Greek Dependence Day

This month marks the anniversary of Greek independence. If the Greek patriots of 1821, who fought a life or death struggle against the vast Ottoman Empire could see the present state of affairs, I am sure they would be crying bitter tears. One hundred eighty nine years later their progeny have squandered the very freedoms that they fought so hard for.

Not much has changed since the days of the Sultan's rule. The average Greek still lives in a world dominated by bribes and nepotism in which he must hide as much of his income as possible to avoid the onerous taxes. Before independence, the Turks used to kidnap the strongest and smartest Greek children to be trained as the Empire's shock troops, the Janissaries. Nowadays, Greek children are the victims of another type of insiduous paidomazema (gathering of children) that takes the most talented and promising youngsters away from Greece because they have no future there. Even worse, Greeks now silently countenance genocide in the form of widespread, easily obtainable abortion on demand perpetrated against hundreds of thousands of innocent unborn Greeks. A genocide infinitely more efficient than anything the Turkish or Nazi occupiers could have devised. Greeks have traded dhimmitude status for a European citizenship that seeks to transform them into faceless homogeneous automatons who must rely on the state to take care of them from cradle to grave. During the Ottoman oppression Greeks were able to retain their culture and language by clinging to their Orthodox faith. Within the European Union however, that faith is being replaced by a corrosive imposed secularism whose new twin Gods, global warming and multiculturalism are intent on destroying the very things that preserved Greekness.

To make matters worse, the EU has foisted upon unsuspecting Greeks a monetary system that encourages a standard of living that is unsustainable and unaffordable because it is based on borrowing. Borrowing which is readily encouraged because it means greater consumption of the goods produced by the more industrialized states within the Union like Germany. Runaway government spending also fuelled by borrowing, is a direct result of the cradle to grave social welfare model that the Europeans themselves fostered. Now they complain when poorer countries like Greece try to emulate the policies that have been ruinous in the richer countries of the Union. The Ottomans have been replaced by a state apparatus that is just as authoritarian and alienated from its subjects. Greeks have become the victims of European and homegrown pashas every bit as corrupt and uncaring as the Turkish ones they kicked out. Unlike the Ottomans, however, who took full advantage of the entrepreneurial spirit and the work ethic of their Christian subjects, albeit for their own narrow purposes, the Greek elites at the behest of their masters in Brussels, have virtually expunged them in their headlong rush toward a multi-cultural, socialist nanny state. A state which by the way, employs a significant portion of the population, who gorge themselves at the public trough at the expense of the larger productive, mostly self-employed, segment of society, one of the hardest working in the world, surpassed only by the South Koreans. Every year the public sector awards itself increasing benefits, vacations, salaries, and pensions, all paid for by the private sector drones who have to work 12 hour days to make ends meet. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer wealth-creating self-reliant Greeks thanks to a pitiful birth rate and a mind numbing, mediocre educational system to fund the entitled few who retire at 58 and expect their due, the rest of the country be damned.

Like many others, I cheered Greek entry into the European Union. Greece is a small country surrounded by unruly and aggressive neighbors, struggling to recover from the devastation and substantial wounds of the twentieth century. Many Greeks thought things might be different. No one imagined that they would have to give up what they have historically prized above all else, eleftheria, the Greek word for freedom. Eleftheria is not the freedom that allows anyone to do anything he or she pleases, irregardless of the consequences to themselves or others but freedon from tyranny, oppression or enslavement. It was the Greeks who taught the West the meaning of the word; it was once the solid foundation on which Western civilization was built. Now even the inventors of the concept no longer value it. Greeks who thought they could trade some of their precious, finite freedom for security and stabilty have learned it was a Faustian bargain. Give some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels or Athens a little of your freedom in exchange for some temproary monetary advantages and he will take much more.

Greeks should not seek to blame others for their predicament. It is largely a self-inflicted wound. Trade unions, academia, political parties and even unscrupulous investors have been complicit. Νor are Greeks the only ones who will have to face the consequences of their vacation from history. The European Union and even the United States will soon face similar fates. That is what happens when people and governments live beyond their means, when people elect leaders who promise something for nothing, when corrupt elites are no longer accountable, and when greed takes over. It's all a house of cards that will collapse on itself.

So now Greece conveniently extends its out-stretched hand to its orphans in the Diaspora. Many are reluctant to donate their hard earned money, as they so willingly did after the disastrous fires that swept the country, only to see much of that money line the pockets of corrupt officials. Greeks have distinguished themselves in every field of endeavor throughout the world; one can only lament that they had to leave Greece in order to do so. The millions of Greeks living abroad would re-invigorate Greece if there was a reverse migration, yet Greece is as ill equipped now to welcome (let alone entice) them as it was for the refugees it received in 1922.

Greece will inevitably survive, yet again, in some twisted form of its former self. All it will need to do is give up a little more of its sovereignty and its people will consequently have even less control over their lives. One thing is certain, when Greeks celebrate their Independence Day on March 25th, the fluttering flags, marching children and fighter jets flying overhead will not conceal the fact that Greeks are no longer independent but entirely and utterly dependent. Dependent on other countries who see Greece only as another piece of real estate up for sale to the highest bidder and to a bankrupt state whose only solution to the country's vexing problems is taxation or more intrusive laws.

Those of us that wish the Greeks well can only hope they have reached rock bottom.  Are they willing to sacrifice, to seek bold solutions and above all to clean house in order to regain their self-respect and eleftheria once again by working together toward a common goal? I am reminded of something that I read by Ioannis Makriyiannis. For those not familiar with this towering figure of modern Greece, Makriyannis was a man of humble origins who became a revolutionary fighter and leader in the Greek War of Independence. He was a veteran of innumerable battles, an accomplished writer and a political idealist who, after Greece became an independent state with a Bavarian monarchy, was active in the movement for constitutional government. He was rewarded with imprisonment for his efforts. In Makriyannis's own Memoirs we find the following significant passage in the epilogue: "Well, we all worked together [to liberate Greece] and we need to guard her together and for the powerful or the weak not to say 'I'. Do you know when someone should say 'I'? When they struggle on their own to make or destroy something. When many people struggle and make something then they should say 'we'. We are at the 'we' not the 'I'." His words ring as true today as they did in his own time. Nikos Kazantzakis, another great Greek writer once noted that Greece survives through a succession of miracles. As the country stares once more into the abyss of irrelevance and self-destruction, let's all pray God has one more up his sleeve.




@ Ioannis Capodistrias

Glad to hear that there are still some philhellenes around. Capodistrias was a diasporan Greek who became a Czarist foreign minister. It's true that Capodistrias progressive vision for Europe eventually replaced Metternich's plans for domination. When he became the first Greek head of State after the War for Independence he was faced with a country that was bankrupt and in the midst of civil war. He was a great reformer, making major strides but his government was authoritarian. Despite his many accomplishments Greece proved to be a nation that was difficult to govern and even more difficult to unite. He was eventually assassinated.

There in a nutshell is the Greek conumdrum: exceptionalism vs. factionalism. The latter often trumps the former.

Many thanks.


Not so fast Stavros!

No mention of Capodistrias?

You do realize that it was a Greek who almost saved the Germans from themselves and the world from the Germans almost two hundred years ago?

Don't despair there's still a philhellene or two here and there.

In conclusion


I would like to thank the editor's of Brussels Journal for allowing me to voice my unpopular opinions and for the rational exchange of comments. Unfortunately I believe we may have reached the point of diminishing returns. Let me wrap up and say that my piece was not an attempt to deflect blame from where it belongs. Greeks must take full responsibility for their own predicament. Still, we are a proud people, reflected by our history and we are not about to slink away with our tails between our legs when others, especially Germans, insult us. Please read Inside Hitler's Greece by Mark Mazower to understand.

I was also trying to highlight that Greek problems are a reflection of European problems, whether you would like to own up to that or not. The difference is that internal issues and the impact of past history have conspired to make the learning curve much steeper for Greeks than their fellow Europeans. It just a matter of time before the rest of the EU is itself on the edge of the precipice looking down.

Greeks enthusiastically bought into the idea of the nanny state and it was they who gave up their eleftheria to grab the golden ring held out by the founding members. The EU is finished and the so-called "unifying" shared concepts such as multiculturalism, secularism, statism that underpin it are destroying it just as they are destroying countries like Greece. That is the true takeaway lesson of the present crisis for those that are able to understand it.

What does it mean to be a European? Clearly there is a great deal more that divides Europeans than unites them. Since 1821 Greece has always had to look to its "allies" in the hope that they would save us. The "Great Powers" have let us down time and time again, yet we continue to put our trust and hopes in them. Internal unity has been an elusive commodity. When Greeks are united against an outside threat they perform miracles. Most Greeks want to stay in the Union. Our only hope for survival however, is by achieving true independence by putting our own house in order outside of that union. More importantly, we must be true to who we are, only our own past can show us the way.

One last point, our history belongs to us, you are not allowed to write us out of it. I never suggested that Greeks were solely responsible for the German losses on Crete. Greek forces and Greek civilians played a significant role in the defense of the island. For example, the defense of the 8th Greek Regiment in and around the village of Alikianos is credited with protecting the Allied line of retreat. Alikianos, located in the "Prison Valley," was strategically important and it was one of the first targets the Germans attacked on the opening day of the battle. The 8th Greek Regiment was composed of young Cretan recruits, gendarmes, and cadets. They were poorly equipped and only 850 strong — roughly battalion, not regiment-sized. The Greeks made up for the lack of equipment with intensity of spirit. Attached to the 10 New Zealand Infantry Brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Howard Kippenberger, little was expected of them by Allied officers. The Greeks, however, proved such pessimism wrong. On the first day of battle they decisively repulsed the paratroopers of the Engineer Battalion. During the next several days they held out against repeated attacks by the 85th and 100th Mountain Regiments. For seven days they held Alikianos and protected the Allied line of retreat. The 8th Greek Regiment is credited with making the evacuation of Western Crete a possibility by many historians such as Anthony Beevor and Christopher Buckley.

From the ANZAC history of the Greek campaign: "For thousands of New Zealanders the most striking memory of the campaign will be that of the reception given the convoys retreating through Athens. The Greeks gave the Anzacs flowers when they came, and they give them flowers again when they were~ compelled to go. In the early evening and far into the night, as truck after truck loaded with weary, bearded men raced through the darkened city on the way to the beaches, crowds gathered to see them pass. They were solemn, hopeless crowds, crowds which knew that the enemy was at the gates, crowds which already knew the bitterness of defeat. And yet there were cheers. Wave after wave of cheers, and flowers. Whatever the New Zealanders may have expected of the Athenians, they did not expect that. There was no joy in the cheering this time, as there had been when the New Zealanders were welcomed to Greece, but there was no note of reproach, no hint of recrimination. There were few indeed who failed to be deeply moved by this amazing demonstration of a people's courage in the face of disaster."

Obviously they had a slightly different view of Greeks than some fellow Europeans.

Best wishes to you all.

Dependence 7



2.  European states are not forcing the Greek government to pay high interest rates; the capital markets are. 


3.  Are you serious?  European integration was the product of the Western Allies, in particular France, Great Britain and the United States.


4.  None of the PIIGS states are in Eastern Europe.  Moreover, Germany did not need an economic and monetary union to access the Chinese market.


5.  Nevertheless Greece’s public sector comprises 42% of its GDP, indicating that significant private sector employment is due to public spending i.e. indirect employment.


6.  Greece freely if not fairly entered the EU.


7.  Certainly, the ECB has complacently permitted Greece to spend excessively. 


9(a).  My prior comment on guest workers still stands, and Marc has responded in detail to this point.


9(b).  The comments made by MPs Schaeffler and Schlarmann instructing Greece to sell its islands and heritage sites were highly inappropriate, but Germans are not “treating Greeks like occupiers”.  Bild’s open letter to the Greek PM was on point, if brusque.  I fully agree that Greece should leave the EMU, and also forgo EU aid until its fiscal policy is in line with EU regulations.


11.   I was perusing your YouTube creations…Actually, British and Commonwealth forces fought the rear–guard action, leaving some 12,000 behind to be captured as prisoners.  The evacuation was conducted by the Royal Navy, who probably caused the most German casualties despite losing nine ships, as it destroyed two attempts at amphibious landings.  Cretan resistance was heroic, especially given the German reprisals, but it did not impact the outcome of the battle. The value in civilian resistance was tying down German forces in occupied countries, which the Greek people did admirably, unlike many other countries in German-occupied Western Europe.


Dependence # 6

@ Stavros Nassis

Regarding point 9.


I certainly agree with you that "guest workers" typically are "not lazy nor dishonest" and also with your implicit suggestion that some (perhaps many today?) Germans are lazy and corruptible. 

However, I disagree with your earlier claim that these guest workers "jumpstarted" the German economy and with your new claim that they "played a significant role in the German miracle".  And I make the assumption that by "miracle" you mean the rapid rise in German per capita income after the ruins of ww2.

Ultimately that miracle rested primarily on (a) sound macroeconomic policies pursued by most postwar German governments (beginning with Ehrhard), which was facilitated by a sensible cooperative attitude among the main 'social partners', and (b) the hard work effort or productivity of the population at large. In the early postwar years the American Marshall Plan might have provided a kind of "jumpstart" in the sense that it provided a large amount of 'free' resources to the German economy, but it too certainly does not explain the subsequent sustained "miracle".

2) Guest workers, regardless of their nationality, typically do not explain economic miracles. They do make the particular economy larger, but not richer (in the sense of raising per capita income). What they produce (in terms of income) they either (a) consume or (b) transfer to abroad. And there is no reason to think that the average labor productivity of guest workers is higher than of native workers, especially in the Germany of the second half of the 20th century. If anything, I would think the opposite, i.e. that the presence of large numbers of guest workers in Germany certainly raised the German GDP but lowered its per capita GDP (per worker employed).

3) One should not make the mistake of confusing the interests of Germany with those of individual large German companies 'attracting' guest workers. These corporations, ceteris paribus, obviously prefer to place their factories in a reliable place in terms of dealing with political authorities and 'social partners'. However, whether say BMW has an extra car plant in Germany or in Greece will affect the size of Germany's overall GDP but not much its per capita GDP, particularly if sensible macroeconomic policies can assure that the overall domestic unemployment level remains fairly stable.

4) I know that being in a political and economic marriage with large European nations, like France and Germany, cannot be easy for any small nation. I make that judgement on the basis of knowing something of their national characteristics as reflected by many of their politicians, senior civil servants and businessmen. But, I repeat, that Greece (like any other country) is responsible for its own fiscal mess (which reflects its own politics and 'social organisation'), and that historical resentments have no place in the formulation of rational economic arguments.

1. I realize you are not

1. I realize you are not Greek and therefore easily succumb to the elitist propensity to treat others as lesser mortals. That notwithstanding I'll do my best to continue this dialogue.

2. By common threat I mean the fact that public sector indebtedness is a major problem in many EU countries and it threatens the viability of the union as a whole. By European solidarity I mean that other EU countries should not force Greece into paying exorbitant interest rates which will ultimately push the Greek economy into recession with massive unemployment.

3. If I understand you correctly the organizing principle behind the EU was not economic union but a fear that countries like Latvia, Ireland or Greece might declare war on Germany? Germany stays in the Union because it is advantageous not because of "guilt."

4.Greece by itself it not a significant outlet for German goods, the total of Eastern European and Mediterranean members IS a significant market, facilitated by open borders without tariffs, one that Germany would not want to give up.

5. Whether it is 10% or 15%, my point is that most Greeks do not have government jobs, the vast majority are self employed.

6. EU regulations apply to both countries, irregardless of ability to pay.

7. Germany calls the shots in the EU. It has even advocated shutting out EU countries from the decision making within the EU. If all these things were taking place for years and German leaders looked the other way then perhaps they are just as corrupt and /or incompetent as their counterparts in Greece.

8. Yes, you digress.

9. I have no idea what MarcFrans is talking about. Greeks, Turks, Italians and others flocked to Germany for decades under the guest worker program. These workers played a significant role in the German economic miracle. The guy who picks your grapes is just as important as the guy who fixes your Volkswagen. Again, my point is that these folks are not lazy nor dishonest any more than Germans are all hardworking and incorruptible.

9. The European Union is full of countries where the past is not dead or even past. Just because young Germans have historical amnesia doesn't mean that the travesties inflicted by the grandfathers have been forgotten. I'm sorry it is distastefuI, so are the things we hear and read coming from Germany and elsewhere. I never suggested that the Germans should repay the Greek debt only that they avoid treating Greeks like occupiers. The current problem in Greece is very much a product of its history. This crisis really exposes why the EU is doomed to failure. There is no sense of community. The “solidarity” declared by EU partners is a solidarity with their own investments. There is no solidarity between the citizens of the EU. European unification has coincided with apathy or distrust in the larger EU states about what happens to their poorer neighbors. The general population of each EU member is only superficially acquainted with the others. They see them as teams in soccer matches. They go on holiday to Greece, but their view of Greeks is superficial. Northern European media portray Greece practically as a Third World country where people live beyond their means in their carefree way. The crickets in the Aesop fable, scorned by the ants.

The smaller indebted countries within the EU are designated as the PIIGS – Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain – an appropriate designation for an animal farm where some are much more equal than others.The traditional way out for Greece would be to leave the Euro and return to a devaluated drachma, in order to cut imports and favor exports. A country like Greece, cannot compete successfully within the EU because exports outside the EU are crippled by its use of a strong currency. Bound to the Euro, Greece can neither stimulate its domestic market nor export successfully.

11. I am not sure how the falshirmjagers fit into the current discussion. The Greeks, civilians and military, fought side by side with the British and Commonwealth forces in Crete. Hitler never used the falshirmjagers in that role again. The British were evacuated from the island thanks to the Greeks who fought delaying actions and assisted them. It was the Greeks who stayed behind and endured occupation. The resistance against the Germans involved the entire civilian populace: men, women and children. They paid a heavy price.

To Blueglasnost

Both Greece’s contribution to European and Western civilization and her wartime experience are irrelevant.  As Marc noted, they divert attention from the real issues and facts.  Moreover, the strategy of currency devaluation would have precluded the benefits to Greece of EMU membership.  Lastly, just as the movement for European integration is corrupted to a degree by national interests, Eurosceptics should be equally suspicious corrupt de–integration.



Dependence # 5

I basically agree with Kapitein Andre's first 10 points, and cannot comment on his 11th point.

The most ridiculous economic point I have read here is the claim that Germany imported Greek workers "to jumpstart" its economy.  That belongs in the same league of nonsensical economic claims as would (a) a claim that Greek workers moved to Germany in order to jumpstart the German economy or (b) the frequently made claim that the American economy was build upon the labor of African 'slaves'.   If advanced/modern economies were based on unskilled labor, then Africa and Greece must be world champions in the GNP/GDP stakes, together with Bangladesh! 

Also, the constant references to world war 2 atrocities, here and elsewhere, are not only distasteful, but a clear smokescreen.  The physical devastation at the end of the war was much more severe in Germany and Japan than almost anywhere else, and certainly compared with Greece. The economic fortunes or evolution of all countries over the past sixty years has virtually nothing to do with world war 2 atrocities nor with 'plunder'.

There are certainly many valid points on which the EU could and should be criticized, but the deplorable fiscal (and debt) positions of many individual members is not one of them. For that, they are entirely reponsible themselves individually. And while membership in the Euro monetary union is like a two-edged sword, it is one based on a judgement that was made at the time of entry into EMU and that was freely undertaken. In fact, not much different from a typical 'Western' marriage...

Dependence 4

1.  I realize that you are Greek, but can we dispense with the theatrics?  The lady doth protest too much, methinks… 


2.  By “common threat” are you referring to Greece’s fiscal mismanagement?  By “European solidarity”, you mean EU funding over and above the aid provided since 2001.


3.  The EU was never intended to provide captive markets for the exporting economies north of the Alps.  The EU is the latest phase of a political project intended to prevent another general war in Europe.  Economic factors were subordinated to politics once the French and German economies were integrated.  Germany has attempted to stop EU and EMU expansion, but has not left, primarily because postwar guilt compels her to seek influence through multilateral action. 


4.  Greece is not a significant market for German exports; China and France are.  The EU national current accounts by themselves are not helpful in determining any intra–European trade imbalances.


5.  I understand that Greek public sector employment was at least 15% prior to EU accession and has expanded rapidly since. 


6.  Germany and Greece cannot expect to afford the same level of social security, nor should Germany make up the difference for Greece.


7.  I am decidedly Euro–sceptic, however, Greece has cried foul after years of ignoring EMU fiscal regulations, receiving substantial EU aid, cooking the books with Goldman Sachs and now attempting to extort Germany with the threat of currency devaluation.


8.  Of course, Germany is but one EU/EMU member, but it has been underwriting the great power ambitions of French elites in Brussels and Paris.  I digress, but these ambitions have not precluded alliances with Islamic countries and hegemony in Francophone Africa. 


9.  Germany sought unskilled labor from various countries, including Italy and Turkiye, during its Wirtschaftswunder.  Similarly, almost 20% of Greece’s labor force are immigrants mainly in the agricultural and construction sectors, despite rising unemployment.


10.  So the Germans should rescue Greece as reparations for World War II? 


11.  Despite the anecdotal evidence of Cretan resistance and your collage, British and Commonwealth forces were mainly responsible for the destruction of the Fallschirmjägers, not Greek forces or Cretan civilians.  The latter had neither the equipment nor the supplies to impact Operation Mercury.

@ Kapitein Andre and Stavros Nassis

I must confess I am appalled at that wayward propensity to heap up abuse upon the Greeks. Obviously, I definitely believe the Greeks are responsible for their largely self-inflicted woes, however, I do not like the anti-Greek hue certain comments have displayed of late. Our whole civilisation is based upon Greek natural philosophy, and I do not relish the abuse on one of Europe's greatest peoples. Of course, today's Greece has nothing to do with ancient Greece. It is true the Greeks are among the hardest working all over the world, this is supported by empirical evidence, which does not mean they are amid the most productive. Being a Frenchman, I would not like to be asked to cough up for the Greeks since our own debt is sky-rocketing as well. I think the Greeks should take the blame, for they elected generations of corrupt and reckless leaders who promised even bigger spending whilst knowing they could not afford it. There is some logic in Angela Merkel's view that the Greeks ought to be expelled from the EMU. Being a Eurosceptic, I should prefer the euro to collapse entirely in order for every country to restore their vernacular currencies, however, bailing-out Greece would be tantamount to announcing we are ready to bail out Spain, Portugal or Italy as well, i.e. $3 trillion of unfunded liabilities, this is more than France's GDP and almost Germany's. Let the Greeks assume the responsibility of years of reckless spending, misguided policies and the dangerous delusional ideas that Greece could afford to be half as generous as Germany. But, please, do not confuse national responsibility for inimical sentiments towards the Greek people, for it would have been quite expedient for them to devalue their way out of the looming debt crisis, had they kept the drachma (although not a surrogate for sound money and wise policies), and, honestly, most European countries are mired in indebtedness, we should be eager to redress our own mistakes and reform our states before sharing out blames upon one another. Let's hope that will be the end of the nonsensical EMU.

Beware of Germans bearing Gifts

Of course, it’s all the Greeks’ fault! That’s what I love about European solidarity in the face of a common threat. The EU knew exactly what it was getting into when it accepted Greece as a member but it chose to ignore the red flags. Why the headlong rush to expand the Union if not because it would mean the expansion of markets for those economies within the Union that could take advantage of them. German goods are flooding the South. In the 12 months to November, Germany-Benelux had a current account surplus of $211bn: Spain had a deficit of $82bn, Italy $74bn, France $57bn, and Greece $37bn. German industry will not give up this edge lightly. Germany like China is a manufacturing powerhouse whose economy benefits from the consumption of weaker economies within the open borders of the EU. It is by no means a level playing field and an economy like that of Greece, which seeks to emulate the social welfare statist model set by the original members, ends up consuming more than it produces. Keep that up for long enough, and the underproducing country starts to look like a deadbeat.

The average Greek does not work in the public sector, only 10% do. I never said that Greeks were the most productive, far from it, only that they were hard working, i.e. they work long hours. Interestingly only about 1-2% of the Greek population receives social welfare/disability payments as compared to 8% in Germany. Most Greeks, especially retirees have seen a steady decline in their buying power thanks to the imposition of the Euro. Prices for essential commodities such as food have sky rocketed, Greek exports and tourism have become much less competitive. Greece was destroyed economically by the switch to the Euro leaving huge portions of the population scrambling to survive. Most of the consumption is fueled by cheap consumer credit.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this process is that it is precisely what was intended by the original architects of the European Union, it was always a single market to advantage the few. The preservation of democratic self government was always of little significance beside the goal of ‘building Europe’. That the ‘Europe’ being constructed is corrupt, inefficient and destructive of the democratic rights of its peoples, is irrelevant to those who see themselves as its new masters. It is telling that the same people now accusing Greeks of “creative bookkeeping” have for more than ten years, been unable to get the European Court of Auditors to approve the EU’s accounts, because they are riddled with fraud.

I find it humorous for example that Germans call Greeks lazy while they did not hesitate to import them for decades in large numbers to jump start their economy. Germany is one of the main beneficiaries of the single European market and its economy has benefited from the billions of dollars in Marshall Plan monies while devoting a pittance to defense thanks to the American military presence. Now they complain that they are being taken advantage of. I realize that memories are short in Germany, however, Greeks have not forgotten that their country was looted to such an extreme that thousands of Greeks died of famine. Thousands others were executed or exterminated by the Occupation authorities. On the island of Crete alone 25,000 civilians were summarily shot by German occupation forces. It is therefore difficult to stomach Germans telling Greeks to sell their islands, work harder or be more honest. Better that they shut up and kick Greece out of their Union. Why don't they?

I wonder what Hitler would have thought of the situation?

Dependence 3

I too observed these statements, however, they are contradictory to the article in general.  Nassis renders them meaningless by declaring that corruption equally affects the European Union and United States, and that Greece's entry into the EU/EMU was self-destructive.  On the contrary, membership enabled Greeks from the wealthy to low-ranking civil servants to continue "self-inflicted...self-destruction", that was very much in evidence before 2001. 

Dependence # 2

I agree with Kapitein Andre that Greece is responsible for its current ills and not the European Union.  It is certainly not true that "the EU has foisted upon unsuspecting Greeks a monetary system that encourages a standard of living that is unsustainable...".  That is truly a cop-out. 

But the Kapitein exaggerates in his last paragraph by calling the article "a piece of pure agitprop".  After all, the author himself writes that "Greeks should not seek to blame others for their predicament. It is largely a self-inflicted wound...", refers to "self-destruction", etc... In that sense, the article lacks consistency and may appear to some as somewhat schizophrenic or contradictory.

Dependence...all the way to the bank (german taxpayer!)

Firstly, Greece is entirely responsible for her current ills, not the European Union.  To suggest otherwise is disingenuous, considering that – as The Guardian’s Ian Traynor observed – "The Greeks lied their way into the euro-zone in 2001 through fiddling the figures, enjoyed the rising living standards for years, and cannot now expect the Germans and others to pick up the bill."  Indeed, aid from Brussels accounts for 3.3% of Greek GDP, an important contribution as the GDP has contracted 2.5% since the 2008 financial crisis.  Despite the difficulties imposed by the euro, adopting it has enabled Greece to extort the EU/EMU to potentially fund its untenable deficit spending. 


Secondly, the global financial crisis is irrelevant as corruption was prevalent in Greece before the crisis and continues unabated. 


Thirdly, I strongly doubt that Greeks are the hardest working people in the world, despite Forbes’ contention.  Forbes based its claim on a simplistic analysis of labor data, which failed to account for Greece’s massive public sector that comprises 42% of its GDP.  Moreover, no OECD data on productivity supports this notion; in fact, quite the opposite.


Lastly, this article is in the same vein as Hjörtur Gudmundsson’s ones that attempted to distract attention from Iceland’s culpability in the Icesave dispute with the Netherlands and the UK by playing to the euro–sceptic sentiments of the Brussels Journal.  Nassis’ article is piece of pure agitprop.