HALC is pleased to present a guest post by Alexander Billinis, a Greek American currently living in Serbia. A writer and banker, he has worked in Serbia, Greece, and the UK. His views on the Balkans are further elaborated in his 2011 book, "The Eagle has Two Faces," available at amazon.comBY ALEXANDER BILLINIS
Most of what comes out of the Balkans today concerns economics, most specifically the ongoing economic crisis in Greece which mirrors, perhaps less acutely, a similar economic malaise in other Balkan countries. Many of these countries, particularly Bulgaria, are highly integrated with the Greek economy, so the knock-on effects are real and immediate. This being the Balkans, moreover, there are any number of frozen ethnic conflicts always ready for a thaw. Moreover, all Balkan countries suffer from governance more like Ottoman pashaliks than European democracies.
But that is not the real news, in fact, that is old...
Jorgo Chatzimarkakis has had enough.
He won't run for reelection in Germany when his term is up next year, and "declared that he is quitting German politics over his country’s treatment of its European partners."
Chatzimarkakis has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004 and is a member of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, The Telegraphinterviewed Chatzimarkakis, who laid bare the contempt German politicians have for Greeks and Cypriots:
Mr Chatzimarkakis accused German politicians, including his own party, of belittling Greece. He said that within his own party, ideas such as “sell your isles and the Acropolis” had been circulated as measures to pay off Greek debt. "They were so extreme that I couldn't go to the party's convention.” [...]
“It's very difficult to push through messages that don't fit stereotypes - such as that Greeks work very hard, even more than Germans. That doesn't enter the Germans' minds,” he said in...
Don't miss this piece from HALC's Executive Director Endy Zemenides in NEO Magazine about Greece's need for serious reform program to transform its system of governance:
In a recent speech, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou argued that rebuilding “trust,” was the way for Greece to get out of its crisis. While Papandreou was referring to trust between Greece and its European partners, he should have been focusing on another type of trust.
Greece is one of many nations where the social contract is in fact being re-written. Pension payments, health benefits, employment security – austerity has put all of these on the table. Yet not only have citizens been told to expect less from the state, but to pay more. This is not only playing out in Greece. As America’s budgetary drama unfolds, does anyone have a doubt that the inevitable conclusion is cuts to entitlements AND higher taxes without...
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, currently living aboard the International Space Station, shared stunning images of Greece with his Twitter followers this week. His beautiful images, shared with almost a quarter million people who follow the astronaut on Twitter, were accompanied by Commander Hadfield's own thoughts on Greece from space. Click on the images for higher resolution. You can follow Chris Hadfield on Twitter at @Cmdr_Hadfield .
We human beings have not been reconciled, despite God’s sacred will. We retain a hateful disposition for one another. We discriminate against one another by means of fanaticism with regard to religious and political convictions, by means of greed in the acquisition of material goods, and through expansionism in the exercise of political power....
Greek Ambassador Gianna Angelopoulos wrote a thought-provoking piece yesterday on learning from Greece's past at The Huffington Post:
I fear that my home country, Greece -- which has no shortage of founding principles, or ancient heritage, or illustrious former leaders -- has forgotten how to learn from its past.
After all, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and the international communal spirit embodied by the Olympic Games.
But today all three of those ideals are under threat in Greece. How can a democracy work when its people are jobless? How can we do the right thing for future generations? How can Greece establish a relationship with the international community not based on debt or dependency, but on mutual interests and trust?
For the answers to these questions, it's time for Greece's citizens and leaders to look into our own past as a people. [...]
Americans are fortunate to have founding fathers like Abraham Lincoln to...
Continuing HALC’s “Best & Worst” of the week series, here are the nominees for this week. Every Friday, HALC’s Facebook community votes on who should win each category. The results are announced on our Facebook page every Monday. The nominees are:
BEST OF THE WEEK NOMINEES1. The EU Council of MinistersThe EU Council of Ministers has urged Turkey to normalize its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, to commit itself unequivocally to good neighborly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Turkey’s refusal to actively support ongoing negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework is only further stalling its candidacy for EU membership.
“In this context, the Union expresses once again serious concern, and urges Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source...
HALC is launching a petition to protect the fundamental human right of religious freedom for minorities in the greater Middle East, and we need your help to reach our goal.
Click here to sign the official White House petition.Under the White House rules, if we get 25,000 signatures, the White House will have to issue an official response.
Why is HALC launching this petition? As Americans go about their winter rituals of holiday shopping, mall Santas, lighting Christmas trees and menorahs and otherwise enjoying the season, it's easy to forget that in other parts of the world, the holiday season brings with it renewed fears of persecution, intimidation, and even death.
Robert Kennedy once wrote that "ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired." Here, citizens can choose to worship any religion they want or no religion at all without...
The Hellenic American Leadership Council is an organization established to chart a new course for the Greek-American community: to ensure the continuity of a distinct and distinguished Greek-American community, to pursue and attain a level of excellence for all Hellenes and Hellenic causes, to strengthen ties between the next generation of Greek-Americans and Greece and Cyprus, and to nurture Hellenic learning and culture.