What Greece Thinks About Globalization
What Greece Thinks About Globalization

Greece, a European country in the Mediterranean, known for its ancient culture, beautiful landscapes, and delicious food, provides a rather complex case study on globalization. Its turbulent modern history includes: a civil war between communist and anticommunist forces in the 1940’s; a coup d’état in 1967; a counter-coup in 1974 and a short-lived US-backed, military dictatorship. Finally, in 1975, multiparty elections were held and a democratic republic was re-established. Since then, power has transferred back and forth between the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the conservative New Democracy party.

In 1981, Greece became the tenth member of the European Communities, the predecessor of the European Union, and, in 2001, Greece adopted the Euro. Greece’s economy has grown tremendously and had even surpassed many EU countries, but the global financial crisis has wreaked havoc on the Greek economy and it is now in a debt crisis. The crisis is exacerbating existing problems of inefficient government bureaucracy, rising unemployment and corruption. Ignited by the fatal police shooting of a 15-year Greek student, widespread riots wracked Greece in December 2008 and January 2009. A year after the fatal shooting, small-scale student riots/protests were held in Athens and Thessaloniki over a two-day period.

Additional challenges and controversies facing Greece include:

  • the ongoing disagreement with Turkey over Cyprus
  • Greece’s anger over the naming of Macedonia and subsequent consequences in the international arena, such as Greece’s refusal to allow Macedonia into NATO
  • and, immigration problems.

The following highlights Greek opinions on various facets of globalization, including the economy, international trade and investment, immigration, and the conflict with Cyprus.

Globalization

Citizens cannot be understood as mere consumers because individual desire is not the same thing as common ground; public goods are something more than a collection of private wants. A republic is by definition public, and what is public cannot be determined by aggregating private desires. Asking what “I want” and asking what “we need” are two different things: the first question is ideally answered by the market, the second by the community. When the market is encouraged to do the work of democracy, our culture is deformed and the character of our commonwealth undermined…

The market, indeed, does not tell us what to do; it gives us what we want – once it gets through telling us what it is that we want… The market treats choice as fundamentally private… Yet private choices inevitably do have social consequences and public outcomes…Privatization means the choices we make eventually determine the social outcomes we must suffer together, but which we never directly choose in common.
Even as an ethos of limitless consumption encourages us to regress, privatization compels us to withdraw from our public selves, to secede from the public square and fence ourselves in behind gated communities, where we deploy private resources to turn what were once public goods, such as garbage collection, police protection, and schooling, into private commodities…

The story of globalization is a story that reinforces the run-amok tendencies of consumerism, since the globalization of market relations exempts them as well from regulation and oversight by democratic institutions. In the global setting, there is neither sovereignty nor legitimacy – nor justice, either.

On globalization’s parallel track, demarcated by markets rather than territorial boundaries, corporations and firms have displaced nation-states as the key players on the international scene…

The twin forces of global capital and consumerism leave little room for global citizens to emerge. But neither can sovereign states any longer offer the traditional benefits of citizenship, or even contend with the anarchy loosed by interdependence. Inasmuch as working democratic institutions are tethered to sovereignty’s throne, the gradual passing of sovereignty presages the slow death of democracy…

For what interdependence really means is that all of the pathologies and problems corroding the modern state have fled the nation and gone global, beyond the reach of sovereign power, while citizens and democracy and institutions of social justice remain trapped inside a sovereign box. The problems are all interdependent, the solutions still tied to independent states; the great questions are global and beyond sovereignty; the remedies are local and bound by sovereignty – a dire asymmetry that puts all at risk…

Globalization as an ethos of limitless consumption.” Ellopos Blog. June 21, 2008.

Trade
The issue of international trade directly affects many Greeks, especially the farmers, who are well-organized. In response to farmer’s strikes in January 2010, the government agreed to inject about 5.5 billion euros in cash to boost liquidity and incomes in the agricultural sector in 2010, amongst other measures to control the market and close the gap between producer and retail prices for farm products.1 The following is an opinion piece about government subsidies to farmers.

It is a rite of winter: Just before seeding time, farmers drive their tractors onto the nation’s highways and drag the country into their belligerent struggle for survival…

The root of the problem is that, as a class, farmers have been pampered and pandered
to over the last three decades to such an extent that they cannot survive without forcing governments – and the rest of the population – to keep acceding to their demands for assistance. The farmers did not complain when successive governments went to bat for them in Brussels and came back loudly proclaiming victory in achieving high subsidies for their products. The farmers did not complain when those same governments neglected to tell them that they should use the subsidies wisely, not as a bonus to be spent in a frenzy but as assistance to become more productive, to adopt new techniques and to make the leap to crops and products that would sell well on the international markets. Even if they did see the clouds on the horizon, farmers, farm unionists and government officials all pretended that farm subsidies were such an important part of the country’s political culture that no one would accede to any demands – whether from the EU or the World Trade Association – for their abolition….

The simple fact is that the government has no money to give the farmers; even if it did, at a time when markets and EU officials doubt that Prime Minister George Papandreou has the political will to curb Greece’s deficit and public debt, conceding to any financial demands would prove the cynics right.… Bad though this is for the economy and for the businesses involved, a government concession that it cannot rein in public spending would cost far more as fears of bankruptcy would increase bond rates. It is ironic that PASOK, which created the monster of subsidy-charged activist farmers, should be faced with this problem. At the same time, staring down the farmers would be the simplest, cheapest way to prove to Greece and the world that this government really does intend to get the country onto its feet.

Reaping the whirlwind.” EKathimerini. January 29, 2010.

Overcoming the financial crisis is of vital importance but it’s far from a done deal… The strike at Piraeus port has set a precedent but the key test is the farmers’ blockades…
The political stake is far greater than the economic cost of a deal with the farmers. In fact, this is about the government’s ability to map a (legal) path out of the crisis. It is true that farmers face serious problems. However, if the government yields to the usual give-and-take, it will annul the entire Stability Program. Should it make the slightest concession to them, PASOK will then lack the legitimacy to demand sacrifices of other social groups. Farmers would hate to leave empty-handed, but if they manage to get something out of the government they will set an example for other groups. These will then use their own pressure to avoid harmful settlements. Tax officials are already warming up for action.

Lygeros, Stavros. “Can of Worms.” Ekathimerini. January 29, 2010.

Financial Crisis
Greece is in the midst of debt crisis, with its budget deficit more than four times the European limit of three percent.2 Amidst fears that Greece will not be able to pay back its debt, the EU and the European Commission (EC) (in charge of Europe’s fiscal rules) has gotten involved to try to stave off a contagion amongst other European countries.

Greece submitted to the EU a three-year economic recovery programme that aimed to cut its budget deficit from 12 percent to 3 percent of its GDP by the end of 2012. The EU has backed the plan, though has asked Greece to cut its public sector wage bill, speed up pension reform, reduce inflation, and set aside 10 percent of its expenditure’s for a reserve fund.3 Already Greece has frozen its civil service pay.

Implementation of an austere savings programs will be challenged by many domestic constituencies, especially those in the middle and lower classes, who will be impacted by the austerity plan, including the salary freeze, fuel taxes and an increase of the retirement age.4

Below are some Greek opinion pieces about the financial crisis and the austerity programme:

George Bitros – professor emeritus at the Economic University of Athens:

Brussels should then assist Greece with a debt-rescheduling plan. But EU aid in the form of a special low-interest loan should not come easy for the Greek establishment. The loan should be administered by a European agency similar to the International Monetary Fund and under the strictest terms to enforce the implementation of drastic deficit- and debt-cutting measures like the ones we proposed in our open letter to the government.

Theodoros Lianos – professor emeritus at the Economic University of Athens:

It is relatively easy to cut down on public sector employment without resorting to unconstitutional measures like dismissals or early retirements. Assume that the normal time span for employment is 35 years. If an average of one in every 35 employees retires from service every year without being replaced, this is equivalent to an annual reduction of the state’s workforce by 3 percent…

All that the government has to do is to stick to a statutory rule of hiring – say, only one new civil servant for every five leaving the public sector, and encouraging the rest to work more productively in the posts vacated by retirees. The point is that taxpayers cannot sustain a public sector that employs 25 percent of the Greek workforce any more.

Professor Yannis Stournaras, IOBE (The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research) director-general:

The debilitating cost of servicing fresh debt is presently the single most important obstacle to Greece’s plans for fiscal consolidation and economic recovery. If the government continues to borrow at the prevailing annual rates of over 6 percent for the rest of the year, the budget will be burdened with an additional annual interest charge of more than 3 billion euros for the next five years.

Yannopoulos, Dimitris. “Experts call for fiscal reform.” Athen News. No. 13375. February 1, 2010.

The Greek economy’s difficult battle is not only being waged on the front pages in the Greek and international press nor only at Davos and Brussels, nor will its outcome depend only on European institutions and the wishes of foreign investors. The crisis has hit our neighborhoods, our streets, our villages. Things have changed very quickly, as if we were overcome by a natural disaster and had no time to prepare, to escape…

The pie has shrunk so much that even the most basic principle of capitalism – the balance between supply and demand – has been shaken…The Greek economy’s lack of credibility cuts like a knife through the country, from its leadership to the citizen…The interest rates at which the Greek state and banks must borrow keeps rising. Importers don’t have the cash to import goods and exporters have to overcome foreigners’ suspicions (as well as frequent farmers’ blockades on national highways and railway lines). One after the other, shops and other businesses are falling victim to the liquidity crunch, the shrinking of consumer spending, the increased demands being placed by the state and property owners. According to the country’s chambers of commerce, in 2009 more than 10,000 businesses closed down, 23,600 jobs were lost and the number of employers in commerce shrank by 10 percent.

Konstandaras, Nikos. “The storm in the neighborhood.” Ekathimerini. February 1, 2010.

…This is not the first time in her history that Greece finds herself in a bankruptcy. Yet, this present crisis is unprecedented both qualitatively and quantitatively… Bad politics, a culture of headlong borrowing to feed consumption, deep-seated corruption, cooked national statistics, and complete disregard for what happens tomorrow have all combined to put Hellas in a politico-economic-diplomatic corner from which she cannot easily escape…

Greece faces the possibility of outside economic management, to say the least, if things are to be stabilized and, one way or another, she is already under tight monitoring by the European Commission, a generalities-filled “stability and growth plan” her government concocted in a hurry receiving hesitant nods from Brussels in the absence of any better immediate alternative.

This is how (what is left of one’s) sovereignty is lost…

…What remains to be seen then is what type of calamity is in store for us after decades of “proud” Greek policies that have permanently undermined the national interest, mortgaged the country’s future for the next century, and broadcast over open channels the message that we will accept willingly to teeter on the verge of the abyss just for a few billions of borrowed funds more.

How Sovereignty is lost.” Research Institute for European and American Studies. January 24, 2010.

Technology

This piece describes Greece’s state vis-a-vie the global information race.

Greece remains among the stragglers in this global information race. Greece’s “techno lag” is a common, if painful, secret. Greeks, in their majority, keep off modern communication technologies. Greece has one of the lowest computer penetration rates in the EU. Similarly, most Greeks make no use of the Internet or, even worse, have no idea of what the Internet is. While the younger generation has created pockets of educated users here and there, the big picture remains disappointing, to say the least, with trend watchers warning that it may take many years before Greece can catch up with its more advanced European partners despite announcements of grandiose get-every-house-connected schemes with big budgets and even bigger bureaucracies instantly created to manage them. We are certain that sociologists, anthropologists, and other experts have theories attempting to explain this seemingly widespread resistance to information technologies and thinly veiled “compuphobia.” On a more empirical level, however, anyone who looks closer at Greek behaviors, when it comes to keeping an active interface with the world, may not be very surprised at this communal unhappiness with broadband, wireless Internet, and other such beastly devices.

Greeks, for all the bragging of their professional politicians and other high visibility “opinion makers” to the contrary, are generally absent from most of the more sophisticated forms of interaction with the world at large…It is not only the generalized discomfort with computers or the Internet; this is just one manifestation of the problem. It is rather a baffling tendency to be consciously absent and invisible even in areas, where exchange of information takes place, that are vitally linked to one’s chosen or assigned activity.

…Local petty politics and parochial habits play a significant role in this state of affairs. Greece is full of miniscule fiefdoms..

Invisible.” Research Institute for European and American Studies. August 12, 2009.

Environment
N.-K. Hlepas, Associate Professor, University of Athens provides an overview of how the Greek government and NGOs approach environmental protection.

In April 2001, Article 24 of the Constitution has been amended. The principle of sustainability has been explicitly adopted, while the protection of the environment has been explicitly recognized as a fundamental right of everyone.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

Responsibility for environmental matters at the national level lies with the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works… Nevertheless, some important responsibilities remained in the domain of other Ministries, such as the Ministry for Agriculture (forestry, hunting etc.) and the Ministry for Industry, Research and Technology…

In 1995, a new Bureau was established in the Division of Environmental Planning, namely the “Bureau for National Environmental Information Network and European Environmental Agency”…The Bureau has two major aims:

• to co-ordinate the National Environmental Network and its connection with the European Network (EIONET);
• to co-ordinate and operate the Greek Focal Point (NFP) of the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

The first aim is being supported by the National Environmental Information Network (EDPP). The second aim was initially accomplished through administrative actions such as staffing and budget allocations. Since the Earth Summit in 1992, Greece has been implementing a comprehensive policy towards sustainable development. Sustainability is introduced in the development policies of the country and sustainable practices are integrated in sectors such as energy, tourism, transport, agriculture and industry.

The Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works has developed a co-ordination mechanism for sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 21.…

Greece has got significant environmental and institutional expertise at the administration’s reach. This has been proved by the success of cross-cutting endeavours such as the National Strategy for Sustainable Development and, at a much larger implementation scale, the efficient one-stop shops for the citizen, known as Citizens Service Centers….

In Greece, pricing policies, are already used in order to encourage the production of “clean” energy whereas in many areas that present high external environmental costs (overuse of natural resources, pollution, solid waste management, transport etc.) environmental costs are increasing being internalized through the use of the economic instruments….

A STRONG TRADITION OF ENVIRONMENTAL NGOS

Conservation and management of the environment also depend on the activity of non-governmental organizations that focus on environmental issues. In Greece, these NGOs vary in terms of their framework of structure and operation, their basic objectives, their range of activity, the number and scope of their interventions, etc…

However, the projects most likely to attract wide public attention are those of the relatively “large” organisations, which have the advantage of an organised, professional working framework and many years of experience. Some of these represent the Greek branches of organisations active in many countries; others are purely Greek in origin. The issues that interest them do not usually fall into any narrow, local category, although in some cases they concentrate their efforts on the conservation of just one species and its habitat…The fact that most environmental NGOs in Greece are mainly small groups with no rigid structure and very limited funds renders them even weaker when they are about to negotiate with the local or regional authorities let alone from the central government.

For this reason, the environmental NGOs created already in 1988 the Pan-Hellenic Network of Ecological Organizations, representing the largest part of Environmental Organizations throughout Greece, which acquired legal status in June 1988. Later on, the responsible state authorities acknowledged the importance and mutual benefit of close cooperation with NGOs. In the meantime, an official register of environmental NGOs has been established. Many of these NGOs collaborate with public authorities…
Environmental NGOs are also very important for public involvement in the collecting of environmental information, and in the evaluation of the need for information, which can significantly increase the likelihood of correct decisions being made. …The public is becoming ever more demanding, requiring new and more accurate data on environmental problems and even challenging the most widely discussed issues (greenhouse effect, lack of water resources, etc.)…

MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF BIO-DIVERSITY

In Greece 5500 species of flora and 900 species of fauna have been recognised. Many of them are rare and endemic. There are also many protected areas, significant number of which is of international interest, and Greece has been committed to their protection through international conventions…

The main problems for Greek ecosystems which are of great value are caused from some intensive human activities (tourism, mining, agriculture, animal grazing etc.) which have as a result the degradation of bio-topes and the diminution of flora’s and fauna’s population…

A major problem for Greek forest ecosystems is that of forest fires. The lack of a forest cadastre encourages the process of illegal settling and building on the areas of forest which have been burnt. A huge effort has been launched quite recently with the cadastral survey of the country. …

Desertification in Greece is a gradually emerging danger. This is a result of the country’s geological, topographical and climatic characteristics, which cause soil erosion, often leading to the final and almost total loss of productivity, as well as the drastic reduction of water resources. Greece ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and in close co-operation with the other European Mediterranean Countries proceeds to the formulation of the national and regional programmes to confront the danger…

COASTAL ZONES – MARINE ENVIRONMENT

Greece gives high priority to the protection of the marine environment and the sustainable development of coastal areas and islands. ..The coastal area contains diverse and productive ecosystems that house many rare species in need of protection…

The high coastal concentration of population and economic activities generates pressure to coastal areas. Non-built up and natural conservation areas have decreased and the coastal landscape has been altered in the recent years. At the same time pollution problems have emerged in enclosed seas and bays…The Greek Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works formed a Committee to address the problems of Greek coasts and islands in an integrated way, and launched the National Programme for Sustainable Development of Greek Coastal Areas and Islands….

The Greek Ministry for the Environment has established an integrated network for monitoring the quality of sea water.
• The quality of bathing water has been monitored in major bathing areas during the tourist period…
• The quality of sea water in general is monitored under the MED-POLprogramme…
• Greece gives special importance to, and is involved in the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), which operates in the framework of Barcelona Convention. ..UNEP’s programme MAP concerns the protection of the Mediterranean basin from pollution coming from land based activities…

WASTE MANAGEMENT

One of the major environmental problems of Greece was, until recently, the lack of management (collection, treatment, disposal) of solid and toxic wastes. Therefore in many-uncontrolled waste disposal areas there are odours, pollution of surface and underground waters, air and soil pollution, fire danger and aesthetic pollution.

During the last years, Greece is promoting the needed actions for the solution of the problem as a result of the country’s national needs and responsibilities to the E.U. At the national level, technical specifications for the safe handing of waste are being determined. A system of permits was introduced for the collection and transport of solid waste. Legislation has been issued aimed at reducing air pollution from waste incineration plants. Threshold limits have been established for heavy metals in sewage sludge used in agriculture… Recycling programmes are being implemented for paper, glass and aluminium. Programmes are being introduced for the reduction of weight and volume of packaging material…Responsibilities for waste management have been delegated to local authorities.

The management of liquid wastes is focused on the treatment of liquid wastes at the national scale with the construction of waste treatment facilities in settlement larger than 15,000 inhabitants. The problem of industrial pollution in Greece is not so big (heated – sharp) as in the countries of northern Europe, because Greece has a few heavy industry. For all that, there is problem of industrial pollution in some areas, the big urban centres,.. The industry today in Greece is characterised by improvement efforts for the environment sector.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was signed in 1989 and was ratified in 1994. National legislation provides for planning of the management of toxic and dangerous waste, procedures for the transport of dangerous waste, special permits for the disposal and storage of dangerous waste and measures for building facilities for toxic residues at ports. The EU Eco-Label Award Scheme has been implemented at the national level with a view to minimising certain waste products…

ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT

The atmospheric pollution is a problem for the last 30 years in Greece and is related to the urbanism and the economical development of the country….

Measures for the solution of the problem have been applied since 1978…

The general aim of action programme for atmospheric environment and noise has been the development of the infrastructure for the continuous monitoring of the atmospheric environment (including air emissions) of Greece, with emphasis given to large urban centers and to areas with significant energy production units…

According to its commitments, the Greek government has elaborated National Action Programme for Climate Change, in its desire to contribute to the world’s effort to protect the natural environment. The implementation of the measures is supported either by administrative policies focusing on the necessary regulations, or by economic policies aiming at modifying the behavior of those involved…

The programme aimed to be the Greek contribution to the EU obligation to stabilise – as a whole – its CO2 emissions by the year 2000 at 1990 levels…

WATER RESOURCES

The uneven distribution of activities in the country resulted in water demands which often cannot be covered by local water resources and therefore rational water resources management at a national level is a high priority in Greece…

Urban, industrial and agricultural liquid wastes are responsible for the pollution of fresh waters in Greece. The pollution extend in every region of Greece depends on the local conditions and on the availability of waste water treatment facilities. Significant progress has been made in wastewater management and approximately 70% of the national population was serviced by wastewater treatment in 2004…

Hlepas, N.K. “Environmental Protection.”

Migration
Considered a gateway to Europe, Greece has been challenged for many years by the onslaught of immigrants and migrants seeking a better life. Integration has been hard for many immigrants and xenophobia has been on the rise. Recently the Greek government created agency for processing asylum claims. Furthermore, a bill was passed giving all migrant children Greek citizenship.

Below is an opinion pieces on the immigration debate.

Most of Greece’s immigrants have entered the country without permission. Greece has, over the years, legalized a great percentage of them but the trend continues unabated. Thousands make it here every month and end up trapped, because it is easy to get in but almost impossible to get out…

The only solution is to adopt a common European policy on returns and refoulement of immigrants who are not entitled to political asylum.

The burgeoning number of illegal immigrants is threatening social cohesion. Clandestine labor is bad for manual workers who work legally. The strain on social infrastructure is growing. Many find it difficult to survive, more turn to crime. Cultural differences prevent even Muslims who have acquired citizenship from integrating into Western societies…

The challenge is, on the one hand, to curb the influx and, on the other, to manage existing migration problems. Instead, the government is ducking the issue, granting citizenship and voting rights…Lax legislation will fuel illegal immigration. The granting of citizenship and voting rights must be part of a comprehensive strategy – not ideology. Respecting the human rights of immigrants is one thing, granting citizenship is another…

Lygeros, Stavros. “Restricting the immigration debate.” Ekathiimerini. January 22, 2010.

International Law

Cyprus
Turkey and Greece have been in a land dispute over Cyprus since 1974 when Cyprus was divided following a coup. In 1983, The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus declared its independence; the state is only recognized by Turkey. In 2002, Kofi Annan, then-Secretary General of the United Nations, proposed that Turkish and Greek Cyprus should be merged under a shared federal constitution.

The following is research paper abstract and conclusion about the Annan plan written by Stelio Stavridis, Head of the Euro-Mediterranean and Middle East Studies Unit, at the Institute of International Economic Relations in Athens.

This paper presents a critical assessment of the European Parliament (EP)´s record on the Cyprus Problem. It argues that, whilst initially supporting efforts aimed at finding a solution to the Problem, the EP´s backing only amounted to rhetorical support. Later the EP supported the failed 2004 Annan Plan, and, as a result of its failure, it adopted a much more critical view of the Greek-Cypriots. In recent months, this situation has somewhat altered, but this is mostly due to a more critical EP view of Turkey´s European aspirations. Thus, instead of trying to contribute to the search for a solution to the Cyprus Problem, especially now that the Republic of Cyprus has become a full EU member state, the EP appears to have shifted its attention to Turkey´s EU accession, irrespective of what happens in Cyprus. It has not been able to act as the ´moral conscience´ of the Union, despite its many ethical statements and resolutions on so many foreign policy issues, including on Cyprus.

CONCLUSIONS

From this preliminary diachronic study, it seems that the EP´s role in the Cyprus Conflict has moved from one of a ´moral tribune´ (condemning the invasion, the occupation, and the Turkization of the north) to just another supporter of the view that Turkey is an important ´realpolitik geo-strategic actor´. As a consequence, among the EU, it seems that Turkey´s role in Europe is diminishing significantly the importance of trying to solve the Cyprus Problem.

Stavridis, Stelios. “The European Parliament and the Cyprus Problem: A Preliminary- and Critical-Assessment.” July 5, 2006.

Global Media
This article highlights the moral dilemmas facing the Greek press when writing about domestic terror incidents.

Among the many unenviable records Greece holds one prominent one is the Greek media’s amicable relationship with publishing and publicizing terrorist proclamations, thus giving the terrorists’ verbal offal maximum cost-free exposure.

The recent resurgence of domestic terrorist activity, and the concomitant resurfacing of terror screed writers, has rekindled this relationship…But the allure of the traditional print press has apparently not abandoned this new wave of unreformed, Web-based terror pistoleros who, just like their older murderer predecessors, hold on to the illusion that “the masses” host a ripe revolutionary mood (or, at least, want us to believe they do)…

The current crop of terror cells makes full use of modern technologies… in comes the laptop and rants burned on CD, ghoulishly placed on the grave of the 15-year old student whose shooting by the police last December ignited the worst riots Greece has seen since the end of WW2. At least two newspapers, one weekly, the other a high-circulation left-of-center Athens daily, have picked up the baton as the terrorists’ press platforms. The killing of Officer Savvas by the Sect of Revolutionaries last month was quickly followed by yet another computer-generated spillover of “revolutionary” pseudo-analysis that found its way to the major circulation daily’s printed pages right away.

Nobody among the Greek media seem disturbed by this casual, business-as-usual spreading of the terrorists’ bloody message. Television talking heads, and their counterparts in the print press, appear not the least concerned with the deeper implications, not to mention the morality, of such willing, conscious, unfailing, and widespread sustenance of terrorist propaganda masqueraded, of course, under the one-size-fits-all excuse of “the right of people to know.”

None from among the Greek media seem preoccupied with the question of what this “right” exactly entails and why an anonymous screed by cold-blooded murderers, threatening others with violent death, warrants such unobstructed propagation throughout the country. None from among the Greek media seem concerned with the impact of making public these criminal rants upon the victims’ families – who, by the way, have never won such free and ready access to print and broadcast media as the killers.

Such no-questions-asked, matter-of-fact printing of terrorist proclamations constitutes another deeply disturbing mutation of Greek “democracy.” The silence of Greek “intellectuals,” politicians, “concerned citizens,” “opinion makers,” and the litany of “analysts” on this unquestioned acceptance of the proverbial “banality of evil” as a legitimate component of a “democratic” discourse is even more telling of the severe moral, attitudinal, social, and political problems Greece faces as she descends deeper in her crisis of institutions and founding principles.

Having Words for the Masses.” Research Institute for European and American Studies. July 12, 2009.

Global Education
The article below highlights the challenges facing the Greek education system in absorbing and integrating new immigrants.

Globalization has been associated with rapid and significant changes in national and international politics and a growing complexity in economic and sociocultural realms. Inevitably, the new realities create pressures in social and economic structures that, in turn, shape changes at national levels. The field of education is drawn into these changes as governments are pushed to adopt new systems. Zambeta (2002) argues that educational discourse and policies in Greece reflect the wider impact of globalization on the economy, politics, and culture.

Education has received considerable attention from policymakers in Greece in the last decade and owes that momentum to a variety of interrelated factors (Vidali & Adams, 2006). Foremost among these factors is the transformation of Greece, in a very short time, from a country that traditionally had a strict anti-immigration policy to a country that accepts a wide array of foreigners and immigrants. This shift has had a direct impact on the formation of a multicultural society, which, in turn, is reflected in the increasingly diverse student population. Another important factor is tied to Greek membership in the European Union and the EU’s objectives to make the educational policies and practices more consistent across the union, as well as educate the region’s students in a manner that will benefit the future economic status and stability of the European Union (Eurydice, 2005)….

The Greek demographic structure has witnessed major changes during the last 15 years, many of them brought on by the influx of immigrants (Vidali & Adams, 2006). In response, the Ministry of Education has developed new educational policies, depending on the various needs of newcomers. We can observe three phases of this implementation to date (Pelagidis, 2003):

Phase A: 1980-1989 …New education policies prioritized a good knowledge of the Greek language as critical for children’s success in school and social inclusion.

Phase B: The period from 1990-96 was characterized mainly by the massive repatriation of emigrants from former countries of the Soviet Union…

These new challenges led the Ministry of Education to adopt new policies aimed at improving the services provided to the children of newly arrived families…

Phase C: The third phase, 1997 to the present, has been characterized by a reconsideration of the role of education as an important instrument for educational and social inclusion of all emigrant and repatriate children. The new policies reveal a more systematic effort of the state to promote the positive value of cultural diversity through education. …

It remains to be seen if the present initiatives will meet the long-term needs of the Greek education system. As with any country’s efforts, such policies are only effective if they are practiced on a daily basis in the schools. We know this is not always the case (Chatzifotiou, 2005; Kallery & Psillos, 1999). Teachers who have been educated in the best possible methods for creating harmony within the classroom, developing children’s tolerance and social skills, and utilizing teaching approaches that enhance thinking skills and learning must effectively implement that knowledge in their classrooms. Greece, like every other nation, hopes that classroom teachers teach in a way that reflects the goals set and the positive initiatives taken by the Ministry of Education and by Greek society at large. Education is critical to the Greece of today and for the Greece of tomorrow.

Vidali, Eva L, Adams, Leah D. “The Challenges of Globalization: Changes in Education Policy and Practice in the Greek Context.” Childhood Education, 2006,


1 “Government support seen as woolly by farmers.” Athens News. Issue No. 13375. February 1, 2010.
2 Gatopoulos, Derek. “Cash strapped Greece freezes civil service pay.” The Boston Globe. February 2, 2010.
3 Barber, Tony. “EU puts Athens under closer scrutiny.” Financial Times. February 3, 2010.
4 Gatopoulos, Derek. “Cash strapped Greece freezes civil service pay.” The Boston Globe. February 2, 2010.

* Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/triplemaximus/1892700649/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/solidnet/3214454383/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/triplemaximus/227455332/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/laoulaou/4122729806/

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