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The Greek Riots December 2008 PDF Printable Version E-mail


The Greek Riots December 2008 

A letter to the Editor of the Athens News

The letter, dated Friday, 19 December 2008, is from an Englishman living in Thessaloniki, just one of 30 towns and cities affected by the ongoing riots which started in Athens on 6 December 2008.

The letter lists some of the underlying causes of the unrest which sparked the riots.

To read more from this excellent English-language newspapers, click: Athens News.

"Like the teargas, the riots in Greece have poisoned the air and reflect a deeper malaise.

Greece is a country of paradoxes. A poor country with a lot of wealthy people. Expensive cars, but no decent roads to drive them on. A country where houses are kept spotless but no-one could care less about the filthy streets outside their front doors.

Greeks have no confidence in their institutions, which are very weak. Government is ineffectual. Courts are corrupt and the legal system, literally, hopeless. The police, who many still identify with the military junta of 1967-74, are a law unto themselves. The economy is suffocated by an arrogant, pitiless and pointless bureaucracy. Punitive taxes destroy incentive. The education system short-changes its students. It demands nothing of them and gives them nothing in return.

The riots express the frustration of Greeks. But there is no real will to make the changes needed. They do not want to uproot the legal system to make it work. They do not want to overhaul the education system to provide better quality education. They do not want to reform the bureaucracy and stop the corruption and cronyism.

Not only are Greeks reluctant to commit to the enormous effort this would require, but Greeks, as individuals, fear that if the corruption stops, they will be the only ones to suffer.

Most of the graft is creamed off by a wealthy elite of all political persuasions. They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Sadly, nothing will change. Inertia will take over and that makes me, a Hellenophile, sad."