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April 17, 2015

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ANALYSIS - The Killing Initiative: The Blackwater Sentences

The world of private defence contractors, the modern version of the fabled Condottiere without the flags and the city-state veneration, received a blow with the handing down of stiff sentences on four former Blackwater operatives. In 2014 the four in question, part of Blackwater’s Support Team Raven 23, were convicted in the Washington, D.C. federal court for killing 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour square in 2007.

By Binoy Kampmark (Global Research) - The sentences of Paul A. Slough, Dustin L. Heard, Nicholas A. Slatten, and Evans S. Liberty, damn a certain form of warfare, but they do not reverse it.  The convictions have, instead, been taken as justification about a certain type of warfare, one waged in the US courtroom in the name of pleasing others and soothing consciences.
     “This verdict,” argued US attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., “is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war.”[1]
In other words, killing must be executed with principle, and such a massacre was not meant for the good books.

The fractured, frittered state is a hungry behemoth. The Private Military Company (PMC) is its rather aggressive, and mostly vicious offspring.  As Sean McFate posed in The New Republic last year, the US is faced with a set of strategic choices:
     “1) avoid all wars in the future; 2) institute a national draft; 3) use contractors.  I doubt a presidential or congressional campaign would survive options 1 and 2.”[2]
Wars are now being waged by corporations, and through corporations.

Since the late 1980s, governments have been looking at moving various functions to the market, be they in the realm of actual combat, or those associated with logistics.

The code of engagement is less that of public international law than privateering in the oldest sense of the term, a plunderer’s charter in the name of pay and fortune.  “The picture that has emerged,” as Rain Liivoja suggests in the Leiden Journal of International Law (Dec 2012), “is one of complete chaos and lawlessness: DynCorp employees trafficking and molesting girls in Bosnia, CACI staff members abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and trigger-happy Blackwater and Aegis gunmen shooting at civilian vehicles in the streets of Baghdad.”

In 2010, the US used 175,000 troops and 207,000 contractors in conflict zones.[3]  This invariably means that contractors, while also doing more killing, are being killed.  Fortune has a habit of stealing as well and granting.

Blackwater became the star studded monster in this endeavour, having risen to fame after the 1999 Columbine school massacre when it taught police how to “handle” such situations.

Where there is death, there is Blackwater swooping in with advice and material. The company proceeded to sell lethal services in the way one sells car products and travel accessories. It sold merchandise with logos and brand recognition.  It provided boots on the ground for the US State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA.  It became the most accommodating of killers.

The rationale of its founder, Erik Prince, says it all: the heavy-handed business sense that insists on over-delivering to your clients, being the standard bearer, not so much of a new form of war as an old system that rejects the primacy of citizen soldiers.  Then, Prince sold his demon child.  The field became crowded, with “too many firms competing for a shrinking pie.”[4]

The existence of such contractors assists in prolonging, rather than halting, conflict. Security vacuums transform into magnets for PMCs.  The nexus between terror and instability is maintained, while building and reconstruction side of matters is left to wither.  This has been seen in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq.  But the global PMC market is marked by two trends, as noted by McFate. There is the globalisation model, the globe-trotting contractor personified by the antics of Blackwater.  Then come the indigenous types – local warlords keen to staff their contracted entity with locals, keeping matters appropriately tribal.

The extent with which the nature of such companies has been normalised can be gathered by critics of the Blackwater verdicts.  On the website of the Sean Hannity show, sibling of one of the convicts, Jessica Slatten, notes the former employees as “decorated veterans” who, instead of wearing “dress blues adorned with medals earned for honourable military service” will face “jumpsuits and shackles”.[5]

Then there was the evidence.  Iraqi witnesses were singled out for inconsistencies.  There was a conspicuous absence of precise ballistics linking the deaths directly to the gunmen.  Here, the artificiality of law and war is revealed: the attempt by the legal eagle to claw its way into the working mind of the blood-rushed shooter.  The obvious point is that Blackwater operatives should never have been there to begin with, the legacy of an illegal war that laid waste to a state and its institutions.

Did their status as combatants matter?  No, according to Slatten.  They “fought for freedom, only to sacrifice theirs because of defensive actions taken on foreign soil, in a war zone, under imminent threats to their safety.”  How that computes with killing Iraqi civilians is not made out, but such apologies tend to find victims in those who pull triggers, rather than those who receive the bullets.

The fact that an entity like Blackwater can change its name first to Xe and then Academi says much about the shape changing nature of the industry, one of advertising, fiddling adjustments, and ultimately, instability.  Punish its delinquent associates, by all means, but accept the existence of their employees and what they provide.  These are, as P. W. Singer has suggested, the “corporate warriors”.[6]  When there is crisis and scarcity of resources, external help will be sought, less from “a state or even an international organization but rather the global marketplace.”  Even the United Nations is considering moving more of its operations to such service providers.  What a crude form of legitimisation that would make.

The author, Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  You can email him at: bkampmark@gmail.com


Notes:
  • [1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/us/blackwater-verdict.html?_r=0
  • [2] http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119975/blackwater-convictions-dont-mean-end-mercenary-war
  • [3] http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119975/blackwater-convictions-dont-mean-end-mercenary-war
  • [4] http://www.economist.com/news/business/21590370-industry-reinvents-itself-after-demise-its-most-controversial-firm-beyond-blackwater
  • [5] http://www.hannity.com/articles/news-476261/oped-massacre-of-justice-blackwaters-raven-13491783/
  • [6] http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100946630



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Athens & Moscow work on pipeline construction agreement

Greece and Russia are working on a memorandum for the construction of a "Greek pipeline" of natural gas that may be signed in Athens as early as next week, according to RIA-Novosti Russian news agency citing a Greek source, who said he was quoting Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.

The new pipeline is slated to begin operations in December 2016, and the Greek section will connect to a pipeline delivering Russian gas to Turkey and southern Europe, according to the agency, which also said that signing on the Russian side would be Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

According to the calculations, the Greek section is estimated to cost as much as 2 billion euros and run from the Greek-Turkish borders to the borders with FYROM. From here it will extend to Serbia and Hungary, ending up in Austria, according to Russian-based Gazprom.

The agency quoted Greek sources as saying that construction would be carried out by the private sector and agree fully with EU legislation.

No further details were available.

ANA-MPA


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OPINION: Greek tragedy turns into agony - Who are the real accused?

By John Ward (The Slog) - As with so many Western languages, the English word ‘agony’ is derived from the Greek for a contest that involves anything from wrestling with adversity to severe struggling with pain and suffering. In its contemporary form, the word-play of ‘Greek tragedy’ does not even begin to represent the reality of the hand that Greece has been dealt off the bottom of the EU pack.

The agony is being piled onto Greece at the moment. It is the outstanding Sovereign example over the last century of a largely innocent prey facing encirclement by lasciviously bloodthirsty wolves…  and running out of matches for the fire that might keep them at bay.

The more the media say “visit to USA by Varoufakis has air of desperation”, and “Greeks made informal approach to restructure IMF payments”, the more – as those media know perfectly well – the markets lose confidence, bond yields rise, and the vicious circle of feral dogs forms an ever-tighter trap around a country being crucified to save an ill-begotten and obviously doomed currency.

Three-year Greek debt is now yielding 26% – a level in and of itself screaming to anyone with a functioning pair of ears that the markets expect Athens to welch on its borrowings.

On this long road from the greedy optimism of 2003 to the perdition of today, many can be named and blamed….although few of them shamed: you cannot shame the shameless. They include Jean-Claude Trichet, Goldman Sachs, Evangelos Venizelos, Wolfgang Schäuble, Troikas (various), vulture funds, a disturbingly high minority of the upper professional Greek classes, the European Commission, and latterly the spinelessly empty-headed collaboration of Antonis Samaras.

The last people we can blame along that road are Syriza in general or the Tsipras/Varoufakis double-act in particular. As my many friends in Greece already know, I part company with them on the performance of Yanis Varoufakis as a negotiator at the last gasp. But for years before that, the current Greek finance minister was the only serious economist in the eurozone prepared to stick his neck out and say “These policies are insane”. For the life of me, I cannot see what Yanis has gained by his unseemly retreat when the first Eurogroupe negotiations turned into despicable blackmail. But if he made a mistake, is this a subject for shame? It is not.

Alongside him stands Alexis Tsipras, a man whose deft skills in turning a ramshackle grab-bag of egotistical political nowheres into a Party of power will stand forever as a miraculous achievement…no matter how short-lived the resultant Syriza Government might be.

I do not share the politics of either of these good men, but I do identify with them one hundred per cent as the best battering ram available to bring the Suprastate lunatics to their knees. And I still think that this is entirely possible.

Look back over the history of the imperceptibly dying USSR. It took Hungarian guts in 1956, Czechoslovak hope in 1968, and then Polish balls in the 1980s….but in the end, the dam broke and the waters broke through.

If Syriza fails, there will be Grillo in Italy and Podemos in Spain. And if not them, the farmers in France and perhaps even the Ukippers in Britain.

That last mention will lose me some Sloggers in Britain. If so, then I ask this question of the UK Left: was it not your line-toeing acceptance of an undemocratic, illegal, bullying EU that spawned Nigel Farage in the first place? I detest almost everything this beery loudmouth stands for, but at least he is trying to extricate us from this corrupt cesspit of forced choices.

Yesterday a brave young woman burst into the inner sanctum of Mario Draghi’s kingdom of mealy-mouthed mammon, shouting for an end to ECB dictatorship. Ask the subordinated Greek bondholders, the Cypriot bank depositors, the Swiss gnomes, the Greeks themselves and even some in the EC if they think this lady was a delusional nutter or a speaker of the truth. Of course the eurozone is now under the jackboot of an unaccountable man whose agenda remains at very best suspicious, and at worst profoundly pernicious: only a blind buffoon could fail to remark such reality.

As the UK election draws tediously towards a long-overdue end, I regard the failure of Britain’s three longest-standing Parties to recognise the fascist on their doorstep as an indelible stain upon the culture I once loved. But it is an oversight for which the sociopathic British überbau will not pay a red cent: for they all have their illegally feathered nests of pension and pornographic graft to keep them warm at night.

It is the citizens who will pay. To paraphrase Churchill, “Never in the hedge of human hypocrisy did so few bequeath so much debt to so many”.


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NO WAY SHERLOCK - Bakoyanni eyes New Democracy presidency

When asked about the presidency of the New Democracy party, veteran MP Dora Bakoyanni said that she would do “whatever is necessary” to keep the party together and even hinted that she may run for party president herself.

Speaking on SKAI tv, Bakoyanni said that “procedures are escalating” within New Democracy, while she argued that her party needs to establish itself in the center right.

She was highly critical of the Antonis Samaras-led government, noting that “if we had the guts, the structural changes would have closed.”

Bakoyannis is the eldest of four children of veteran Greek politician Constantine Mitsotakis, who was prime minister of Greece from 1990 to 1993 and leader of the New Democracy party between 1984 to 1993. She was married to Pavlos Bakoyannis, a respected journalist and politician and had two children, Alexia and Kostas. In 1989, members of the "November 17" terrorist group assassinated her husband, then a Member of Parliament, as he entered his office building.

Bakoyannis lost to Samaras in the election for the party's leadership in 2010 when all of the supporters from Costas Karamanlis decided to ignore her candidacy. In fact, most Karamalikoi (or strong supporters of Karamanlis) are convinced that she helped to bring down his presidency because she was flirting with interests that were not in line with Karamanlis' foreign policy line. Since then she has repeatedly demanded his resignation (directly and indirectly).

The reasons are many, one of the most prominent of which began when her father’s government fell in 1993. Following the fall-out with Mitsotakis, Antonis Samaras left the New Democracy party and set up his own smaller party called Politiki Anoixi (or Political Spring) to show his dissatisfaction with the weak position of Mitsotakis on the “FYROM” issue."

Dora Bakoyannis was expelled from New Democracy on May 7, 2010, on the grounds of having defied New Democracy's line and voting "in favor" of a salient piece of legislation introducing the harsh austerity measures that were required for European Union-International Monetary Fund backed lending. She continued to hold her parliamentary seat, originally secured by New Democracy, as an independent. On November 21, 2010, she founded her own political party called the Democratic Alliance.

Later on she rejoined ND.

Earlier this year and during a party conference she called for an emergency congress to decide ND's future, and discuss all issues from the party's functioning and internal democracy, which she particularly emphasised, to organisation, strategy and individuals.

Bakoyianni has always been a reputed favorite of the Bush Administration and rival of Karamanlis, and she retained her post as Foreign Minister when Karamanlis was elected for a second term in 2007.

Declassified reports published on the well-known Wikileaks site only prove that American diplomacy in Greece was closely monitoring the development of local politicians, their attitude to official Washington and its policy during Karamanlis' rule. They also prove that the Americans clearly favored Bakoyiannis (and Dimitris Avramopoulos) and viewed her as the heir to the ND throne (something that we all know never happened because Karamanlis showed his favoritism towards Samaras).

One example of this is a telegram that was sent to Washington and noting that Bakoyianni is an old friend of the United States. In the telegram, "the most popular mayor of Athens since the age of Pericles" is described as "moderate in foreign policy and particularly active against terrorism because of her personal terms after the murder of her first husband, Pavlos Bakoyannis." Dora Bakoyannis is a "supporter of the approximation of Greece with Turkey and supporter of its European perspective."

Read Telegram by clicking HERE

To respond to the attacks that she was chosen by the Americans, in a conversation with the US Ambassador Charles Rhys she asks: "Did you see my picture on the front pages of today's press, which is placed against the American flag? Well, it does not annoy me." The telegrams connected with terrorism show the concern of Americans for the possibility of the organization "November 17th” continuing its activities, and the suspected presence of Islamic terrorists among illegal immigrants in Greece.

HF Team



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Fuel shortages leave Greece helpless against Turkey, says a report in Newsweek

The lack of fuel has left the Greek Armed Forces helpless against the ever-increasing Turkish aggression, claims a report in Newsweek. According to the article, the financial crisis has put a major strain on the supply of fuel, leaving the Greek military unable to defend itself against acts of aggression.

Panteion University Professor and military expert Kostas Koliopoulos told the American magazine that “Turkey is the reason we have very large armed forces. And now Turkey is sensing a shift in the balance of power. Their increased activities in the Aegean are an attempt to wear us out”.

Furthermore, the article points that the Turkish Air Force has escalated its violations of Greek airspace in recent times. Meanwhile, in spite of the financial crisis, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that  Greece spent 4 billion euros (2.5% GDP) on defense in 2014, which is the highest amongst European countries.

The Institutes’ head of military expenditure project Sam Perlo-Freeman questioned the necessity of some of the military purchases, given the critical need for fuel. The magazine article underlined that Turkey is aware that “Greece has to respond” whenever its territorial waters or airspace are violated, putting a further strain on resources.

More at Newsweek


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Who Insists on Going to the Moscow Parade Despite Western Criticism?

Filip Kovacevic (BoilingFrogsPost) - Recently, the president of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman made news around the world when he publicly confronted the US ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew Schapiro about the ambassador's statement that Zeman's attendance of the Victory Day parade in Moscow would be "awkward". "I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel,” Zeman said. “I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels.” And, then, in order to make concrete his displeasure at the attempted interference, he added that Schapiro "has the door to the castle [Zeman's presidential residence] closed".[1]

This made Zeman an instant celebrity among those in Europe who believe that the US-NATO military build-up, coupled with the strengthening of the anti-Russian geopolitical discourse, might have serious repercussions for the European political and economic stability and peace. This, however, is nothing new for Zeman as he has voiced similar opinions in the past as well. For instance, he was one of the first EU high-level politicians to take a stand against the imposition of the sanctions against Russia.[2] For this reason, he became a target of the smear campaign by several pro-US political parties and organizations and was even pelted with eggs and symbolically shown the red card by the protesters during the public commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in November 2014.[3]

It appears, however, that the pressure this time around was so overwhelming that Zeman was forced to change his plans. It could easily be that he was blackmailed in some way as one could see the collective glee of pro-NATO political forces after Zeman backed down from his earlier decision.[4] Obviously, the US-NATO Empire could not tolerate such an open defiance against its imperial interests and was willing to use all the means at its disposal to have its isolation of Russia stick. And, so, the latest news is that Zeman will be in Moscow on the day of the parade, but will not be actually attending it.[5]

In contrast to Zeman, many of his Balkan colleagues did not even put up the fight to defend their countries' sovereign foreign policy decision making. There are only a very few exceptions. In my opinion, the examination of who is and who is not going to the Victory Day parade in Moscow provides a good litmus test of the extent to which the US-NATO Empire exercises a firm control over the ruling political elites in the Balkans. In this analysis, I will look at the political dynamic with regards to this issue in each country of the region.

Greece

The prime minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras visited Moscow last week (April 8 and 9) and, notwithstanding the vocal opposition from the Obama administration and several US-controlled EU politicians, has signed important agreements to deepen and expand economic cooperation between Greece and Russia.[6] Needless to say, the issue of Tsipras's coming to Moscow again for the Victory Day parade created a lot of controversy. There were even some reports in the US mainstream media that he would not go. However, Tsipras dispelled all these rumors during the meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin and made clear that he would be in Moscow on May 9.[7]

Serbia

In addition to Tsipras, there is only one more Balkan leader that has explicitly said that he would attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow. That is the president of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić. Just like Zeman, Nikolić was publicly lectured by various EU politicians to reverse his decision. During a visit to Belgrade in March 2015, the head of the European Parliament delegation Eduard Kukan for instance said that Nikolić "should not attend the milary parade in Moscow on May 9".[8] Nikolić replied that it was "rude to offer the advice to somebody who did not ask for any" and stated that it was "in vain" to try to put pressure on him to go against the interests and opinions of the vast majority of the Serbian people.[9]

At this point, it appears that not only will Nikolić attend the parade, but also a Serbian military unit will march together with the Russian troops in what is called "the parade of victors".[10] This will no doubt expose Serbia to even bigger pressures and threats from the US-NATO Empire.

The recent statement of the Albanian prime minister Edi Rama (Albania is a member of NATO and probably the most US-controlled state in the Balkans) should be seen from this perspective. In an interview for a Kosovo TV station, Rama said that if the EU did not enable the union of Albania and Kosovo within its framework, they will unite in another way.[11] There is some controversy about the exact translation of Rama's statement,[12] but the implicit meaning is unmistakable: Albanians in Albania and Albanians in Kosovo should be politically united in the near future. This geopolitical narrative may lead to a serious destabilization of the Balkans in the coming years.

It is indicative of the geopolitical stakes that Rama's statement was condemned by both the EU[13] and Russia,[14] though the Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dačić complained that the reaction of Brussels was "lukewarm".[15] It is interesting that the European Parliament member Kukan, who earlier criticized Nikolić's decision to attend the Moscow parade, stated that he did not like Rama's statement and that it made him "nervous".[16] In my opinion, by saying this, he was in fact trying to cover up his own deep involvement in the US-NATO strategy to punish Serbia for disobedience. But, in order to make sure that he is not misinterpreted by his "Euro-Atlantic" mentors, Kukan in the same interview explicitly condemned the Serbian policy of military neutrality.

Montenegro

With regards to the Victory Day parade in Moscow, the position of the ruling coalition in Montenegro has been especially tragicomic, even burlesque. It is no secret of course that this coalition of corrupt politicians is publicly supported by the imperial foreign policy establishment in Washington and covertly by the CIA, whose officials have allegedly interfered in the Montenegrin election process.[17] Still, the rationale offered for the cancellation of the trip to Moscow represents a shameless attempt at the infantilization of the Montenegrin public.

Namely, in March 2015, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov included the president of Montenegro Filip Vujanović (the figure of compromised political legitimacy elected in the rigged presidential elections in April 2013)[18] in the list of those heads of states who confirmed their presence in Moscow on May 9.[19] The same was later repeated by the Russian ambassador to Montenegro Andrey Nesterenko who expressed his astonishment at the reversal, considering that the Russian embassy received an official acceptance letter from the president's cabinet at an earlier time.[20]

However, in the first week of April 2015, Vujanović announced that he was not going to Moscow after all as "it would not be natural for the president to ignore the commemoration in his own country because of his attendence of the parade in Moscow".[21] He hid behind an alleged request of the Montenegrin WWII Veterans' organization to organize the commemoration in Montenegro as well. That this is a made-up excuse is shown by the fact that Yugoslavia, one of the victors in WWII, celebrated the Victory Day not on May 9, but on May 15 when the fascist troops and their collaborators finally surrendered. This means that if the WWII veterans wanted to organize an authentic commemoration, this should have been done on May 15, not on May 9 and therefore Vujanović's presence in both places would be made possible. However, as is clear, this anti-Russian move (in addition to being a serious diplomatic faux pas) was yet another episode of the Montenegrin political puppet theater directed by the forces of the US-NATO Empire.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The high-level officials of Bosnia-Herzegovina were also on Lavrov's March list of the attendees. He specifically mentioned not only "the president of the Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) within the B-H", but also referred to other officials, including those from the other entity making up the country (the Muslim-Croat Federation).[22] However, at this point of time, there is no confirmation that anybody else, except the president of the Serb Republic Milorad Dodik, will come to Moscow.[23] This fits with the geopolitical narrative that divides Bosnia into the two spheres of influence, which is imposed by the US-NATO Empire and which in the long-run threatens to destabilize the functioning of the country's institutions.

FYROM

Even though the presence of Georgi Ivanov, the president of FYROM, was also announced by Lavrov, I seriously doubt that he will attend in the end. So far, there are no official announcements, but I expect that some excuse will soon be found, perhaps one along the lines used by the Montenegrin officials and equally unconvincing. The ruling political elites of both Montenegro and FYROM have been willing puppets of the US-NATO agenda in the Balkans and certain policy decisions have been closely coordinated, such as for instance the momentous decision to recognize Kosovo as an independent state on October 9, 2008.[24] The blurring between the two countries in the minds of some high-level US officials sometimes reaches comic proportions. For instance, during the speech on his visit to Montenegro in May 2011 (on which the Montenegrin government spent $200,000 of taxpayers' money), former US president Bill Clinton  spoke of the "breathtaking beauty" of FYROM.[25]

Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania

The heads of state and government of these countries, firmly integrated into the US-NATO Empire, have all stated that they would not attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow.[26] This is not to say that in these countries, there are no political forces which oppose NATO and demand the dissolution of that geopolitically expansionist military alliance. As I have written in my previous BFP analyses, the presidential candidate in Croatia, Ivan Vilibor Sinčić, advocated a clear anti-NATO political agenda during the presidential elections in December 2014 and received more than 16% of the total vote.[27] At this time, Sinčić and his political organization "Živi zid" are preparing for the parliamentary elections to be held sometime during this year.[28]  The political movements, sharing the similar anti-war perspective, are also active in Slovenia and Bulgaria. I expect that within the next year or two (unless there is a wide-scale European war) the number of their supporters will double and the US-NATO Empire in the Balkans will not be as hegemonic as it is at this time.

The author Filip Kovacevic, is a Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

NOTES

  • [1] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/05/czech-president-bans-us-ambassador-prague-castle
  • [2] http://praguepost.com/eu-news/42701-zeman-appears-on-russian-tv-to-blast-sanctions
  • [3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30086495
  • [4] http://www.voanews.com/content/czech-pm-sobotka-says-president-zeman-overreacted-to-us-envoy-schapiro-comments/2710293.html
  • [5] http://news.yahoo.com/czech-leader-skip-military-parade-during-moscow-trip-184404657.html
  • [6] http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/04/08/tsipras-putin-sign-new-trade-deal-and-renew-greece-russia-relations/
  • [7] http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150409/1020681869.html
  • [8] http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2015&mm=03&dd=20&nav_id=93555
  • [9] http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2015&mm=03&dd=20&nav_id=93557
  • [10] http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/politika/1510902-nikolic-odlucio-vojska-srbije-ucestvuje-na-vojnoj-paradi-u-moskvi
  • [11] http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/archive/news/latest/500/500.html?id=26942719
  • [12] http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/content/sta-je-stvarno-rama-rekao/26943085.html
  • [13] http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Politika/549611/EU-o-Rami-Provokacije-su-neprihvatljive
  • [14] http://www.novosti.rs/vesti/naslovna/politika/aktuelno.289.html % 3A543690-Moskva-osudila-izjave-Rame-o-ujedinjenju-Albanije-i-Kosova
  • [15] http://www.palo.rs/svet-jugoistocna-evropa/mlaka-reakcija-brisela-na-provokaciju-iz-tirane/1016612/
  • [16] http://www.tanjug.rs/novosti/173745/kukan--ne-dopadaju-mi-se-ramine-izjave.htm
  • [17] http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/ambasada-sad-popov-nije-agent-cia-vec-sekretar-105835
  • [18] http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/638813-lekic-izbori-u-cg-su-pokradeni-dokazacemo; http://www.cdm.me/politika/lekic-vujanovic-je-formalni-i-lazni-predsjednik
  • [19] http://tass.ru/en/russia/783263
  • [20] http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/nesterenko-vujanovic-je-prvo-rekao-da-ce-doci-u-moskvu-828080
  • [21] http://www.tanjug.rs/novosti/173327/nesterenko--vujanovic-prvo-potvrdio-dolazak--iznenadjen-sam.htm
  • [22] http://www.novosti.rs/vesti/planeta.299.html:538966-Lavrov-Nikolic-i-Dodik-na-Paradi-pobede-u-Moskvi
  • [23] http://www.rtvbn.com/337436/Dodik-i-Nikolic-na-Paradi-pobjede-9-maja-u-Moskvi
  • [24]http://www.rts.rs/page/stories/sr/story/11/Region/21052/I+Makedonija+ priznala+nezavisnost+Kosova.html
  • [25] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI0HgPSdolo
  • [26] http://report.az/en/other-countries/bulgarian-president-will-not-participate-in-victory-parade-in-moscow/; http://www.balkaneu.com/croatian-president-attend-military-parade-moscow/
  • [27] http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2015/01/29/bfp-exclusive-the-balkans-elections-update-croatia-greece/
  • [28] http://www.24sata.hr/politika/lesar-parlamentarni-izbori-su-moguci-vec-17-svibnja-2015-406988


White House event honors Greek Independence Day – Obama chats with Varoufakis!

Greek FinMin Yanis Varoufakis held a 12-minute chat with US President Barack Obama on Thursday afternoon (EST) at the White House during the annual event honoring Greek Independence Day. US VP Joe Biden was also present at the event, as was Archbishop Demetrios of America and a delegation of Greek officials, including Attica regional government Rena Dourou.

A few photos of the event were posted on Twitter by Greek-American journalist Apostolis Zoupaniotis, with a couple of photos showing both Varoufakis and Obama conversing in an informal manner.

According to a dispatch from the state news agency in Greece, Obama and Varoufakis agreed that they can find practical ways to avoid destabilisation either by accident or because of uncontrolled processes. Moreover, both sides expressed the need for flexibility.

On his part, the US President expressed the support of himself and of his government and assured that the cooperation will continue.

Varoufakis said that the US President did not point his finger to us nor did he tell the Greek government what to do. He said that Greece must be absolutely committed to its goal and perfectly integrated in the process in which it participates with the IMF-ECB-EU, while he added that foreign forces ought to help.

Referring to the negotiations with the partners, Varoufakis underlined that there is never a key date, all things should be viewed in combination and cumulatively and added that on April 24 there will be no resolution, there will be progress.
     "The question is what we will do in the post-June period. Our goal is a good deal for the post-June period, an agreement on a different concept from the previous ones, which extended the problem, the Finance Minister said stressing that the government will do everything possible in order to find a solution. "


6.2 quake strikes eastern coast of Crete, strong aftershocks follow

A 6.2-magnitude quake struck off the eastern coast of the island of Crete near the town of Heraklion on Thursday night, according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute. The tremor struck at 21.08 p.m. local (18:08 GMT) at a focal depth of 10 kilometres. No reports of damage or casualties have been reported.

Following the major quake, more jolts followed, the strongest being a 4.9-magnitude aftershock that occurred in the same area. (4.3- and 4.0-magnitude quakes followed in close proximity to the first).


April 16, 2015

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Schaeuble: Debt restructuring is not up for discussion now

Another debt restructuring is not up for discussion now, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. While some kind of restructuring might be on the agenda in 10 years, "today the issue for Greece is reforming its economy in such a way that it becomes competitive at some point," Schaeuble noted.

Referring to a Die Zeit newspaper report that the German government is working on a plan to keep Greece in the euro area if the country defaulted, he said:
     "We don't have such plans, and if we were working on them -- because ministry staff are taking just about everything into consideration -- then we would definitely not talk about it," said Schaeuble. "It makes no sense to speculate about it."
He also said that Greek demands for war reparations from Germany were "completely unrealistic."
     "This has been ruled on so many times by the international courts that the revival of this discussion can only lead to raising hopes with the Greek people that are completely unrealistic," he stated.
Asked if he planned to meet Varoufakis during his trip in Washington, Schaeuble said that he would "surely" see him the following week in Riga at the Eurogroup meeting on April 24.
     "He will meet many people and so will I, but perhaps we'll meet," said Schaeuble. "If we meet, we'll talk, of course. Sure, no problem."
Meanwhile, Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness EU Commissioner Jyrki Katainen in an interview with Europolitics called on Greece to push its structural reforms forward. Asked whether he believes that an agreement with Greece is possible by next week, the Finnish Commissioner said:
     "I hope so because the Greek people need new jobs. Nobody will invest in a country where the situation is uncertain. Current problems need to be quickly solved in order to attract investments from the private sector."
In reply to a question whether the Greek government is good at negotiations, bearing in mind the European institutions have denounced the slowness of the procedure, he noted:
     "I have heard them saying that the progress made is insufficient. I hope that the Greek government will realise that the other member states will not be able to help if Greece does what it has to do. European partners cannot reform the country."
Finally, commenting on a journalist's statement that the Greek government refers to the risk of bankruptcy, that Athens mentions that bankruptcy is possible in May and asked whether the Commission knows the exact financial situation of the country, he said:
     "Greece is in a very vulnerable and unstable condition. But I believe that no one can say exactly when it will run out of money. Rather than speculate on the date of bankruptcy, I urge the Greek government to focus on the reform agenda." 
In Athens, the government continually notes that it will not back down from its “red lines”. In a statement, which was issued on Wednesday afternoon, the government underlined that it has managed to fulfill its obligations on its own resources since August 2014, when Greece last received financial aid.

The recent pressure on Greece, according to the statement, is to force the government to accept recessionary measures, such as new wage and pension cuts, collective dismissals and more. The government also dismissed reports that its proposals are inadequate or not detailed.

Furthermore, the Greek government notes that “certain ultra-conservative circles in Greece and abroad are refusing to accept reality. The memorandum is dad and the austerity policies will not return to Greece. These policies were implemented, failed and lead the country to the tragic situation experienced by the majority of the Greek people”.

In Washington, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will represent Greece in the spring meeting of the IMF and the World Bank. All the representatives of the institutions will attend the meeting while Varoufakis is expected to have a series of further meetings.

On his part, US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew has urged the Greek government and European institutions to set the rhetoric aside, in order to come to an agreement, a few hours prior to his meeting with Yanis Varoufakis in Washington.

In his interview for Bloomberg Mr. Lew called both sides to agree on the policies that must be implemented so that Greece may overcome the current crisis. He stated that Greece must present a comprehensive plan, but the institutions must also become more realistic. The American politician underlined that time was pressing and that it would have been preferable to have determined the policies that Greece required six weeks ago.

Regarding the possibility of a “Grexit”, Mr. Lew claimed that a departure from the Eurozone would cause major upheaval and hardship in Greece. He was quick to warn though that such a dramatic development may have unpredictable consequences, despite claims that the risk of affecting other EU countries is far lesser than it was in 2012. Mr. Lew believes that the uncertainty could affect the global economy’s recovery from the deep recession.

Sources: ANA-MPA, To Vima, Bloomberg

George Papandreou meets with Tsipras, says Greece should stay in Eurozone (VIDEO)

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras received the leader of the Movement of Democrats Socialists George Papandreou on Thursday in an unexpected meeting that raised a few eyebrows. Following the meeting, the man, who is responsible for placing Greece in the arms of the IMF, told reporters that it is a patriotic duty for Greece to maintain its achievements and stay in the hard core of Europe.

Papandreou also noted that Greece should not lose its membership in the Eurozone and then went on with diplomatic statements that favour a different Europe which in his view should be less conservative with more solidarity and democracy.

Prior to the meeting, a report on SKAI tv, had mentioned that the arrangements for the meeting were made a few weeks ago.

It should also be noted that the meeting was held only a few days after good old George appeared to publicly support the SYRIZA-ANEL government in the ongoing negotiations (or maybe until the PM went to Moscow...).

In other related news, prior to the meeting Papandreou had appeared on Kriti TV where he was highly critical of Evangelos Venizelos and Antonis Samaras. The man who destroyed the Greek economy and who has always worked against Greek interests, and who has never had the manhood to even apologize to the Greek people for what he has done, accused the former two of not supporting him and contributing towards his government being overthrown and the latter for avoiding the implementation of reforms.

In the same program he also urged the SYRIZA-ANEL government to work towards an “honest compromise” with the Troika and disregard the political cost, stressing that the Greek people must be aware that a large part of SYRIZA’s election pledges cannot be implemented.

(This is indeed laughable. He says this from experience because his government did exactly the same when it cleverly toppled the Costas Karamanlis government by promising the people of Greece everything but the kitchen sink.) 

Another hysterical point in this interview -which obviously caught our attention- is when Papandreou conceded that his only “mistake” while in government was not insisting on holding the referendum in 2011 when he was faced with the prospect of requesting assistance from the IMF. In his opinion, if the referendum was actually carried out, he would have the necessary popular mandate to carry out the changes and reforms that were required.

(Not surprisingly another series of ridiculous statements by a man who is probably the most loathed personality in Greece.)

Editor's Note: Μιλανε ολοι μιλανε και οι κωλοι



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Kontonis proposal on violence & corruption rejected by UEFA & FIFA

The legislative bill proposed by Deputy Minister of Sport Stavros Kontonis, that aims to address corruption and violence in Greek sports, was apparently rejected by both FIFA and UEFA. In a joint response, FIFA and UEFA’s general secretaries Jerome Valke and Gianni Infantino said that changes are necessary so that they can ensure that the Greek national team and domestic clubs are not excluded from international competitions.

Both FIFA and UEFA (quite suspiciously) object to the State having the right to ban Greek teams from international competitions, forcing clubs to implement electronic tickets at the risk of exclusion from competitions, as well as the suspension of “suspect” games, the appointment of a prosecutor for soccer (but not for other sporting events) and the State’s involvement in precautionary audits of the assets of referees.

In addition to this, they also claim that the responsibility for electronic tickets must be a concern of the owners of soccer stadiums and not the teams themselves.

However, they did agree on Kontonis’ initiative to tackle violence and allow the Sport Minister to impose fines on clubs over actions carried out by fans.

Read more about this case by clicking on the links below

Gov't will not tolerate violence in sports venues

AEK fans storm pitch attack Olympiakos soccer players (VIDEOS)

SPORTS MINISTER on Super League Suspension: We will not accept threats and blackmails


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Historic Golden Dawn trial to begin on Monday

The historic and unprecedented trial of party president Nikos Mihaloliakos and the leadership of his ultra-right Golden Dawn party - the first time since World War 2 that a Parliamentary party in Greece or on a global level is charged as a criminal organisation - is due to begin on Monday, in a specially adapted courtroom at the Korydallos prison facilities.

The choice of venue has sparked reactions from the municipal authority, which says the trial is going to seriously disrupt the Korydallos area and a large number of schools in the area, as well as lawyers and the media, who say the venue is too small and lacks the facilities they need to properly do their job, both to mount a defence and for its coverage.

Lawyers and the Greek and foreign journalists covering the trial note the complexity of the case, with 69 defendants on trial, more than 100 defence lawyers representing them and numerous attorneys representing civil suits in the case, as well as 130 witnesses for the prosecution alone.

The 69 defendants include all the MPs in Golden Dawn's previous Parliamentary group, who are going to face a Three-Justice Criminal Appeals court that is called on to decide whether the party is a Nazi formation with coordinated criminal action. The court's final ruling could also have repercussions on a political level, depending on whether the party is declared illegal or if the criminal activities of its members are judged to be "isolated incidents" unconnected to the party's choices.

Three of the defendants do not face charges for the key offence in the case - the murder of musician Pavlos Fyssas - but only on secondary charges. They include the wife of the main suspect for the stabbing George Roupakias, Margarita Mikelatou, who is only charged with perjury, Theodoros Stefas who is charged with illegal weapons possession and Anastasios Hilios, who is charged with weapons possession and with dealing and possession of drugs.

Also up on charges are two former Golden Dawn MPs, Stathis Boukouras and Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, who denounced the party and its practices during the course of the investigation, resigning from its Parliamentary group to become independents. In spite of this, Boukouras is still charged with leading a Golden Dawn 'attack squad' in the area of Corinth during racist attacks, while Alexopoulos is charged with "public hate rhetoric" against the democratic state and against groups targeted by the far right party as "racial or political enemies".

The judicial investigation into Golden Dawn's activities was launched after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by George Roupakias on September 18, 2013 in Keratsini (Piraeus), during an attack also involving other Golden Dawn supporters. An investigation of the incident showed that members of the party had coordinated their actions on that evening, instructing Roupakias to go to the location where Fyssas and his friends could be found. Acting on a letter sent by then public order minister Nikos Dendias, Supreme Court Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani ordered that the preliminary investigation expand to include a series of racist attacks that had been reported and had stagnated as isolated cases throughout Greece.

This led to a report by Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis describing Golden Dawn as an "active Nazi-type criminal organisation operating since 1987 to the present day with a military structure, hierarchy and branches throughout the country."

In September 2013 we witnessed the arrest and prosecution of Nikos Mihaloliakos and leading party members, many of whom were remanded in custody, and an investigation by examining magistrates lasting several months that produced a 700-page case against Golden Dawn, which was described as a well-organised group set up to commit illegal actions under the guise of a political party.

The case comes to trial with an Appeals Justices' Council indictment that also includes the minority opinion of Appeals Justice Nikos Salatas, who presented the case, raising questions about whether the criminal organisation charge is solidly supported by the evidence presented. (Some obviously believe that it is not.)

In addition to the Fyssas murder, the trial is also expected to investigate the party's role in the murder of a Pakistani worker, attacks on Communist Party of Greece (KKE) members in Perama, attacks on Egyptian fishermen, attacks on centres in the area of Ilioupoli (Athens), on the island of Crete and in other areas. The prosecution's proposal stresses the Nazi-type structure of the party, Mihaloliakos' leading role and the fact that its action peaked after 2012 when GD entered Parliament.

ANA-MPA

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Petition by 4 Germans to not stand trial for Siemens scandal rejected by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court's prosecution denied the petitions from four German nationals asking for the withdrawal of an indictment ordering them to stand trial for a Siemens kickbacks case. The petition was lodged by Roland Koch, Reinhard Herbert Siekaczek, Wolfgang Rudolph and Ludwig Anton Heinrich Jasper, (they are four of the 64 individuals that the Athens Appeals Justices' Council indicted in March over 'contract 8002').

The case concerns an agreement signed between Siemens and the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) for the digitalisation of the Greek company's call centres. The accused in connection with the case include former Siemens and OTE executives, who face charges of money laundering, offering and accepting bribes and acting as accomplices in the above acts.

According to the state news agency, the four had asked that the indictment be withdrawn on the grounds that it was inadequately justified, that they had not been given the public prosecutor's recommendation translated into German and that there was a violation of the principles of non self-incrimination and res judicata (meaning an issue on which a court has already ruled) since the case took into account past depositions taken in Germany and thus invalidated the process.

This did not convince Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis, who obviously disagreed with this argument.

The "8002 contract" is considered to be the biggest case of corruption involving large amounts of money over a long period of time. The investigation into the case began in 2006 by the then prosecutor for financial crimes Panagiotis Athanassiou after it was sent to be investigated by the conservative government of Costas Karamanlis.

(The overall scandal is of a "green sort" and there are many who point towards the previous PASOK party)

According to the report, the estimated 70 million euros in "n?tzliche Aufwendungen" or "useful expenses" - as the multinational company's officials referred to kickbacks - are considered a loss for the state, as the kickbacks were then rolled into the cost of implementing the project. The report specifically accused former OTE executives of not protecting the interests of the company and, in addition, of not acting based on the real needs of the company, which was a largely state-owned company at that time.

In a previous HellasFrappe report we had noted that of the 64 indicted, 19 face charges of active bribery aggravated by the provisions of the law for public-sector embezzlement, which is punishable by life imprisonment, as well as money laundering.

A further 14 defendants and former OTE executives are charged with passive bribery, also aggravated by the provisions of the law for public-sector embezzlement, and money-laundering.

Eight consultancy firm employees face charges as accessories in passive bribery, 14 are accused as direct accomplices in passive bribery and money-laundering, eight are accused as direct accomplices in active bribery and money laundering, and one woman is accused of money laundering.

Among the defendants is Thodoros Tsoukatos, an erstwhile advisor of former prime minister Costas Simitis, and senior Siemens executives Ilias Georgiou and Prodromos Mavridis, as well as two fugitive former Siemens executives with outstanding arrest warrants, Michalis Christoforakos, who has taken refuge in Germany, and Christos Karavellas.

Based on the Appeals Justices Council ruling, the charges against another 80 accused have been dropped, including Karavellas' family, who had been arrested when he fled the country.

To get a better understanding about this controversial case and all other issues related to Siemens scandals, HellasFrappe suggests that you also read:

Forgiving Siemens And German Corruption in Greece

SIEMENS Scandal - Ex-PASOK MP To Return Bribe So He Can Reduce Possible Sentence

BUSTED - Prosecutor indicts 64 people in Siemens bribe scandal

An Introduction And Analysis Of The Siemens and Ferrostaal Scandals

Mantelis Appears In Court Over Siemens Kickback Scandal But Trial Suspended Until Nov. 25th

Authorities Question Lavrentiadis Involvement With Siemens

SCANDAL - New Int'l Arrest Warrents Against ex-Siemens Exec's for Bribery

164 MPs Ratifiy Scandalous Settlement Agreement With Siemens


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Kammenos: Greece Could Become Mediator Between Russia, NATO

Greece could become a mediator in helping Russia mend its strained relations with NATO, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told Sputnik Wednesday.
     "Greece could play this role, and we would do our best. Although we are a small country, we actually have a cultural heritage and respect from both countries to play this role," Kammenos said.
The minister added that Greece had strong ties with Russia while also being a member state in both NATO and the European Union.

NATO accuses Russia of meddling in the ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, a claim the Kremlin vehemently denies.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed its concerns over NATO's growing presence in Eastern Europe near the Russian border.

Read more: Sputnik


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Gov't & President of POSPERT clash over ERT bill

The president of the National Federation of Television and Radio Employees (POSPERT) Panagiotis Kalfagiannis is not in agreement with the government’s bill that plans to restore the operation of public broadcasting service ERT. Kalfagiannis claims that it is “a tombstone for ERT” and has called on the government to reconsider its plans, while he also slammed his critics, namely SYRIZA parliamentary representative Nikos Filis.

It should be reminded that the previous coalition government (New Democracy/PASOK/DIMAR) shut down ERT as part of plan to restructure its services. Later on, a new public broadcasting service named NERIT emerged, which has repeatedly been criticized by many of the unionists and former employees of ERT.

One of SYRIZA's proclamations during the January 2015 general elections was to introduce a bill that would restore the operation of ERT.


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Tom Hanks' wife explains : Why Easter is (and always will be) Greek to Me

This is a republication of an article written by Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson for The Washington Post in 2007. The Greek American Actress and Film Director's words moved us and HellasFrappe wanted to pass it on to all of you to enjoy as much as we did.

by Rita Wilson
Washington Post, 2007

We don’t do bunnies. We don’t do chocolate. We don’t do pastels. Those are just some of the things that non-Greeks may not know about Greek Easter.

Once every few years, Greek Easter falls the same week as “American Easter,” as it was called when I was growing up.

In order for “Greek Easter” to be celebrated the same week as “American Easter,” Passover has to have been celebrated already. We Greeks don’t do Easter until after Passover, because how can you have Easter BEFORE Passover. Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, after all. Unless it is one of the years when the two holidays align. Like this year.

Here are some of the things that non-Greeks may not know about Greek Easter: We don’t do bunnies. We don’t do chocolate. We don’t do pastels.

We do lamb, sweet cookies, and deep red. The lamb is roasted and not chocolate, the sweet cookies are called Koulorakia and are twisted like a braid, and our Easter eggs are dyed one color only: blood red. There is no Easter Egg hunt. There is a game in which you crack your red egg against someone else’s red egg hoping to have the strongest egg, which would indicate you getting a lot of good luck.

Holy Week, for a Greek Orthodox, means you clear your calendar, you don’t make plans for that week at all because you will be in church every day, and you fast. Last year, in addition to not eating red meat and dairy before communion, my family also gave up sodas for the 40-day Lenten period.

During one particularly stressful moment, there were many phone calls amongst our kids as to whether or not a canned drink called TING, made with grapefruit juice and carbonated water was, in fact, a soda and not a juice, which our then 10-year-old decided it was, so we had a Ting-less Lent.

No matter where I find my self in the world I never miss Easter, or as we call it, Pascha. I have celebrated in Paris, London, New York City, Los Angeles, and in Salinas, California at a small humble church that was pure and simple.

When we were kids, our parents would take us, and now as parents ourselves we take our children to many of the Holy Week services including the Good Friday service where you mourn the death of Jesus by walking up to the Epitaphio, which reperesents the dead body of Christ, make your cross, kiss the Epitaphio, and marvel at how it was decorated with a thousand glorious flowers, rose petals and smells like incense.

Some very pious people will crawl under the Epitaphio. I have always been so moved to see this. There is no self- consciousness in this utter act of faith. There is no embarrassment to show symbolic sorrow at the death of our Saviour.

At a certain point in the Good Friday service, the Epitaphio is carried outside by the deacons of the church, as if they are pall bearers, followed by worshippers carrying lit candles protected from dripping on your clothes and on others by having a red plastic cup that sits below the flame to catch the wax drippings. Every Greek person knows all too well the smell of burning hair.

One time, in London, I smelled something and turned to look at where the smell might be coming from, only to be horrified that it was coming form me and my head was on fire. But I digress.

It is somber and quiet as we follow the Epitaphio, in candlelight, from the altar to the outdoors, in order for it to circle the church before it returns back to the altar. We sing beautiful lamentations that make your heart break with their pure expression of sadness and hope.

One of my favorite services during Easter is Holy Unction. This happens on the Wednesday of Holy Week. Holy Unction is a sacrament. It is for healing of our ills, physical and spiritual. It is preparing us for confession and communion. This sacrament has always been so humbling to me.

When you approach the priest for Holy Unction, you bow your head and as he says a prayer and asks you your Christian name, he takes a swab of blessed oil and makes the sign of the cross on your forehead, cheeks, chin, backs of your hands and palms. It is a powerful reminder of how, with faith, we can be healed in many ways.

The holy oil is then carefully dabbed with cotton balls provided by the church so you don’t leave there looking as if you’re ready to fry chicken with your face, and before you exit the church, you leave your cotton balls in a basket being held by altar boys, so as not to dispose of the holy oil in a less than holy place. The church burns the used cotton balls.

There have been times when I have left church with my cotton ball and have panicked when I am driving away. At home I take care of it. Imagine a grown woman burning cotton balls in her sink. But that is what I do.

Midnight Mass on Saturday night, going into Sunday morning is the Anastasi service. We will arrive at church at around 11 p.m., when it starts, and listen to the chanter as he chants in preparation for the service. My kids, dressed in their suits and having been awakened from a deep sleep to come to church, groggily sit and wait holding their candles with red cup wax catchers.

As the service progresses, the moment we have all been waiting for approaches. All the lights in the church are turned off. It is pitch black It is dead quiet. The priest takes one candle and lights his one candle from the one remaining lit altar candle, which represents the light of Christ’s love ( I believe).

From this one candle, the priest approaches the congregation and using his one candle he shares his light with a few people in the front pews. They in turn share their light with the people next to them and behind them. In quiet solemnity, we wait until the entire church is lit with only the light of candles, the light that has been created by one small flame has now created a room of shared light.

And at a moment that can only be described as glorious, the priest cries out, “Xristos Anesti!” “Christ is Risen!” We respond with “Alithos Anesti!” “Truly, He is Risen!” We sing our glorious Xristos Anesti song with the choir. That moment, which happens about an hour, to an hour and half into the service and seems as if the service is over, actually marks the beginning of the service. The service then continues for another hour and a half.

When I was a kid, after the service was over, we would go to the Anastasi Dinner that the church would throw in the church hall, where we would break our fast, drink Cokes at 2:30 in the morning, dance to a raucous Greek band and not go home until our stomachs were full of lamb, eggs, Koulouraki, and we saw the sun rise. Or was it the Son rise?

But usually now, after Midnight Mass, we drive home with our still-lit candles. I always love seeing the looks on peoples faces as they pull up to our car seeing a family with lit candles calmly moving at 65 m.p.h. down the highway. When we get home, we crack eggs, eat cookies, drink hot chocolate (so not Greek) and I burn a cross into our doorways with the carbon from the candle smoke to bless our house for the year.

There have been many times when painters touching up the house have wondered why there was this strange black cross burned into our doorways. The next day is usually followed by a late sleep in, then getting up and doing the same thing you just did but in the daytime at the Easter Picnic, usually held at a local park.

I have to say, the Greeks know how to do Easter. Make no mistake. This is the most important holiday in our church. It is a beautiful week. I haven’t even begun to touch on what the week is really like. This is a sampling of a sampling of what it is like. It is so much more deep, so much richer than I have written here.

But one thing is clear. It is a powerful, beautiful, mysterious, humbling, healing and moving week. It is filled with tradition and ritual. It is about renewal and faith. And even though it is still too early to say, Xristos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!


April 15, 2015

FLAMBOURARIS: I don't think SYRIZA will hold early elections (maybe a referendum) - VIDEO

It does not hurt to ask the Greek people over historic decisions, State Minister Alekos Flambouraris on Wednesday told ANT1 TV regarding a possible referendum.
     "We got a mandate two months ago, we will implement it, we don't need elections," he added.
     "I don't think we should go to elections," he said and noted: "In case of an impasse, we could also consider the possibility of a referendum. It does not hurt to ask the Greek people over historic decisions."
Referring to the negotiations, he spoke of a "tough battle, which will be won," and reiterated that the government will not back down on "issues which led the country to its present tragic situation."
     "The issue is not whether this will be delayed by a week or 10 days but to have an agreement," he said and expressed his optimism over the reaching of an agreement with the lenders.
He stressed that "there are points of compromise" in the proposals submitted to the partners and commenting on the reports that lenders disagree with Athens' proposals, he said this is news "circulated by several media, which is also reproduced by Greek media."

He insisted "there is no way the lenders would not back down" and explained that "Europe's sovereign powers have not decided to break the Union apart. On what grounds will it be Greece to leave and not Italy or France. This will be costly."

However, he ruled out the possibility of the government causing an accident saying that "the popular mandate for a solution within the euro" was very clear.

On the migration issue, he noted that "the refugee issue is a comprehensive issue of Europe that we need to resolve together."
     "The Greece of the crisis cannot take all the war refugees," he stressed and added: "No one is telling us what should be done with those people."
Referring to a possible temporary solution, he said the proper conditions should be created so that these people can stay here for a while.


ANT1. ANA-MPA

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ALERT - More than 100,000 migrants expected to illegally enter Greece in 2015 (VIDEO)

While the world concentrates on what is happening with the Greek economy, the far-leftist forces in SYRIZA are putting the final end to the previous government's police operation which successfully curbed the flow of illegal immigration into Greece. As announced by Minister of Immigration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou earlier this week, more than 100,000 migrants will illegally cross into Greece this year alone and according to her, Greece will cater to all their needs.

Speaking on MEGA Tv, Christodoulopoulou said that currently there is a funding gap and Athens is submitting proposals to the European Commission in order to get emergency aid to deal with the problem. She insisted on calling the migrants refugees because, as she pointed out, by doing so, the Greek government can get migration funding from the EU.

(HellasFrappe personally believes that she insists on baptizing them refugees and encourages us the people to follow suit because it suits SYRIZA's open boarder policies which are not in Greece's interests.)

As such, the government plans to adopt emergency measures to deal with this anticipated new wave of migrants. A government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was held on Tuesday, on this very issue with the government stressing that it was "above all a humanitarian issue."
     "Recently, an increased influx of refugees has been observed for the same reasons that, at the same exact period, there has been a strongly rising trend of refugee influx to Italy as well," government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said, after the meeting on Tuesday.
     "From the initial records, it appears that the motive of the majority of these people is not financial hardship, but an immediate threat to their lives," Sakellaridis said.
He added that in the meeting it was decided that:
  • Newly-arrived migrants will be transported from the islands to mainland Greece, where authorities will distinguish between migrants and refugees.
  • Syrian refugees who qualify for asylum will be given all necessary documents immediately.
  • A plan was approved to create special covered areas in camps and existing facilities where all necessary medical examinations will be carried out and all health and safety rules observed.
  • In view of the EU Summit and the relevant ministerial council meeting, the government will carry out all necessary actions in order to manage in the framework of European solidarity the influx of migrants and refugees to Europe and to ensure the proportionate distribution of refugees among all EU countries.
According to the government spokesman the refugee issue is international, not just Greek.
     "It requires seriousness, calmness and above all a humanitarian attitude. At this point, political games and gratuitous populism with human lives is unacceptable."
Ministers attending Tuesday's meeting on migration issues included Interior and Administration Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis, Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis, Alternate Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou, Admiral Athanassios Athanassopoulos from the Port Authority, a deputy chief of the Port Authority (Nikolaos Patrinos), and a special counsellor to the European Commissioner on Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Commenting on this new threat to our economy and especially our nation (which is suffering greatly on all fronts from the already existing numbers of illegal migrants -most of whom are in Athens-), National Defense Panos Kammenos said that he estimated that the migration problem is “too huge” and that Greece is unable to cope with the number of migrants and refugees from the Middle East. He told ANT1 tv in one interview that “the wars in the Middle East will cause thousands to migrate, but that this issue is not just a Greek problem.
     "It is one thing to say I will close the entrance and another to see the sea filled with children. The EU must accept that they are refugees who cannot remain on the islands”.
Kammenos also noted that the recent waves of migration are raising health concerns while he stressed that funding should go towards the construction of hospitality facilities, rather than to FRONTEX (which has so far battled against smugglers).

Kammenos did say that these facilities should not be constructed on the islands since this would only encourage human traffickers to continue with business as usual. He also called for stricter penalties on human trafficking.

The Minister of National Defense also called on the European Union to pressure the Turkish government to respect and implement the Dublin Regulation.

Finally, Kammenos claimed that his comments regarding jihadists heading to Germany, should Greece not stabilize, were misconstrued and explained that his comments were not meant to be taken as a threat, but rather a description of a reality, due to the sharp rise of migration.

Nonetheless, the migration wave to Greece from the Turkish coast continues unabated. Over the past few days hundreds of immigrants crossed into Greece illegally.

In fact, in the first three months of 2015, more than 10,445 migrants illegally entered Greece via sea, (who knows how many crossed over by land). In March alone more than 6,498 migrants were found to have crossed over through the Eastern Aegean.

It is quite interesting to also note that after SYRIZA came to government and until the end of March, the number of migrants that entered Greece illegally increased three-fold compared to the first three months of 2014.

The islands that have received the greatest waves of migration are Mytilene, with about 4,500 migrants currently held there, followed by Chios, Leros and Samos.

Editor's Note: It is more than certain that traffickers will stop at nothing to conduct business as usual, but if FRONTEX is not supported then we here at HellasFrappe suspect that we will see the 100,000 figure skyrocket. This statement was a MAJOR FAIL and Panos Kammenos should never have made it. Also important to note: The far-leftist forces in SYRIZA have always followed an open boarder ideology and some of these forces openly rally for migrants all across Greece. In previous reports we have presented hard information from various sources such as television news reports, statements, analysis, etc., that proves that these very same migrant organizations are trafficking their own people and making billions of euros from this activity -which we all know is undeclared capital-. HellasFrappe truly believes that if SYRIZA presses ahead with the reforms that the Troika desires it will lose its popularity with the people and therefore will look elsewhere for support. This is why we support the theory that they will nationalize these illegal immigrants -by baptizing them refugees- so that they can stay in the political game. This is not only unconstitutional, illogical and ridiculous, it is also dangerous. Let us not forget the threats that have already been made from extremists in some radicalized Middle Eastern nations against Europeans, and let us not forget the countless stories that have been featured on HellasFrappe that literally warn us of this trafficking industry's dangers. We truly believe that the Greek people will not tolerate this threat, and we fear that as it evolves, so will the extreme far right. In fact we believe that the extreme rights's popularity will skyrocket and the only thing that this will achieve is dividing our people even more. Another civil war? Stay tuned Frappers.

Sources: MEGA Tv, ANT1 tv, YouTube, ANA-MPA, enikos, To Vima


, ,

Conspiracy or Truth - Putin Emergence As “Last Hope For World” Shocks West

CLICK ON BOLD LINKS TO CROSS REFERENCE ARTICLE WITH MAINSTREAM NEWS

The Presidential Office (PO) in the Kremlin today is reporting that President Putin has “shocked” the capitols of the West, and their propaganda media organs, by his emerging as the top vote getter in a global poll conducted by Time Magazine as to whom the most popular and beloved person in the world is.

The RT News Service in their reporting about this unprecedented failure of the massive propaganda efforts to demonize Russia and President Putin by Western governments and their media stooges further stated:
     “Putin - the only world leader to rank in the top 10 - grabbed the global spotlight from the leading divas of pop music: Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Taylor Swift (2.6 percent, 1.9 percent and 1.8 percent of the votes, respectively).
     Meanwhile, aside from Putin, the only non-celebrities to appear in the top 10 were the Dalai Lama (1.7 percent), Pakistani female activist Malala Yousafzai (1.6 percent) and Pope Francis (1.5 percent).
     President Barack Obama narrowly missed the top 10 with 1.4 percent of the votes, while First Lady Michele Obama attracted 1.2 percent. Putin’s victory appears all the more incredible when you realize that more than half the votes — 57.38 percent — were cast inside the United States.”
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov in publically commenting on this historic affirmation of President Putin’s global efforts for peace also stated:
      “The fact that the president is one of the most popular, well-known and respected politicians in the world is obvious. This leadership has been recorded by a number of media outlets — this is also an obvious fact.”
Even more than his global popularity though, this report continues, is the devotion shown to President Putin by the citizens of the Motherland, who even while enduring the illegal and unjust sanctions put upon the Federation by the West, back him by an 86% margin during this historic standoff with the West for his advocating of peace, instead of war…and as, perhaps, best said in his own words: “Sometimes it is necessary to be lonely in order to prove that you are right.”

And to how right President Putin has been in advocating global peace, this report notes, the United States and its Western allies, by contrast, have over the past 14 years initiated failed wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Africa, Ukraine, and now Yemen, endangering the lives of over 500 million innocent human beings…and which up to 2011 when they stopped counting, had cost nearly 250,000 lives and $4 trillion.

At the exact same time that President Putin has sought to stop the West’s warmongering, this report adds, the US and EU have continued their unprecedented buildup of massive military forces all around the Federations borders, while at the same time comically accusing him of wanting to recreate the former Soviet Union…a situation made even more laughable when viewed in the context of Putin’s own words: “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.”

But not to President Putin’s “brain” have the Western power elites focused their attention upon, this report points out, put towards their own people whom they’ve really believed their propaganda was having an effect upon…but which this global Time Magazine poll clearly shows otherwise.

And to the greatest effect President Putin has had, and as the world looks to him now as their last hope of peace, this report concludes, was his showing to the entire planet the hypocrisy of the United States this past November (2014) when after the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee passed the Federations proposed resolution condemning attempts to glorify Nazism ideology and denial of German Nazi war crimes…the US, Canada and Ukraine became the only countries in the world to vote against it.

Note: Other Conspiracy or Truth articles that have been posted by Hellasfrappe analyzing the crisis In Ukraine, Russian-EU relations, the revival of the Cold War, the mystery surrounding the Malaysian plane disappearance, the geopolitical events that are unfolding in the East Med and Europe as well as all the threats that were made from the Saudis to the Russians, etc -and how all these stories more or less tie into one another-  include:
  1. Russia Issues Warning: “Most Dangerous Time In History Now At Hand”
  2. Top Russian Spy Boris Nemtsov Gunned Down In Moscow
  3. Within Hours of Charlie Hebdo Massacre French Police Commissioner "Suicided" After Attempting To Issue Murder Warrant
  4. Russian Forces Kill 8 CIA Agents In Massive Grozny Gun Battle
  5. Putin Orders Troops To Wartime Bunker; Warns “Global War Is Near”
  6. Ukraine Blitzkrieg - Putin Vows He Won’t Let Nazis Win
  7. Russian Navy Rushes To Australia Over Putin Assassination Fears 
  8. Putin Issues Feared “Dead Hand” Order As Global War Nears
  9. Bloodstained CIA Hands All Over Malaysian Plane Destruction Reports Russia 
  10. Germany Races To Stop US-Backed July Terror Attack 
  11. Power Plays by Rothschilds, Rockellers leave Putin on the defensive 
  12. Obama Order To Execute 175 Saudi Arabian Homosexuals 
  13. Putin Responds After Obama Orders Atomic Bombs To Europe 
  14. Moscow Astounded As Top Mob Boss Becomes Ukraine Leader 
  15. Putin Orders Feared Alpha Troops To Ukraine, Declares “Red War” 
  16. US Refuses To Take Back 13 Dead CIA Spies Killed In Ukraine 
  17. Armageddon Warned Near As Russia Orders “All-Out War” On Petrodollar 
  18. Ukraine “Rape-Murder” Squads Approved By Obama Horrifies Russia  
  19. US Spy Drone Shot Down Over Northern Fleet Base Alarms Russia 
  20. Furious Putin Orders “Project Double Eagle” To Destroy US, EU Economies 
  21. Malaysia Flight 370 Pilot Confirmed As CIA “Asset” As Plane Exploded Over Indian Ocean
  22. Russia “Puzzled” Over Malaysia Airlines “Capture” By US Navy
  23. Obama In Shock After US Oil Giant Sides With Putin; Declares “No Ukraine War
  24. Was Ukraine’s Gold Reserves Secretely Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?
  25. Putin In “Fury” After Saudis Brand Obama Regime Terrorist Organization
  26. Putin Orders Massive War Moves To Protect Iraq After Saudi Threats
  27. Putin Orders Largest Air Defense Drill In History As War Fears Accelerate
  28. Putin Orders Russian Troops And Ministries To Atomic Shelters Over NATO Threat Of War
  29. 800,000 Ukrainian Refugees Flood Into Russia As Nazi Forces Continue Eastern March
  30. Putin Sends Feared Shock Troops, Division Into Ukraine, Warns Obama Is “Unstable”
  31. Putin Orders Military Alert To Defend Ukraine Against Western-Backed Fascists
  32. Ukrainian Mob Call To “Kill All Jews” Horrifies Russia
  33. Russian Threat Of War Over Ukraine Stuns Obama
  34. US In “Shock And Turmoil” After Snowden Info Lets Russia Tap Top Obama Officials,
WhatDoesItMean.Com


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