Dernières nouvelles d’un ami résistant de Thessaloniki, en Grèce. Après son autorisation, je me permets de vous en faire part, ces paroles sont très importantes. La traduction arrive bientôt pour les non-anglophones.
I would like to share some thoughts and ideas with you and give you some news regarding Greece. Sorry for the long letter, but I’d rather give you a full report in one e-mail message.
Please excuse my long silence too…yet I still follow your efforts, drafts, meetings and future plans for the European water network and else with vivid interest.
As the financial crisis deepens, unemployment rates, collective frustration, pauperization of the society (especially in the metropolitan areas of Athens; less in Thessaloniki and other cities like Patras, Heraklion), suicides on an almost daily basis (50 out of 350 attempts lately) and many more alarming elements are in the daily “agenda” and news.
Although the society seems to be put under a continuous psychological pressure, perpetrated and continued by the new government, the European Commission, the Troika (Eur. Commission-ECB-IMF) some Eurozone countries, some international Media and of course a great part of the local political system (whether left or right); new organizations and social movements appear continuously, covering all possible aspects of social life.
Some people are beginning to realise that we are entering a long period of undemocratic existence and economic occupation, similar to a modern era of colonialism (although the word might seem too harsh it is but a literal representation of the effects the various new economic adjustment laws are beginning to achieve in the country and on the society).
I believe “k136”, “movement136”, the Thessaloniki struggle against the privatization of the city’s water company “E.I.A.Th.” needs your assistance, as the new government has again pledged commitment and agreed to the European Union’s demands for a grandiose scale of privatizations, as soon as possible, as fast as possible, without considering social costs-benefits.
Although the people’s message after two elections (6th of May and 17th of June) was clearly that of renegotiating the debt and the measures imposed by the Troika, the new government continues to apply the Troika program without any demands, objections or unwillingness to do so…
In fact they are about to play a trick on the people by declaring that the Troika will grant the new coalition government two more years for adjustments. In reality two more years for adjustments had been offered already some months ago to the last government, which declined the offer…Now they will present this new time schedule as a great victory of the government and as a moment of truth for the Europeans who…..”allegedly will have understood our position and granted us the favor of two more years” bla bla bla bla bla bla…
Furthermore, while the athenian stock market has gradually, in the last two years, almost collapsed, nowadays even the most prominent state-owned companies could be given away for 1/10 of the effective value of the companies’ infrastructures. indeed, the companies are to be sold for pennies on the dollar, adding nothing considerable to solve the debt crisis of Greece, while actually transforming a great percentage of the population into pariahs in the coming years.
In such an unstable and financially toxic environment (both in Greece, but slowly and steadily growing in the Eurozone too), most of the political elite shows clear signs of obedience to massive foreign intervention in internal affairs (several articles point out, that foreign commissions, “emissary of control” are present in every Greek ministry, working under the pretext of reorganizing “Greek statistics” or “putting an end to corruption”).
There is indeed a general feeling that investments are to be made without any sort of control by the state. Evermore, the word “reform” is used in continuity, but it seems that quite often it is an excuse fro increases in contributions, higher labour unemployment rates, while wages fall.
Especially for renewable energy, wind and solar-energy; the impression is that whole mountain ranges, valleys and long lines of shores are being given away, without any plan and by disregarding the local population. Even more, there is also the suspicion that the continuous increase in taxation is intended in order to oblige the people to sell their property (as less and less can afford to pay, almost 500.000 have not paid a new tax issued on the electricity bills).
However, massive use of renewable energy sources do not create any real benefits for the local population or jobs, while taking away land from the local inhabitants and considerably polluting the environment (land cannot be used anymore, is confiscated and sound pollution is constant as far as 4 km.). I received news that there have been cases of destruction of such wind-parks, in Crete. After having tried all legal means and actions the inhabitants of some Cretan villages decided to tear down the nearby long windmills.
Similar is the case of Halkidhiki, for which I have been informed by the locals. A peninsula of unique beauty, comparable to the Caribbean Sea. Halkidhiki has been known for gold-mining since ancient times (Greek royal states and city-states like Macedonia, Athens, Thebes and Sparta have competed for control over the goldmines). Halkidhiki’s goldmines seem to have played a role in the Goldman Sachs dealings with the Greek governments around the years 1999-2000-2001 and the mineral been promised to the American bank in order to assist in corruptible behavior and fraud regarding state debt.
Following that deal, the goldmines’ area has been given away for approximately 10-11 Millions of Euro by a local mayor, Pahtas, to “ellinikos hrysos” (Greek gold), a conglomerate of different investors (Greek companies, a famous Canadian goldmines company, Goldman Sachs etc.).
The value of the goldmines is or could be approximately of 100 billion Euro and the investors intend to create an open crater mine and a factory in order to work on two other goldmine fields (in Kilkis, 100 km far from Halkidhiki, where 13 villages should be removed due to the mining and in the Evros region, 200-250 km. far East).
The factory would also benefit of tons of old debris containing gold to the value of billions of Euro, which can be extracted with modern technology. By the way, the new industrial complex will destroy Halkidhiki’s beauties, destroy the habitat of 22.000 inhabitants and of course the local tourist industry.
Even more dangerously, Kilkis’ mining could seriously pollute some of the water sources for Thessaloniki and nearby rivers (Thessaloniki and Kilkis distant just 49 km.).
The fabric in Chalkidhiki will also require the exploitation of the entire water bed of the region. Massive quantities of different chemical elements mixed with huge amounts-tons of water will be fundamental, in order to extract all the gold present in the fields. If you Google Halkidiki or Chalkidiki (the goldmines are at “Arnaia”, “Megali Panagia” and surrounding places) you can look at the pictures and the flora of the peninsula.
So far, the international conglomerate assisted by the police, in order to keep the locals away, has put a barb wire fence around the mining mountain (!!!) and has brought in private security with masks, black cloths etc., prohibiting the inhabitants even to cross the mountain. After a great mobilization by 20 local associations, groups and people, trying to cross the mountain and insisting for months, mobilizing and inspiring many activists, the exploitation of the mountain has been temporarily stopped by court decision.
Regarding public companies like Thessaloniki’s water society, we run the risk of having profitable companies and social commodities/commons under the management of private “societes anonymes” which will only benefit through their control over local markets or their monopoly games, leaving the public distressed and powerless. Unfortunately, to a certain degree the political intelligentsia, the bureaucracy and the nomenclatura are embracing this policy.
The case of Dh.E.I. (“Public Electricity Utility” or as it is named on the net: public power corporation S.A.) is among the most evident examples and plays a major role even for water. Dh.E.I. controls all the dams, the electricity facilities for hydroelectric power etc.
Governments, under the pressure of foreign powers and for the benefit of a small group of politicians and local profiteers, have tried and are still trying to sell the company.
Yet the stock market price for the company is right now in its absurd lowest level…as it amounts to less than the value for one of its coal power plants (using lignite).
In fact, who ever gets Dh.E.I. will have the control over the entire state and population, with huge profits as Greece has plenty of energy resources (from coal and underground minerals, hydraulic etc., to renewable energy and all possible energy solutions), which have not yet been exploited and despite what one might think, indicate a rich country, capable of sustaining its small population and beyond.
A scandal erupted as the government opened the electricity market to private investors. Two companies were created in 2005-06, profiting from selling cheap electricity, they could get from Dh.E.I., to the public or to private companies.
These companies never really paid their share to Dh.E.I. and even confiscated money they should be giving to the state as collected taxes (so far no one has being brought to trial or seriously accused, a typical example of collaboration between the political system with some profiteers, who assist the political parties in many ways)
Speaking of sold companies, such is the case of the formerly state-owned OTE (the Greek telecommunication’s company). The company is now under the control of Deutsche Telecom, yet Deutsche Telecom has cut back workers’ wages and has massively introduced flexible working conditions (fewer hours per new worker), as I have been informed.
Meanwhile the consumer has not seriously benefited from this agglomeration of power by Deutsche Telecom (Greek telecommunication market is a strict “oligopolio”), telecommunication prices have not become cheaper, while the investor has actually recovered the money paid to the state (amounting to a mere 400 mill. Euro!!!) by introducing new working conditions in OTE and keeping fewer workers. As a matter of fact, in a recent example someone “hired” for 4 hours/day at OTE receives 280 E. (she is an architect with a master’s degree too), a working condition impossible to imagine just 2 years ago.
Right now under the pretext of reorganizing public affairs and the public sector, several “questionable” laws are passed or are being enforced….”in silenzio” by misleading the people; laws that affect low incomes and the middle class.
Taxes are growing with no regard and the health system undermined with almost malthousian cynicism for those in need (f.i. cancer diseased people or invalid people losing their social benefits), while wages are cut, unemployment rates skyrocket, unemployment benefits cut and fear, drama and terror (following the footsteps of…. blood, toil, tears and sweat by Churchill) is partially still the propaganda policy chosen by almost all political parties in order to control popular discontent and understanding.
In order to understand this long report, as a preamble, I should inform you that the political system has been generally looting public wealth for decades. This was a direct result of the bloody civil war between 1946-49, which completely devastated the country, finishing up what the nazis had not destroyed during 1941-1944.
The civil war (first ever recorded use of napalm bombs on the mountain Vermio, outside Thessaloniki, in 1948), undermined one of the most prominent young generations and reestablished old power and mentality, while the foreign powers in control of the state have solidified their grip on the great geopolitical position of the land through the support of extreme right-wing groups. Simultaneously the left has been under attack for nearly 30 years (1945-1974).
When the democratic system was reestablished in the country, after 1974, the left had already lost much of its moral stand and prominent figures and soon participated in the “party” of corruption (for example by exploiting the state’s resources through the abuse of trade unions’ power). Meanwhile dubious leaders (and groups) had taken control over leftist thinking and right-wing ideology. As a fact, both (right and left) are responsible for the actual crisis, which indicates much more than a simple financial question.
Lately I have been informed on a new danger for water as public good and commons. it seems the government is trying to gather and create a new data base for all water sources-water use, acquifers and ground water used or available. According to this information, purpose would be the further taxation, control and sell of this valuable source. As these policies sadly remind similar examples in other parts of the world, indeed people are getting alarmed as water supply in Greece is vital for survival (especially in places like Crete). Through the new “SPECIAL SECRETARIAT FOR WATER” peasants are encouraged to give information on their use, available water sources, wells etc. There is even an advertisement on TV.
This is the secretariat’s web: http://www.ypeka.gr/Default.aspx?tabid=246&locale=en-US&language=el-GR
To my mind, under these circumstances the option of selling a great part of the water company of Thessaloniki to the people of the city (plan of “k136”, buying the company with the financial support of the citizens), with the assistance of “k136” is becoming less realistic; as more and more people are struggling to reach a minimum level of daily bread and are not any more in the condition of supporting the cause…..despite the outstanding work that has been done by “k136”, in order to raise public awareness and increase social outcry against the privatization of the water facilities in the Thessaloniki metropolitan area.
“K136” is a movement with alternative ideas, good teamwork and understanding, indicating a new way of use for commons. The city media and other regional media in the country have shown a certain interest, while interest from abroad has been even greater. The group has also organized a successful musical event lately. The idea of “participating citizens” into the social commodities policy planning and social benefits, is quite revolutionary (the water company controlled by the people of Thessaloniki).
The movement is build around a strong core of people committed to the cause, yet to my opinion the people of Thessaloniki cannot follow the issue anymore for several reasons not related to “k136” and despite the effort to minimize the financial participation in the cooperatives of “k136”.
“k136” plays an important role in the city, while inspiring more actions in the rest of the country. But the people still prefer the public character of water, the state to be responsible and manage the water supply in the country.
It can be noticed in the following petition for the preservation of the public character of water resources:
I have no information on this group, yet with a clear message of “no privatization of water resources and of state control over the country’s water supply”, they have reached almost 10.000 signatures in just a couple of weeks, this summer.
The citizens are constantly bombarded with illogical and immoral dilemmas, repeated throughout the day, especially by the private Media……confusion, constant blathering of journalists and politicians of all possible colors and meaningless political parties (completely “drained” of their political-ethical and philosophical values). Parties existing solely because they can still pillage the state’s introits-takings, in order to finance their “political machine”, keep a certain group of followers around them, while the mainstream Media are massively supporting them, pretty much against the will of the people.
The needs of the stock markets and the debt financiers are solely been taken into consideration and by the latest adjustments in the Greek economy, wanted, it seems, even more by the European triumviratum (ECB, European Commission, German government) than the IMF; even private ownership is put under serious threat.
As you can imagine the people have not a single “moment of peace” in order to choose, at least, which cause to follow first…….. Consume and expenses for the average family are being cut and going down to the minimum.
Especially in Athens, which is going through more difficulties than Thessaloniki and particularly regarding immigrants and older people in some neighborhoods; classes that are more vulnerable and exposed to the crisis.
Strikingly, as hospitals especially in the countryside are beginning to lose the readiness to assist people in need and public transportation’s introits are falling sharply (more people not buying tickets anymore), like other public utilities and services in red…..the media are presenting extreme cases of excesses and abuse by public servants, as the core of the problem, in order to elude the population and mislead it.
On the contrary, when it comes to the political personnel, party members and high ranking officials, their responsiblities are sidestepped despite Media coverage, protected behind laws which absolve political personnel almost instantly from their responsibilities.
Even more absurd are the parliamentary commissions, created in order to inquire and investigate the political personnel’s misdeeds. No one is ever convicted, no one ever gets into a real trial and no one ever feels the consequences of his actions. The only consequence could be the end of someone’s political career. Yet between 2001-2010, 20 billion Euro have mysteriously vanished from the country’s “cashier’s desk” !!!!
For now, the results of this type of policies has not reached very high levels and has not affected the whole middle class population due to the Mediterranean way of life. As it is the case in many Mediterranean countries, the family plays an important role in Greece, by safeguarding its members and assisting several members in need. But it is just a matter of time as the economy plunges for the 5th year in a row. Meanwhile immigrants and low class are among the most affected groups as they are the first to experience the effects of fewer jobs and economic stress, living in penury.
From your experience and knowledge you can imagine what all that means and how the society will look like in 5 years from now, in countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland and further affecting even Spain and Italy, if this lack of political morality and degradation continues.
Considering all this information, I would like to share with you an idea, a short draft I had already in my mind in Marseilles and wanted to present in the meeting of Brussels in May, but elections came up….
I would like to suggest a program of 2 or 3 annual meetings for the European water network.
I think starting from water as commons, beyond and above simple exploitation for the benefit of a few, we could create a model in order to stop further privatizations of strategic resources and inspire/counter-propose mild development plans, as in the case of water use, in respect of human needs and environmental issues.
These 2 or 3 meetings per year (every six or four months) could occur in places where water sources and local public water companies are the most endangered.
These could be a two days coming together, where the participants will canalize the attention of the media, the local population and sensible groups around the world, for the problem in loco. The idea would be to create-expand-increase-improve a solid public interest for commons.
These two or three periodic meeting in different towns each time could trigger within 2-3 years a similar, although comparatively smaller, “wave” of sympathizers and media covering, like the annual European cultural capital each year, which by now has become a major event.
In collaboration with the local activists, different manifestations could be held for these two days. Some options could be:
-a press release,
-a presentation or a short conference (bringing together international movements with local scientists and activists),
-a protest march,
-several meeting with local officials,
-short trips to endangered water sources and nearby places, villages,
-presentations in local schools
-artistic manifestations like theatrical or musical events and street events.
-these two days meetings could also occur accordingly to local feasts, international exhibitions and fairs, carnival, or other important events in loco (but which would assure more publicity to the cause and not the opposite).
And of course many more involving manifestations which do not require great investments and extensive logistics efforts.
It doesn’t have to be a big event, but it should more include the locals and bringing together local activists with some of you, who could assist their efforts and inspire their protest through the participation and the assistance of a wider network of groups-associations and protesters around Europe. Making them believe and reassure their cause by the pressure of an international forum.
In order to make it more practicable and less costly, the participants of the European water network could choose where to go. For example a first group could join in one place, another group in a second place etc. I think a city in Portugal or Italy together with Thessaloniki could be among the first sites to “host” such meetings during 2012-2013.
Hope you’ll like the idea.
Again sorry for being so long. I hope this information will be of interest to you and helpful.
Best to all of you.
From warm and sunny Thessaloniki.
I would like to stress that these are my thoughts and personal views or information and analysis gathered, that I don’t represent “k136” with this letter-message and that by this short account I wish to inform you on matters and situations which are common in different countries.
As Greece seems to have been chosen as the first Eurozone’s country under such pressure, due to its particular political life and geopolitical anxiety, I am committed to informing you for what might happen or could similarly affect different European countries, using the excuse of the debt issue. If what I shared with you might seem too apocalyptic of a scenario, I would happily wish someone to contradict this analysis.
Whoever wishes to learn more, I will gladly be of assistance and send information and the short documentary I was working on entitled “Debt Management”.
ghia sas, ciao a tutti.