“A promise from the army has been obtained to not intervene against a civil uprising”
26/02/2013 Deja un comentario
It is enlightening to hear the frank assessment of a diplomat upon leaving service, once unshackled from “the patriotic art of lying for one’s country”, as 19th Century American journalist Mr. Ambrose Bierce described the craft. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos was a career diplomat with Greek foreign ministry. As a junior officer with the service in the 1970s, he helped assure the freshly democratic nation’s accession to European Union (at the time EEC). He was at different times Athens’ ambassador to Poland, Albania and Canada, finally the director general of EU Affairs in the ministry. Last year, he finally resigned as secretary general of the Black Sea Cooperation organisation, entered the private sector, and now feels free to speak openly about his fury at what he says Europe and international lenders are doing to his country. “At a certain moment, quite soon, there will be an explosion of social unrest. It will be very unpleasant,” he says, referring to 15 armed incidents in the previous ten days. In the past few weeks, offices of governing parties have been firebombed as well as homes of progovernment journalists. The headquarters of prime minister’s conservative New Democracy party was machine-gunned, and days later a bomb exploded at a shopping mall belonging to country’s second wealthiest citizen, although no one has been badly injured by the attacks. “It is an escalation of activities,” he worries, adding that he expects the “explosion” to occur sooner rather than later. He predicts the spark will be when new, retroactive and sizeable tax bills come due in coming months that people simply cannot pay. “There will be further increases in armed actions. There will be bloody demonstrations.” “These actions are condemnable, of course, but I feel this sort of armed activity will increase as long as the government continues to impose oppressive measures against the Greek people.” Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo in Davos said that Europe should change course from the austerity within 6 months if there is no sign of recovery. These are hopeful words to Chrysanthopoulos, but fears it would still be too late for his country. “We do not have six months. If the EU is going to change something, they need to change it yesterday. We even have problems burying dead because people cannot afford funeral expenses.” Refrigerators in the morgue were filling up with bodies until the church said that it would offer free burial for some families. “We are heading down the road of a destruction.” Last summer, social-democrat-conservative coalition led by Samaras launched a major crackdown on irregular migrants, rounding up 60.000 individuals out of which just 4,200 were arrested for infractions, a move has been criticised by Amnesty International and other human rights groups. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos says the government has hired Blackwater, American private military firm infamous for its activities in Iraq, which now goes by name “Academi”, along with 5 other international for-profit security outfits. Explaining why this has happened, says bluntly: “Greek government does not trust the police whose salaries have also been cut.” There is some good news however that he hears from the contacts he maintains amongst his former colleagues and politicians. He is confident there will be no military coup, as there was in 1967. “There are contacts by certain politicians with elements in armed forces to guarantee that in the event of major social unrest, army will not intervene.” “I don’t want to go into too much detail though as it is delicate issue”. “But as a result of these contacts, I think this is going to be successful.” Laments what has happened to the EU in which he spent so much of his career: “I was part of the negotiating team as a junior diplomat that brought Greece into the EU. EU that we joined in 1981 doesn’t exist any more.” “We need a change of plan”.