Greece

The island, the refugees, and the yachts

Published on: Wed, 16/10/2019 - 09:05
Author

Jean Lane

I started coming to Symi, a tiny Greek island in the Aegean, closer geographically to Turkey than the Greek mainland, 30 years ago.

Missing a few years in the middle, I resumed coming five years ago. In these five years, the island has seen many refugees being washed up on its harbour side; mainly from Syria plus some from Afghanistan, Iraq, and sub-Saharan Africa arriving from Turkey just across the water.

Although there was consternation on the island from residents who themselves were suffering the effects of the collapse of the Greek economy, the response to the refugees was (and

Greece’s election: end of a chapter

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2019 - 07:43
Author

Theodora Polenta

The 7 July election in Greece confirmed the trends that emerged in the Euro elections:

• a comfortable ND (New Democracy, equivalent of the Tories) dominance that revolved around engaging the centre right and alt right voters

• a lack of momentum from Syriza (the leftish party that has governed since 2015), which paid the price of its capitulation and transformation into a pro-memoranda, pro-austerity party

• the weakness of the anti-capitalist Left to persuade and inspire

• the continuing fall of the Golden Dawn, leading them out of Parliament for the first time since 2012.

Abstention was at

Europe for the whom?

Published on: Wed, 17/10/2018 - 08:46
Author

Theodora Polenta

An open letter to the Europe For the Many conference on 26-27 October from Greek socialist Theodora Polenta.

Dear Comrades: I am looking forward to attending the event "Europe for the Many: a left strategy for transforming Europe" on 26-27 October. But I am concerned about the fact that the conference's top-billed speakers are the Portuguese prime minister and the Greek finance minister.

Are the current 2018 Syriza-ANEL government and its financial minister part of our European socialist vision? Can they be our inspiration or our partners in pushing a radical Labour government forwards?

No.

Why Greece’s “left government” failed

Published on: Wed, 25/04/2018 - 12:32
Author

Dora Polenta

The Syriza election was a reflection of the hard, militant class struggle by the working class and neighbourhood community movements against the attacks of the “Black Block” Memorandum governments of the years 2010 to 2012.

Syriza gave political substance to this movement, and it carried all of this movement’s political contradictions.
The movement had only a vague idea of what it expected of the Syriza government. It expected some form of relief, to get rid of the Memorandum laws and privatisation, to restore wages and pensions and collective bargaining, to give some right to housing. These

Greece: Towards a fourth memorandum?

Published on: Wed, 22/03/2017 - 11:31
Author

Theodora Polenta

The latest poll in Greece shows Syriza has the support of just 15% of the electorate. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has boasted that a third of the austerity measures Greece had to impose as part of the current programme have been “totally completed”, another third are “totally agreed”, while the rest are subject to “political negotiation”.

Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza-Anel government, elected in January 2015 with the claim and the hope that it would be Greece’s first government of the left, is overseeing a social counterrevolution. More than a third of the population (35.7 per cent) are

Syriza: dark at the end of the tunnel

Published on: Wed, 30/11/2016 - 12:58
Author

Theodora Polenta

Participants in the Second Congress of Greece’s once-left party, Syriza, on 13-16 October, were reduced in the role of applauders of the Syriza-Anel government’s memorandum doctrines.

Reminiscent of the Tory Prime Minister Samaras, who defended the implementation of the second [2012] Memorandum by saying that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”, Alexis Tsipras claimed the third memorandum could bring a new dawn. “We continue to implement a fair deal and we expect from the institutions and our partners to meet their obligations ... The deepest darkness is before dawn,” he said. There was

Labour needs new policy of solidarity with migrants

Published on: Wed, 21/09/2016 - 11:02
Author

Theodora Polenta and Hugh Edwards

Jeremy Corbyn has said he will defend freedom of movement in the negotiations around Brexit. He has declared: “I have visited the camps in Calais and Dunkirk, which are in an appalling state. Those people are in a very perilous situation. They are all humans, to whom we must reach out the hand of friendship and support”. He has called for Britain to admit more refugees.

By contrast, the legacy of the 1997-2010 New Labour Government, of which Owen Smith aspires to be the successor, was seven Acts of Parliament restricting civil liberties on the pretext of fighting terrorism; six on immigration

Tories plan Great Wall of Calais

Published on: Wed, 14/09/2016 - 11:47
Author

Theodora Polenta

On 7 September, Britain's immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, announced that the government will build a four-metre-high wall for about one kilometre along the main port highway in Calais, France, to prevent refugees or immigrants boarding lorries to cross the Channel.

Construction will cost about £1.9 million, will start this month and is to be completed by the end of year. "Many continue to pass [the border]," said Goodwill, speaking to a parliamentary committee. "We have raised fences, now we will raise the wall."

The wall will be made of a kind of "soft" cement, to make climbing

Inside a Greek detention centre

Published on: Wed, 01/06/2016 - 10:50

Thousands of refugees are now trapped in Greece. Recently the Greek government broke up the makeshift camp of 12,000 people at Idomeni on the Macedonian border, forcibly moving people to warehouses in Thessaloniki. Many families have been split up, people are missing. Solidarity spoke to Dashty Jamal, Secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, who recently visited a camp on the island of Samos in search of missing Kurdish refugees.


I have been looking for information about 70 missing Kurdish refugees. In May I went to the camp in Samos (an island close to Turkey). I had to

Varoufakis’ plan to change Europe

Published on: Wed, 25/05/2016 - 12:08
Author

John Cunningham

During the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, the Athenians captured the small island of Melia, considered to be friendly to their rival city state.

The Melians, powerless before the might of Athens, pleaded for mercy but to no avail. The Athenians stated that justice belonged to the strong, they would do as they pleased “and the weak suffer what they must” (note that the original quote is a statement, not a question — a subtle but important difference).

And so it turned out. The Athenians put much of the population to the sword and enslaved the survivors. However, the story doesn

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