President Obama’s Greek Visit – 15 and 16 November 2016

Τετάρτη, 16 Νοεμβρίου, 2016

What is President Obama doing in Greece? The question on what he will do in Germany is also pertinent.

The only thing that might make sense is that President Obama wishes to reassure the Greeks and the Germans and the Europeans that American Foreign Policy  will continue as it were, on all fronts, including NATO.

In the case of Greece, President Obama included in his agenda the expression of his support of the IMF position on the restructuring of the Greek loans. The IMF says that the Greek loans must be restructured, provided that the reforms program goes ahead as planned.

But this does not make sense coming from a President whose term is over. This is something for the President elect to say.

Coming from President Obama today, any assurance regarding the continuity of American Foreign Policy lacks credibility. Something similar can be said about his views on the restructuring of the Greek loans. A reiteration of the IMF position does not bring anything new on the table.

So, why did President Obama visit Greece?

I can only offer one explanation.

The most likely explanation is that when the visit was planned the President and his team were certain of a Clinton win. Therefore, it would make eminent sense for President Obama to visit Greece and Germany to offer reassurances of policy continuity.

Clinton lost to Trump, but the visit was already planned and it would look rather bad to cancel it. So the visit went ahead even though it makes no sense.






Some Thoughts on the Greek Puzzle

Δευτέρα, 7 Νοεμβρίου, 2016

What is going to happen in Greece?

I do not believe that any of the «programs», also known as memoranda, agreed between Greece and the debtors work.

The problems of Greece are far more serious. These programs only touch on the surface and usually are ideologically laden formulae, not practical solutions.

The Greek economy will never recover to its levels before the crisis. Therefore, the debt will never be paid back.

Such an acknowledgement cannot be made before the 2017 German elections, but it will need to be made immediately after.

The issue is which formula will be adopted.

According to various sources, scenarios have been developed and are under discussion.

One of the critical issues is Greece’s membership in the Eurozone.

Greece is so weak that a «strong» currency like the Euro is like tying a rock to the foot of a drowning swimmer.

Sooner (I hope) or later the Germans will make their minds up that Greece does not belong to the Eurozone.

For the sake of convenience and practicality, this decision may be coupled with the one on the Greek debt.

In conclusion, unless there is a game changing development, e.g. Italy, we should expect major developments in Greece in the year 2018.

The prognosis is that during this year the two major issues of the Greek crisis, i.e. the debt and the Euro, will be resolved.

Most likely formula will be an expulsion from the Eurozone, combined with – as a pain killer – the drastic reduction of the debt. The transition period will be between two and three years.



As the British Mandate for Palestine ended, the state of Israel was proclaimed on the 14th May 1948 in Tel Aviv by the Jewish National Council and was recognized by the USA and Soviet Union on the 15 and 17 May 1948.


Photo: The first Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion and his wife Paula arrive at the port of Haifa in 30 June 1948 to celebrate the departure of the last British soldier from the area.

The joy following the declaration and recognition of the infant state was short – lived. On the 15th May 1948 the states of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria declared war on the new state. This is known as the war of 1948 and is the first of the many wars that erupted in the area since the declaration of independence by Israel.

The Herald Tribune reported on 10 June 1948, “Count Folk Bernadette, United Nations Mediator in Palestine, announced tonight that Jews and Arabs have agreed unconditionally to a four-week armistice.  The announcement was made in a message from the UN Mediator to Trygve Lie, United Nations Secretary-General.  Mr. Lie said that plans were being rushed to ensure strict observance of the cease-fire.  The arrangements called for Belgium, France and the United States to supply both vessels and military observers.  He said each country had been asked to send twenty-one military men.” (17)

This report described the beginning of the first peacekeeping operation in the history of the United Nations, officially named the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). The first group of UN military observers arrived between 11 and 14 June and were deployed in Palestine and some areas of the neighbouring Arab countries. However, 29 May 1948 is considered the start of the operation, since on that day the Security Council, in Resolution 50, decided to deploy military observers with the mandate to assist the UN Mediator in the supervision of the truce between Israel and Arab forces.

After a four-week truce expired, and large-scale fighting erupted again between Israel and Arab forces, the Security Council, in resolution 54 of 15 July 1948, ordered a cease-fire of indefinite duration.  The second group of military observers was deployed to each Arab army and each Israeli armed group, as well as in Jerusalem, the coast, ports and airports of the truce area. They also accompanied convoys between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Following United Nations Security Council’s resolution number 62 of the 16 November 1948, armistice agreement talks took place in Rhodes, Greece, between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Since June 1948 Rhodes was the base of the UN appointed Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte,  and remained after his assassination on 17 September 1948 in Jerusalem.  The talks begun on the 12th January 1949 and ended on the 20th July 1949. The talks were bilateral and took place as follows:

  • Egypt – Israel: 12 January 1949 – Agreement signed at Rhodes on 24 February 1949
  • Lebanon – Israel: Agreement signed at Ras En Naqoura on 23 March 1949
  • Jordan – Israel: 1 March 1949 – Agreement signed at Rhodes on 3 April 1949
  • Syria – Israel: April 1949 – Agreement signed at Hill 232, near Mahanayim, on 20 July 1949

The main venue, except for the Lebanon – Israel negotiations, was the Hotel of the Roses in Rhodes which had served as UN headquarters since the summer of 1948.It is important to note that the results of the talks were bilateral armistice agreements, not peace treaties.

The United Nations appointed an Acting Mediator for the talks, the American Ralph Bunche. In 1950 the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the first non-white person, the African-American and United Nations (UN) official Ralph Bunche. He received the Peace Prize for his efforts as mediator between Arabs and Jews in the Israeli-Arab war in 1948-1949. These efforts resulted in armistice agreements between the new state of Israel and four of its Arab neighbours: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

At the end of the talks and after the agreements were signed, Israel had gained more territory compared to the proposals of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (UN Resolution 181/1947). On 29 November 1947 over two-thirds of the United Nations membership voted in favor of General Assembly Resolution 181 proposing a partition of Palestine: 56% of the mandate territory was assigned to a Jewish state and 43% to an Arab state, with Jerusalem under international administration.

This article is about the Rhodes armistice talks.


It is important to clarify what is an armistice as opposed to a cease-fire agreement.

An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, since it may constitute only a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning «arms» (as in weapons) and -stitium, meaning «a stopping».(Wikipedia)

A cease-fire is typically a negotiated agreement to cease hostilities and take other steps to calm things down, like pulling back heavy weapons or marking out a “green line” or demilitarized zone to separate opposing forces. Though cease-fires are usually meant to be binding, to last a while and to hold even after a few violations, they do not themselves end a conflict, only pause it. (New York Times)


Photo: Ben Gurion signing the declaration of Independence, 14 May 1948

UN Resolution 62

The document that triggered the talks is Resolution 62 of the United Nations Security Council.

62 (1948). Resolution of 16 November 1948


The Security Council,

Reaffirming its previous resolutions concerning the establishment and implementation of the truce in Palestine, and recalling particularly its resolution 54 (1948) of 15 July 1948 which determined that the situation in Palestine constitutes a threat to the peace within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter of the United Nations,

Taking note that the General Assembly is continuing its consideration of the future government of Palestine in response to the request of the Security Council in its resolution 44 (1948) of 1 April 1948,

Without prejudice to the actions of the Acting Mediator regarding the implementation of Security Council resolution 61 (1948) of 4 November 1948,

1. Decides that, in order to eliminate the threat to the peace in Palestine and to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine, an armistice shall be established in all sectors of Palestine;

2. Calls upon the parties directly involved in the conflict in Palestine, as a further provisional measure under Article 40 of the Charter, to seek agreement forthwith, by negotiations conducted either directly or through the Acting Mediator, with a view to the immediate establishment of the armistice, including:

(a) The delineation of permanent armistice demarcation lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective parties shall not move;

(b) Such withdrawal and reduction of their armed forces will ensure the maintenance of the armistice during the transition to permanent peace in Palestine.


Photo: Count Folke Bernadotte and Ralph Bunche at their arrival in Palestine

The appointment of a United Nations (Acting) Mediator: 20 May 1948

Count Folke Bernadotte was appointed as United Nations Mediator on 20th May 1948, following the voting of resolution 186 of the United Nations General Assembly.


Resolution 186 of the United Nations General Assembly, S.II: 14 May 1948

The General Assembly,

Taking account of the present situation in regard to Palestine,

Strongly affirms its support of the efforts of the Security Council to secure a truce in Palestine and calls upon all Governments, organizations and persons to co-operate in making effective such a truce;

1. Empowers a United Nations Mediator in Palestine, to be chosen by a committee of the General Assembly composed of representatives of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, to exercise the following functions:

(a) To use his good offices with the local and community authorities in Palestine to:

i Arrange for the operation of common services necessary to the safety and well-being of the population of Palestine;

ii Assure the protection of the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites in Palestine;

iii Promote a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine.

(b) To co-operate with the Truce Commission for Palestine appointed by the Security Council in its resolution of 23 April 1948;

(c) To invite, as seems to him advisable, with a view to the promotion of the welfare of the inhabitants of Palestine, the assistance and co-operation of appropriate specialized agencies of the United Nations such as the World Health Organization, of the International Red Cross, and of other governmental or non-governmental organizations of a humanitarian and non-political character;

2. Instructs the United Nations Mediator to render progress reports monthly, or more frequently as he deems necessary, to the Security Council and to the Secretary-General for transmission to the Members of the United Nations;

3. Directs the United Nations Mediator to conform in his activities with the provisions of this resolution, and with such instructions as the General Assembly or the Security Council may issue;

4. Authorizes the Secretary-General to pay the United Nations Mediator an emolument equal to that paid to the President of the International Court of Justice, and to provide the Mediator with the necessary staff to assist in carrying out the functions assigned to the Mediator by the General Assembly.


Ralph Bunche (right) and Count Folke Bernadotte boarding a United Nations plane.
Photo: Courtesy of Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, City University of New York, Graduate Center


The United Nations 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine


Map: UNSCOP (3 September 1947; see green line) and UN Ad Hoc Committee (25 November 1947) partition plans. The UN Ad Hoc Committee proposal was voted on in the resolution.

During the spring and summer of 1947, a United Nations Special Committee on Palestine studied the competing demands of Jews and Arabs, and on August 31 produced a majority report that recommended partitioning the little country into separate Jewish and Arab states, with the Jerusalem area to be placed under United Nations administration. On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly approved partition, to take effect on May 15 of the following year. (9)

The territory during the 1948 war


Source: Vox


In June 1948 Count Bernadotte moved his headquarters to the island of Rhodes to have peaceful and neutral surroundings. (7) Rhodes was not the only option available to the UN. The use of a US aircraft carrier had also been considered.

Even in tranquil Rhodes, U.N.’s Palestine Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was offered a mediation job. Two local soccer teams, the Dorieus and Diagoras, both claimed the Rhodian championship, and the local one-sheet newspaper suggested that Bernadotte compose the quarrel. (Bernadotte was too busy.) Apart from that, all was serenity in the Dodecanese island which Bernadotte had chosen for his Palestine peace talks. Governor General Nicholas Mavris welcomed correspondents, many straight from embattled Palestine: «Now you have been able to discover an oasis of peace.» …Perhaps the happiest Rhodian of all was Michael Stamatoglu, manager of the Hotel des Roses. For the remaining half of the four-week truce period (summer of 1948), business would be brisk. Floor Waiter Georgiu was intrigued by Bernadotte’s request that half of the rooms reserved should be in one wing of the hotel, half in the other, as far apart as possible. «There are separate staircases too,» said Georgiu with a knowing wink, «which may be convenient.»(14)

Moshe Dayan, who joined the Jordan – Israel talks in March 1949, recalls in his memoirs how ‘Good food, spring weather, enchanting scenery … hundreds of butterflies
of all sizes and colours’ lent a ‘fairy tale air’ to the tough negotiations on achieving
armistice agreements between the opposing parties.

The two plans – suggestions of the UN Mediator 

The first plan

… in his diary, Bernadotte recalled that the first «outsider» to call on him when he arrived in Paris on June 15, en route to Palestine, was Ashley Clarke, Britain’s chargé d’affaires in France. Discreetly, Clarke intimated to Bernadotte the lines of mediation that would enjoy British support. These included a revision of the partition formula, with the southern part of the Negev Desert (which the United Nations had allocated to the Jews) to go to Abdullah of Transjordan, while the Jews would receive as compensation western Galilee (an area the United Nations had allocated to the Arabs but which the Jews already had overrun). Finally, Jerusalem, originally designated for United Nations administration, should be given over to Abdullah in its totality, including the Jewish New City, whose inhabitants would enjoy autonomy. Evidently Bernadotte was impressed by this scenario. In his own version, which he presented to the Security Council on June 27, he followed Britain’s proposals with only minor alterations. Unwilling to abandon their claim to the Negev Desert, or the reality of their military control of Jerusalem’s New City, the Israelis vehemently rejected the Bernadotte plan. So did the Syrians and Egyptians, who were not interested in legitimizing Abdullah’s rule over eastern Palestine.(9)

The second plan 

The second plan was published on the 16th September 1948, one day before the Mediator was assassinated in Jerusalem.



Photo: United Nations member Abdel Moneim Moustafa (3L) speaking with Count Folke Bernadotte (C) on the island of Rhodes. (Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

There is a theory that the second suggestion of Bernadotte would be accepted by UN’s General Assembly and this is the reason why he was assassinated. It is true that Bernadotte pushed his report forward for consideration and decision by the General Assembly, as indicated in the following excerpt of his second report.

«III.16. As a result of these talks, I became convinced: (a) that it would be of utmost urgency that the General Assembly consider and reach decisions upon the Palestine question at its forthcoming session; (b) that if the General Assembly should reach firm and equitable decisions on the principal political issues there would be a reasonable prospect that settlement could be achieved if not by formal at least by tacit acceptance; and (c) that the truce could be maintained with reasonable fidelity throughout the General Assembly session but that it might be gravely doubted that it could be indefinitely prolonged beyond then in the absence of tangible progress toward a settlement.»


Photo: Count Folke Bernadotte (R) shaking hands with Governor Nicolaos Mavris  (L) of the Dodecanese Islands. (Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Some Israelis were mistrustful of Count Bernadotte, whom they considered to be working to advance the interests of the British. The Lehi group, which included future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir, regarded Bernadotte as an agent of the British government, and wanted him dead.(7)


Photo: Count Folke Bernadotte (C) walking down the aisle of «Evagelismos», a Greek Orthodox church in Rhodes with Governor Nicolaos Mavris(C L). (Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The fundamental issues in Palestine at the time

A chapter in the second plan submitted by Bernadotte, outlined the fundamental issues in Palestine as follows:

  • partition,
  • the Jewish State,
  • Jewish immigration and
  • Arab refugees.

The Acting Mediator

Ralph J. Bunche was appointed as Acting Mediator after the assassination of the Mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, in September 1948.

When news of Bernadotte’s death reached the UN, Secretary General Trygve Lie immediately phoned Bunche and asked him to succeed Bernadotte and carry on the mediation effort. Despite awareness of the personal danger posed by the role, Bunche did not hesitate to accept Lie’s request. Bunche travelled to Paris, where he met with UN representatives to discuss the new borders between Jews and Arabs that he and Bernadotte had proposed. (7)

Bunche formed his basic attitude to the Palestine issue when he served on the staff of UNSCOP. The committee, made up of representatives of 11 countries, was created in May 1947 by a special session of the UN General Assembly to study the Palestine issue and submit recommendations to the regular General Assembly session that would convene in September.(10)

The general principles laid down in those four Armistice Agreements are alike. In each of them the two parties undertake to respect the injunction of the Security Council against resort to military force in the settlement of the Palestine question; in each the parties pledge to refrain from aggressive action and to respect the right of the other party to its security and freedom from fear of attack; in each of the General Armistice Agreements the parties moreover recognized these agreements as indispensable steps towards the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine; furthermore the respective parties acknowledge in each Armistice Agreement that no provision of the Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of the other party in any ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question. (16)

The Egypt – Israel Agreement (Rhodes)

Israel demanded that Egypt withdraw all its forces from the former area of Palestine, Egypt insisted that Arab forces withdraw to the positions which they held on 14 October 1948, as under Security Council Resolution S/1070 of 4 November 1948. One reason for the deadlock was the mounting tension in Egypt, which culminated on 12 February 1949 in the murder of Hassan el-Banah, leader of the ultra-nationalist Moslem Brotherhood. In early February, Israel threatened to abandon the talks, where upon the United States appealed to the parties to bring them to a successful conclusion, and on 24 February the Israel-Egypt armistice agreement was signed in Rhodes.(6)

In the early hours of February 24, 1949, on the Greek island of Rhodes, Dr. Ralph J. Bunche emerged from the Egyptian-Israeli talks to announce the signing of a General Armistice Agreement. (2)

Bunche, the chief negotiator for the United Nations, compliments both sides on their «restraint and dignity,» promising that this is «only the first of the agreements with the Arab states, which will ensure a return of peace to Palestine and the Near East.» Although the marathon talks were arduous, Bunche was so confident in eventual success that he had commissioned a local potter to make commemorative ceramics, which he then presented to the representatives upon the signing of the document. When the Israeli negotiator Moshe Dayan asked what he would have done if they had failed to come to an agreement, Bunche replied, «I’d have broken the plates over your damn heads.» (2)



Rhodes, Greece, 1949. 10 x 10. «The plate was purchased by Dayan’s then wife, Rut Dayan at the negotiations in 1949. The negotiations took place ins Rhodes Greece. The plate is decorated with blue, green and red flowers and bear the words «»Armistice Negotiations Rhodes, 1949.»» (1)

israel_egyptian_armistice_rhodes Photo: Rafael Eytan signs the armistice between Egypt and Israel on 24 February 1949, in the Hotel de Roses on Rhodes. Beside him is Yigael Yadin. Across the tables is Ralph Bunche (2nd from left) and others in the UN meditation group.


Photo: The Israeli negotiating team—(right to left) Reuven Shiloah, Walter Eytan, Yigal Yadin, Moshe Sasson, and Shabtai Rosenne– posing outside the plane that bore them to Rhodes for the 1949 armistice meetings. (CZA Photos)

The Jordan – Israel  Agreement (Rhodes)

At the beginning of March 1949, talks began on the island of Rhodes between Israeli and Jordanian representatives under the chairmanship of Dr. Bunche. The major issues raised by Israel were free access to Jewish Holy Places in Jerusalem, border rectification, and the presence of Iraqi forces in the West Bank. Jordan sought to raise the Arab refugee question and the question of passage from the Old City of Jerusalem to Bethlehem. On 3 April, the agreement was signed, fixing the armistice line of the West Bank, transferring to Israel a number of Arab villages in the central part of the country and providing for a mixed committee to work out arrangements in Jerusalem (Article VIII). (5)

In his memoirs, Dayan wrote that the members of the Jordanian delegation were utterly
unsuited for the negotiations; according to Eytan, ‘they looked helpless and lost’.
He surmised that the king had deliberately chosen weak delegates so that he could
maintain total control of the proceedings. This was indeed the purpose of the
Jordanian representatives in Rhodes; from the very first they made sure Bunche
knew that any step taken on the island would first have to be approved in Amman.(4)



Photo: King Abdullah of Jordan in front of the Holy Sepulchre, 1948

Although he never set foot on Rhodes, the key person in the negotiations was King Abdullah of Jordan.

A complicating factor in the Jordan – Israel negotiations, was the presence of Iraqi troops in Palestine. The Iraqis did not enter the armistice negotiations as they did not want to be accused that they recognize the state of Israel.


Photo: Moshe Dayan signs the Jordan – Israel agreement

In 1953 Moshe Dayan was appointed Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Force.

«… he felt that the border with Jordan, which he himself had helped negotiate, was impossible to live with and had to be replaced by a natural border running along the Jordan river.» (11)

The Lebanon – Israel Agreement (Ras En Naqoura)

The agreement with Lebanon was signed on 23 March 1949. The main points were (15):

  • The armistice line («Green Line», see also Blue Line (Lebanon)) was drawn along the international border.
  • Unlike the other agreements, there was no clause disclaiming this line as an international border, which was thereafter treated as it had been previously, as a de jure international border.
  • Israel withdrew its forces from 13 villages in Lebanese territory, which were occupied during the war.

The Syria – Israel Agreement (Hill 232, near Malanayim at the Syrian-Israeli border)

The agreement with Syria was signed on July 20, 1949.Syria withdrew its forces from most of the territories it controlled west of the international border, which became demilitarized zones. It was emphasised that the armistice line was «not to be interpreted as having any relation whatsoever to ultimate territorial arrangements.» (Article V) (15)


Iraq, whose forces took an active part in the war (although it has no common border with Israel), withdrew its forces from the region in March 1949. The front occupied by Iraqi forces was covered by the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan and there was no separate agreement with Iraq. (15)

The partition of territory after the armistice of 1949

At the end of the armistice talks, Israel had gained 77% of Palestine, a significant increase (22%) over the percentage allocated to it by Resolution of 1947. A massive exodus of Palestinians marked the end of the 1948 war and the 1949 agreements. It is estimated that more than 700,000 Arabs left/were thrown out of their homes.


United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)

The «UNTSO» was the first peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations. All the members of the party were experienced international civil servants with a background of service with the United Nations Secretariat at Headquarters. While on duty in Palestine, they were to continue to wear United Nations guard uniforms.

The period from August 1949 to June 1956 was initially chaotic but quickly settled into a routine of complaints on the Jordanian, Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese fronts. It was initially possible for the UN personnel to deal with complaints of violations of the «Truce» at the Local Commander level. As time progressed there arose a culture of claim and counter claim by the participating parties and regardless of the hard work and genuine intent of UNTSO the intensity of the violent incidents increased.

UNTSO military observers remain in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region.


Mandelbaum Gate, Jerusalem, 1949

Mixed Armistice Commissions

In order to implement these general principles as well as the specific provisions laid down in the four General Armistice Agreements, each Agreement provides for the establishment of a Mixed Armistice Commission consisting of an equal number of Israeli and Arab representatives and a neutral chairman appointed by the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization from the United Nations Military Personnel assigned to the Mission. The General Armistice Agreements between Israel on the one side and. the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria on the other side, provide that the respective Mixed Armistice Commissions shall consist, in addition to the Chairman, of two Israeli and two Arab representatives. In the case of the Egyptian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission provision was made for three representatives from each side.

The MACs were very different from one another, bringing about four unique peacekeeping missions under the head of the UNTSO.

The Egyptian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission has its permanent headquarters at the former Palestinian frontier post of El Auja, a place consisting of two ramshackle stone houses and an equally dilapidated building.

The Mixed Armistice Commission for Israel and the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom has set up its headquarters at Mandelbaum Gate, crossing point between the Israeli and the Arab part of Jerusalem and the most thoroughly destroyed part of the Holy City. (16)


The armistice agreements were seen as temporary settlements which would later
be replaced by permanent peace agreements. But the conflict between Israel and the
Arabs and Palestinians was bound to continue, for the great problem which had
caused the war in the first place – the struggle between Jews and Arab Palestinians
for mastery of the land – was still unresolved at the war’s end. Worse still, the war
had created a particular problem that was to fester and provoke unrest for more
than fifty years: the Palestinian refugees.(8)

The outcome of the negotiations left the Arabs with a bitter taste. A Norwegian researcher observes:

«New empirical evidence shows that this imbalance of power on the ground was strengthened by strong support in Israel’s favor from the UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie, as well as from the US administration. Such support served to limit the UN mediator’s room for maneuver and ultimately contributed to a biased agreement.» (13)

Ben Gurion stated in November 1956 after the Suez war that, «[T]he armistice with Egypt is dead, as are the armistice lines, and no wizards or magicians can resurrect these lines.»(12)


  1. ABAA. Moshe Dayan’s personally owned commemorative ceramic plate from the 1949 Israel and Jordan Armistice negotiations.
  2. WNYC. Ralph Bunche Announces Landmark 1949 Arab-Israeli General Armistice Agreement
  3. VOX. 9 questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict you were too embarrassed to ask
  4. Elad ben-Dror. The Armistice Talks between Israel and Jordan, 1949: The View from Rhodes.
  5. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement, April 1949.
  6. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Egypt-Jordan Armistice Agreement, February 1949.
  7. Ralph Bunche: UN Mediator in the Middle East, 1948-1949.
  8. Ahron Bregman, Israels Wars 1947- 1993.
  9. Howard M. Sachar: Israel and Europe. An Appraisal in History
  10. Elad ben-Dror. Ralph Bunche and the Establishment of Israel.
  11. Avi Schlaim. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.
  13. Hilde Henriksen Waage. The Winner Takes All: The 1949 Island of Rhodes Armistice Negotiations Revisited. Middle East Journal. Vol. 65, No. 2, Richard B. Parker Memorial Issue (Spring 2011), pp. 279-304
  14. Time Magazine, Monday, June 28, 1948.
  15. Rhodes Armistice Agreement 1949 in which al Faluja Siege was decided upon.


SYRIZA- ANEL: Two years in power – and now what?

Κυριακή, 28 Αυγούστου, 2016


Alexis Tsipras

As 2016 approaches its end, the ruling coalition of SYRIZA – ANEL are completing two years in power. I think this is a good time to make an assessment of these two years and ask what are the prospects of Greece in this context. For the reader who is not familiar with contemporary Greek politics, SYRIZA is a self-professed party of the left, led by Alexis Tsipras – the Prime Minister of Greece – and ANEL is a splinter group of the traditional right which under the leadership of Panos Kammenos – the Minister of National Defence – was voted in Parliament and secured a deal with SYRIZA in order to jointly govern the country.


Panos Kammenos

Let me start by saying that the politics of SYRIZA – ANEL are not my cup of tea. With very few exceptions, I do not like what I hear from them and I do not support it. Having cleared this, I am not of the opinion that they are useless or a disaster, or that their rule is going to bring the country to its demise.

SYRIZA – ANEL quite simply are very similar in their policies to the previous governments and cannot thus make any significant difference. There are differences, but in the overall context of the country’s problems, these are not significant. As an Greek politician of the left used to say, «there is no big difference between broccoli and cabbage». On the ideological front there is a lot of talk about the Greek State and what a Modernization Program should do to it, but this is a lot of noise for very little.


Kyriakos Mitsotakis

As SYRIZA – ANEL are now solidifying their power base, the main opposition party, New Democracy, have elected a new leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis,  to lead the party to new victories and power again.   The issue here is that a new leader has not made the difference needed to regain power. Almost eight months after the election, New Democracy continues to be a tired, aged, boring party that has no new policies, faces, and initiatives to attract the voters.Even more importantly, the shadow of the previous Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, the nephew of the founder of the New Democracy Party Konstantinos Karamanlis, continues to be visible form all places and angles inside and outside the party, the best place being the Presidential Building, where its current inhabitant used to be one of the key friends and supporters of Kostas Karamanlis.


Kostas Karamanlis

SYRIZA – ANEL may not be very good, or even they may be bad, but it appears that New Democracy in the eyes of many voters continues to be worse than the ruling coalition.

New Democracy continuously alleges that SYRIZA – ANEL lied to people about their political program and are now following a program that is more or less a continuation of the previous plan to repay the country’s debt and restart the economy. But its argument is very weak, because in politics the issue is how to gain and retain power. If you do that by allegedly lying to the voters, but the voters continue to support you, you have achieved your objective.  It may not be the best of ways, but it is a way. New Democracy must realize that we all have had enough with accusations, allegations, about who is a liar, who deceived the people, and so on, and focus instead on creating a pragmatic agenda for the country. So far this has not happened.

We have arrived at the major problem in Greek politics today.

The political field is barren, devoid of the much needed change and new direction, and the voters are so desperate with the crisis, the ever increasing taxes and cost of life, that they are prone to believe what SYRIZA – ANEL are promising to them, even if these promises are obviously ridiculous, not to say lies, rather than lose all hope and resort to the New Democracy platform which is simply unappealing, weak and boring.

The significant weaknesses of New Democracy, the lack of any change of personnel in key positions, the lack of appeal to the electorate, provide SYRIZA – ANEL with the best opportunity to regroup and strengthen their positions,  which is not hard to do given that the main opposition is so unbelievably weak.

In a nutshell, Greek politics is entering a period of stagnation, thanks primarily to the non-existent main opposition and the fact that some shrewd political operators in SYRIZA – ANEL are now focusing on and discovering ways to maintain power.

It is indicative of the situation that although three months ago there was intensive talk of new elections, as SYRIZA – ANEL were afraid of the rebirth of New Democracy under new leadership and popular discontent brought about by new hopes raised by a «reborn» party, all of this has today disappeared. SYRIZA – ANEL have realized that the giant of the opposition has legs made of glass and that the opposition have not been able to increase significantly their appeal to the electorate. In two words, there is no reason for SYRIZA – ANEL to worry about losing their power base. All they have to do is keep the boat steady and avoid a major hick up in their relationships with Greece’s creditors.

The main risk factor for SYRIZA – ANEL maintaining their power until the end of their term (September 2019) is the economy. Any miss-happening in the economy may destabilize the agreements with Greece’s creditors and create serious problems for the Government. It appears that nothing else can come close to having the capacity to create a crisis and lead the country to premature elections.

It is interesting to note that both on the SYRIZA – ANEL camp and the New Democracy side, the parties are supposedly unable to face reality and make some comments that might – to say the least – tempt even the most good willing voter to distance themselves. For SYRIZA – ANEL the government is fighting the good cause of Greece and this is basically it. They are also cleaning up the horrible mess of illegal transactions that characterized the previous regime. They bring an end to favoritism in public life.

For New Democracy they situation is similar. They are running a campaign to rid the country of a failed government. The problem for them is that SYRIZA – ANEL are in power, and New Democracy are not. And unless we have early elections, the «failed» government will continue to be in power.

The surprise in this may come from a significant change in the leadership style of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, that would make New Democracy appealing to the voters and might change the party. This is a long shot and rather unlikely.

Assuming the situation continues as it is today, the 2019 elections will be a political battle where all means and weapons will be used. The issue is that this will only answer the question of who is going to be in power. Most likely, unfortunately for the Greek electorate, the huge problems the country is facing will continue to exist, if not become even more urgent and pressing. And the horrible thing for Greece is that the political parties that can gain power will continue to have no clue as to what needs to be done. The reasons for this will be examined in another post.

















































































































































































































































































































This is a post about kokoretsi, the offal delicacy, grilled on charcoal. The challenge is that on this occasion there is no spit.


Αυτό το άρθρο έχει θέμα του το ψήσιμο του κοκορετσιού στα κάρβουνα. Η πρόκληση προέρχεται από το ότι το κοκορέτσι δεν έχει περαστεί σε σούβλα, αλλά είναι σε δίχτυ.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos


«Εκ του τέλους άρχεσθαι»  Άγνωστος Σύγχρονος Φιλόσοφος

Ο Galip Tokoz, ιδιοκτήτης της αλυσίδας ταχυφαγείων Sampiyon Kokorec, δήλωσε σε δημοσιογράφο εφημερίδας: «Το κοκορέτσι είναι για τους Τούρκους σαν την μορφίνη».

Αγαπημένο το κοκορέτσι και στην Ελλάδα μας. Σύμφωνα με διάφορα άρθρα που διαβάζω στο διαδίκτυο, το έτρωγαν και οι Αρχαίοι Έλληνες χιλιάδες χρόνια πριν. Ένα άρθρο αναφέρει ότι στον Όμηρο το κοκορέτσι είναι η «πλεκτή». Στο έγκυρο λεξικό Liddell-Scott όμως αναφέρεται ως σπείρα, συστροφή, σχοινί, κορδόνι.

Άλλη μια λέξη που αναφέρεται ότι είναι το κοκορέτσι στην αρχαία ελληνική είναι «μίμαρκυν». Στο ίδιο λεξικό όμως η λέξη «μίμαρκυς» ορίζεται σαν λαγός σε σούπα ή στο ίδιο του το αίμα, με αναφορά στους Αχαρνείς του Αριστοφάνη.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos


Δύσκολο λοιπόν το να βρεις την άκρη με τους αρχαίους Έλληνες και το κοκορέτσι. Όχι τόσο δύσκολο όμως για τους σύγχρονους. Μαζί με τους Τούρκους και τους Αλβανούς είμαστε σήμερα οι μόνοι που τρώμε κοκορέτσι.

Σύμφωνα με τον καθηγητή Μπαμπινιώτη, η λέξη κοκορέτσι προέρχεται από την αλβανική kukurec. Η αλβανική καταγωγή αναφέρεται και από   την «That Best Bite» που αναφέρει ότι το κοκορέτσι μπήκε μαζικά στην Τουρκική αγορά ταχυφαγείων στη δεκαετία του 1960, όταν πολλοί Αλβανοί δούλευαν στην κρεαταγορά της Κωνσταντινούπολης.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

Πρόσφατα έψησα για πρώτη φορά ένα κοκορέτσι στο δίχτυ στα κάρβουνα, γιατί η ψησταριά ήτανε μικρή και δεν χωρούσε σούβλα. Είχα τόσο  μεγάλη αγωνία για το τελικό αποτέλεσμα, που αποθανάτισα το ψήσιμο και έτσι προέκυψε αυτό το χρονικό. Η αγωνία είναι εν μέρει δικαιολογημένη, αφού μέχρι τώρα δεν είχα ψήσει ποτέ κοκορέτσι στο δίχτυ στα κάρβουνα.

Το κοκορέτσι το έφτιαξε ο ΛΑΜΠΡΟΣ, ένα εξαιρετικό κρεοπωλείο στη στενή Ευβοίας, από όπου προμηθεύομαι τα κρεατικά μου. Ζύγιζε 3 κιλά όταν το πήρα. Αφού στράγγιξε καλά ολονυκτίς, ήτανε έτοιμο για ψήσιμο. Πριν το βάλω στην φωτιά το αλάτισα και πιπέρισα ελαφρά. Όταν η πρώτη ύλη είναι υψηλής ποιότητας, πρέπει να διαφυλαχθεί ως κόρη οφθαλμού η πραγματική γεύση και τα αρώματα της, χωρίς διαστρεβλώσεις.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

Η αρχή του ψησίματος έχει ένα βασικό σκοπό. Να «ιδρώσει» το κοκορέτσι χωρίς να καεί.  Αυτό σημαίνει δυνατή φωτιά, αλλά και αρκετή απόσταση από τη φωτιά, με δεδομένο ότι δεν έχεις την ευχέρεια να γυρίζεις το κοκορέτσι συνέχεια, αλλά μόνο κάθε 5 λεπτά περίπου. Το χρώμα είναι πολύ ανοικτό.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

Μετά από 20 λεπτά το χρώμα έχει αρχίζει να αλλάζει, ενώ έχει αρχίσει να στάζει. Το στάξιμο το σημάδι ότι η θερμοκρασία είναι η σωστή.  Όσο περνάει η ώρα το χρώμα σκουραίνει, ενώ αρχίζει και η ευωδία από τις σταγόνες που πέφτουν στα κάρβουνα και εξαερώνονται σκορπίζοντας εκατομμύρια σωματίδια στον αέρα. Στο χρονικό αυτό σημείο πρέπει να μειωθεί η απόσταση από τη φωτιά, ενώ η συχνότητα γυρίσματος γίνεται 10 από πέντε λεπτά.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

60 λεπτά. Αρχίζει να μελώνει. Αυτό που βλέπετε στην επάνω μεριά είναι μια κρούστα γεμάτη νοστιμιά. Με την πρόοδο του ψησίματος βλέπετε και την αισθητή μείωση της διαμέτρου του κοκορετσιού. Καλό σημάδι, και απόδειξη της φρεσκάδας των υλικών. Προσθέτω κάρβουνα στη φωτιά, όχι πολλά, ο στόχος είναι η συντήρηση και όχι η ενίσχυση.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

120 λεπτά. Η θερμοκρασία έχει ανέβει πολύ, και αρχίζει να σκουραίνει το έντερο, με την εμφάνιση του φαινομένου Maillard. Η κρούστα επεκτείνεται, το χρώμα σκουραίνει ακόμη περισσότερο.

Το φαινόμενο Maillard είναι στην ουσία ο γάμος μορίων υδρογονάνθρακα με αμινοξέα, στον οποίο προστίθενται και μόρια νατρίου και θείου. Το σκούρο καφέ χρώμα και η έντονη μεστή γεύση (umami)  οφείλονται σε αυτό το φαινόμενο. Το φαινόμενο για να εμφανισθεί απαιτούνται θερμοκρασίες πάνω από 120 βαθμούς Κελσίου. Αν σκεφτούμε ότι το νερό βράζει στους 100 βαθμούς, έχουμε την εξήγηση γιατί τα βραστά φαγητά ή τα φαγητά χύτρας δεν έχουν σκούρο χρώμα, παρεκτός εάν έχουμε προηγούμενα τσιγαρίσει τα υλικά.

Όπως έχει πει ο κάτοχος βραβείου Νόμπελ στη Χημεία Jean-Marie Lehn, «Το φαινόμενο Maillard είναι η πιο διαδεδομένη εφαρμοσμένη χημική αντίδραση στον κόσμο.»

Προσθέτω κάρβουνα στη φωτιά.



Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

160 λεπτά. Το καραμέλωμα έχει απλωθεί παντού. Το μόνο που μένει τώρα είναι να γίνει τραγανό το έντερο στην εξωτερική επιφάνεια, χωρίς όμως να στεγνώσει μέσα.

180 λεπτά. Το τέλος του ψησίματος. 3 ώρες, για 3 κιλά.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

Προσέξτε πόσο έχει μικρύνει η διάμετρος! Επίσης, πόσο λεπτή είναι η «φλούδα» με τα έντερα. Και έτσι πρέπει στο κοκορέτσι με φρέσκα υλικά. Σε πολλές ταβέρνες βρίσκω κοκορέτσι τεραστίων διαστάσεων με μια φλούδα έντερα περίπου μισό πόντο. Αυτό δεν μου αρέσει, και «μυρίζει» κατεψυγμένα έντερα από την Ισπανία και εντόσθια από πολύ μεγάλα ζώα.  Το σωστό κοκορέτσι όμως θέλει εντόσθια από μικρό (κάτω του 12μηνου) ζώο και φρέσκα έντερα.


Kokoretsi – Photo: N. Moropoulos

Το αποτέλεσμα της διαδικασίας είναι – χωρίς μετριοφροσύνη – εξαιρετικό. Τα έντερα τραγανά έξω, ζουμερά μέσα, τα εντόσθια γεμάτα χυμούς και αρώματα. Το αλάνθαστο τεστ, το λίπος, είναι γλυκό και δεν σε μπουκώνει. Όσο καλύτερο το ζώο, τόσο καλύτερο και το λίπος του. Το ίδιο ισχύει και για τα γλυκάδια, τα οποία όπως λέει και το όνομα τους είναι γλύκισμα. Τα εντόσθια γεμάτα νοστιμιά.

Μπράβο στον ΛΑΜΠΡΟ που έχει τέτοια ποιότητα, μπράβο και στον ψήστη που ολοκλήρωσε την αποστολή του!  Ζήτω το κοκορέτσι! Και την επόμενη φορά ένδοξο σπληνάντερο! Και γαρδούμπες!



Executive Summary

Dear non-Greek speaking readers, I am honored to have you visiting my site.

This is to let you know that this post is written in Greek only. It describes an agonizing attempt to sacrifice a white lamb to an unfulfilled love. Similar to the sorry state of the love itself and the unfortunate love stricken author, the sacrifice fails miserably.

The  post is not translated because the whole story is built around cultural references that only a Greek speaking person can decode to an adequate level, and thus appreciate the level of genius that is required in order to write this post. I am a modest person by nature and thus do not want to elaborate this point further.


Το Πάσχα ανάμεσα σε όλα τα άλλα είναι και η θυσία του αμνού. Ο αγνός και αθώος αμνός θυσιάζεται. Πληρώνει με τη ζωή του για κάποιον σκοπό κάποιων άλλων, εκτός από αυτόν.

Η θυσία σαν τελετουργία πάει χιλιετίες πίσω.

Αρχίζοντας από τον Όμηρο, διαβάζουμε στην Ιλιάδα για την εκατόμβη που προσφέρουν ο Οδυσσέας και ο Χρύσης στον Φοίβο Απόλλωνα για να ελεηθεί τους Δαναούς.

Ευκαιρία να δούμε μερικές σχετικές λέξεις στο Ομηρικό κείμενο, με τη βοήθεια του λεξικού Liddell $ Scott, ενώ οι αποδόσεις στα νέα ελληνικά είναι των Ι.Θ. Κακριδή και Ν. Καζαντζάκη.

  • αυερύω, αυέρυσα: έλκω το κεφάλι του θύματος προς τα πίσω, έτσι ώστε να κόψω το λαιμό του. Η απόδοση στα νέα ελληνικά είναι «αναλαιμίζω»
  • σφάζω, έσφαξα: σφαγιάζω τα ζώα που πρέπει να προσφερθούν ως θυσία. Η λέξη δεν έχει αλλάξει, είναι η ίδια στα νέα ελληνικά!
  • δέρω, έδειρα: αφαιρώ το δέρμα. Στη νέα ελληνική, η λέξη είναι γδέρνω.
  • σπλάγχνα: εντόσθια που φυλάσσονταν και τα έτρωγαν οι προσφέροντες την θυσία. Στη νεοελληνική έχουμε τη λέξη «σπλάχνα». Δηλαδή χάσαμε στη διαδρομή των χιλιετιών ένα «γάμμα».
  • οβελός, οβελοίσιν: σούβλα. Στη νεοελληνική χρησιμοποιούμε και την λέξη «οβελίας».

Ομήρου Ιλιάδα, Α’ 440 – 469 (απόδοση Ι.Θ. Κακριδής, Ν. Καζαντζάκης)

Τότε ο Οδυσσέας ό πολυκάτεχος μπρος στο βωμό τη φέρνει

και την παράδωσε στου κύρη της τα χέρια λέγοντας του:

«Χρύση, ο ρηγάρχης Αγαμέμνονας με στέλνει να σου δώσω

πίσω την κόρη, και να σφάξουμε περίσσια αρνιά στο Φοίβο,

να ελεηθεί, αν θελήσει η χάρη του, τους Δαναούς, τι αλήθεια

με πίκρες έχει πολυστέναχτες ποτίσει τους Αργίτες.»

Τούτα μιλώντας του την έδωκε, κι αυτός την κόρη εδέχτη

όλο χαρά᾿ κι εκείνοι γρήγορα τ᾿ αγιάτικα σφαχτάρια

στήσαν αράδα, στον καλόχτιστο βωμό του Φοίβου γύρω.

… (η ευχή του Χρύση)

Είπε, και την ευκή του επάκουσεν ο Απόλλωνας ο Φοίβος·

κι ως ευκηθήκαν και πασπάλισαν μετά τ᾿ αγιοκριθάρια,

αναλαιμίσαν τ᾿ αρνοκάτσικα, τα σφάξανε, τα γδάραν,

χώρισαν τα μεριά, τα τύλιξαν τρογύρα με τη σκέπη,

διπλώνοντας τη, κι από πάνω τους κομμάτια κρέας πιθώσαν.

Σε σκίζες πάνω ο γέρος τα ‘καιγε, και με κρασί φλογάτο

τα περεχούσε, και πεντόσουβλες στο πλάι του οι νιοί κρατούσαν.

Και σύντας τα μεριά αποκάηκαν και γεύτηκαν τα σπλάχνα,

λιανίσαν τ᾿ άλλα και περνώντας τα στις σούβλες να τα ψήνουν

επήραν γνοιαστικά, κι ως ψήθηκαν, τ᾿ αποτραβήξαν όλα.

Κι απ᾿ τις δουλειές αυτές σα σκόλασαν κι ετοίμασαν τις τάβλες,

έτρωγαν, κι είχαν ως εταίριαζε καθείς το μερτικό του.

και σύντας του πιοτού θαράπεψαν και του φαγιού τον πόθο…


Πάντα υπάρχει ένα άσπρο αρνάκι

Εμπνευσμένος από τους Δαναούς,  αλλά και τον Άγιο Ιωάννη, που απεικονίζεται ως παις με τον αμνό, αποφάσισα να θυσιάσω κι εγώ έναν αμνό.  Ο Κατακουζηνός δεν αναφέρει θυσίες, καθόσον το ποίημα είναι παιδικό. Όπως όμως όλοι γνωρίζουμε, τα αρνάκια μπορεί να πάθουνε πολλά χειρότερα από το να σπάσουν ένα ποδαράκι!

 Αλέξανδρος Κατακουζηνός, «Το αρνάκι»

 Αρνάκι άσπρο και παχύ

της μάνας του καμάρι

εβγήκε εις την εξοχή

και στο χλωρό χορτάρι.

Απ’ τη χαρά του την πολλή

απρόσεκτα πηδούσε

της μάνας του τη συμβουλή

καθόλου δέν ψηφούσε.

«Καθὼς παιδί μου προχωρείς

και σαν ελάφι τρέχης

να κακοπάθης ημπορείς

και πρέπει να προσέχεις».

Χαντάκι βρέθηκε βαθύ

ορμά σαν παλληκάρι

να το πηδήση προσπαθεί

και σπάει το ποδάρι!


Μαρία η μοιραία γυναίκα

Ο αμνός θα θυσιασθεί στην ποδιά της Μαρίας της Πενταγιώτισσας. Μπας και σπάσει η γκίνια και ο έρωτας μου παύσει να είναι ανεκπλήρωτος.

«Μαρία Πενταγιώτισσα», Δημώδες Άσμα της Φωκίδας

Στα Σάλωνα σφάζουν αρνιά, Μαρία Πενταγιώτισσα

Αχ, και στο Χρυσό κριάρια, μωρή δασκαλοποόλα

Και στης Μαρίας την ποδιά, Μαρία Πενταγιώτισσα

Αχ, σφάζουνται παλικάρια, παιδιά σαν τα βλαστάρια

Μαρία, πού ‘ν’ τ’ αδέρφια σου; Μαρία Πενταγιώτισσα

Αχ, μωρή δασκαλοποόλα, που ‘σύ τα κάνεις ούλα


Διονύσιος ο αισιόδοξος

Το Πάσχα είναι η Άνοιξη.  Και είναι ο ξανθός ο Απρίλης που βρίσκεται πίσω από την θυσία του αμνού, αυτός φταίει για όλα, που έστησε χορό με τον έρωτα και μου πήραν τα μυαλά, και θυμήθηκα την Μαρία, και μόνο με μια θυσία θα ηρεμήσω.

Τώρα που το καλοσκέφτηκα, για τη θυσία φταίει και ο Σολωμός και όλοι οι ρομαντικοί ποιητές που με έκαναν τόσο ευαίσθητο και κάθομαι και ασχολούμαι με ανεκπλήρωτους έρωτες. Όχι ότι η Μαρία η Πενταγιώτισσα δεν το αξίζει, χαλάλι της όλα, αλλά η θυσία είναι θυσία.

Όπως έχετε καταλάβει ευρίσκομαι ενώπιον διλήμματος. Να θυσιάσω ή να μη θυσιάσω;

 Διονύσιος Σολωμός, «Ελεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι»


Έστησ’ ο Έρωτας χορό με τον ξανθόν Απρίλη,

Κι η φύσις ηύρε την καλή και τη γλυκιά της ώρα,

Και μες στη σκιά που φούντωσε και κλει δροσιές και μόσχους

Ανάκουστος κιλαϊδισμός και λιποθυμισμένος.

Νερά καθάρια και γλυκά, νερά χαριτωμένα,

Χύνονται μες την άβυσσο τη μοσχοβολισμένη,

Και παίρνουνε το μόσχο της, κι αφήνουν τη δροσιά τους,

Κι ούλα στον ήλιο δείχνοντας τα πλούτια της πηγής τους,

Τρέχουν εδώ, τρέχουν εκεί, και κάνουν σαν αηδόνια.

Έξ’ αναβρύζει κι η ζωή σ’ γη, σ’ ουρανό, σε κύμα.

Αλλά στης λίμνης το νερό, π’ ακίνητό ‘ναι κι άσπρο,

Ακίνητ’ όπου κι αν ιδής, και κάτασπρ’ ως τον πάτο,

Με μικρόν ίσκιον άγνωρον έπαιξ’ η πεταλούδα,

Που ‘χ’ ευωδίσει τς ύπνους της μέσα στον άγριο κρίνο.

Αλαφροίσκιωτε καλέ, για πες απόψε τι ‘δες;

Νύχτα γιομάτη θαύματα, νύχτα σπαρμένη μάγια!

Χωρίς ποσώς γης, ουρανός και θάλασσα να πνένε,

Ουδ’ όσο κάν’ η μέλισσα κοντά στο λουλουδάκι,

Γύρου σε κάτι ατάραχο π’ ασπρίζει μες στη λίμνη,

Μονάχο ανακατώθηκε το στρογγυλό φεγγάρι,

Κι όμορφη βγαίνει κορασιά ντυμένη με το φως του.


Μάρκος ο απαισιόδοξος

Ο Μάρκος ο Βαμβακάρης έπιασε αλλιώς το θέμα της Άνοιξης.  Βαθύτατα ερωτικός τύπος, ο Βαμβακάρης μάλλον περνούσε ερωτική απογοήτευση όταν έγραψε αυτό το ποίημα και το σχετικό τραγούδι.

Είναι όμως ακριβώς αυτή η ικανότητα να κρύβεις μέσα σου το ολόκληρο το βαθύ σχίσμα που χωρίζει τον ψεύτη ντουνιά από τα ματόκλαδα που λάμπουν, που σε κάνει μεγάλο (ή μεγάλη).

Κι έτσι ο Μάρκος που εδώ τα βλέπει όλα μαύρα ξαφνικά συνέρχεται και λίγο μετά τραγουδά για τα λαμπυρίζοντα ματόκλαδα.

Το αποφάσισα. Δεν την γλυτώνει τη θυσία ο αμνός.

Μάρκος Βαμβακάρης, «Τι μ’ ωφελούν οι άνοιξες»

Τι μ’ ωφελούν οι άνοιξες, τι οι ομορφιές του κόσμου,

αφού ο κόσμος χάνεται, ψεύτη ντουνιά κι έξαφνα ο εμπρός μου,

αφού ο κόσμος χάνεται, ψεύτη ντουνιά κι έξαφνα ο εμπρός μου.

Τι και αν λιώσαν μάνα μου, απ’ τα βουνά τα χιόνια,

τι και αν θα `ρθει η άνοιξις, ψεύτη ντουνιά, αχ και κελαηδούν αηδόνια,

τι και αν θα `ρθει η άνοιξις, ψεύτη ντουνιά, αχ και κελαηδούν αηδόνια.

Όλα στο κόσμο μάταια, τα πάντα ματαιότης

κι ένα λουλούδι ψεύτικο, ψεύτη ντουνιά, είναι η ανθρωπότης,

κι ένα λουλούδι ψεύτικο, ψεύτη ντουνιά, είναι η ανθρωπότης.


Χάλασε ο φούρνος!

Ετούτη λοιπόν την Άνοιξη, με τον ξανθό Απρίλη και τον Έρωτα, με τη Μαρία την Πενταγιώτισσα να με κολάζει με τη σκέψη της, με τις εικόνες της εκατόμβης θυσίας των Δαναών στον Φοίβο,  επήρα τον λευκό αμνό και τον έβαλα στον φούρνο για τη θυσία.

Καλή ποιήτρια η Κική Δημουλά, δεν λέγω, αλλά ο φούρνος της μου τα χάλασε όλα!

Η θυσία απέτυχε!

Ο αμνός δραπέτευσε!

Η Μαρία Πενταγιώτισσα θα μείνει για πάντα όνειρο!

Και για όλα αυτά φταίει η ποίηση!

Κική Δημουλά, “Πάσχα στο φούρνο “

Από τη συλλογή «Ενός λεπτού μαζί» (1998)

Βέλαζε το κατσίκι επίμονα βραχνά.

Άνοιξα το φούρνο με θυμό τι φωνάζεις είπα

σε ακούνε οι καλεσμένοι.

Ο φούρνος δεν καίει, βέλαξε

κάνε κάτι αλλιώς θα μείνει νηστική

χρονιάρα μέρα η ωμότητά σας.

Έβαλα μέσα το χέρι μου. Πράγματι.

Παγωμένο το μέτωπο τα πόδια ο σβέρκος

το χορτάρι η βοσκή τα κατσάβραχα

η σφαγή.


Ηθικό δίδαγμα

Μην ερωτευθείτε την Μαρία την Πενταγιώτισσα.

Μην διαβάζετε ρομαντικούς ποιητές.

Μην εμπιστεύεσθε τον φούρνο μιας ποιήτριας αν θέλετε να ψήσετε κάτι. Καλύτερα στον φούρνο της γειτονιάς.

Αν σκέφτεσθε να κάνετε μια θυσία, καλύτερα να θυσιάσετε τον εαυτό σας, ή ένα κομμάτι του. Ο αμνός είναι πολύ βολικός, αλλά σε τελική ανάλυση δεν φταίει τίποτε να πληρώνει τα δικά σας τα σπασμένα.

Can the Middle East migrant crisis be contained?

Σάββατο, 19 Μαρτίου, 2016

The migrant crisis has reached an acute  state in Greece and Europe for more than one year now. Millions of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries are flooding Greece aiming to continue their journey to other European countries. Some 45,000 of them are now stuck in Greece, after the northern borders of the country have been closed. Approximately 14,000 of them are in the area of Idomeni, a village of 150 inhabitants.


Photo: Hundreds of people arrive at the passport office in Kabul to apply for new travel documents. SLOBODAN LEKIC/Stars and Stripes

Images of the migrants stuck in Greece near the border with FYROM (Macedonia) are all over the news. On the 17th March 2016 the EU leaders met and finalized the EU proposal to Turkey to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. An agreement was reached with Turkey on the 18th March 2016. According to the agreement, every migrant arriving in Greece after the 20th March 2016 who does not qualify for asylum in a European country will be returned to Turkey. In exchange, a Syrian refuge who is in Turkey and has not attempted to cross illegally to Greece, will be given asylum to a European country. There is a cap to this, of 72,000 people. There are significant implementation issues for the agreement to run smoothly. However, the big question remain: «Can the flow of migrants from the Middle East to Europe be stemmed?»

It is obvious that the European leaders and their advisors think that the flow can be stemmed. The deal with Turkey is structured on the basis of this hypothesis. Why is this the case? How can this be proven to be a reasonable assumption?

Quite simply put, the flow can be stemmed provided that the causes of the massive migration can be addressed so that migration is no longer the path to the future for millions of people. It is therefore essential that we know which are the causes of the migration, and that we examine how they can ills behind creating them can be cured.

The war in Syria has made the whole phenomenon look like a mass exodus of people from the battlefields of the Syrian war. This is the explanation that best suits the European Union’s agenda. The war stops, therefore the migration flow  declines and eventually stops. All we need – in this case – is to stem the flow from Turkey to Europe and wait until the flow stops.


Photo: Boy on a destroyed tank in Kobane, Syria. Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images

Before I proceed I would like to clarify the terminology. Following the BBC, I use the terms migrant and migration to describe the phenomenon. I suggest that the word refugee is not needed, as it creates confusion and obfuscates the phenomenon at large. A migrant is a person who decides to leave their country of residence in order to move to another country. No matter what the reason is, political persecution, economic need, or something else, the migrant is a man determined to move and seek asylum in another country.

The confusion with the terminology arose out of the need qualify a migrant as a refugee in case the reason for their decision is political persecution.Being a refugee qualifies the migrant for automatic granting of asylum by the receiving country, whereas a simple migrant who, say, emigrates in order to make a living (so called financial refugees) has no right to asylum whatsoever and is not accepted.




In order to establish the causes of the phenomenon, we must make sure we have the facts relevant to it. Lets begin with the country of origin.Where do the migrants come from?

The origin countries

According to Frontex, there were 1.83 million «illegal border crossings» into Europe in 2015 compared to the previous year’s record of 283,500. As we see in the Eurostat chart above, the three top origin countries of the migrants are Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. A total of 363,000 Syrians fled the war and entered Europe seeking asylum.

So far we have established one probable cause for the migration. The war in Syria. Assuming that this is the only cause, we have an issue to deal with in our analysis. How do we explain the migration from Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of the war in Syria?


Before addressing this issue it would be useful to gather some facts on the migration from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Afghan refugees walk through a beach where they will wait to board a dinghy sailing off for the Greek island of Chios

Afghan refugees walk through a beach where they will wait to board a dinghy sailing off for the Greek island of Chios, while they try to travel from the western Turkish coastal town of Cesme, in Izmir province, Turkey, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas


The Afghanistan population is approximately 33 million. Male life expectancy is 59 years, and female 61 years. Unemployment is over 50%, while 38% of the population lives below the poverty demarcation line.Afghanistan is practically a country whose economy is destroyed and more than one third of its territory is under the control of the Taliban insurgents.

Eurostat  figures show that 178,000 Afghanis entered Europe in 2015 seeking a better life.

Slobodan Lekic writes in «Stars and Stripes»:

«Afghans are now the second-largest contingent of migrants heading for Europe, after Syrians but ahead of Iraqis fleeing from the murderous Islamic State jihadis in the Middle East, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the European Union’s statistical agency. But exact numbers are difficult to come by because many of the Afghans heading east have already been living as refugees outside Afghanistan’s borders. A good proportion of those traveling to Europe live in Iran, where some 900,000 Afghans have resided since the 1990s.»(1)

Dasha Afanasieva reports on the Afghanis in Turkey:

«The EU is not even discussing these issues and is exclusively focused on Syria,» Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey, told Reuters last month.

«Even if the Syrian crisis would be solved tomorrow, there would still be a serious refugee crisis, with a large number of refugees in Turkey who don’t have access to their rights.»

Afghan migrants in Turkey interviewed by Reuters said that over the past few years they had been denied interviews with U.N. refugee agency UNHCR that would formally determine their refugee status, a key step in the journey to being resettled.

Polat Kizildag, program coordinator at ASAM, an organization which registers asylum seekers in Turkey, said they were generally told they were ineligible because Turkey was the third country on their journey and the expectation was that they apply for refugee status in their second, in many cases Iran.

Human rights groups have said Iranian forces deport thousands of Afghans without giving them a chance to prove their asylum status and that they are pressured to leave the country.

«More than 63,000 Afghans came to Turkey last year, a sharp rise from 15,652 in 2014, according to ASAM (an organization which registers asylum seekers in Turkey), counting only those who registered. Some came directly from Afghanistan, others from Iran, where they had tried unsuccessfully to settle.(6)



Iraq has a population of approximately 37 million people and its oil dependent economy is in a terrible shape. In her NPR report, Alice Fordham says:

«Everything seems to be working against the Iraqi economy. The government is waging a costly war with the Islamic State while dealing with falling oil prices, millions of displaced citizens and staggering costs for reconstruction of cities ruined by fighting.» (7)

Add to this the effects of the civil strife and you have the makings of an explosive situation. According to a report by the International Organization for Migration, more than 3 million people have been displaced in Iraq by violent conflict since January 2014.  Dominik Bartsch, the U.N.’s deputy humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said 10 million people were expected to need humanitarian support by the end of the year in that country, where 3.2 million were already displaced. (4)

In the past years there has been  migration within the region, which is now becoming migration to Europe. In a New York Times article, Ken Arango wrote in September 2015:

«Adnan al-Azzawi, 45, was in Damascus, Syria, from 2004 to 2011, and then returned to Baghdad. He recently sent his family on the migrant journey, and they wound up in Belgium. He hopes to join them soon.» (3)


The mix of the origin countries is changing

Since September 2015, the mix of migrants by country of origin has changed significantly. The extensive quote below is from Chris Tomlinson’s article (5):

The number of Syrian migrants is falling, while the number of Afghans, Iraqis and West Africans continues to grow, according to the European Union’s (EU) Frontex agency.

The organisation, which is tasked with monitoring and controlling movements around Europe’s borders, has revealed that the new wave of migrants aren’t necessarily fleeing conflict, but rather “aspiring” for a better economic situation, according to two agency reports.

The first document talks about migration coming through the Greek islands from the Middle East. They state that in recent months the percentage of Syrian migrants is decreasing.

According to the agency, although Syrians represented 56 percent of the illegal migrants that crossed into Greece in 2015, by December that number had fell to 39 percent.

The report also said that Iraqis and Afghanis as a percentage of the migrants had dramatically increased with the share of Iraqis more than doubling from 11 percent in October to 25 percent by the end of December. Afghani numbers also have increased to one third of migrants crossing into Greece.


Photo: The Aigli Hotel, a bankrupt resort near Thermopylae Greece, is now an official migrant center. Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times.

First conclusions

What we can conclude from the Iraqi situation is that the tide of migrants will become stronger. When 10 million people are displaced and in danger of their well being, the tide will not only be big, it may also be unstoppable.

If the findings of the Frontex reports are valid, the wave of migrants from the Middle East to Europe will continue to come strong, contrary to the views that it will stop once the Syrian war is over. The reasons behind the migration are not restricted to the geographical territory of Syria, nor are they confined to fully blown war. There is an intense feeling of insecurity both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this feeling is not going away if we believe the relevant reports.

If insecurity drives the migration, this is not strictly a political issue. It is also an economic issue, and it is related to demographics.

Given all of the above, the migration crisis facing the Middle East and Europe is here to stay. And this raises a lot of questions regarding the adequacy of the EU – Turkey agreement regarding the flow of migrants. If the migration tide is not just the result of a war in Syria that is going to end, what are the chances that an agreement to control the flow of migrants from Turkey to the EU will prove to be totally inadequate?

European politicians have developed a piecemeal approach to tackle issues, no matter how big or small they are. As the collapse of the American financial system in 2008 has shown us, piecemeal measures do not work when the issue is a big crisis that transcends the ordinary. The Europeans do not seem to have learned this lesson. If we judge from the way the Greek crisis is being handled, the piecemeal approach thrives.

Is this going to work in the migrant crisis facing Europe? I do not think so. A year from now the situation in Greece will be intollerable, with many more migrants stuck in the country unable to move either to Europe or back to Turkey. The northern borders of Greece will continue to be closed for the migrants.

And what is the worst of all, the economic conditions that make migration inevitable also fuel insurgency in the Middle East.



(1) Afghans join Syrians, others migrating to Europe, by Slobodan Lekic. Stars and Stripes. Published: September 18, 2015.

(2) In Syria: Four Years of War. The Atlantic.

(3) A New Wave of Migrants Flees Iraq, Yearning for Europe, by Ken Arango. The New York Times, September 2015.

(4) U.N. sees refugee flow to Europe growing, plans for big Iraq displacement, by Tom Miles. Reuters, September 2015.

(5) EU Border Agency: Syrian ‘Refugee’ Numbers Declining, Economic Migration Exploding, by Chris Tomlinson. Breitbart, January 2016.

(6) Afghans feel forgotten in Europe’s migrant crisis, Dasha Afanasieva. Reuters, 6 March 2016.

(7) Iraq Faces A Perfect Economic Storm, Alice Fordham. NPR parallels, January 2016.