On tourism, Skopelos, Tsipras, elections
Greece could become the China in Europe
Last year I visited the Cordoba area in southern Spain and went to look at a factory that manufactures equipment. This area is known to be a furniture manufacturer centre of excellence, or should I say it used to be. It seems that the majority of factories have closed. Why? Because employment costs grew too high, it is now cheaper to manufacture in Asia and even with the cost of importing the furniture into Europe, it’s still cheaper. You may wonder why there is 20% unemployment in Spain. It is simple: the core manufacturing plants that kept the Spanish economy going have gone to Asia. Greece will soon leave the Euro and go bankrupt. After this happens it will start up its own currency, which will work out to be valued way below the Euro. Greece could then start manufacturing competitively. They have the expertise, they have the factories and, the ace card, they have the location. They could get out of the horrible situation they are in quicker than a lot of people think.
Appalling situation in Skopelos
Greek civil servants would rather see Greeks go hungry than collect taxes from foreigners who are queuing up to pay them....
I lived in Greece, on the island of Skopelos, for 7 years. For various reasons I had to return to the UK last year, leaving a house for sale. I was lucky enough to receive an offer for my house last October from a Swiss couple. Their bank agreed to lend them the money to buy it (120,000 euros). They wanted a holiday house -- they are both teachers and planned to have their holidays on Skopelos and spend money there -- as we are all being encouraged to do.
In December I was told that all the paperwork was ready and we could sign in January. On the 1st January this year I travelled to Skopelos and my buyers travelled from Switzerland to Skopelos. On the day we were due to sign we were told we could not, because the house needed a legalisation certificate. At some time in the past -- before I bought it -- a small part of the house which was marked on the topography as an ’avli’ (courtyard) had been roofed over and a bathroom put in it. This part was now illegal, and a fine had to be paid. However, because Skopelos town is a protected area, a special committee had to be formed to look at pictures of the house and agree that it could be legalised, if it did not look out of place. Given that the house had been like this for probably 20+ years, long before I bought it, no-one thought this would be a problem. But the house couldn’t be sold without the certificate. The Swiss couple agreed to wait and we all went home empty-handed.
That was 5 months ago, in January. I am still waiting for the committee to be formed and to issue my certificate. I travelled to Skopelos again in May to try to get something happening. My Greek lawyer has been trying. I have written to the Ministry for the Environment, who have intervened but have now given up. My buyers withdrew their offer at the end of May and demanded the return of their money, which was being held in a Greek bank. They have been paying interest on the loan since January so I can’t blame them. I am hoping that if I can get this certificate quickly, they may still buy my house -- although no-one could blame them if they bought in Italy instead.
The thing I am struggling to understand is that they were going to pay about 16,000 euros in fees and charges. I was going to pay a 4,000 euro fine, plus estate agent and lawyer fees, engineer fees etc. At least 20,000 euros straight into the Greek economy! And more, in taxes paid by the lawyers etc, and the money the Swiss people would spend! But the Greek civil servants, who are so keen to strike to protect their own interests, cannot, in the space of 5 months, form a committee of 3 people to issue a certificate. And in the meantime, there are begging baskets in the supermarkets of Skopelos!
Am I really the only person who finds this appalling? In Skopelos I was met with shrugs and ”Ti na kanoume” and ”You can’t hurry Greek bureaucracy”. I believe that if you don’t start hurrying you are going to lose the goodwill and sympathy of the rest of Europe.
Mr Tsipras insists EU needs Greece
So Mr Tsipras insists the EU needs Greece. Could Mr Tsipras and the rest of the Syriza beauties (tsoupres) enlighten us as to how he arrived at this conclusion?
Let me remind him that after over half a century of observing and analyzing political situations, I have come to the conclusion that the unthinkable does not exist in politics!
Furthermore, let me remind him of a German proverb: ”Better a calamitous ending than an endless calamity”. I leave the German version to your German speaking readers. As I am writing this, I am wondering if this proverb is not front and centre in the minds of German Ministers.
Lastly, I turn to classical Greece: ”whom the Gods wish to destroy they first turn mad”. I leave the Greek version to your Greek readers.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The days after
There are all kinds of post-election scenarios, but here is one that is absolutely 100% guaranteed: SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsras said in his speech on Tuesday that Greece did not need its military alliances though pulling out of NATO will not be his government’s priority. He added that he would form a ”left” government that would include the communist KKE. If Tsipras tries to form a government with the communists, much less actually forms one, the Greek army will move and this time it will be the generals, not the colonels. That is 100%. There is, I think, a 50% chance at this point that the army would move against a SYRIZA majority government as well. In this scenario, the main question is what would Europe do? A suspension of Greece’s membership in the EU would almost be inevitable.
Government spending in Greece on the tourism industry
Does anyone know how much was spent by the Greek Government on tourism advertising this year?
I run a small business in North Western Crete and every day we have Greek military F-16s flying low-level circles over the beaches and tavernas. It begins at 8.30 in the morning and continues until 10 at night.
Could anyone put an estimate on what this costs in monetary terms and in damage to the tourism industry?
We have also read that Greek politicians spent 60 million Euros on the first election campaign and they intend to spend “only” 40 million Euros on the coming election.
Until money is allocated to promote the assets that Greece has, the decline in tourism numbers will continue.