Burning down the house

No Merkel, no Schäuble, no Juncker: Greece has taken a time-out from its supervisors during the holiday season. The Greeks have different worries – which should also concern the EU.

Forest fires and austerity. This summer, Greece had to endure some severe forest fires again, near Athens, on the Peloponnese and on a few islands. At times, they were out of control and the government in Athens had to request support from the EU. The background: Due to austerity measures, Greece’s own aircrafts used for aerial firefighting are hopelessly outdated. This gives the slogan ‘A Europe that protects’ a whole new dimension, doesn’t it?

The Turkish provocations. We got used to the violation of the Greek airspace by the Turkish army long ago. Now, however, a new provocation from Ankara has arrived: foreign Minister Cavusoglu claims that there is no recognised maritime border in the Aegean. He announced to parliament that the Treaty of Lausanne has no effect. For Athens, this was an ‘extreme’ provocation. But Brussels turns a deaf ear and remains silent.

The refugee situation. In Germany, there is hardly any mention of this anymore but, in Athens, people are concerned about the increasing number of refugees coming in from Turkey via the Aegean Sea. This is due to the fact that the situation in the camps on Lesbos and other islands is pretty miserable which is why the UN warns against growing tensions. It rather matches the EU’s attempt to ‘return’ asylum seekers from Good Old Germany back to Greece…

A ‘positive narrative’. After years of many crises, prime minister Tsipras is now looking for a ‘positive narrative’ to achieve an optimistic mood among his citizens (and to secure his re-election). For this, he is counting on France’s Macron who is coming to Athens in September. Still, the whitewashing should be difficult as the creditors demand that Athens enforce 66 of 113 prior actions in September. 66 Priorities – madness!

The Greek yogurt. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a work group to try and protect the product name ‘Greek yogurt’ as a geographical indication of origin. So far, the ‘Greek’ yogurt has been coming from different EU countries; German brand ‘Ehrmann’ is particularly common in the supermarkets. The EU Commission supports Athens, at least!

PS: This article has been inspired by my holiday in Crete. More on Greece here


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