Greek citizens may suffer, but the country’s defence armoury is inviolate
Reversing rapidly away from pledges to try and hold out against more austerity measures, the Athens government of Antonis Samaras is now looking at further cuts in pensions, health care and nursery schools. But already highly-paid military officers remain 100% untouched by salary reductions. The same is true of tax collectors, and even more of those working in the Greek Treasury and legal departments – who have seen rises in both pay and benefits since last January. As with every society, the powerful pay less.
Word reaches me now that Prime Minister Samaras is disappointed in his Ministers’ failure to drive the Troika tank of socio-economic destruction forward. To date, they have only agreed on (not made) €5.6 billion of deeper cuts…roughly 40% of what the Troikanauts are demanding….the continuation of which ensures that German exports will flourish.
Yet despite this dilemma of trying to squeeze ten litres out of a Krono beer bottle, Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos has told Prime Minister Samaras that there will not be any cuts in the “special salaries” received by military personnel….or else. Samaras has meekly acquiesced in face of this ultimatum. In January 2012, despite the country’s doctors treating emergencies only, chronic shortages of medication, pharmacies unpaid, and bus drivers on strike, the Greek government remained the largest buyer of German weapons in the World.
Everyone from Zero Hedge to Kathimerini fears this kind of thing may presage a military coup – or at the very least signal the continuing hegemony of the armed forces in Greek politics. But myself, I’m not so sure. What Panayiotopoulos and the officer class recognise (and trade upon) is the growing strategic importance of Greece in South eastern Europe. Be it for the protection of rare and precious metals and energy sources, or the provision of a bulwark against Turkish, Russian or Chinese expansionism, Athens knows that either Berlin or Washington is determined to wind up with a Greece bristling with the very latest in military armoury. And quietly in the background, Mossad too is providing reliable assurances of military generosity to the Hellenic Republic.
Whatever Greece does, for the foreseeable future it will remain the victim of banker power and the geopolitical ambitions of others. My view is still that the rejection of EU pauperisation in favour of American and Israeli investment is by far the best route for Greece – both as a sovereign debtor or a nation of put-upon citizens. But the all-powerful corruption of Venizelos, Samaras and Brussels stands in the way of that happier outcome.
Meanwhile, Antonis Samaras continues to look for €12bn of savings in a country already running on empty. Debt inspectors from the Troika are due to return to Athens next week. There will be more confusing noises. But not a single Greek Government politician will call the bluff of Berlin-am-Brussels, the Troika/EU Commission dithering will continue, and the North-South divide in the eurozone will enlarge still further.
There is, as always, a horrible inevitability to it all.