Greece Can’t be Hope for Europe Whilst Children Starve at Schools
This post is also available in: Greek
On February 18th an open letter was posted to the website of PPGR from ‘The Monetary and Financial Policy Working Group of the German Pirate Party to the Greeks’. The open letter had the title “Greece: Hope for Europe.” This letter prompted a response from Thanasis Gounaris, Chairman of the Board of the Pirate Party of Greece and representative of “Pirates in Education” in the Greek Teachers’ Federation.
Gounaris contacted Pirate Times and stressed that there is no such prospective, unless we overcome the humanitarian crisis happening in Greece for the past five years. This has been concealed systematically by media in both Germany and other countries, showcasing negative comments and reports on Greek people.
“Greece cannot be the hope for Europe as long as children starve at schools”, said Gounaris, the Head of the 165th Primary School of Athens. He is forced by the circumstances to feed 400 pupils daily, assisted last year by Athens Municipality and this year by the Institute “Prolepsis“.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks, I gave a lot of interviews to radio and television stations for this tragic issue. Children do not have the money to buy anything to eat at school. There are cases of children who eat daily only some bread and rice and come at school feeling dizzy, suffering from Attention Deficit Syndrome. You know, this is not happening in my school, but in too many schools, not only in Athens but throughout Greece, he added.
After the elections in Greece (January 25th, 2015), SYRIZA—a self-proclaimed leftist party—assumed the governance of the country. Many discussions, articles and interviews flooded the global political and economic stage, creating a subversive image and a hope for the rebirth of Europe. This in turn created a climate of support for Greece with protests in many cities, both domestic and abroad.
In the same spirit, German Pirates declare that they stand alongside the Greeks in this rocky road with which they must deal, and comment on some of the 40 measures that the Greek government proposed to the Eurogroup. Among others, the German Pirates wrote in their open letter:
We Germans are not all” Merkel “or” Schaeuble. “A large part of our population has actually acknowledged that the policy of the surplus countries are wrong and in fact represents the destruction of European thought. Our working group recognizes that” Troika “with the neoliberal orientation harms solidarity in Europe. The Pirates have been established as a European party because we, like you, we believe strongly in the European project.
We cannot agree in all points, to the 40-point program, which was introduced by your government party SYRIZA. However, we recognize that in the difficult situation of Greece the following points of the program can be a lasting way out of the crisis:
- Taxation of high incomes and property, so that the wealthy portion of the Greek population contributes fairly to resolve this crisis.
- A turn from the downward spiral of income and production to to a lasting economic growth, so that a decent living becomes possible for most of the population.
- Acceptance of Greek government bonds with a long-term maturity to temporarily reduce the acute debt pressure on Greece.
- To change the role of the ECB (European Central Bank) so that it finances states and public investment programs.
- A drastic reduction of the military expenses”.
From the crisis zone, I welcome the group of German Pirates for their support. I also welcome and thank all European citizens who marched and are still marching in favor of our country. This letter is however, not an official statement of the Board of the Pirate Party of Germany. I would expect to have the support of other Pirate Parties, with whom we fight for and defend the same principles worldwide, and also of our MEP Julia Reda, who has not yet responded to a letter I sent her 12/02/2015.
The reality in Greece is very different from the one that the media portrays daily and has not changed for the better since 2012, when the German Pirates were informed by us of the situation of our country in a Mumble meeting. Since then we repeatedly have emphasized that the austerity measures and overtaxation do not work. Quite the contrary, they destroy and impoverish the social fabric of the country.
We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, unprecedented world-wide, happening in peacetime! Greece has lost more of 35% of its GDP and the majority of Greek, more than 3 in 5 Greeks, can not cope with—not only—the daily survival costs but the heavy taxes in public sector, social security and tax office. Experiencing the situation from within—and not as an observer—I believe that the solution will not come within the existing system, but rather with radical solutions outside of it. Towards that direction, there are initiatives at global level, such as “Cancel Greek Debt Now” that is signed by Pirates, including Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP of the Pirate Party of Iceland.
Reading about the situation in other European countries, anyone can clearly understand that the crisis is spreading like a virus and cannot be restricted. In Germany there are already 15 million people who are poor—more than the population of our country; there are also many people facing the specter of poverty in France and England. It’s likely only a question of time for the crisis zone to expand and affect other countries which, like Greece, are now in the euro zone.
I can understand that we inspire others as the “hope for Europe”, but I think that no Greek government will be able to change the situation while moving into the “politically correct” and stereotyped system. Change—in the truest sense of the word—can only come from a government that ignores rules and laws of economy, politics and diplomacy. For Greece and Europe, fortunately or unfortunately, this government is not the government of SYRIZA.
I think the Pirate movement has tools like Liquid Feedback, encouraging collective governance and citizens’ participation in public affairs. But from the broad view, a solution can only exist when there is a political and economic union first, and then a monetary one. Unfortunately, EU has done the opposite, i.e. monetary first, and has brought countries into this seemingly difficult and hopeless situation.
These mistakes are borne by politicians—not only in our country but also in Germany and other countries. The political and economic system, responsible for the failure of all the anti-crisis measures taken to date, has to be changed. In a few words, I believe that the system must be adapted to human needs and not the opposite; to achieve this, it requires the awakening of European society.
The Pirate movement, in which we and the Germans belong, can provide the society with the necessary tools to effect this change. Finally, any measures they take, within the existing system and the available toolbox to address the crisis will fail, simply because this same system is the operative cause of all our sufferings.
Feature image: CC-BY Pirates in Education
Th. Gounaris photo: Used under permission by Aristotelis Tsagkarogiannis
About Stathis Leivaditis
The English “pirate” is derived from the Greek word “πειρατής” (peiratēs) and this in turn from the verb “πειράομαι” (peiráomai), “I attempt”, which is a derivative of the noun “πείρα” (peîra), “experience”. Coming from the depths of the centuries, the word “pirate” took on another dimension in our days. The ruling classes saw pirates as rebels and hated them. Rebels without a state, they were not submissive to any law, except from the laws they instituted themselves, improvising together. This is the feeling of a Pirate: when something doesn’t work, you have to attempt to bring a new concept. Sometimes it goes beyond a certain point and perhaps exceeds certain limits, because it is an expression of challenge; the challenge to change the system. I’m a member of the Board (and former chairman) of Pirate Party of Greece, also a member of press team of PPGR, former journalist, now a free lancer. I'm in the team of Pirate Times from the start, I joined voluntarily and consciously because I am interested to meet pirates from around the world, to exchange views and spread the pirate spirit.