Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Ever wonder why Thessaloniki is such a beautiful, well-ordered Greek city in comparison to the helter-skelter, traffic-choked capital Athens?
Posted by Paula at 4:23 PM
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Been too long since I had last attended the Thessaloniki International Fair. But what really caught my attention was this year's "honored country," China...especially after reading the NYT article "Chastised by E.U., a Resentful Greece Embraces China's Cash and Interests" updated online August 27th, the day I came back to Greece. You can say what you want about leftwing PM Alexis Tsipras -- who recently also organized a love fest in Athens with France's President Macron -- but he's no capitalist slouch!
The Chinese seemed to have spared no expense to put their best industrial/technological foot forward (see photos), in a country that they consider a linchpin of their "One Belt, One Road" economic campaign to move into Europe and anywhere else they can. Proof of that is their moves on the Port of Piraeus, where COSCO Shipping has invested heavily since 2008. By 2016, COSCO owned 51 percent of the Piraeus Port Authority, transforming it into the busiest Mediterranean port. Another big-time (currently stalled) investment revolves around the development of the former Athens Ellinikon Airport property. Lots of serious -- some say practically neo-colonialistic, for better or worse -- Chinese business in a country trying to become solvent again.
Tsipras had opposed the port's privatization when he was elected in 2015 -- but in the face of tortuous and unrelenting EU austerity measures, he chose to be nice and deal with a country throwing money, modernization and progress Greece's way since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. In return, Greece has been China's political friend when it counted, even casting questionable EU vetos -- and causing Europeans to complain that Greece is abandoning it European alliances.You must read that NYT article for a thorough report on 10 years of Greece-China economic/political relations. Therein, a prominent Dutch EU Parliament member is quoted as saying that "...the EU is not only a market, but first and foremost a community of values." Really?
Costas Douzinas (head of the Greek Parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee) said this: "If you're down and and someone slaps you and someone else gives you an alm, when you can do something in return, who will you help, the one who helped you or the one who slapped you?"
NOTE: Last year's "honored country," much to my dismay, was Russia. Indeed Barack Obama visited Greece after last year's election primarily because of fears that Putin was gaining too much traction here. If there was a Russian display of any kind this time, I didn't run into it. Hacking, fake news, and sports doping do not, after all, put food on Greek tables.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
Posted by Paula at 6:45 AM
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Been a couple of days now since I have stopped obsessing about Hurricane Irma with all-night Internet binges trying to get news from Miami. Some brief relief came with a Stockton Record article ("Thousands get their Greek on at popular festival") reporting on the 58th St.Basil's Greek Festival -- and with a picture of good friend Gayle Maduros continuing my mom's legacy of quality control in the sweets department :)
Meanwhile my friends here in Greece were asking me daily if I had any news from my friends in Miami. They had been watching with horror the destruction being wreaked by the giant "typhonas." No storms like that here -- even though Climate Change brought one of the coldest winters on record throughout Greece last year and searing heat all summer. And Greeks are well-aware of what President Trump thinks about Climate Change. (I totally HATE being asked about Donald Trump!)On the one hand, I was lucky not to actually be in Miami going through all the preparation and angst associated with a Cat 5 hurricane. Yes, I have been through a few hurricanes, but not the infamous Andrew. As I saw Irma develop, I was both terrified and feeling guilty about not being there.
Amazingly, I could tune into CBS4 Miami local news online -- but not without being forced to watch a VW ad at least 100 times. In the end it was a small price to pay for updates I could relate to, like rivers of water rushing down Brickell Avenue and the attempted looting of my favorite Publix on Biscayne and 17th Terrace. "Reality TV" made palatable only by no big wind damage in Miami as far as I could see...unless you count 3 downed cranes.
Devastation in the Keys was something else, largely unspeakable. Good Samaritans are collecting food and emergency supplies to drive down there if they can. The FL West Coast is much more flooded. Many places still have no electricity. 8 seniors perished in a Hollywood nursing home because of no AC. There are continued curfews and boil water orders. Paradise lost on a grand scale.
And here I sit on a gorgeous Greek day in town of about 20,000 people in Macedonia, trying to digest what has happened a world away -- feeling safe and even happy to be in what is essentially a bankrupt country. Thinking, too, that there is something not right with this picture.
But for now I'm just glad to have good news, in the realm, from Miami.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.
Posted by Paula at 5:40 PM