That’s how the Index of Despair was created in Greece. Such a lack of interest for tax transparency, by Samaras’ government, said Switzerland

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German newspaper Die Welt recently accused Greece, -but mainly the ex Greek government this time-, of not acting on opportunities to recover billions in lost tax, “The Greek government has done nothing for a year to recover supposedly untaxed assets of Greek citizens in Switzerland. There is an invitation extending from 2014 by the Swiss Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) to track the money and transfer it to Athens,”

 The Swiss authorities expressed their wonder, Greek government sources have said, for the lack of interest of the previous government for the revised double taxation agreement between Switzerland and Greece that has been in place since 2012,
as only fifteen requests had been received for the transfer of tax-related data.
Greece’s new government has committed to fighting tax evasion and corruption in a bid to raise funds for the state and to spread the burden of the crisis, which is currently falling disproportionately on the poor as wages and pensions have been cut, and taxes on lower incomes raised much more than those on higher incomes .

Between 2008 and 2012, taxation in Greece, which made a 72.4 percent contribution to fiscal adjustments, was increased by 337.7% for lower income households, compared to just 9% for higher income groups, according to the publication of  a recent study GREECE: SOLIDARITY AND ADJUSTMENT IN TIMES OF CRISIS, supported by the Macroeconomic Policy of Institute of the Hans-Boeckler-Foundation

The study, that created an “Index of despair” claims that a “deficient crisis management approach and ideological inflexibility coupled to established political interests” made “the exit from the crisis more complicated and painful.”
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On 19 March, the EU and Switzerland concluded a new tax agreement which aims to increase tax transparency by guaranteeing an automatic annual exchange of data between Switzerland, and all of the EU member states. It will come into force on 1 January 2017. Leading up to this date, Switzerland is keen to work with Greece to prevent capital outflows to other uncooperative financial centres.
On 26 March Swiss State Secretary Jacques de Watteville met with Greek Minister of State Nikos Pappas to resume discussions between the two countries with a view to increasing cooperation to combat tax crime. It was agreed that transmission mechanisms needed to be strengthened, whilst the main theme of discussion was the preparation of the planned automatic exchange of information from 2017/2018 in the framework of a new EU agreement with Switzerland agreed just last week.

Higher incomes have to pay the burden in Greece this time, not the weaker ones as usually has happened

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Firstly there has been an agreement at the Brussels group discussions, said government sources Saturay afternoon, specifying that there has been an agreement on the principle that there should be appropriate reforms which will shift the burden from those on the lower income to those on higher incomes, contrary to the previous government’s policy”.

Same sources of the Prime Minister’s office reiterated that government’s program reform of the 21 points that was presented to the Brussl group  is carefully processed and accounted, providing an income that exceeds the sum of 3 billion euro for 2015.

They also underlined, talking to the Greek press, that there will be no recession measures and the actions proposed may bear a primary surplus of 1.5% of GDP and will allow positive growth estimated at 1.4%.

The details of the reforms to be agreed will be discussed among the technical teams which are still in Athens, the goernement sources announced .

on AlJazeera article of Stephen Kinzer ,former New York Times foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents.

“Gaps” on Brussels group discusssions approach, by information leaked from Brussels

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The “Brussels Group” of the European creditor representatives is continuing reviewing the list of the Greek reform plan of the 18 points- list , but gaps on the approach between Brussels and Athens have been expressed according to information leaked unofficially,said  Kostas Hardavelas on his radio show Sunday moning.

According to Greek TV broadcaster MEGA, the Brussels Group has to review many files, therefore it is possible to reach an agreement after the coming weekend. The discussions are still ongoing since Saturday morning when the EU officials had described as encouraging the fact that there is a commitment for a constructive conversation as to apply the political commitment to reach an agreement .

However, the EU officials have stressed that “there is still a lot of work” to do, the ANA- MPA wrote.

“We want to clarify that Greece itself must prepare the overall list of reforms in a convincing way that the commitments of the 20th February Eurogroup will be implemented”, EU sources said.

They also reiterated that the purpose of the meetings within the Brussels Group is “to discuss the Greek proposals for reforms and to help ensuring that the Greek list of reforms is reliable and complete.”

The set of reforms Greece is struggling to agree on, was sent to its EU-IMF creditors on Friday, March 27.

” There will be no recession measures, or increases of VAT rates. On the contrary, we are presenting a comprehensive programme that will allow us to have a primary surplus in 2015 of 1.5 percent of the GDP, if of course the problem of the economy’s liquidity is resolved on time.”, Greek Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis was quoted as saying. “As you are aware, we have a noose around our necks” he added.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated on an interview with RealNews on Sunday that “the lack of liquidity is naturally hampering the situation, but this will be resolved once an agreement has been agreed on.”

According to Nikos Filis’ statements, the parliamentary representative of governing SYRIZA party, the list of 18 reforms stands to earn 3.5 billion euros (3.8 billion dollars) in 2015 from the measures, which include fighting tax evasion using a direct on-line system connecting businesses and tax offices, issuing licenses for the country‘s media, online gambling and VAT increases.

The Greek delegation consists of the President of the Economic Advisors Council,   Giorgos Chouliarakis, the General Secretary of Fiscal Policy, Nikos Theocharakis and Elena Panariti, the advisor of the Greek FInance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
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“Offensive Charm”, Alexis? OR, Zorba Dancing with the United Euro Europe?

“A charm offensive by Greece’s prime minister this week calmed bruised relations with Germany” wrote on AFP the day after the crucial, for Greece’s future and present, Tsipras-Merkel tet à tet.

more  of this gallery and the Zorbas the Greeks on our Special edition, so Greek  me !

Indeed, kind of  the “dance” semantics between the German leader and the new elected Greek leader arose since the first days of Alexis Tsipras election.

With no irony, political cartoonists of the Western world envisioned a dance behind the poor-and- the strong relationship in which Greece was positioned towards Germany during the “bloody” five years of  austerity. The young empathetic leader even though he is far more demanding from the Greece’s part, he reveals, as it comes out, other codes in the eyes of the world and its opinion makers .

It is the code of the human nature of politics to be humanitarian, we could guess, since the huge effort of Alexis Tsipras’ first two months was to make Germany and Europe aknowledge there is a humanitarian crisis iin Greece.

But when we are dealing with a Crisis in a society, first thing its leaders are oblidged to do is to assess the extension of the damage, and the sooner possible adress the best possible plan to to rescue this society in the best  manageable way . Exactly this is our problem. Europe seems to have no idea of Crisis management , or at least Crisis Response.

For the moment speaking, Europe barely responds to the human need of the Greek specie, totally aknowledges that we are talking with victims of a crisis whom the crisis is not at all their fault, and finally barely shows a human response.

This  might  turn to a nightmarish dance with Greece for Germany and the Eurozone, but it will be a humanizing dance .

“Our common part of the two countries’ history in Europe’s past has been paid by “blood”, Tsipras underlined. Looking to the future of United Europe,  which Angela Merkel kept emphatically mentioning during the press conference of the two, Tsipras said  “Our common European future could merely be based on solidarity.”

Looks like a dance posture, or a call of dance, isn;t it? But what is it about ” Syrtaki” that suddenly pops up on the semiology of such a critical decision Europe has to take in this point of its modern history?  Eurozone, not Europe  precisely , the united Europen face which is  based on “our common financial present, and future.”

In the mind of all Greeks and anybody who has experienced the Greek life of the past five years, on place, Greece, the suffering status in which Greek people are obliged to be, in the name of the “United Euro Europe”, is unbearable enough, to make it seem a point of no return . On such circumstances, ususally, on  point of no return”, the Greek psychosynthesis, indeed, gets in a …dancing mood! We can assure that, experientially

Indeed, the attitude of the Greeks is now very similar to that of Alexis Zorbas wrote New Europe in the first moth of the new government election, who was happily dancing while watching his house burning. When he was asked why he was so happy, dancing while his house was in flames, he said, “I have never seen such a catastrophe in my life.”

In less than a month, after five years of extended misery looming all over the country, Greeks, all Greeks regardless of how they have voted in the January 25 election, changed attitude and swiftly became Zorbases.

Even though the premier dance of Alexis Tsipras with Angela Merckel was soughted by “charm”, as the AFP names it, Eurogroup two days after denied even the 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) which was unduly handed back last month by Greece to the European Union’s rescue fund

Greece’s government last month was obliged to return to the EFSF 10.9 billion euros that remained unused in a rescue fund created for the recapitalisation of Greek banks.

However, the new hard-left leaders later realised that the previous conservative-socialist government had used 1.2 billion euros to support the banks from another source, the Hellenic stability fund.

Speaking to Dutch station RTL Z, before todays’ Eurozone meeting that denied returning the fund to Greece, the leader of the eurozone’s finance ministers,Dijsselbloem said that for the time being Greece was “still able to finance itself”.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, also said technical talks on Athens’ reforms were “flowing again” after an unimpressive start, while expressing hope for a deal by the end of the week.

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“A communication channel has been restored between the German Chancellor and the Prime Minister” Gabriel Sakellaridis, the Greek governement spokesman said after the Tsipras Merkel meeting in Berlin, adding that “they found the common reference points in relation to the reform program of Greece”.
Let’s see it half full, common steps are the step A for a dance to keep going …..

Secret Wermacht Archives, bought by Greece from Maryland, have been kept in drawer for fifteen years

ΑΡΧΕΙΑ ΒΕΡΜΑΧΤ ΓΕΡΜΑΝΙΚΗ ΚΑΤΟΧΗ (1).JPG400,000 secret documents of  Wehrmacht, by 160 microfilms, bought by Greece from the National Archives US service in Maryland, as the Greek Minister of Defence recently revealed, have been kept for 15 years in the drawer in the Greek Minister fo Defence, said the credible journalist for Defense, Dimos Verikios on air  on Alpha TV NEWS .

In their majority, the files have now been digitalised and show, according to the Deputy Minister of Defense Costas Isychos-,  illegal archaeological excavations in the period 1941 -1945 from the German occupators in Greece, mining precious metals and minerals, the destruction of historical monuments, destruction of logistical infrastructure and so on.

Each microfilm containing a brief description on the front page, but not enough information to be able to make a first assessment.

“These documents not only document the historical truth, they are detailed notes, calendars,and reports of the officers of Wehrmachtbericht to their superiors” told the reporters Deputy Minister Isichos.

The material seized by the Americans when they went to Berlin in 1945 is particularly important because as confidentiality contains factual and accurate information that never saw the light of day.

Kostas Isychos is visitin Moscow today , and one of the primare issues to discuss is to open a cooperation line with Kremlin, for more archival material Russia might have available to provide.

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“Our common European future could merely be based on solidarity, said Tsipras in Berlin, naming War reparations a primarily moral issue.

CAzi7DHWAAAxoGMGreece’s leftwing prime minister Alexis Tsipras stood beside German leader Angela Merkel and demanded war reparations over Nazi atrocities in Greece on Monday night, even as the two leaders sought to bury the hatchet following weeks of worsening friction and mud-slinging, wrote the Guardian minutes after the Press Conference of the two leaders in Berlin .

It is the first time  a Greek Prime Minister sets the issue of Germany’s debt and reparations to Greece, as a common part of the two countries’ and Europe’s past and history, which has been paid by “blood”, Tsipras underlined. Looking to the future of United Europe,  which Angela Merkel has emphatically mentioned during the press conference, Tsipras said that it could not, but be based on solidarity.

“It’s not a material matter, it’s a moral issue,” said Tsipras, unusually insisting on raising the “shadows of the past” at the heart of German power in the gleaming new chancellery in Berlin. It is believed to be the first time a foreign leader had gone to the capital of the reunified Germany to make such a demand, commented the Guardian.

Merkel was uncompromising, while appearing uncomfortable and irritated. “In the view of the German government, the issue of reparations is politically and legally closed,” she said.

0,,18220773_401,00 Tsipras did react well by defending Merkel when the Nazi issue came up —

saying that Spiegel’s front-cover showing Merkel among the Nazis in Athens was “extremely unfair to the chancellor, and to Germany”.

CAyzJdVU8AAuH09Greek PM added,

“I shouted when I saw [Nazi] cartoon in my own party newspaper.”  “History shouldn’t be joked about.”

Alexis Tsipras and Angela Merkel hold press conference after debt talks – as it happened, by Guardian

How could you translate Greek Humans in Need ? You created a monster, Europe, that ate the “86% of the flesh of the poor”. Here are the numbers

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How do you capture the humanitarian crisis in numbers?

Add, may be together the suicides (more than 4,000 since beginning of the crisis),count the many soup kitchens and charity clinics, pharmacies and municipality grocery shops for the poor, determine the number of homeless and the number of households without electricity due to outstanding debts to the power company? Or may be take into account the families living on borrowed money and the ones sought shelter in family’s and relatives homes because they cannot afford to pay rent?

Should all debtors in despair come out and raise hands, wrote Keep talking Greece in February, while Alexis Tsipras government was desperately trying to presuade Eurozone Leaders, that such a Crisis does exist (!) as the most tragic Emergency on Humanitarian meanings of today’s western world.

But the most shocking part of all, is the non-humanitarian , ugly capitalistic result of this crisis, where, according to German official research, is the burden to the poor, the low-incomers, the low-pensioners and even the jobless appears proved to be  over-proportional when compared to the  economically better society classes.

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This is the result of  the German Institute for Macroeconomic Research (IMK)- affiliated with the Hans Böckler Foundation-, that has analyzed 260.000 tax and income data from the years 2008 – 2012.
According to the study
  • . The poorest households in the debt-ridden country lost nearly 86% of their income, while the richest lost only 17-20%.
  •  The tax burden on the poor increased by 337% while the burden on upper-income classes increased by only 9%
The study that has analyzed 260.000 tax and income data from the years 2008 – 2012, and still has left out of the study the poisonous years of Mr. Samaras governance, where life was made impossible for more and moremiddle class and low incomers, who often have decided ,due to despair , to give their life an end.
– The nominal gross income of Greek households decreased by almost a quarter in only four years.
– The wages cuts caused nearly half of the decline.
– The net income fell further by almost 9 percent, because the tax burden was significantly increased
–  While all social classes suffered income losses due to cuts, tax increases and the economic crisis, particularly strongly affected were households of low- and middle-income. This was due to sharp increase in unemployment and tax increases, that were partially regressive.
– The total number of employees in the private sector suffered significantly greater loss of income, and they were more likely to be unemployed than those employed in the public sector.
-From 2009 to 2013 wages and salaries in the private sector declined in several stages at around 19 percent. Among other things, because the minimum wage was lowered and collective bargaining structures were weakened. Employees in the public sector lost around a quarter of their income.
-The extent of the wages cuts were grossly overstated at least ten percentage points, the study researchers estimate.
Unemployment & Early Retirement

Unemployment surged from 7.3% in the Q2 2008 to 26.6% in the Q2 2014. among youth aged 15-24, unemployment had an average of 44%.

Early retirement in the Private Sector increased by 14%.

Early retirement in the Public Sector* increased by 48%

The researchers see here a clear link to the austerity policy, that’s is the Greek government managed to fulfill the Troika requirements for smaller public sector. However, this trend caused a burden to the social security funds.

Taxes
Taxes were greatly increased, but they had a regressive effect.

Since beginning of the austerity, direct taxes increased by nearly 53%,  while indirect taxes increased by 22 percent.
The taxation policy has indeed contributed  significantly to the consolidation of the public budget, but by doing so the social imbalance was magnified.
Little has been done against tax avoidance and tax evasion, however, the tax base was actually extended “downwards” with the effect that households with low-income and assets were strongly burdened.

Particularly poorer households paid disproportionately more in taxes and the tax burden to lower-income rose by 337%. In comparison, the tax burden to upper-income households rose by only 9%.
The Poor suffered more
The losses were significantly different to each income class with the poorest households to have suffered the biggest losses.
Almost one in three Greek household had to make it through 2012 with an annual income below €7,000.
Income losses 2008-2012
1. Class: i.e. 10% of Greek total: households that have lowest income: loss 86%
2. and 3. class: loss between 51% and 31%
4. – 7. class: households with higher income: loss between 25% and 18%
8. Class: 30% of Greek total: households with the highest income: loss between 20% and 17%.
On average, the annual income of Greek households before taxes fell from €23,100 euros in 2008 to just below €17,900 euros in 2012. This represents a loss of nearly 23 percent.
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Alexis Tsipras after the Brussel group: The funding of Greek economy will be restored, we reattached the process in the rails

The Greek Prime Minister stressed that all sides reaffirmed their willingness to work together to overcome the difficulties. Mostly, added the Prime Minister, all sides reaffirmed the common reading of Eurogroup decision of the 20th  February meeting.

Alexis Tsipras also stressed that it is clear that Greece “has not undertaken to implement cyclonic action, namely the fifth assessment of the email Hardouvelis. “

The prime minister said the government will table its own proposals for structural reforms, which have to be implemented. As said Alexis Tsipras, the meeting was the reaffirmation of the disposal of all parties to coordinate as soon as possible the restoration of the funding of Greek economy.

Alexis Tsipras said that the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed its intention to directly promote European programs that will disburse large sums to address the humanitarian crisis in Greece. He noted, however, that the amount will be announced by J.C.Juncker after the completion of the summit tomorrow.

“In this meeting we reattached the process in the rails, because it had been derailed, with the responsibility of some ones ” the Prime Minister concluded.

Gallery

Greece’s suffocating pillow by a bullying of words, while Alexis meets with the bosses of Euro

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“What a negotiation coud  that be, where one part says ‘I’m the boss’, under the photo of Angela Merkel and Wolfgag Schauble”,… said journalist  Akis Pavlopoulos on his News show on Blue Sky, commenting on tonights’  talks of the Greek Prime Minister with the Europe’s heads

“We don’t dare to spell humanitarian crisis, they are bullying our right to survive”, the audience and viewers have kept saying live, the last days ,on News shows and on the radios.

May be this is the core of Greece’s drama for the moment, and this, apparently, has become the core meaning of today’s negotiations . Europe doupts the factor misery , doupts the meaning of  humanitarian,after all .

“A question for the flesh of the folks is the definition of Capitalism” said Lianna Kanelli in Greek Parliament, an MP of the Greek Communist Party, and a brillant journalist all her life…

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