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Guest Post: “The Villains, the Benefactors and the Greeks”

KTG received this guest post by a young Greek woman living in the UK. Evi Marami, 30, an education psychologist,  felt the need to write right from the heart her thoughts about the results of  June 17 elections and the disturbed relations between the Greeks and their lenders.  

Cartoon about Greeks’ election dilemma

The villains, the benefactors and the Greeks

By Evi Marami

I am so angry, so very angry with last night’s Greek voting result. In fact, furious would better describe what I have in my mind and heart this moment. I am a 30 year-old professional, living in the UK for the last 8 years. Back when I decided to leave Greece and come here to study, it was not an easy choice but a decision I had to make to do something for myself. Now the choice of returning to my home country one day has been taken away from me, I wasn’t asked what I wanted, my wishes haven’t been respected, my voice hasn’t been heard and on top of that they ask me to respect the voting result because it is supposed to  represent the public demand. An election that was conducted in a climate of pure terror and blackmailed by our foreign benefactors who say “we will issue you the money only if you vote according to our wishes”. I am disgusted! Who on earth gave them the right  to interfere like that, to make propaganda against certain political parties who dared to express a different  view, by publishing vile controlling articles; to blackmail the Greek people with such contemptible means like holding the money back. Where does it stop? Where do you stop? Why is there no one objecting, where are society’s moral concerns? It is as if France was trying to interfere in British affairs while the rest of Europe sits back apathetically watching the movie.

I am sad. I don’t want anyone’s pity and I don’t expect your respect for what Greek democracy and spirit gave to the world. Truly educated people can understand and appreciate its significance so I am not in the least bit worried about it. What I do expect though is everybody’s basic sense of humanity, to treat Greeks as suffering humans because they do suffer. Please let me give you some facts that do not often reach the British news. Suicide rates have increased dramatically over the last two years placing Greece to the top of the list with an increase of 17% in a country that previously had amongst the lowest rates. There are children fainting from starvation in schools; the unemployment has stricken 1.5m people; seriously ill patients like those suffering from cancer are not administered medication because they cannot afford to pay; the salary of an academically qualified employee in the public sector, after 20 years of services, has been reduced by two thirds and further deductions are expected.  The market is dying, shops and small companies close every day as there is no disposable income to keep the market moving, which is something that could give a great boost to the poor economy; the larger companies move to neighbouring countries that offer a more attractive economic environment and a lower tax system as over the last two years all taxes have increased in Greece as a urgent and desperate measure to collect money. Last year the average-income family paid €2000 (£1600, approximately) extra heavy taxes to the state that were sadistically incorporated into the electricity bills, with a threat of ‘no payment, no power’. The result? Hundreds of houses blacked out, they stayed without electricity and heating in the heart of the coldest winter in years, in a country of the wealthy west, year 2011.

I feel betrayed by my own people. They allowed themselves to be intimidated and scared, to feel that this pressure and moral terrorism imposed by the Greek and foreign media was the natural consequence, the fair punishment for their past mistakes. They thought it is acceptable to feel desperate and depressed and hopeless. They were mortified thinking of what tomorrow might bring. They were intentionally left to believe that a change would mean leaving the Eurozone, with no support, no safety provided, no future and no hope. And they made the greatest mistake of all; believed that they could build their dreams on a burnt house. Instead of bringing it down and re-build it on strong and healthy foundations they chose to paint over the smudges, to hide their fears, their guilt and shame.

I feel drained. Not many words left to describe what’s inside my heart and mind. If people think that the Greeks say opa to all their problems, they couldn’t be further from the truth. The austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund were to help Greece overcome the financial crisis and stabilize her shaken economy, not to bury her alive, not to sell her to countries with bigger wallets, not to condemn her to a poor, humiliating existence. No one and I mean no one deserves to feel that there is no tomorrow for his or her children. Let them pay for the past mistakes but in full pride and dignity. Make them correct and discharge everything that has become rotten but on fair terms. Expect them to comply with the rules but leave them space to do it on their own.

Help the Greeks believe there is future ahead of them. Not in favour of our great ancient history, but in favour of the necessity to keep modern Europe strong and alive, safe and secured, current and oncoming.

Ancient Greeks believed in catharsis. Let the Greeks today prove they can achieve it.

 

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25 comments

  1. Who says educated people are better? I believe judge a person by hiis character , not education, as many evil people have education

  2. “Ancient Greeks believed in catharsis. Let the Greeks today prove they can achieve it.”

    I think that you missed something.
    You are talking about a purely economical problem, that is solvable, though not easily.
    But living abroad, your are missing the main problem, that will cause a lot of trouble in the future in my opinion. It’s mentality. Greeks have changed. Many greeks are now scared, selfish and I can say to you that a lot of people are cautioning racist aggression and other kind of things, that you would not believed few years ago !
    That’s why, even though I’m living here since many years, and all my economic activities are here, I sometimes consider leaving …
    I can live in poverty, not in Wickedness

    -fx

  3. Dear Evi,

    I find your letter very sincere. There is one piece which I am missing in your plea. What is your opinion about that part of Greek society which could use the decades of EU-grants and cheap Euroloans to unbelievably enrich themselves at the expense of their compatriots, many of which are now, shockingly, turning to suicide as a solution? Are you aware that the billions and billions of Greek investments in foreign real estate and bank accounts represents money which entered Greece as the public debt of all and left it as the private equity of some? Are you aware that the mess Greeks are suffering under today is nothing other than the result of a giant rip-off of the “nice ones” by the “clever ones”? Why are you not calling for solidarity among all Parts of Greek society? What foreigners like me (spending a good Part of the Year here) cannot understand is how such a large part of society can live so well as I see everday (and I am not even living on Spetses…) when such a large Part is suffering so badly? The amount of social unfairness and egotism which I see in Greece is simply mindboggling! Nö foreign funding can solve that problem. Only Greeks can. All Greeks in the Diaspora I have Met so far (and through my Greek wife I have met many over the years in South America, Chicago, Germany and Austria) have consistently Pointer this out to me. You would be the first one to blind your eyes from that reality.

    PS: have you looked into London’s Prime Real Estate Investments on behalf of Greeks in the Last Couple of years???

  4. Klaus, you are right. In Kiffisia, tavernas full, nice cars everywhere and Kuklakia strutting the town in apparel not even worn by NYC elite….

    And then in Exarchia, I see people on sidewalks that I must walk around to get to my location, and feel sad.

  5. Hey, don’t expect any more from us northern taxpayers. Our money only serves your tax-evading elite, and our baker-tycoons, not little people of Greece at all.

    Our pensions fade away, public sector cuts our services and taxes increase every year. Yes, we actually do have to pay those taxes.

    Or should I maybe tell how much our military cuts this year? Thousands of jobs. And we are still piling more debt. Voters up here are beginning to be pretty sore about that pile. Watching your military spend.

    Really, no more. We gave you honest try. Next we’ll ship emergency food aid or something, hard cash aid seems to have been wrong course from the beginning.

  6. I wasn’t asked what I wanted, my wishes haven’t been respected, my voice hasn’t been heard

    Welcome to the club. But you fore-fitted your right to be heard and counted when you decided to leave Greece because of a “decision I had to make to do something for myself” eight years ago… when everything was still rosy, the sky the limit and the Olympics were a great success.

    and on top of that they ask me to respect the voting result because it is supposed to represent the public demand.

    That’s the sad thing about democracy… a majority votes but they don’t consider those who had better things to do.
    And of course it is all the fault of the foreigners…
    Forgive me for not reading on past the beginning. But I have heard these kind of self-pitying stories from outsiders one time to often now.
    I think Klaus summarized the real problems very nicely and in just a couple of clear sentences.

  7. keeptalkinggreece

    For one more time, I see how rigorous and tough KTG-ian guys are or can be.
    (ps mama mia! she is just 30… and she is not “Rubini”)

  8. Your money went primarily (95%) on your self-serving banks, and not even to the Greek crooks in the political parties. The crooks took their money in the 1990s and 2000s, supported all the while by Germany, France and the UK etc.

    There has been no honesty from any government in Europe; the only thing is that northern Europeans are stupid enough not to know it.

  9. This is one of the most curious things about this whole mess: foreigners are getting the full load of hate and disgust (of course it is true what Northern Voice said: foreign aid so far was completely stupid, serving only Greece’s tax-evading elite and the EU’s banker-tycoons, while the ordinary Greeks only suffered. But I don’t think a lot of “Northerners” are really aware of this and are therefore just baffled by the Greek outrage.) On the other side the selfish tax-evading elite still gets away with everything. Hey, they even got elected to form the new government! Why weren’t ND and Pasok both reduced to less than 10% of the vote? Samaras and Venizelos the saviours and renovators of Greece?!? Doomsday looms above Athens…

  10. stupid northener

    Please, don’t dare us by talking of stupidity. It’s Greece we’re talking of after all…
    I agree with Northern Voice: food aid is probably what you can count on from now on. And “interference”: what other European leaders have said is simply: if you don’t agree with our requirements, we won’t pay you any more. Not so strange after all.

  11. With 30, she is old enough to know a thing or two… or three. Heck, she can even be a Grandmother!… mathematically speaking, that is. 😀
    And you are right: why blame her that she pushed all my alarm buttons with this well written piece. (Yes, I have finished it now).

  12. Hmm, the only figure I read about this, is that about 18% of the money goes out directly to the state to cover the deficit. And the rest is for the bonds. At the start of the crisis, the majority of the greek bonds was in the hands of greeks, greek banks and pension-fonds, about 65 billion at french/french controlled banks and 16 billion in german banks.
    Sadly, I have no fresh information, who holds how many bonds now. If you know a source, please tell.
    I expect that the majority of the bonds is still in greek hands, so that the money will mostly get to the greeks (think about the pension funds, and who has money at greek banks? Right, greeks.).

  13. All of your data are wrong. The calculations of who owes what is massively more complex, owing to CDS issues and similar. Moreover, about half of the Greek debt is to the ECB, which they refused to haircut. Only the private sector took a haircut, but even this was meaningless. You have to be a world class finance expert to make the calculations, because everything is such a mess. Even these, these are estimates since nobody actually knows who owes what to whom.

    The figure of 16billion going to Greece out of over 400b loaned by hte Troika, is from research of JP MOrgan recently. So these are bank data, showing that Greece got next to nothing.

  14. Grays neighbor, Germany

    You can take the data of bis to see the exposure of banks in Greece. The exposure of German banks was below 30bil and French below 80bil.
    But I agree with you. There has to be a much larger write of of debt and also the ECB has to take a hit.
    CDS and other derivatives don’t count in this case. These are just OTC transactions between banks.

  15. I think things do happen for a reason,The Greeks have to Changed,and try to belived that we have a God that liveth,The Foreigners like me suffer all our life in the hands of the Greek people,How can your life be better when you dont make anothers mans life look better,Our Children are born in Greece with out issue a birth Certificate to them,We did not enjoy anything in Greece as Foreigners.I wish you where in Greece to see the Sutiation there now,eight years back was better,God need a answers from the Greek people,not until you give him answers things will not go well in that land,stop all the selfish life and pray,that what you all need.

  16. Things do happen for a reason, Greece is the one of the best lands and our German “friends” (they who were closing agreements with our vicious politicians for more and more damaged submarines, siemens, etc) have a very ambitious project… Get it through our economical crack. I could tell so much about those people, about those “friends”, but it’s not the case… And obviously I am not referring to ordinary people (no matter where they live they will be always the victims) but to your big fishes

  17. This attitude is nothing new in today’s Greece. The middle class of Greece, which it sounds like is the background of Evi, has benefited tremendously from Greece’s membership in the EU forgets what it was like in Greece before Greece became a member. There was a choice given, not a threat as political figures of Greece have labelled it. The people of Greece, that is the democratic majority voted. What Evi can’t respect is the outcome of the democratic decision. Not respecting the wishes of a majority is selfish isn’t it? Not an uncommon form of behaviour amongst many Greeks of today unfortunately.

  18. Are you able to read properly? She is complaining that the elections were not free and fair, that Greek voters were threatened by Germans and the Troika and the result is unacceptable.

    As a non-Greek I agree, and I am of the opinion that the senile President of Greece (and his useless staff) should have taken this matter to the European Court of Justice for interference with the Greek democratic process — a political requirement set out in the Treaty of Rome.

    As usual, the Greeks did nothing and apparently didn’t even bother to think. So Germany won.

  19. Can you please provide the sources of your data (xenos)?

  20. As a person with sense I say you are living in delusion.

  21. Evi wrote, “An election that was conducted in a climate of pure terror and blackmailed by our foreign benefactors who say “we will issue you the money only if you vote according to our wishes”. The words terror and blackmail are simply inappropriate characterizations. Who actually said that “we will issue you the money only if you vote according to our wishes” ?

    I don’t think that the Greek voters were significantly influenced by the recommendations of German newspapers or by the statements of troika officials. The leaders of the major Greek political parties were the ones who actually posed dilemmas such as either vote for us or for the memorandums, vote for us so Greece would stay in the Euro zone or the country will be forced to go back to drachma. Furthermore, they overemphasized that their economic plan would save Greece while their opponents economic plan would lead to catastrophe. The Greek professional politicians are the ones who have advocated fear mongering tactics and apocalyptic scenarios to portrait their opponents as been dangerous gamblers, populists, demagogues, opportunists, or servants of the troika and the banks.

    In the final analysis the majority of Greeks used their own judgment, intuition and what was in their best interest to vast their votes on the June 17, 2012 elections. Only time will tell if the new coalition government will live up to the expectations of the Greek people or it will be an affirmation of the proverb “Manolios changed his appearance by wearing the same old clothes inside out (Άλλαξε ο Mανωλιός και έβαλε τα ρούχα του αλλιώς).

  22. I respect freedom above all but do you honestly believe that Greece is a free country today? You can start with the local media and expand it..

    Accepting the voting result does not necessarily mean approving it so
    please either read better what I am saying or give us your opinion and stop interpreting my words under your ideological approach which apparently is completely different than mine.

    I can respect different voices when they are not offensive

  23. Your opinion — which I do not share — is contradicted by the trends in opinion polls, by the hysterical Greek media which almost unanimously repeated the threats of expulsion of Greece from the euro (a legal impossibility, by the way) and then of course the way in which the two parties of mass corruption and incompetence (ND and Pasok) chose to interact with the Greek and foreign media.

    It is my experience that only ND supporters are pretending that there was no external interference in the Greek election. In other words, the usual Greek hypocrisy and lies from the two main parties of corruption and manipulation.

  24. You give a strong impression of being a person without sense and with a political agenda.

  25. Evi

    I believe that there’s freedom of the press in Greece but some voices are heard more than others. The Greek people could decide to either tune in or tune out to the views expressed by both domestic and foreign MMOs (Mass Media Outlets). I think it’s erroneous to overrate the influence and the importance of the press, and to underestimate the reasoned judgment and the intuition of the Greek voters. Apparently, we have a difference of opinion on the subject matter so let’s agree to disagree.

    You’re entitled not to accept the results of the June, 17, 2012 elections, and to accuse Greece’s benefactors of cultivating an atmosphere of terror and blackmail. I firmly believe though that it boils down to a legally binding agreement between the Greek government and the troika. The loan agreements are inextricably tied to the implementation of the terms of both memorandums. Evi, would you continue lend to someone your own money who no longer abides by the terms of the agreement you both signed, has accumulated a big debt, and spends more money than this person earns?

    Actually, I wrote a short article with the title “Greece, yes you can”, where I’m expressing my views about both the June 17, 2012 elections and the future of the Greek economy. I also drew a picture, not as good as yours, to graphically represent the article. I’ve already submitted it to KTG, hoping that they will post it soon.