognise the benefits of such an approach and assist regions in their individual striving as much as they can, instead of tying all into common poverty and cross-dependence of regions on each other and unavoidable appearance of "doner" regions in the USSR (the ones who give their blood :o) and the "dependent" on central financing regions. Kremlin shouldd stop being scared of regions becoming rich and independent, give them more freedom, otherwise you will always have to keep them inside either by poverty or by steel."For such an advanced un-timely idea :o)))) Kirov was immediately assasinated, whole "Leningrad case" appeared in KGB, and the whole Leningrad Communist party walked to Siberia Gulags, that is, the ones who were not shot. As an attempt on power and "treason", the court verdict was "Leningrad Communist Party decided to separate from the USSR Communist Party by creatingg a special "Russian branch" of the power in the country."Thus undermining the basics :o), digging at pillars :o))) and all.(There wasn't a "Russia's Communist Party. Everyone else but not us. Georgia's, Ukraine's, Latvian Communist party - 14 branches in the USSR with one interesting exception - without Russia's. We were supposed to be everywhere and nowhere. So that's how Kremlon interpreted the economic talk of Leningrad.As I understand there isn't a board in the EU sitting and thinking "What's best for a particular region/country? Let's look at the points they made. Let's think how we can help them, all combined, to do better."You are not USSR enough for that, and even when it was USSR here , it was not always the angle of thinking :o) as I demonstrated by the example above. Though, an old example, must say, old thinking, pre-war. These days you normally hear more of it, in Russia, various federation districts in passionate speeches on TV explaining what they want for themselves and explaining to the others. Common thing, in fact, and that's how the thinking goes. It's accepted model, each one for itself, but as they pay taxes to the federal tax bureau, not only to the local tax committee, the feds should also do something. Thus, Daghestan figured out for themselves some chemical ? fosfates? something for agriculture and for building/construction, making those chemicals, and fed budget builds for them factories for that, as they counted they have enough building and agricultural regions bordering them, so a market to sell to. Their own idea, some economics' minister of Daghestan. Will be hard because they might all shoot down each other before they complette the construction :o) but at least they'v eformulated who they plan to be for the nearest 10 years, doing what.? Or some laws are bended, for a region, for example St. petersburg got itself 3 days non-visas for foreigners, as tourism is important here, and negotiates with the Federal centre for a week visa-free. And from what I see on TV absolutely all want bridges, some bridges paranoya :o)))) the bridges construction federal ministry is besieged with orders and a line. They built 22 last year and said they are exhausted but all federation constituencies have nice maps shoving them where it says each can have 22! :o))) so sky won't be the limit next year :o)) Especially on Federal money. :o)))) Fri 12 Feb 2010 23:04:19 GMT+1 Adrian Liapis Hello everyone!I believe that Greece is partially (if not fully) responsible for its nowaday economic status which is a result of many years of bad administration since the mid 80's. Im not here to blaim our fellow european allies, but to point out that the Big 3 (France, Germany, England) are partially responsible for the economic fall of Greece. A country with 10 million people and 131,000 square km size would not be considered a big country, and a country like that usually is not an industrialistic country. To not be an industrialistic nation in modern times is to be dependent from greater countries in your area because you cannot produce wealth and you will need to borrow money from the Eurozone in Greece's case. That is what Greece is all about at the moment. But the big issue here is, that Greece is facing at the moment 2 dificult neighbors (Turkey and FYROM)who keep trying to intervent politically into our Affairs. Having a neighbors who outnumbers you 7 to 1 is a pretty tough situation which needs immediate sollutions and practically very costly sollutions. What Greece does to sord of keep Turkey's hands away from the Aegean is the purchasing of many defensive and military systems and the cost of (4.3%) of the GDP. Now, have you ever wondered, that if the European Leaders had taken a more righteous and serius stance against Turkey the economic deficit would be sufficiently smaller? Again, im not blaiming the Europeans, we are the ones who made this mess happen, we are the ones who are responsible for our own economic deficit, but how can you entirely blaim a small country belonging in the Eurozone, in the middle of an Economic crisis for its own economic failure? My point is that we are responsible for our mess, but what have the European Union Leaders done to ensure Greek economic stability, when they go and have strong trade, political, social and economic relations with the biggest muslim country in European Territory? (Turkey) Fri 12 Feb 2010 19:03:00 GMT+1 Nik Re45: Cdk-Athens - you forgot the French that in the 1980s sold to Papandreou (the daddy) the infamous 80-100 Mirage-2000 fighters without... radars (!!!!) but at only a 50% lowered price in terms of the radar so the price of the radars went at a 50% (millions of euros) in the swiss accounts of PASOK party members... We later had to buy separaterly and install the normal Mirage radars, at leas the aircraft is simply superb and in the hands of Greek pilots became a terror of invading offensive Turkish F-16. So is selling incomplete aircrafts the French's fault? No. Not our point. German, French and British companies if taking large projects at high prices that is because on other equally major projects Greek companies do the same. Afterall do you think that European companies would be so naif to say "Ah! No! We will give the service/product at a low cost, unlike those thieves Greek companies who exploit the state!" Of course not! In 90% of cases outside their countries of origins, grand projects are taken on the basis of political connections, and that passes by several Swiss bank accounts obviously!So really in all this chaotic situation the last thing that us Greek will do is to say for example to Germans "A! You charged us an extra-15% for the big Olympic Projects". Well as a Greek I prefer to give an extra 15% to Germans than an extra 5% to US or Russians for the obvious reason of belonging to the same greater market.However that is exactly the problem!!! EU does not "exploit" Greece as much as it should!Greece has a lot to give to the EU far more than what is visible behind its name, size and population (and please forget about ancient culture and such, not our issue...). The oil in the Aegean as well as 2-3 extremely precious ressources in mines that are frozen (bought by anyone? no info), its control over the Aegean and necessarily the passage of Russia (and anyone else) from the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean as well as a natural point of contact with all Middle East, especially via the link with Cyprus) make it a little country that offer hugely and hugely dispoportionately to the EU.The Greeks are "desperately willing" to employ all these huge points in that direction as like any other little country alone they can do nothing much other than survive the next day. We do firmly believe that if we are to associate ourselfs with any big group of interests that should be our neighbourhood, EU first of all, then Russia, India, China, US & Brazil by preferential order. However what we see is a hesitant EU countries not knowing what to do, trying to keep their long before overturned balance with the US (...since 1918!!!) which is an unhealthy situation. And that leaves Greece no other option as to suffer in the hands of US that has made it in the black list since the 1950s for no other reason that it simply has only to lose by aiding Greece (US invests in Turkey, obviously! And it is through Turkey that US partially ocntrols any access of Europe to the Middle East). In that sense the role of an EU country like Britain has been largely negative, since they preferred to play their own game (compatible with the US game since in fact the US geopolitics derived from the British one) largely dissafecting EU interests in the area.That lives no other option to Greece as to flirt alone with Russians and Chinese (almost alone, there is Bulgaria too - another EU country black listed in the US books...), then it is only easy for US to stop such moves that EU cannot or is not willing to back. No strategic agreements equals no development. And no development rarely is any good guide to even an average running economy unless a country decides to make it on its own without loans. But then you know what that means in terms of development (you simply remain in the previous century). Fri 12 Feb 2010 15:08:03 GMT+1 cdk-athens it was about time to do so..all these years greece was left all alone to guard the eastern borders of EU at great expense..I wonder why EU never,even indirectly,showed support to greece over the turkish aggressive foreign policy & also over the huge problem of illegal immigration (again originating from the extremely tolerant turkish policies)have a look at the figures, you will be surprised of the huge amounts which are spent every year for military equipment which by the way are mainly coming from Germany and France..oh yes..not to mention the serious business contracts that German, British and French companies are enjoying in many sectors of the greek economy.. everything is run by them.. most important projects are giving to them at very high costs for the greek, the logical would be that EU and mostly the main core, Germany-France, will help the greeks to tackle this problem.. it is always two-way give and take situation.. they are just feeling a little discomfort and sad that they seem to loose their win-win status that they were having all these years..and besides, lets not be fooled. it is not Greece the actual problem.. it is the euro that is in target.. Fri 12 Feb 2010 11:25:59 GMT+1 MarcusAureliusII dt;"Yes, I gather the USA has a number of distinctly democratic customs. It is why, I strongly suspect, it has done so well historically. Unfortunately I know very little about the detail of US politics beyond the senate."I am disappointed that you don't know much about the structure of the United States government but I am hardly surprised since my observation is that few outside the US actually know or understand much of real substance about it. The Constitution which defined that structure may have been the greatest single invention in human history. It made it possible for people from diverse places and cultures with diverse motives and interests to live peacefully with each other for over two centuries with one major exception. Also not counting the first 10 Amendments, the Bill of Rights which was actually part of the Constitution at its inception, it has only had to be amended about two dozen times in all this time. It endures as a liviing testament to the genius of the men who created it.The underlying principle of it is the fracturing of power to the greatest degree possible and still have a union. Power is fractured between the Federal and State governments in what is called "the separation of powers" and between the three co-equal branches of the Federal government Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary in what is called "The Division of Powers." The system of checks and balances prevents any one individual or group from siezing control. For example, the courts can overturn a law passed by the legislative branch and signed by the executive branch by declaring it unconstitutional. The States each similarly break up their own power into three branches in much the same way but each state has its own constitution and each is sovereign within the power alotted to it. States also relegate some of their powers lower down to counties and then to municipalities. Somewhere I once read that there are 77,000 governments in the United States. The press is held in special regard by the Constitution as almost being a fourth branch of government and its freedom is one more guarantee that "the scoundrels who run government" will be found out and exposed for the crooks they are. Battles between branches of government and between the states and federal government are fought at the margins, no one branch really able to usurp much power from another branch. Interestingly, the President and the Legislature are each very jealous of their own power and will defend it against each other even when they are of the same political party.The system is designed so that competing interests are set against each other. The system prefers the risk of paralysis to the risk of dictatorship. This was what happened in those first 60 agonizing hours after Hurricaine Katrina left the gulf and the rescue was delayed from Tuesday morning to Thursday noon. The indecisive government of the state of Louisiana was paralyzed and would not act while the President refused to sieze control of the situation. The people are most at risk when the opposing forces collude. Thus the financial crisis was the result of a collusion of liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats in a scheme to make it possible for every American to own a home whether he could afford it or not. The liberals and Democrats could be said to have had their hearts in the right place but their heads were out to lunch. The conservatives and Republicans saw an opportunity for enormous profits for the finance industry. It is wrong to pin the blame on one side or the other, and even the first President Bush said he wanted to make it possible for all Americans to own their own homes. He was no liberal. So is that socialism, capitalism run amok, or just plain stupidity ignoring all of the lessons and throwing away all of the checks and restraints that had been put in place after the great depression to prevent another one? Besides being crooked, government is invariably stupid. Fri 12 Feb 2010 01:52:52 GMT+1 democracythreat MarcusAureliusII wrote:"If each one of America's states is comparabale to each nation state in the EU, then each of them has referendums just about every election. For example there are bond issues which are on the ballot and then there are the propositions. "Yes, I gather the USA has a number of distinctly democratic customs. It is why, I strongly suspect, it has done so well historically. Unfortunately I know very little about the detail of US politics beyond the senate. After living in Switzerland, I am convinced that a deep mistrust of government power is crucial to obtaining a government that is relatively free of corruption, and protected from elites who think they are entitled to steal taxes because daddy is related to Baron hoo hah.The swiss have a saying that in Switzerland the people do not trust the government. In Europe, the governments do not trust the is not the wisdom or intelligence of the mob which makes democracy such a powerful force for economic growth. It is the distrust of power and its' corruption.I look at California now and see that this state is being sent bankrupt, and for my taste this is the real redemptive power of direct democracy in action. The politicians in California are being forced to cut back on their spending, whether they like it or not. And they are complaining bitterly that "the system doesn't work", and blaming the people.Who here can say that Greece should not have been forced to cut back on government spending in years past?Democracy may have an ugly side, and the mob may not be right about all things. But it does prevent the farming of human beings by megalomaniacs, and it gives the people a chance to force bankers and corrupt party members to account for their behaviour.It is high time Europe had the benefit of democracy, so that it can enter the modern world and be rid of its putrid "elites by birth". Fri 12 Feb 2010 00:44:20 GMT+1 cool_brush_work Hang on! Just a minute! Look! I'll be with you all shortly!I'm just looking up which Treaties, Pacts and sets of Rules and Regulations Paris-Berlin-Brussels corrupted this time to suit their own agenda of the, 'EU-is-always-good-and-don't-you-dare-say-otherwise!'It turns out they have made up an entirely brand, spanking new set of Rules & Regs that will only apply to Greece, will only apply this one time, will only be enforced if Greece drops off the straight & narrow, and, will not be subject of any EP consideration nor even put before the Commission for post-dated approval.Oh well, that' s alright then - - situation entirely normal - - another magnificent demonstration of 'democracy' and 'duplicity' all in the same EU document!URGH! Don't know about anyone else, but my goodness there's something decidedly whiffy about the deliberations of this EU over the last couple of years. The stench of hypocrisy from the rotting carcass of European idealism as under-the-counter double-deals become common practise is truly pungent! Thu 11 Feb 2010 22:32:41 GMT+1 greece2000 @EllinA failed economy resting on a failed state resting on a failed society. Europe should have nothing to do with them.-----------------------------------------------------------------------I would be interested in reading your structured thoughts and your opinion in general about 'failing societies'. How do you measure failure?In terms of politics? Do strong left parties, a political active population, democratic demonstrations, democratic strikes etc consist failure?France, Spain, Britain before Thatcher, Italy etc are only some examples of similar socio-economic practices.Civil liberties, freedom, free healthcare, education. Are they measures?Have a look at this map:[347]=x-347-559597 As for what Europe has to do with 'them':Emphasis, (Euro)zone, politicians, geopolitical, Europe, analyses, economy, are some greek words you used in 10 lines of text.P.S: Europe was a woman in Greek mythology abducted by Zeus who transformed in a taurus Thu 11 Feb 2010 22:24:53 GMT+1 Nik Re 32: Ellin: Do not take it negatively but you are politically naif. You think geopolitics is only for US and Russia and it does not affect anyone else? Or it affects the military and not the economy? You really think that the Greek economy goes bad because of the mundane? Really. I wish someone to point me one country that became financially healthy out of its citizens being truthful, punctual, fair, reasonable and prudent. Or Greeks are liars (quite the opposite: Greeks tell you what you are in your face), not punctual (very true, but they do come and they do the work better and it takes them less time), fair (? who is fairer than them?), reasonable (they are not, they are passionate), prudent (they are not, they know they are mortals and thus have not much time in this world for that). What you forgot is civic sense, something that Greeks simply lack since pre-history and is a severe drawback. The idea that paying tax to the state to have in turn a return in service was never well instilled in the minds of Greeks. Accidentally, they are 100% right by the way, apart those oil rich countries that return a lot to their citizens.Perhaps you might think that the fact that Greece is sitting on an oil patch but is threatend with war if decides to drill it or the fact that it is a country not allowed to make strategic economic agreements with other important countries attract international investors or something? How on earth a potentially interested investor can take the decision to put his money there? And how do you think the economy will work otherwise? If people cannot work properly on their land and if investors are reserved and only speculators come to play from times to times, how on earth will you think the economy will rise? With truthfullness and punctuality?As I said, the bad smell of the fish comes from the head, not from the tail... and the Greek fish has a head that is not even its own... Thu 11 Feb 2010 21:59:50 GMT+1 MarcusAureliusII If each one of America's states is comparabale to each nation state in the EU, then each of them has referendums just about every election. For example there are bond issues which are on the ballot and then there are the propositions. The most famous is California's such as prop 13 which rolled back property taxes for people who owned their homes prior to a certain date, I think 1975. American representatives both on a local level all the way up to statewide and those who represent each state in Congress seem far more sensitive and assertive of the concerns of their local constituents than their European counterparts. If a treaty like Lisbon that ceded state authority to a national government were to come up and there was not a referendum of some sort, the entire population of each state not to mention the opposition party and candidates out of power would be up in arms. That would be all you'd hear, see, or read about. In Europe there's basically a conspiracy to give the illusion of democracy but there is no democracy there in substance. The populations accept whatever is dished out to them passively. No democracy at all when so many national governments didn't even give their citizens the right to vote on such an important issue affecting them. They took their typical elitist despotic "we know what's best" attitude and would not even consider that the voters might know better. That is what Europe is all about, elitism justifying tyranny. Thu 11 Feb 2010 21:28:02 GMT+1 democracythreat GH1618 wrote:"Ancient greece was a democracy of sorts (for some male citizens), and Switzerland is a democracy." (from democracythreat at #33)Switzerland is such a progressive place that they gave women the right to vote in 1971:"Yes, 1971 is generally considered the year the Swiss women lost total control over their men. Thu 11 Feb 2010 21:00:31 GMT+1 GH1618 "Ancient greece was a democracy of sorts (for some male citizens), and Switzerland is a democracy." (from democracythreat at #33)Switzerland is such a progressive place that they gave women the right to vote in 1971:chronology-womens-right-vote Thu 11 Feb 2010 20:35:18 GMT+1 WebAliceinwonderland (For Putin indeed it's hard to understand and "predict" Janukovich. As there are heaps of various conflicting interests behind him, that he will unite somehow, and difficult to know in adavnce each time how it will end up, how the consensus will be reached, to what ends. While with Julie - it's Putin's word and her word, and the rest doesn't matter, both will be able "to see to it" :o))) that the rest say "yes, Sir!" (Madam) :o) Thu 11 Feb 2010 19:56:01 GMT+1 WebAliceinwonderland Re your right-wing party, how managed to agree with Russia, of all places :o))) no idea. But somehow it reminds me of some things connected with Ukraine. A./ Ukraine also still has a President with the US passport :o))))(Saakashvili is a US passport holder as well :o))))Overall it's of course mad, I think nobody in the country's top tiers should be allowed by common sense to hold duel citizenships. I am sure many countries have it stamped down in Constitutions or ? some local laws.B./ Remember this recent Ukrainian election. Putin earlier in the year expressed his , say, OK for "working with Timoshenko". Though 4 years ago he openly supported Janukovich. So what has happened?As analysts here say Julia Timoshenko and Putin can indeed "work together" and understand each other because both are "power vertical" people. That is, exercising their supreme authority down the tiers, and not allowing for the "team work" or anything. Look at Julie Timoshenko - she's a tigress a lonely fighter. Nobody nearby her, because she can only command and press down her group members, can not imagine anyone standing nearby equal with her. A burned out desert is formed around such leaders.While Janukovich these days is an admin, finding his balances and ways between multiple powerful Ukraine' busniess clubs. He's got a team, he is put forward by a "team", of industrialists, of the richer Ukrainian industrialised East. All their oligarchs who heartily hate each other, but somehow Janukovich managed to find an equilibrium between them all, and put them all together. And will continue to work as weghts, balancing their interests. That's another style of a ruler, absolutely different to Putin's preferred style and Julia Timoshenko's preferred style. So it can be not the "socialism-capitalism" playing its part, when your right-wing party found agreement with Russia on the tube, but by their common understanding re the style of management and how decisions should be taken. As simple as that. When countries differ so much apart, in finding agreements all try to find some common ground, develop an understanding of the future partner, predictions, how he/she will act in different circumstances. A psychological thing, I think. Thu 11 Feb 2010 19:52:59 GMT+1 WebAliceinwonderland Nik, I understand the point you are trying to make. When ends don't meet , there are 2 options, usually :o) (as min that's what I observe as a non-financier in my home "economics" :o) -to spend less or to earn more.The EU and the Greek government are currently looking into the option "to spend less".While you point out that one can also earn more.At that, that "spend less" option looks somehow odd to me as well :o)Becaue by fact it means that the Europeans bailing out Greece will not "spend less", but will "spend more" - on Greece :o)))The corrupted Greek elite isn't likeley "to spend less" either :o)))) As nobody is able to correct their behaviour, either from inside Greece or from outside influence. So, the only ones who'll "spend less" will be ordinary Greek folk and ordinary European elsewhere folk, bailing out Greece. Not very attractive a solution indeed. Your idea of getting more money by int'l cooperation, be it Russian tube money or Chinese money looking for ports, and utilising your 2,000 island better is of course reasonable. But see - other Greeks (in the other thread) are scared of int'l big countries coming with their interests into the region. Also a point of view. On the islands matter I am not qualified in int'l maritime law much, I remember recently there was a dispute held in the European court btw Romania and Ukraine, re an island (an ex-Russian island :o) so we watched with interest. They were disputing it, but a side question was both wanted it to be recognised in the name of either country, for the future, like "an island", not like "a rock", in some European court, because with "an island" goes a 12-mile zone, and with "a rock" goes nil. Somehow they split it, (Ukraine stayed un-happy), by that European court ruling. Can it be that not all your 2,000 have formal status of "an island", and you need to run all the recognition paper-work, applications, or I don't know what? Greece definitely signed some maritime charter in the United Nations decades ago, in 1970-s? by which all who signed it own 12-mile zones and respect 12-mile zones of others. Thu 11 Feb 2010 19:34:37 GMT+1 democracythreat marcus wrote:"America has a national referendum every four years."No, you don't. A referendum is a vote of a legislative proposal. It is a vote for a specific law.What you guys get to do is choose the people who have be chosen for you to choose from.Just like in the soviet union.Don't confuse representation with democracy. Neither are despotism, and neither are pure dictatorship.But representation means choosing from a select group of representatives, so that they can decide the laws under which you live.Democracy means the people are sovereign, and they vote on the laws under which they live.Ancient greece was a democracy of sorts (for some male citizens), and Switzerland is a democracy.The rest of the countries who use the name democracy in their self promotion are just trying to make their people feel more involved in a process which really doesn't concern them. (ie peoples democratic republic of north korea, democratic republic of east germany, USA etc) Thu 11 Feb 2010 19:26:10 GMT+1 Ellin Forget the 'geopolitical analyses' of why this is 'really' happening to Greece. It's the 'oil pipeline' or it's 'the Americans' or it's 'Greek defense spending'. That's the trouble with the Greeks - they want to deal with the 'big issues' rather than ordinary, mundane things like, say, putting in an honest day's work in a job where you were appointed on merit. You could add: being truthful; being punctual; being fair; being reasonable; being prudent. The result? A failed economy resting on a failed state resting on a failed society. Europe should have nothing to do with them. Thu 11 Feb 2010 19:24:12 GMT+1 GH1618 "America has a national referendum every four years." (from Marcus at #30)That's an election. We call our mid-term election a "referendum," but a referendum is, strictly speaking, a legislative decision which is "referred" to the electorate. We were using the term in its strict sense above. Thu 11 Feb 2010 19:21:34 GMT+1 MarcusAureliusII Considering how much money was spent to create and contain the EUSSR to gain it political power on the world stage it hasn't gotten much bang for the Eurobuck. In fact not even enough for the President of the United States to pretend that he holds it in any regard. Snubbed at Copenhagen at the climate summit, snubbed at the EU meeting for being less important than making time in his schedule for the Superbowl. Seems to me that the individual countries get more attention than the EU, the whole being not only far less than the sum of its parts but less than any one of them. Of course there was the fact that President Obama kept Gordon Brown waiting for a half hour in a waiting room after his scheduled apointment at the White House. And this was before Megrahi was let go in direct contravention of what the UK government had promised. Who knows now if he'll ever get to meet with him again at all.America has a national referendum every four years. In 2012 we will hold a referendum on whether or not Barack Obama gets to keep his job as president. And every two years the entire United States House of Representatives is voted on in a referendum of sorts but each state only decides on one part of the larger issue. Thu 11 Feb 2010 18:23:40 GMT+1 Nik Re.21 Melpo.You are right about the description of the situation of a great bulk of Greek society to re-act in a timely manner to the oncoming storm. But do you remain content in stating the situation? why don't you ask why is that? Why all that "culture of civil servants"? Why all that young in the 1980s generation which had dreams (irrespective of personal political positioning) to setting up their own businesses and a genuine aversion to the idea of becoming a civil servant doing a meaningless job 10 years later and 5 years in semi-unemployment following the end of their studies just run back to the good old dream of becoming a civil servant and have a maybe not rich but stable life, thus sending their parents to pull some strings and themselves running behind the local political representatives? You have to dig behind that to answer the problem. And by the way you can't easily accuse Greeks of being lazy (even though if that is the picture) when out of past European researches the Greek working class is the one that works more true hours (cos theirs the bulk is hidden) than their EU counterparts and when even 100 years back foreign visitors praised the working spirit and the low-but-classy profile of Greek industrialists and merchants. So what changed after the WWII? Did our grandparents raised us wrongly by spoiling us or something? Cos people are ready to believe that fairy tale too. Perhaps they should burn us with cigarettes in the pram, then wip us at the age of 7 and leave us to near-starvation at 12 so that we start at 13 to work for peanuts and by 20 be willing to accept 600 euros per month, net... but no social security cos no contract...Nothing like that. What changed after WWII was that Greece had been a closely monitored country that was condamned to remain semi-developed, not so weak as to collapse but never left alone to raise its head in the sensitive region of Eastern Mediterranean.Re23 Greece2000Excellent post. Good to stick to the numbers. I talk a lot, you put the points. I guess you have the numnbers there cos I had seen them my self months ago. I also read that the actual deficit of Greece is 9,5% and it rose to 12,5% only thanks to the decision of (note that: a US citizen) Mr. Papandreou to pay back a part of the interests of past loans even for future years (which is a world first!). So why US put little George to act like that? Well I have said it above: the previous government - bad as it was anyway - did 2 major "mistakes": try to sign a major strategic agreement with Russia and try to sign a major strategic agreement with China. I am still trying to figure out how on earh the ND party (traditionally pro-US ended up being almost "terrorists" in the eyes of Americans without even having any change in the sirnames among the party principal members... radical change: what do you expect in a country where socialists have shifted in favour of US and right wing in favour of Russia. Does anyone know any other example in the world?Only that is enough to explain why the issue is not financial. But the numbers also - be it bad - they simply verify the case. Thu 11 Feb 2010 17:46:47 GMT+1 Menedemus greece2000 @23Unfortunately for Greece and the Euro, it is not the size of the national debt or the deficit and, quite rightly, you point out that there are, globally, other economies that are (on paper) in worse state than Greece but there are two factors that make Greece a particular target for the currency speculators .......Factor one is that after many years of disingenuous budgets, the Greek governemet has admitted that the Greek economy has become bloated with fraud, corruption and false accounting that has extended to the government's own budgets.The other factor is that Greece has little or no manufacturing capacity that many of the other at-risk nations (for example, nations like the USA which has the largest budget deficit but also the largest manufacturing capacity) do have manufacturing industries that can be corporately taxed to rapidly reduce any negative effects of deficit or used to fund repayment of national debt and debt interest. It is the fear that Greece may not be able to fund repayment of its now-exposed national debt that is causing the current run on the Euro.Currency speculators know a failed economy from a badly run economy but now know that Greece has an economy that is/has been both a failure and has an economy that has been badly run for decades or even longer!I think if I were Greek, I too would be on the Streets protesting and demanding the heads of Greek financiers, captains of what little industry Greece has and the politicians ..... to be stuck on pikes and display the average Greeks contempt for the fraudsters who have run that nation for so long and brought their country to the point where it is going to hurt every Greek citizen to live there! Thu 11 Feb 2010 17:21:29 GMT+1 GH1618 Tim (#24), you might add, however, that two months after that famouse headline, President Ford had softened his stance, and federal loans were made to New York City. Thu 11 Feb 2010 17:12:20 GMT+1 Wonthillian '10. At 2:04pm on 11 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:Even if the Euro manages to limp along in the coming months, I believe that some time later this year or early next year the US will take an action whose unintended consequence will be a death blow to the Euro. It could be for example that if the US economy picks up, the FED will raise interest rates. Higher return on a relatively stronger currency in a socially and politically more stable America will begin by syphoning off money invested in Euroland and that will precipitate a rush to the exit door. Ultimately I see the Euro collapsing no matter what the ECB and the EU political leaders decide to do. The entire structure is not viable and it appears it cannot be defused by dismantling it. A ticking time bomb if ever there was one.'We'll meet on this blog in a year's time and see if the Euro is still around. I suspect it will be, despite your wishful thinking. Thu 11 Feb 2010 16:58:10 GMT+1 GH1618 Benefactor (#15), the United States does not have referenda at the federal level. A better comparison is between the EU and the United States under the Articles of Confederation. Some states held a referendum on the question whether to ratify the Constitution. Later, under the Constitution, some territories held a referendum on the question whether to join the Union. Before the Civil War, there were referenda in southern states on the question of secession. Thu 11 Feb 2010 16:47:27 GMT+1 Tim 1975 headline: "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD" - Washington refuses to bail out bankrupt New York City. More than 30 years later, the dollar still exists, New York still exists, and still seems to be part of the United States which also still seems to exist. Thu 11 Feb 2010 16:11:12 GMT+1 greece2000 Is Greece going bankrupt? I don't think so.Well let's see: (Source IMF):Greece deficit is 12,7% and the dept is 112,6%.Let's have a look at the deficit of the US:10% in 2010 (estimation for 2010). 12,5% in 2009 and 5,9% in 2008. 3,7% in 2002 and 4,8% το 2003.Japan:deficit 8% in 2002 as well as 8% in 2003.5,8% in 2008 and 10,5% in 2009 and estimated 10,2% το 2010.Japanese public dept is 135,4% !!!Eurozone deficit:6,6% estimated for 2010 and 6,2% in 2009, as well as 2,5% in 2002 or 3% in 2003.10 years of deficit for all the above countries and superstates.The Greek debt as a whole (public AND private borrowing) totals 179% of the GDP.This is almost the average in the European Union (175%).Above Greece in terms of (public+private) debt are:Netherlands (!) with 234% Ireland 222% Belgium 219% Spain 207% Portugal 197%Italy 194%If we look at the external (public and private) debt (how much we owe only to foreign banks etc) and limit the sample to South Europe and Ireland which lay in the eye of the storm: (source: Frankfurter Allgemeine)Ireland 414% of GDPPortugal 130% Greece 89,5% Spain 80%Political games and dishonest speculation against Greece and the Euro?Europe has to react against incontrollable capitalism and respond protecting workers' rights and social care which are European values hard fought for Thu 11 Feb 2010 16:04:53 GMT+1 Nik Re: 12 & 15 Marcus, Benefactor... referendums are done only when the decision maker is certain of the result. Biggest example the referendums for the EU constitution (and France that said "no", then next year they say "ok" without referendum - so why on earth consulted the people at first place?).So if there was a referendum saying: "Give money to little but overly corrupt Greece"? I, myself a Greek, would vote NO (and along me, a surprising % of Greeks)!But what if alongside there was a referendum saying: "Drill the oil in teh Aegean or not?" or "Should Greece be left unhindered to put in action the international maritime law signed by all nations (including Turkey) in the region (12 miles issue in the Aegean) or not?".What would be the votes then? Would the average Italian, French or German vote "No, don't let those corrupt Greeks control the Aegean?".Now that is a referendum to make guys. The rest is history. I will never cease to repeaet it. It is not a financial issue. It is political and military. Thu 11 Feb 2010 16:03:33 GMT+1 Melpo Having lived in Greece for fifteen years and seeing the different governments Conservative and Socialist the problem was not in their policies but in their practices and the corruption that is in both political groups. If you talk to the average Greek they will tell you what is wrong and they have a clear understanding of what is needed, but when asked what they will do about it, their answer is always, why should l suffer for the mistakes of others, while at the same time they are going to the same political parties and asking for favours and jobs when they know that the country has too many public servants already and that the country can not afford what they are asking for, but there is an attitude of l come first and l want to retire early and have a good pension and l don't care about the consequences. Just look at the seaside cafes and the central Athens cafes and you will see many middle aged people with many good years of productive work life doing nothing but complaining about the high price of living while they are part of the reason for the counties dilemma.l believe this is the best thing that could have happened to Greece its a wake up call to all EU members that from now on strict monetary policies must be made and the figures that are given on especially public expenditure are not taken on face value as has been the case of Greece in the past but are rigorously scrutinized. The current blockade by farmers on the borders of Greece is again a good example of the greed and corruption that is endemic in Greece as their leaders are in Brussels trying to solve the problem the farmers are asking for more and larger subsidies on produce that does in some instances does not even exist as the EU does not examine the claims rigorously enough. Thu 11 Feb 2010 16:01:53 GMT+1 EuroSider Having read various articles both here and elsewhere it has become obvious that there are fundamental flaws within the Eurozone.Although there are a number of reasons for this current crisis, the answer is less obvious.The essential problem within the Eurozone is rising employment costs, particularly amongst the public sector; this is coupled with strong employment laws which can make it almost impossible to make someone redundant in certain countries. Poor performance in exporting; apart from Germany, very few people around the world can afford to buy goods manufactured in the Eurozone. A lack of fiscal control between countries in the Eurozone (n.b. Greece, Spain, Portugal)resulting in a single currency which is very far from being a 'single currency'.I think there is far more bad news to come out in the next few weeks. Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:44:27 GMT+1 ghostofsichuan ooooooo-paaaa!!!Governments have to stick together in these trying times. Protecting the banks and passing their gambling debts off on the public is not an easy matter. Of course weaker economies would faulter in this crisis. Governments were spending the tax dollars collected as a result of the false bubble created by the banks and now that the bottom has dropped out they are left with costs and less revenue...of course the banks are doing very well and ready to loan the governments back the money that the taxpayers have provided at higher rates. Ironically, the banks and countries are requiring that Greece provide a responsible financial plan, something that neither the banks nor the other countries had prior to the great banking betrayal. Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:23:35 GMT+1 kaybraes The Franco German empire are now going to " bale" Greece out of trouble ? No , they are trying to bale the eurozone and the euro out of trouble. I just hope that big hearted Brown has not increased our mortgages to help in the bale out. He refused twice yesterday to answer that direct question and since he is dishonest with the British people when it comes to sucking up to Europe, it is highly likely that we will be footing part of the bill. Surely there is a better way of running Britains affairs than being a member of an organisation so corrupt and incompetent that it makes the Labour party look honest. Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:18:59 GMT+1 Menedemus George Papandreou, the Prime Minister of Greece, has promised to reduce Greece’s deficit to 8.7 per cent of gross domestic product this year, from 12.7 per cent last year, the highest in the EU and four times above the official EU limit.What's the betting that, given that this deficit gap is so huge and so outside the rules of the ECB and that no other EU country is actually allowed, by the same rules, to bail out Greece, that the deal agreed is just 'smoke and mirrors'.I am betting that France and Germany will state that they won't allow Greece to go bankrupt but that they will simply look to monitor George Papandreou's effort to impose the austerity package on the Greeks and hope he keeps his fingers in the dyke wall!The problem that George Papandreou faces is that he faces revolution from his own citizens as they will not accept the austerity being imposed upon them and who can trust the Greeks to manage their affairs when this current government and politicians are just a guilty of concealing the fraud and fabricating the financial state of affairs for the Greek economy as any preceding government. Who on Earth would want to guarantee Greek debt repayment? Its a lot like trusting a burglar to mind your property whilst you take a holiday! Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:16:52 GMT+1 Freeman #13 What are you talking about?I see a lot of questions up there and not a lot of EU is good/evil.What propaganda? Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:14:54 GMT+1 Benefactor Marcus, has your country ever had a nationwide Referenda? Thu 11 Feb 2010 14:54:08 GMT+1 Nik Sad news. Europeans once again did the wrong move.But is it all about the economy? No. It is about protecting EU geostrategic position. Once again they fail.Please pay attention to the fact that the whole game is not at all the Greek economy. Who cares about a country that is less than the 3,5% of the total EU market and which has about the same percentage in population?The huge game is between US, Russia (and to a smaller extend China) trying to set their lines in the Eastern Mediterranean. While not progressing in the Baltics Russia (which however avoided them with the Russian-German pipeline: huge success story for both),currenly it is winning in the south and having back most of the ex-USSR space, most of the mid-Asian states, now Ukraine is back to talk with them, and has already delt proficiently with the "breakaways" like Georgia and in its inner space, Tchetchenia - it is left with the next natural move to see if it can go out of the Black Sea. The exodus out of the Black Sea is the last thing the US can tolerate. And thus it has been taking its measures quite some time now, even pre-emptively since the early 90s.Greece as a space, not as an economy, is the question. Turkey occupies the Bosporus channel connecting the Mediterranean with the Black Sea. But the Aegean is Greek. If Greece respects the international law it has to increase the sea-frontier to 12 miles around all of its 3000 islands and rocks. That means that it actually makes the Aegean a Greek (EU!) lake with international passages given by Greece to conduct the commerce (that does not affect the international shipping commerce, on the contrary, but can be used to direct it where Greece wants, i.e. in its ports) leaving to Turkey only a thin stripe of coastal waters that are not suitable for international commercial lines! On the top of the cake there is the cherry of the oil that is found in large quantities in the Aegean waters and which US all but in the name has forbidden Greece from using (the oil alone could solve 2 to 3 crises like this for Greece!). I only need to note that 2 years earlier a Greek minister was sacked by "order from above" only for saying "Maybe it is high-time to start drilling...".Now joing the issues: Russia with the pipelines will naturally come to the area - next thing will be a "commercial" marine base in the North Aegean (already we have heard of the island of Thasos in case the project moves on). The pipeline arrives in the frontiers of Greece with Turkey. Thus any military activity of Turkey against Greece in the area attacks Russian interests meaning that Turkey in such a case risks having the fate of Georgia. And US cannot do much in such a case. What the US did is1) pre-emptively fill Greece with muslim illegal immigrants and first of all with Albanians who are traditionally negatively positioned against Greeks for historic reasons. Muslims being largely illiterate and gullible can be easily instructed by US (Turkey of course) to act against Greece in the right moment so that Turkey can start a war as an intervention to "solve a problem". Already Turkey started making references to that. Imagine, all that in a country where up to the 90s had a 98% homogenous Greek population and to a nation that finally, after massacres and genocides and the killing of its 30% of population in the 20th century habitated only the 50% of its historic lands...2) fund with millions of US dollars (Mr. Soros included, remember? the guy of Orange revolution in Ukraine and previously in Georgia?) all offensive and fascist propaganda of FYROM and of certain Albanian circles against Greece who openly demand the partition of half of Greece (not to mention the wanted masscring ethnic cleansing of all Greeks if possible in a Cyprus-like event). US has already organised Kosovo-like UCK for Greece. On the other hand, after the signing of the Russian gaz pipelines, Turkish offensive moves have multiplied in Thrace not to mention the Turkish flights all over the country (normally an act of war).Tnings are to put it blutnly Ominous with O capital. The financial problems (technically cultivated by partially or even fully US-organised governments all these decades, so that the country remained crippled) are the least. The geostrategic dangers are far more, far more serious and far worse...Europe till now has nothing to say on all these, on the contrary they play the US game.... the only thing that they do is to take European citizens' money and spend it to continue the US-backed corrupt rule of a certain class in Greece. Sad is an understatement. Thu 11 Feb 2010 14:31:44 GMT+1 Chris Blizzard Hewitt, again you take the public coin in return for presenting propaganda which ignores the moral, legal or economic truth of the story. You are on the wrong side of history once again. Thu 11 Feb 2010 14:15:45 GMT+1 MarcusAureliusII Ellin;]Are you kidding? An investigation of fraud by Greeks to avoid paying taxes and misrepresenting their economy? Never. Such a process could get out of control and extend to Brussels itself where the books haven't been certified as accurate for over a decade or so I'm told. The Greeks are hardly the only ones with financial skeletons in their closet.Here's a rediculous thought, a referendum in each EU country to determine which of their populations want to bail out Greece and to what degree. I'd bet there would be not one country whose population would vote yes. Of course in a tyrannical dictatorship such as the EUSSR the people would never be consulted on such an important matter of consequence to them directly. Such matters must be left to the superior minds of the elite experts. Thu 11 Feb 2010 14:13:16 GMT+1 Dimitris I guess the deal made with Germany and France to buy eurofighters and warships paid out in the end. Who is going to win out of all this mess? If anyone thinks Greece then we should be all laughing. Thu 11 Feb 2010 14:12:19 GMT+1 MarcusAureliusII Even if the Euro manages to limp along in the coming months, I believe that some time later this year or early next year the US will take an action whose unintended consequence will be a death blow to the Euro. It could be for example that if the US economy picks up, the FED will raise interest rates. Higher return on a relatively stronger currency in a socially and politically more stable America will begin by syphoning off money invested in Euroland and that will precipitate a rush to the exit door. Ultimately I see the Euro collapsing no matter what the ECB and the EU political leaders decide to do. The entire structure is not viable and it appears it cannot be defused by dismantling it. A ticking time bomb if ever there was one. Thu 11 Feb 2010 14:04:09 GMT+1 Ellin I feel more emphasis should be placed on Greece's unique position among Growth & Stability Pact violators. That is, the country fraudulently misrepresented its finances both to enter the eurozone and, subsequently, to extract more EU funds which were then (to put it bluntly) stolen. Those funds - or a large part of them - are still there in the offshore accounts of Greek politicians and their clients (a significant portion of the Greek population). A bail-out without criminal prosecution of those responsible simply sends the message that 'crime pays'. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:55:56 GMT+1 EUprisoner209456731 The UK has already paid too much for the "EU" and should not pay "any more." We could help them to introduce congestion charging for Athens if they do not already have such a thing. It appears to have been a success in London. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:52:22 GMT+1 EuroSider This appears to be good news for the EU however we all have to wait for the details.The fact this meeting took place so quickly indicates how worried the heads of the various countries are about the global effects such a financial crisis will have on the standing of the European Union.However there are a number of factors that have yet to emerge:- France and Germany are 'backing' this however we have not heard what the French or German voters have to say about this.My feeling is that the Germans will accept it, however I'm not so sure about the French. Watch out for protests on the streets of Paris!- If Greece it is to be supported, what about the other nations, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Are they now going to be lining up waiting for a hand-out?- What will the effect be amongst the Greek voters? We have already seen protests in Athens. The EU will demand a heavy price, which could well bring the Greek government down amongst it's own supporters.- There is an argument that the price of this support from the EU will result in direct control of the Greek economy. Is this one step too far towards 'federalism' for other EU countries.- The EU countries have bailed out the banking system. Now they are bailing out countries. How long will it be until Brussels is forced to take over the running of the whole Eurozone?We shall see on Monday when the EU finance ministers meet.My personal feeling is that the EU politicans are 'granstanding'; trying to look as though they have some control over the European Union.I shall expect a very different communique from the finance minsters when they realise how much it is going to cost them and what the political fall-out from this is going to be! Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:48:05 GMT+1 Freeman "Could we be looking at a modern-day empire in the building?"Very possible despite the derision of certain bloggers here when that is if it had never happened before in the history of Europe. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:48:00 GMT+1 MarcusAureliusII Germany and France are not saving Greece, they are desperately trying to save the Euro and in doing so save themselves. (Nobody actually thinks this is an act of generosity and compassion do they? Such acts in any way of meaningful self sacrifice beyond tokenism are antithetical to millenia old European culture.) Greece merely happens to be the current hole in the dyke that must be plugged immediately if the entire dam isn't going to give way. But it is harldy the only one. There are plenty of others also ready to spring leaks. How many fingers are there available to plug those holes when they finally pop through and start to spout? How long will there be the will to keep them all plugged? Will just the Eurodollar countries pay to support these weak players or will others like the UK join too? Not being tied to the Euro, Britain has little to lose if the Euro collapses but much to lose that its people don't want to cede if they try to stop it. If UK citizens are forced to pay higher taxes, have lower incomes to bail out Greece, will they be equally willing when it is Portugals's turn or Spain's? And what about the German population? How much and how many times before they rise up and revolt against the burden their leaders took on when they tried to cobble this rediculous empire together. What does Germany have in common with Portugal or Greece other than being entrapped with them in the same currency and therefore forced to prop up and pay for their weakness and irresponsibility? How lucky the British are to still have a choice and it was only a matter of luck that their Prime Minister didn't sign away that aspect of their sovereignty by fiat the way he signed Lisbon. Anyone in Britain care to join the Euro right now so that the choice of being engaged in a series of UK living standard lowering bailouts can be given up too? Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:44:44 GMT+1 Freeborn John The imbalances within the eurozone are systemic. Therefore any bailout will not be a one-off fix but merely the first of a never-ending series of payments. Even if the Greeks do as they promise and cut their budget deficit to a mere 8% of GDP the competitiveness gap between them and Germany, the Netherlands etc. is still going to widen over time.Greeks should beware of French and Germans bearing gifts, because they are heading down a road that will see them become a "second East Germany" for eurozone taxpayers whose governments demand tribute in the form of political subservience. This is the true cause of the smiles in Brussels on the faces of all those for whom every problem is an opportunity for more European federalism. Greece has today been reduced to the status of a rust-belt region like Detroit or a 'self pity city' like Liverpool; an island of poverty living of hands-out from others. 2500 years after Plato, Greek culture has been reduced to dependency culture. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:38:59 GMT+1 callisto Lord Sugar would say that Greece is unviable and should not be given any more credit.Of course, the Eurozone's owners (France and Germany) will stump up the cash to protect their 'European ideal', but what happens if Southern Europe goes into financial meltdown as a result? They can't bail everyone out. Portugal, Spain and Italy are not the strogest economies at present. And what will the Franco-German axis demand in return? Could we be looking at a modern-day empire in the building?Good decision, UK, to stay the hell out. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:34:23 GMT+1 Francesca Jones Is it not sadly typical of the European Union to announce a bail out for Greece and not give the public the details? Surely if they actually have a plan they should let everybody know. Having followed this crisis on your blog I saw some references to notayesmanseconomics web blog which I now follow too. He feels that there is a danger of politicians grandstanding and not giving us the reforms which are required,as well as the reforms not going far enough.Also Greece must be wondering what is going to be asked of it in return for the cash... Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:27:49 GMT+1 Freeman I do not know the details but you can bet that it will be the peons of Europe paying for the New Aristocracy to be kept in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:13:26 GMT+1