Saturday, January 25, 2020

And Now for a Break from Impeachment News...


For those of you wondering what’s going on in Greece these days—as if anyone in the US media seems to care about what’s happening outside Washington, DC—here’s a quick primer.

+          The Turks and Greeks are at each other’s throats, the Turks claiming rights to Greek islands and energy resources.

ATHENS – Greece’s Foreign Ministry immediately rejected claims by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who said there are “gray zones” in the Aegean as Turkey is moving to claim waters off Greek islands and in the Continental Shelf.

“The legal status of the Aegean and of (the Aegean) islands is clearly determined by international treaties and there is no room for dispute,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said, adding that Turkey’s interpretation of the UN Law of the Sea is “unfounded” and “illegal.”
“Greece has chosen the path of international legality,” the ministry said, urging Turkey to do the same, although Turkey doesn’t recognize the Law of the Sea unless invoking it in its favor against Greece and Cyprus, where Turkish ships are drilling for oil and gas.
Speaking to CNN Turk, [Cavusoglu] said that, “There are islands whose sovereignty has not been established” either in the Treaty of Lausanne or in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t recognize the Lausanne treaty that set borders between the countries and openly covets the return of some Greek islands.
—The National Herald.
+          The Turks have allied themselves with one-side in the battle for control of Libya, and the Greeks are siding with the other.

ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who leads a rival force in his country that’s battling a United Nations-recognized government, sided with each other in a meeting where both want to thwart Turkish ambitions.
Their sit-down came just ahead of a European Union meeting in Berlin to talk about how to deal with Libya where the fighting in the oil-rich country has the international community worried it could come apart.
Mitsotakis, upset that Greece was excluded from the meeting despite Turkey and Libya signing a deal dividing the seas between them, with Turkey claiming waters off Greek islands and planning to drill for energy off Crete, said he would veto any agreement in Berlin that doesn’t reject that seas pact. 
—The National Herald.
+          Turkey, a key transit point for Russian natural gas into Europe, is being faced down by a new alliance formed by Greece, Cyprus, and Israel to conduct gas drilling in the waters off Cyprus.

Cyprus, Greece, Israel

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended in Athens Thursday the signing ceremony for the accord to construct the Eastern Mediterranean natural gas pipeline…

The accord comes just as tensions are increasing in the region after Turkey’s contentious agreement that delineates maritime borders with Libya and affirms claims to areas of the Mediterranean the pipeline may cross. The three signatory countries all oppose the deal.

Israel’s cooperation with Cyprus & Greece “adds to security and prosperity in the region” and “we are not turning against any other country,” Netanyahu said. 

—Houston Chronicle

+          Refugees are once more streaming onto Greece’s Eastern Mediterranean islands through Turkey, and conditions in Greece’s refugee camps are going from horrible to only God knows where.

AP/Petros Giannakouris

In 2019 74,600 people arrived, 50 per cent more than last year. They are mostly families with children from Afghanistan and Syria. 59,700 arrived on the islands and 14,900 at the land border.
Conditions in the islands’ reception centres are now dangerously overcrowded with 36,400 people sharing the space and services intended for 5,400.
—Relief Web, quoting UNHCR Fact Sheet
+          Will America back Turkey or Greece? is the question on the minds of most Greeks.

ATHENS – Fear there could be conflict with Turkey over the Aegean and East Mediterranean and a rekindling of a refugee crisis is high on the minds of worried Greeks with a poll finding those issues vexing them.
Some 62 percent of those surveyed by the Pulse firm for SKAI TV said they were worried about Turkish provocations that have included violation of air space and Turkey’s drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and planning to do the same off Crete after signing a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them…
But they didn’t like the way that Germany, the United States and the European Union are responding. The US has a military cooperation deal with Greece but President Donald Trump backs Erdogan and the EU has given Greece press statements of support only…
A surge in some 50,000 more migrants and refugees coming to Greece after New Democracy was elected, most to already overwhelmed Greek islands, found Greeks divided over how it is being handled.
The government said it would speed asylum application processing as well as deportations back to Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to keep sending refugees and migrants to Greece after they had gone to Turkey first, fleeing war and strife in their homelands.
—The National Herald
+          Domestically, with the far left out of power, protesters are returning to in-your-face, confrontational political protest, and being met with Greece’s new center-right government’s “the rules are different now” approach.  

Reuters/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police fired teargas … at students protesting against the shutdown of a prominent Athens university that authorities raided at the weekend to confiscate materials they said were typically used in violent demonstrations.
It was the first time police and protesters had clashed inside university premises since the Conservative government’s abolition of academic sanctuary earlier this year…
Leftist parties say the concept of academic sanctuary, which prohibited security forces from entering universities, protected students’ freedom of expression. But the government, which came to power in July, said it had been a cover for lawlessness.
+          The fiscal crisis remains front and center in the minds of many Greeks.

A near decade-long economic crisis that created an exodus of some of Greece’s top and youngest talents, unable to find work or fed up with a clientelist system holding them down and rewarding political friends stripped the country of skills the New Democracy government wants back…

Under the ambitious scheme, dubbed Rebrain Greece, returning recruits will be guaranteed at least two years employment, the first of which will be financed by the state by 75%. Highly skilled professionals and scientists aged between 25-40 will be targeted first off…

About 470,000 Greeks have left the country since 2008 when hiring freezes started popping up in anticipation of economic woes that really hit hard in 2010 when the then-ruling and now-defunct PASOK Socialist government sought the first bailout of 110 billion euros ($123.33 billion.)

Signs of wariness remain, however, Greeks who’ve been burned by broken promises of volatile governments hedging their bets for now and about 40 percent who left it was goodbye for good even if there’s a recovery.

—The National Herald

+          Tourism is up once again, drawing all sorts from around the world to join in a feeding frenzy for tourist cash, especially on price-is-no-object destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini.

Passenger traffic at Greek airports reached 65.4 million in 2019, breaking all previous annual records.
According to the statistics of the Civil Aviation Authority, in the January-December period of 2019, there was an increase of 5% in the air traffic of the country, with the total number of passengers travelling in January-December 2019 reaching 65,385,004. In the same period of 2018, 62,292,191 passengers were transported, meaning the number was up by 3,092,813.
A 3.7% increase was also recorded in the total number of flights to Greek airports, reaching 538,956 (of which 213,098 domestic and 325,858 foreign), compared to the corresponding period of 2018 where 519,548 flights were operated.
[Mykonos] ranks first, along with Santorini, in terms of hotel visitor satisfaction for 2019 in the so-called Mediterranean “premium” destinations with competing destinations in Sardinia, St. Tropez and Ibiza.


+          The Greek Parliament has elected the nation’s first female President, a largely ceremonial role, but still a first.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou


Jeff's 2020 Speaking Engagements and Signings (in formation):

Thursday, March 12-Sunday, March 15, 2020 
San Diego, CA
LEFT COAST CRIME—San Diego Marriott Mission Valley
Panels yet to be announced

Monday, March 16, 2020, 11AM-2PM
Saddlebrooke, Arizona 85739
30th Anniversary Authors Luncheon
SaddleBrooke Clubhouse
40010 S. Ridgeview Blvd.
Author Speaking and Signing

Thursday, June 4--Sunday, June 7, 2020
CRIMEFEST—Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Panels yet to be announced 


  1. Thanks for the update, Jeff. It doesn't sound cheerful...

    1. That just makes it consistent with everywhere else in the world. :(

  2. We definitely live in interesting times. :-(((

    1. Yes, and how appropriate that's a Chinese blessing/curse.

  3. Ah, the magic words: Female President. We can only hope.