Antonis, one of our interview partners, was so kind to give his opinion on the state of Greece. Very interesting – we find. But read for yourself …
Giving a brief description of the context, Greece has been dragged into a turbulence, not only due to the huge debt, but due to the political instability domestically, the refugee crisis, the terrorism in France, and now the crisis between Russia and Turkey.
To start off, the conflict between Russia and Turkey is extremely crucial for us, because it brings the crisis in the Middle East even closer to our borders. We are caught in between, since a potential war between these two countries will make us choose sides: As a NATO member we will have to support Turkey, but we most probably won’t, as Turkey is constantly – daily – invading our air- and sea-spaces. Russia on the other hand supports us with investments. Moreover Putin has recently started recognizing our entitlement to secure our air-space from the illegal flights of Turkish jets. This is a very difficult situation for the Greek minister of Foreign Affairs and the government at large. The question is on how they can maintain the balance between the two sides.
Greece and the Paris attacks
Regarding the terrorism in France, I observe that a great frustration came up in Greece due to the allegations that Greece failed to detect the Parisian terrorists who allegedly entered into the EU through Greece. The word “allegation” is choosen because there are no proven facts that they passed from Greece – or at least I have heard no more news on that. Besides Greece followed every EU regulation regarding the grant of asylum. So, there were voices from central Europe which requested to either create a “smaller” Schengen Treaty or exclude Greece from the treaty. In such a case, Greece would have to host the countless migrants and refugees from the Middle East, whose number might increase even further, due to the crisis between Russia and Turkey over the Turkish-Syrian borders. The result would then be twofold: a higher economic burden on the national budget, and the loss of the refugee crisis as a negotiation leverage over the mildness of 3rd Memorandum’s reforms. As you can see, the situation is like a domino; a piece falls and triggers the fall of more pieces.
Greece and it’s shaky government
The government passed a bill 3 weeks ago, which caused the first major demonstration against the Syriza government. The case here is that Syriza ridiculed the demonstrations by calling its own people to demonstrate against the strict reforms but also ordering the police to guard the Syriza bloc during the protests.
In the parliament the Syriza-ANEL coalition had drawbacks. A parliamentarian of the ANEL party, N. Nikolopoulos, lost his seat and Tsipras’s right hand, Mr. Sakellaridis, was also removed from the government. The great story behind Mr. Sakellaridis’ resignation is that the prime minister himself called Sakellaridis and requested his resignation from the MP position and the party, instead of requesting to leave just the party and become independent; as a consequence Syriza party kept the parliamentarian seat and replaced Sakellaridis with another member. This was a great deal for the government as it is the first time, in the Memorandum era, that an MP is requested to resign from his elected-by-the-people position in order for the government to keep the majority in the parliament. People did not expect such a move from a left political party. The reason for his “forced” resignation is that Sakellaridis announced he would be absent from the voting of the crucial abovementioned bill.
Now, the Syriza-ANEL co-governance controls 153 seats (from total 300) and it is suggested that they will try to approach other political parties in order to broaden their parliamentarian power. The party that is widely considered to enter the coalition first, is the Union of Centrists, although the “Democratic Coalition”, also known as “The River” (a coalition formed by PASOK and DIMAR (Democratic Left) in order to get into the Greek Parliament in the last elections) are also potential candidates. If this enlargement happens, it will most probably be in the beginning of the new year and not now. Another slightly possible outcome is the formation of an Ecumenical Government, which would be formed by all the parties – except the Golden Dawn and the Communist Party. In difficult times of the far and recent past the constitution of such a government had actually happened.
Additionally, two extremely important incidents challenged Syriza, but the party managed to surpass them successfully. The first is that the Minister of Education, N. Filis, in an interview, expressed his personal opinion that the Pontic Genocide by the Turks in 1915 was not a genocide but “ethnic purification”. This triggered chain reactions by the opposition and Pontian Greeks. They called it blasphemy over the million people who were slaughtered and called it an attack to the rights and demands of the Pontian Greeks, which remain unsatisfied as Turkey does not recognize the Pontic Genocide as an event. The second incident is that the former Minister of Justice (in Syriza’s previous government), G. Panousis, revealed to the Greek Justice that there is evidence, accumulated by him and the Greek National Security Agency, which show a connection between Syriza and (domestic) far-left political terrorist groups which were controlled to bring New Democracy down from power. Syriza remained stable, but we are still expecting the trial to start.
Greece and it’s oppositionRegarding the political instability in the opposition, ND (New Democracy), had its own elections for the party’s President (due to the resignation of Samaras after the loss of the national elections by Tripras on January, 25th, 2015) on Sunday two weeks ago. However, due to an electronic system’s failure, the elections were postponed to mid-December. The case here is that the election period was 6 weeks (longer than the election period for the national elections) and revealed that the 4 candidates (Meimarakis, Mitsotakis, Georgiadis, Tzitzikostas) are more willing to bully each other for their personal benefit, than to collaborate. This collaboration is the only way though for ND to comes into power and to challenge Syriza’s government. As a consequence, Syriza is now seen as the most politically stable party, while there is no meaningful opposition power that will challenge Syriza-ANEL coalition.