Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oh, for the love of Gold, Greeks.. Give us a break!

Recently another riddle baffles me, coming  from my native Greece. There is an on-going protest taking place back home about the opening of the gold mines in the northern Greek region of Halkidiki.  

People protest against it, claiming national, environmental or political and economic reasons on why the mines should not be opened. 

In my opinion the whole fuss about it is for the following reasons:  a) Because the mines are sold out very cheaply to foreign companies. b) For environmental purposes c) Because the locals just do not like the idea of living near the mines. d) There is not a satisfactory agreement with locals for land compensation, if any f) Because just some lost their kickbacks from land deals e) Because it is not what the local government was planing for the area. Planning deals and contracts, often illegal were common in Greece. g) More than one of the above reasons. 

 For the only reason that I would support these protests are the reasons a) and d). It is unacceptable for a country's natural resources to be sold to foreign multinationals for scraps, due to the country's financial difficulties. These resources must stay under the control of the nation and be used for the benefit of the people, not of the multinationals.

But for the rest of reasons or excuses they give us, please Greeks, give us a break! The Halkidiki region was burned twice as far as I can remember as a child, to be used and developed as land and arbitrary estates. Now for the locals to suddenly have their environmentalism awaken, is too little too late, never mind farsical.

The country needs all the resources that it can find to change its economy. We must start extracting and exploiting everything that we can, either it is gold, uranium, oil, etc . And we must understand that as a country and as an economy Greece must change. We can not just be an agricultural and tourist country anymore. We need to diversify the Greek economy, produce and export!

With tomatoes and olive oil as exports, how can we compete with other countries that produce cars, mobile phones, lap-tops, etc. And since at the moment we do not have any funds, or perhaps the other leading industrial European nations do not allow us to become an export country in such goods, then what exists already in the soil of our country, is excellent for a good start of exporting!

Provided of course that we do not sell our resources out for peanuts to the big multinationals. But if it is for the good of the country, then I'm sorry if some feel unsettled because they will lose their grandmother's tiny piece of land, who do not intend to cultivate. Or because some wanted to develop nearby sites for residential and arbitrary developments and they are going to lose their kickbacks.

If the above are anywhere near the real reasons that people oppose this development, then not only we should be ashamed of ourselves, but we are also a very sad nation! Why can't Greece become a leading European gold exporter? Should we think collectively or individually? If we discover an area full of deposits of minerals of any kind, why not exploit it for God's sake?

We want jobs in Greece, we want development! Well here is the development and the jobs but people protest against them. In China they sunk entire cities to proceed with the planned developments and better their economy. And look where they got! We should not reach to that point of course, but we are going to the other extreme entirely!

Today the police went to investigate in Ierissos town, possibly even capturing people who have recently rioted and destroyed public and private property in Skouries village (and doused with petrol guards leaving them by the fire that had been lit earlier). Some set fire to tires, creating massive air pollution, just five hundred meters from an elementary school, but protested vigorously when the police made ​​limited use of chemicals, but not tear gas (as it was stated by the police).

The land that the mine is located apparently does not belong to anyone other than the Greek state and is set there for more than 30 years.  Plus when the locals elected their Mayor during the last elections, the main subject of his campaign was the reopening of the gold mine. So it is not anything new. It has been going on for sometime already, but why so much unrest now that the country needs all the resources it can find?

According to one version of the events, the problem is the SYRIZA party that is using anything that can destroy the government's efforts to bring money into Greece. Don't forget that the main body of supporters of this party comes from PASOK, which collapsed when it started ending its close connections with the civil service and the syndicates ( the same groups and people that managed to overthrow the Mitsotakis government 1992 ).

So now SYRIZA has by its side the civil servants that in past were with PASOK and they use their power to manipulate the government for their own interests and benefit. By using populism, they manage to gain the support of the ordinary folk as well and proceed to acts that sometimes are not for the best interests of the country in general.

The problem is, will the ordinary Greek folk be able to wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late? Greece must change, as the World is changing. We can not remain forever in a fantasy nationalist or socialist land, we need to proceed with the necessary reforms in order to catch up with the rest of the World. 

Now, all Greece is doing is moving backwards. We have already reached the days of the '60s-'70s and if this crisis continues we will go backwards even further. No, I do not support austerity and I have many times criticized the European elites for imposing it on us. And I do not want the sell out of my country's resources, or any of the worker's hard won rights either. 

But this sworn idealistic and everlasting war between the Left and the Right, or the public sector and the government in Greece is getting sickening. We are like a dog that while is trying to bite and punish its own tail, it keeps going in rounds remaining forever in the same spot. But the rest of the World is leaping over us and ever forwards. 

So for the love of Gold, Greeks!! Give us a break!!

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