Greece Mafia: Less healthcare, but Greece is still buying guns

, November 7, 2011

The Independent
Less healthcare, but Greece is still buying guns
Greeks furious at ‚intact‘ arms spending as eurozone leaders insist on cuts to their public services
Roxane McMeeken

Sunday 06 November 2011

As Greece is forced by European leaders to abandon a referendum to allow the people the chance to vote on its latest bailout conditions, the country is preparing for yet another dose of austerity.

The conditions of the next €130bn rescue package will be severe, yet there is an elephant in the room: the extent to which the German but also the French military industries rely on Greece.

The small, crisis-hit nation, whose prime minister, George Papandreou, narrowly survived a vote of confidence on Friday, buys more German weapons than any other country. Some Greeks want to know why it is that France and Germany are demanding cuts in pensions, salaries and public services, but the buying of arms is allowed to continue unabated.

Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at Athens University, says: „When Greek hospitals are running out of bandages, the only bit of the budget not being attacked by the EU and IMF is military expenditure.“

Greece is the highest military spender, in terms of percentage of GDP, in the EU. Professor Varoufakis adds: „Greece is a disproportionately crucial customer for the arma-ments industry. In comparison to Greece’s size, it’s preposterous.“

Despite its dire financial straits, the country’s military expenditure has risen during the global financial crisis. It spent €7.1bn in 2010, compared with €6.24bn in 2007.

Some 58 per cent of Greece’s military expenditure in 2010 went to Germany, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

The US is the major beneficiary of Greek military expenditure, with the Americans supplying 42 per cent of its arms. In second and third place are Germany, with 22.7 per cent, and then France, with 12.5 per cent.

Professor Varoufakis believes: „The EU and IMF keep giving loans to Greece to stop it going bankrupt, but countries such as Germany need to justify this to voters, hence the demand for spending cuts. But with Greece being such a crucial arms customer, it only takes a phone call to the German government from an armaments manufacturer to ensure that Greece’s military budget stays intact.“

Greece’s defence budget is historically high due to the perceived threat from neighbouring Turkey. Arms companies have benefited by playing the two sides off against each other. Professor Varoufakis says: „Typically, one side buys, say, a frigate, and then the other buys the same frigate – with the only difference being the colour of the paint.“

However, critics in Greece argue that, as an EU member, Greece should be guaranteed protection from Turkey by its more powerful allies. Although the EU is not a military alliance, common sense suggests that Greece could reasonably expect support if it was attacked by Turkey.

Kostas Panagopoulos, co-head of the Greek polling agency Alco, says: „We have had a huge military spend for the 40 years since the junta, due to our issues with Turkey. But people are saying we must change our priorities. I believe Germany and France are pressuring Greece to keep spending. It is not clear if it is part of the bailout deal – it is a hidden issue.“

Greece’s importance for the military exports of both countries is clear from a closer look at data from Sipri. During the five years up to the end of 2010, Greece purchased more of Germany’s arms exports than any other country, buying 15 per cent of its weapons. Over the same period, Greece was the third-largest customer for France’s military exports, and its top buyer in Europe, with 12 per cent. In that time, only 1 per cent of UK arms sales went to Greece, all of which were in 2010.

As their government kept snapping up guns and ammo, ordinary Greeks suffered through the cuts. Yiorgos Droggitis, 30, has not been paid for almost two months. An administrator for one of Greece’s debt-laden local authorities, Haidari, in north-east Athens, Droggitis says his finances are increasingly stretched: „One day, over the summer, I did not even have 80 cents to buy bread.“

To top it all, Droggitis is only now able to open the windows of his apartment after several weeks during which the street where he lives was strewn with stinking rubbish due to refuse collectors being on strike.

He is among those angry that the EU is demanding cuts in Greece at that same time as selling the country billions of euros-worth of weapons. He says: „Germany and France are telling us to take these cuts to our health and education systems, but we keep buying their weapons.“

Pavlos Spanakis, 67, a retired civil engineer in Athens, has seen his state pension cut a second time, bringing it to 80 per cent of what it was two years ago. He sighs: „The austerity measures have gone too far and we cannot afford more cuts. We must improve in other ways – and one would be for the EU to protect us from Turkey so our defence budget can be smaller.“

Turkey ratifies railway agreement to integrate with Balkan states

Turkey ratifies railway agreement to integrate with Balkan states


The railway deal aims to significantly reduce travel times, improve passenger and freight transport and increase competitiveness.

By Tzvetina Borisova and Alakbar Raufoglu for Southeast European Times — 08/11/11


The regional railway would cover all of Southeast Europe. [Reuters]

With the goal of creating a high performance railway network to connect countries in Southeast Europe, Turkey ratified an agreement as part of the Southeast European Co-operation Process in late-October.

The deal, signed in Thessaloniki in May 2006, vows to significantly reduce travel times between countries in the region, improve the quality of passenger and freight transport, and increase the competitiveness of railway transport in the Balkans.

It also pledges to deal with costly border delays by eliminating requirements to have trains stop for customs and passport controls. Instead, appropriate controls would be conducted during the journey.

The planned network will cover the region with 16 transportation axes, carrying commercial goods at speeds of up to 130 km/h, with plans to increase speeds to 160 km/h and 220 km/h where possible by 2020.

Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Montenegro and Moldova are all included in the planned network.

Officials in Ankara, which ratified the deal on October 28th, say the high-speed railway network project „sounds more beneficial now than it did years ago“.

„Everyone in our region — from east to west, from Asia to Europe — can benefit from it,“ the Turkish Parliament’s Transportation Commission Chairman Idris Gulluce said. „An efficient transport system is essential to the economic and social advancement of both Turkey and the Southeast European countries.“

„[Southeastern Europe] is now facing the realities of the global economic crisis, while in the Asian part of the world, people fight against the hardships of restricted freedoms. Turkey, being in the middle of the two, tries to connect and help both,“ he added.

Turkey’s former Transportation Minister Oktay Vural, on the other hand, argues that the participating governments must be more organised and make sure the project is financially justifiable.

„Years ago we had lots of railroad drafts [projects] with regards to connecting Europe and Asia, but years pass, and those become more expensive,“ he explained, adding that a consortium must be created by the participating countries.


Radical Islamists See an Opening in Bosnia – inkompetent High Representative Valentin Inzko

update: 08.11.2013
10 May 2011 / 11:06

Inzko Confers With US Officials on Action in Bosnia

March 2013 Archives Go Back

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 01, 2013
Radical Islamists See an Opening in Bosnia

TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Nearly 20 years after the guns fell silent in Bosnia-Herzegovnia, a growing number of the country’s Muslims have become frustrated with the democratic path their country has taken.

And that frustration is being exploited by Islamists.

Unlike ethnic Croats and Serbs in Bosnia, Muslim Bosniaks receive no economic, political, or moral support from neighboring countries.

Many Bosniaks feel alone in their effort to forge and maintain their own identity and political institutions. And increasingly, the argument that Shari’a law — and not democracy — is the answer for Bosnia is getting a broader hearing.

„Unlike secularism and democracy, we say there is only one truth — law of Allah and Shari’a,“ Nusret Imamovic, the leader of Bosnia’s radical Wahhabi community, told a standing-room-only crowd of some 500 people — almost all of them young Muslim men — at a posh hotel in the city of Tuzla earlier this week. „And it wants the people to accept that truth and surrender to that truth. Does Allah have right to request that? Well, He is the holder and the owner of everything.“

Not About Religion

The event — „The Advantage Shari’a And The Failure Of Democracy“ — was billed as a „summit.“ Although no resolutions or statements were adopted, the well-attended and highly visible meeting was a troubling sign for some in Tuzla, which has generally been known for its moderation and tolerance. Residents are proud that the city’s Serbian Orthodox church was unscathed during the war.

But surprisingly, only about 30 people gathered outside the hotel to protest the meeting.

„My point of view is that democracy died in Germany [in the 1930s] when they allowed the extremists to rule. And this is pure extremism,“ one young protester told RFE/RL’s Balkan Service. „This has nothing to do with Islam or religion.“

Bosnia is one of the poorest countries in Europe. It is still contending with deep ethnic and religious divisions left over from the disastrous war of the 1990s. It inherited a fragile, often unworkable government structure from the war-ending 1995 Dayton accords.

„This country has for 20 years been in a state of institutionalized temporariness and temporary solutions,“ Vlado Azinovic, a Sarajevo-based security expert and former RFE/RL journalist who has written a book on whether Al-Qaeda has a presence in Bosnia, says. „And as long as it stays like that, as long as we are facing a deep political and moral crisis of all values in society, it will remain a fertile ground for the spread of various radical ideologies, among which [radical Islam] has stood out recently.“

At the event in Tuzla, Imamovic was joined on the podium by Bilal Bosnic, an equally uncompromising Islamist and critic of democracy.

„In a democracy, one only has the right to say, ‚Yes, I agree‘ — the right to approve of whatever is served up to you,“ said Bosnic. „But, you know, a human being should not bow his head before anybody but the creator — our Allah.“

Both Imamovic and Bosnic were educated in the Middle East.

Gaining A Foothold?

Mevlid Jasarevic, who is serving an 18-year prison term for firing shots at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in October 2011, spent the months before the attack in Imamovic’s Islamist community of Gornja Maoca in northeastern Bosnia.

Just a few years ago, their kind of radicalism was truly a fringe phenomenon with little traction among Bosnia’s Muslims. The official Islamic Community was headed by respected moderate Mustafa Ceric until he stepped down in the summer of 2012.

While the loss of Ceric’s prestige has weakened the Islamic Community’s authority, some analysts argue that his advocacy of Bosniak nationalism and his criticism of the post-Dayton system in Bosnia also created a potential foothold for more extremist views.

This week the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a long report calling Islamism and nationalism in Bosnia a „dangerous tango.“ While the ICG report stresses that Wahhabist movements in Bosnia are small and fragmented, it adds that the environment in the country is conducive to their growth.

The ICG report notes, for example, that the mandate and the budget of the municipal government in Mostar have expired. But the city, which is divided between Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats, was unable to hold elections as expected in 2012. If the stalemate is not broken soon, public services may grind to a halt, providing a vivid demonstration of the kind of „failure“ of democracy that the Tuzla Wahhabists were exploiting.

‚Vulnerable Society‘

For now, however, experts are divided on the urgency of the threat posed by Bosnian Islamists. Bosnian sociologist Srdjan Vukadinovic says Wahhabism is a „retrograde movement“ that has no historical record of achieving anything „good or progressive.“ He argues Bosniaks have already rejected this path.

Vehid Sehic, of the NGO Forum of Tuzla, is not so sanguine, saying that the country has been dragged down by the siren song of intolerance in the past.

„In the 1990s, when ideas emerged urging intolerant behavior toward others, we said, ‚They are fools; it’s nothing,'“ Sehic says. „However, they quickly moved from graffiti and pens to a situation in which hundreds of thousands became victims. So I am not among those who look at these current messages in an uncritical way, because in the present vulnerable Bosnian society they are very dangerous.“

After describing violations of Bosnia’s Dayton Peace Agreement to UN members, the top international envoy to Bosnia is set to meet US officials to gain support for further action.

06 May 2011 / 19:24

ICG Warns of Bosnia Crisis

The International Crisis Group, a leading think tank, has warned that Bosnia faces its worst crisis since the end of the war in 1995.

05 May 2011 / 16:10

Inzko ‚Postpones‘ Decision on Bosnian Serb Referendum

Bosnia’s high representative has postponed a decision to annul a Serb referendum that challenges the state court and prosecutor, Balkan Insight has learned.


„Bosnia in worst crisis since war“

NEW YORK — High representative Valentin Inzko has said in Washington that Bosnia is undergoing the worst crisis since the end of the war in 1995.


Valentin Inzko (file)

Valentin Inzko (file)

The referendum on the Bosnia Court and Prosecutor’s Office called by the Serb entity in the post-war Bosnia, the Serb Republic (RS), was „a part“ of that crisis, according to the Austrian diplomat.

„It has been 7 months since the elections and the country still has no government, while the RS has called a unilateral referendum against the decisions of the courts and the high representative,“ Inzko said during a lecture at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

According to him, the RS referendum must not be allowed to happen and destroy the achievements of the last 15 years. He warned that he would make his decision on the issue at the right moment.

Inzko stressed that he was not against the referendum as a notion, but that it had to fit a certain legal framework, meaning that the issues important for the whole country could not be decided in just one part of it.

This is the greatest challenge to the Dayton peace agreement since its signing and it is time the international community dealt with the situation, Inzko underlined.

The international community is united more than ever right now, he noted, adding that he had received support from all members of the UN Security Council when it comes to the referendum.


Without sanctions for RS, Dodik ready to ease tension

BELGRADE – ‘There is no chance that the UN Security Council enforces sanctions against the Republic of Srpska and its President Milorad Dodik. Firstly, Russia would not allow it and China probably as well’, Fedja Starcevic, Serbia Ambassador to the UN told ‘Blic’ shortly ahead of the beginning of the UN SC session which dealt with the crisis in Bosnia/Herzegovina because of the announced referendum. Almost all agree that this crisis is the biggest since constituting of the ‘Dayton’ Bosnia/Herzegovina.

High Representative for BaH Valentin Incko and RS president Milorad Dodik

Milorad Dodik yesterday got the strongest support from Russia which blocked support to the High Representative in BiH Valentin Incko’s report for introduction of sanctions. During consultations before the session, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin openly supported Dodik.

The Chinese Ambassador even mentioned the right to self-determination by nations constituting Bosnia/Herzegovina. On the other hand the USA, the GB and Germany supported Inzko.
In line with Serbia’s sensitive role as one of the guarantors of the Dayton Agreement our country moderately defended Dodik’s stance before the SC. Ambassador Starcevic pointed out Serbia’s support to Bosnia/Herzegovina integrity as well as the fact that all decisions are made with consent by two entities and three constitutive nations. He also said that ‘the idea by the High Representative in BiH to suspend the referendum is dangerous’.
‘We are of the opinion that the announced referendum of the citizens of the Republic of Srpska over BiH Court and Prosecution has nothing to do with the territorial integrity of the country and is not contrary to the Dayton Agreement’, our Ambassador said at the UN SC………..

Der Österreicher Valentin Inzko will nun in BIH abzocken (  1 2)

Die zu blöden „High Rep“ in Bosnien-Herzegowina

June 30, 1993. The Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis Is Finding Its Own Level, One Outsiders Fail to Understand

Ashdown is a Mi6 Agent, and the first  High Representative in Bosnia

September 8, 2003: US Official Implicated With Bosnian High Representative Ashdown in Attempting to Force Fabricated Report on Srebrenica 

October 20, 2003

Bosnia’s Izetbegovic Dead, But US Diplomat, Ashdown in B-H Push Islamist Line to Support Holbrooke

Analysis. By Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS, with input from GIS Station Sarajevo. The Islamist political leader who usurped control of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the civil war in that country from 1992 to 1995, Alija Izetbegovic, 78, reportedly died in hospital on October 20, 2003, after becoming ill following a fall at his home in September 2003. Sources in his own political party, the SDA, had leaked news that Izetbegovic had died in hospital on about September 19, 2003, in order to minimize controversy about him during the unveiling of the so-called Srebrenica monument on September 20, 2003. The official version of events on October 19, 2003, was that his condition became critical on October 17, 2003, when doctors could not stop bleeding in his left lung.

See Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily:

September 22, 2003: Izetbegovic Now Believed Dead.
September 24, 2003: In Bosnia-Herzegovina: Who Leads the Radical Islamists After Izetbegovic?

With his death, Izetbegovic — like former Croatian Pres. Franjo Tudjman — escaped prosecution for war crimes, including genocide, during the war. The former Islamist leader, who had worked closely with al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, among others, was close to former US Pres. William Clinton, who visited Izetbegovic in hospital on September 19, 2003. Izetbegovic’s SDA paid Clinton $250,000 at the time, ostensibly for speaking at the unveiling of the Srebrenica monument.

October 20, 2003: Bosnia’s Izetbegovic Dead, But US Diplomat, Ashdown in B-H Push Islamist Line to Support Holbrooke

October 27, 2003: Bosnian Terrorist Assets Moving to Iraq, Afghanistan to Resist “War on Terror” as Maneuvering Underway to Replace Izetbegovic 


October 27, 2003: 1997 Report Shows Bosnian Islamists Ready to Re-Start War to Eliminate Bosnian Serbs: Is the Plan Now Being Implemented? 


October 24, 2003: Bosnian Islamist Leader, in Front of US Ambassador, Declares Intent to Change Dayton Accords, Destroy Republica Srpska