Greece's bankrupt politicians -- in their own words

Issue 
Greek development minister Michalis Chrisochoidis: 'Democracy and freedom exist no more. This is our policy.'

When a regime loses it ... Green Left journalist Afrodity Giannakis, in Thessaloniki, collects below some of the great words of the great Greek politicians in the days of the savage austerity imposed on the country.

Who said that pro-austerity Greek politicians are just insensitive blood-sucking beasts?

Below are some great quotes expressing their finer human side. Other quotes display their deep appreciation of various artistic trends.

For more details on the horrific austerity being imposed on Greece, read Giannakis's most recent article
Greece: A brutal experiment on people's lives

* * *

Respect...

“We ought to respect two things: democracy and freedom, those things that used to be the banners of the left.”

--Anna Diamantopoulou, education minister

... and straightforwardness

“Democracy and freedom exist no more. This is our policy.”

-- Michalis Chrisochoidis, minister for development, competitiveness and shipping

Conscientiousness...

“I didn’t read the [first] Memorandum of Understanding [via which the IMF and EU imposed severe austerity measures on Greece], as I had other commitments, other duties. I had to deal with crime as Minister for the Protection of the Citizen; it wasn’t my job to study the memorandum.” (He voted in favour, though.)

-- Chrisochoidis, January 24

... and thoughtfulness

“I think first of Greece and then of the elections.”

-- George Karatzaferis, leader of ultra-right Popular Orthodox Alert (LAOS)

Altruism...

“I’m making, I’m making, I’m making a promise to you: that I’ll become prime minister to save this country.”

-- LAOS leader Karatzaferis

... and self-sacrifice

“I told you in 2000, when I was setting up the party all by myself, that in seven years I’d make it into parliament. In much less time, I assure you that I’ll be in Maximos Mansion [the official seat of the Prime Minister of Greece] for Greece and only for Greece.”

-- Karatzaferis again

Solidarity...

“Forget the parties as you knew them. There are no longer huge differences between PASOK, LAOS [Popular Orthodox Alert] and New Democracy. We are the Europeanists against the communists.”

-- Karatzaferis

... and togetherness

“We [that is, the government and the Greek people] fooled away the [public] money together.”

-- Theodoros Pangalos, Greek vice-president

Self-awareness...

“I’ve never been a puppet, nor will I ever be, no matter what the cost.”

-- George Papandreou, ex-PASOK prime minister

... and self-criticism

“We had the duty to cut down on our expenditure, on state expenditure, and to increase revenue. We didn’t succeed.”

-- Vice-president Pangalos

Sense of justice...

“It’s the one million public servants who give Greek people a hard time that have taken us to the point where we are today.”

-- Andreas Loverdos, health minister, September 2011

... and abhorrence of injustice

“You will lock us up in jail. It’s lucky you don’t wield power. It’s lucky! It’s lucky!”

Evangelos Venizelos, finance minister, February 11, in parliament. He was addressing a SYRIZA [Coalition of the Radical Left] MP, Panagiotis Lafazanis. The latter had criticised the designation of the second memorandum bill as “urgent”, describing it as a parliamentary coup.

Gratefulness and relief...

“If you add up the poll rates of the KKE [Communist Party of Greece], SYRIZA [Coalition of the Radical Left], the Democratic Left, the Ecologists, ANTARSYA [Anticapitalist Left Collaboration for the Overthrow] etc, they go up to 30%. God help us. Thank God for Papariga [General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece], who says no [to a collaboration of the left].”

-- Adonis Georgiadis, recently resigned deputy minister for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, then LAOS cadre, October 2011. Georgiadis was speaking in thanks of the notoriously sectarian KKE, which refuses to work with other left forces -- choosing to ignore or abuse them.

... but panic strikes again, with socialist realism

“If you add up the right-wing forces, all right-wing forces, all of them – put in anyone you like -- and all left-wing forces, the right is below 35% and the left is above 65%. That is to say we are about to hand Greece over to the Bolsheviks.”

-- Georgiadis again, February.

Straight realism...

“We have to choose between difficult decisions on the one hand and even more difficult decisions on the other hand. Unfortunately, we have to choose between sacrifices and bigger sacrifices, incomparably bigger sacrifices.”

-- Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, February

... and neo-realism

“There is immeasurable human suffering. Sadness, poverty and unhappiness. That, I can’t bear.”

-- Development minister Chrisochoidis

Comedy...

“Greece’s economic recovery has already started.”

-- Environment minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou, then finance minister

... and drama

“I am in great difficulty. My income has dropped.”

-- Vice-president Pangalos (declared annual income: 640,000 euros plus considerable real estate property)

Post-modernism...

“What’s more, people don’t die. They go on living many years after retirement.”

-- Health minister Loverdos, May 2010

... and post-anarchism

“I am anti-power and in power at the same time and if I don’t remain in power, at least I’ll remain anti-power.”

-- Ex-PM Papandreou

Minimalism...

“I’m a little bug.”

-- Vice-president Pangalos

... and surrealism

“Woof, woof, woof!”

-- Pangalos again

Lyricism...

“The ship’s captain has already told you that, now the first mate is telling you the same.”

-- Finance minister Venizelos

... and more lyricism

Addressing appointed prime minister Lucas Papadimos:
“Mr prime minister, sir, you are a doctor. One of our relatives is ill, therefore, we have both the right and the obligation to pick the best doctor to save our relative.”

-- LAOS leader Karatzaferis

The heroic...

“I made the decision very early on not to count the political cost. I knew and I still know that the cost is heavy.”

-- Ex-PM Papandreou, referring to his decision to ruin Greece

... and the epic

“In all my trips, I carry the country’s flag in my heart.”

-- Papandreou again

Political thriller...

“Anyone who attempts to harm Mr Papandreou will turn the country into a country in which there is massacre.”

-- Health minister Loverdos, January 23

… and expressionistic thriller

“[If Greece restructured its debt and returned to the drachma (the Greek currency before the euro was adopted)], on the following day banks would be surrounded by terrified people trying to withdraw their money and the army would have to protect them [the banks] with tanks because there would not be enough police.”

-- Vice-president Pangalos

Suspense...

“From the first day I joined LAOS [Popular Orthodox Alert], I believed in George Karatzaferis’s powers and his ability to get us into office. Besides, I said it on television many times and was met with your colleagues’ laughter and smiles. But I believed it in a general sense. I ought to confess I didn’t believe it would happen so quickly.”

-- Recently resigned deputy development minister Adonis Georgiadis, October 2011

... and whodunnit

“What was achieved was the job of all of us [i.e. of the current Greek government].”

-- LAOS leader Karatzaferis




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