T’other day, we had a referendum. The pundits said it would be ‘too close to call’. These must be the same pundits who said the other month that the UK election was too close to call and there would be another hung parliament . . .
Out here, it would appear that most of the younger people voted No while most of the older people voted Yes. This is obviously a simplification but if you talk to people about it all, none can actually tell you what exactly they were voting for. Some thought it was to stay in the Euro while some thought it was to stay in Europe. If asked if they had seen the conditions from the creditors, 99% said that they hadn’t and did not know where to find out what the offers were. They just believed what the politicians had told them . . .
As I type this, the banks remain closed and those with bank cards can only draw out €60 a day. This is where some of the reporting on places like BBC World gets really out of hand.
If you queue up for your cash and spend some of it on food, if you have any sense you will queue up the following day as well, and the day after that, just so you have some cash should a bill come in, such as the electricity bill. Ours came today (7th) and €60 will not cover it. According to the BBC, everyone is queuing up, there is panic etc etc. In Elounda the other day there were three people in the queue for the ATM and two of them were the missus and me.
Yes, there are queues at some ATMs, but why? Well, over the past three or four years lots of bank branches have closed and so the number of ATMs has been reduced by about half. In Aghios town centre there are just 5 ATMs – there are probably more in Loughton.
We also saw on the BBC a rather biased report about the big ‘No’ rally in Athens. Pity then that they did not do a big report on the ‘Yes’ rally held two days later.
Ok, we are lucky in that we have UK bank cards and can withdraw our card limit each day but there are some ex-Pats out here who only have Greek bank accounts. Speaking to some last Sunday, they were not unduly worried. With their Greek bank cards they can still pay for stuff in the supermarkets and buy petrol and so just use the €60 as ‘pocket money’ at the moment. I would say that all are savvy about cash anyway and would probably have a few bucks kept at home.
Overall, people out here are mostly trusting. Crete is quite a safe place to live and work. However, before the banks closed there was a spate of burglaries with mostly only money being taken. When things were looking bad, those with large sums of money in the bank were withdrawing it and basically keeping it at home under the bed, especially the elderly.
Unscrupulous people would sit in banking halls and just watch and listen, and then follow a person who had withdrawn a lot of money to see where they lived. Then, at an opportune moment, break in and rob them.
The worst case we heard of was an old lady in Ierapetra who withdrew all her families’ money from the various bank accounts and took it home. She then left to do some shopping. Thieves broke in and stole over €300,000. This was an extreme case but in the week before the banks closed there was a huge increase in burglaries.
Not all views on the state of things out here are polarised to follow party lines.
What follows is a comment from, Ekathimerini, an independent paper. It asks questions about blame that the Greek authorities do not want to answer and says that the blame for Greece’s woes cannot be laid at the door of ‘foreigners’. It is quite a balanced view for a newspaper out here: –
“What will happen when the 1,000 or so foreign media correspondents who came to Athens to cover events these past few days go home? What will happen when the Greek crisis is no longer on the front pages of foreign newspapers, when hardly anyone cares what’s going on with the Greeks, irrespective of whether they’re regarded as brave, undisciplined, lazy or deserving of their rotten fate? What will happen, in short, when Greece is left alone, without friends but also without enemies?
With just a few thousand tourists, fewer international flights, with cultural events being cancelled, businesses going bust, a shrinking market, rising unemployment, banks just managing to muddle along, emptying supermarket shelves…
The scenario of “terror” (as the government likes to label any mention of what is really going on) is already unfolding but we have an edge: the proud “no” of the referendum, which was meant to strengthen the government’s bargaining positions but is instead turning into a noose around Alexis Tsipras’s neck.
SYRIZA and Independent Greeks [Political parties – Ed] talk about dignity when what the country’s partners are looking for is credibility. They need to believe in the Greek proposals, in the reform effort, in the country’s representatives, in the entire country, in fact. For the past two days, public statements from European officials have been balanced carefully between stressing the fact that time is short and the need for a credible proposal from Athens. Their interest, which is basically surviving without too many losses, is at complete odds with the situation of Greece. No one wants the worst (Grexit) to happen but…
Increasingly isolated, we stand on a slippery bank watching the European ship sailing further and further away – some of us stunned, some crushed, some desperate and some even happy.
These are the last scenes that will play in the foreign media. After the rush of imminent disaster, we will each return – poorer – to the day-to-day grind. No one will care about Greece’s predicament because, as our partners in the other 18 countries of the Eurozone have said time and again, they have already spent months and months dealing with the 19th and the problem is just getting bigger.
And the worst part is that the “enemy” is not internal. It is not the elected government but the “foreigners.” The demagoguery that Jean-Claude Juncker recently warned about has found fertile ground. The “foreigner” is always an easy target, a great magnet for all the anger and frustration of failure.
But anger can quickly transform and can even become stronger when the “foreigner” leaves and we are left alone to deal with poverty, unemployment and increasing shortages.
We’ll have no partners and no more lies to invoke.
We will be alone: just us and reality.”