WITH interest and patriotic vigilance we saw the recent message of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Carolos Papoulias, with special reference to fellow-Greeks abroad: “Our homeland always looks to your assistance and support, which I am certain you will continue to provide, just as this has occurred many times in the past in the difficult periods of our national history”, said the President.
But, in the last five years, fellow Greeks abroad have been alienated and marginalised by Greece, and it is necessary for Greece to listen to the voice of fellow Greeks abroad.
The transfusion of currency by fellow Greeks abroad has always been of enormous benefit to Greece. However, in the turbulence of economic devastation, Greece is unfairly and improperly targeting fellow Greeks abroad.
The complaints of fellow Greeks abroad are many in regard to loss of property and unjust court prosecutions in Greece, all of which are taking place without fellow Greeks abroad having been informed or summoned. In these unfair and unreasonable circumstances, fellow Greeks abroad are unable to defend themselves or their property in Greece. Piles of guilty decisions have been reached by the courts in Greece in absentia against fellow Greeks abroad without them having been informed or summoned, and these are being enforced by Greece without any notification.
It is clear that brave measures and a clean-up are needed in Greece in order for hope to return to the Greek nation. A country that depends on fraudulent and devious economic data can only produce deceitful staff, fraudulent mechanisms and – necessarily in defence against the system – deceitful citizens.
I refer to the thousands of spurious ‘business rates’ (τέλη επιτηδεύματος) notifications (not ‘business tax’, so the people will not understand) which constitute part of the expected tax collections that constitute the fraudulent “primary surplus”.
Even I, despite being a permanent resident of Australia since 1984 without any occupational or business activity in Greece, have received – by way of a third party – notice to pay the annual ‘business rates’ in Greece for 2012 which was based on a declaration which I do not know who submitted it to the Greek tax office and who signed it!
In the last two weeks more than 200 fellow Greeks from abroad have been arrested in Greece for doubtful tax avoidance, a disproportionate number that shows targeting of fellow Greeks abroad.
Articles 202- 206 of the Greek Penal Code concerning conscription are completely anachronous and do not take into account fellow Greeks residing permanently abroad, and, moreover, have put many fellow Greeks abroad in unimaginable hardships which are frequently dealt with via the classic ‘fakelaki’ bribe.
Many young fellow Greeks residing abroad, in their holiday trip to Greece to renew their Greek heritage, fall victims to corrupt officials that demand huge amounts of money to let them exit the country. The familiar three-month stay exemption for fellow Greeks living permanently abroad is not being enforced. Article 205 of the Greek Penal Code states: “ whosoever goes abroad without permission and to avoid conscription, as well as whosoever is abroad and does not return in due time to fulfil his military obligations, is punished with imprisonment up to one year or with a pecuniary penalty if the action is not punished more heavily by another provision.”
Even parents of young fellow Greeks abroad have been threatened with criminal prosecution by the Greek authorities under article 202 par. 2 of the Greek Penal Code which states: “Whosoever instigates or incites a person that has a duty to be conscripted not to obey the summons when he is called in the army is punished with the same sentence”.
In your very difficult position, and I am sure many times you have thought of abandonment of office, you are supporting a regime that cannot give a solution to the Greek nation, and is being pressured more and more to surrender the remaining national sovereignty of Greece, the national wealth and – God forbid – Greek national lands.
A solution cannot be found for Greece in the beaten track that is imposed by any Merkel or Troika, with the abolition of national sovereignty, breaches of the Greek Constitution (which you have sworn to uphold), and the infringement of every ethical legality.
The game was lost when the former prime minister of Greece, Mr. George Papandreou, was pressured internally to conduct a referendum and failed to do so. The European Union (EU), upon hearing the word “referendum”, immediately went into crisis mode. If the Greek government had insisted at that time, the EU would have had as an option either to risk collective break-up of the euro zone or to find a solution to Greece’s problem. This was the only negotiation advantage that Greece had. If Greece had played its cards right it is very likely that a solution would have been found by the EU.
The back-pedalling at that time by the Greek Government, not only did it sell out the sovereignty of Greece, but it placed Greece in an endless whirlpool of vagrancy and indignity that has led to a country of hunger, suicides, uncertainty, unhopefulness, and undefended citizens.
To the troubles of Greeks in Greece, fellow Greeks abroad have always been helpers, even without recognition. All fellow Greeks abroad in the USA, Australia, Canada and in every corner of the earth have sent currency to their hardship stricken relatives, but which Greek government has ever quantified or recognised this?
On the contrary, they count and have their eyes on the wealth of fellow Greeks residing permanently abroad and they put them in the same caldron with Greeks residing in Greece that have transferred their wealth abroad. I was left totally surprised by the legal explanation that I was given by a fellow Greek in the legal field in Australia that knows the Greek legal system concerning taxation of inheritances who explained to me the extent to which Greeks residing permanently abroad (in Australia, USA, Canada or wherever else they live and work and prosper in fair societies without predatory grabs in authority) are unfairly and unjustly treated by Greece.
Specifically, in regard to property in a foreign country of fellow Greeks residing permanently abroad, the Greek Parliament voted law 3842 in 2010 and with article 25, par. 8a, of this law, the Greek Government abolished and replaced unfairly, unjustly and underhandedly law 2961/2001 and in particular article 25, par. 2, subpar. 5, which provisioned that “the property (situated in a foreign country) of a Greek national who is residing in that foreign country for at least ten (10) continuous years is exempt from inheritance taxes.”
With the abolition by the Greek Government in 2010 of the above-mentioned article 25, par. 2, subpar. 5 of law 2961/2001, fellow Greeks abroad are no longer exempt from inheritance taxes in Greece in regard to their property situated in a foreign country, even if they reside in that foreign country for 10 or more years. As a result of this, and because fellow Greeks abroad have Greek citizenship, fellow Greeks abroad, their children, and grandchildren have become targets and they are taxed as permanent residents of Greece and their property abroad is subject to taxation in Greece.
As a result of the above-mentioned Greek law 3842/2010, fellow Greeks residing permanently abroad are discouraged in registering their children in Greece, since automatically, children and grandchildren that reside permanently abroad will be considered by Greece as permanent residents of Greece and will be required to pay inheritance tax for their properties abroad where they reside permanently. The abolition of acknowledgement of the status of permanent residence abroad constitutes a heavy injustice for fellow Greeks abroad.
Why should the children or grandchildren of fellow Greeks residing permanently abroad that want to maintain their Greek heritage be required to pay in Greece inheritance taxes for their parents’ property abroad which is governed by the laws of the country of their residence?
Fellow Greeks abroad are not entitled to any tax-free threshold in Greece, they don’t have any exemption of first residence like native Greeks, they don’t have the right to “vote or be voted”, and generally they don’t enjoy the constitutional right of “equal Greek citizen”.
Fellow Greeks abroad have been repeatedly denied the right to vote, even though they have been repeatedly promised this right by successive Greek governments, including the last time by the former prime minister of Greece when he visited Australia in 2008.
The contribution by fellow Greeks abroad to Greece is large and real but unquantified and unrecognised formally by Greece.
In recent years, fellow Greeks abroad purchased Greek government bonds estimated at more than two billion dollars, and now they are in danger of receiving only 10% of the value of these bonds and perhaps nothing.
While you are asking fellow Greeks abroad to invest in Greece, the conditions in Greece are not fair or unbiased for fellow Greeks abroad, for example, they are not exempt from property transfer taxes, red tape is enormous and the legal system changes directions just like a wind cockerel.
The Greek nation is under threat of disappearing. With the forced low birth rate due to poverty, with the influx of illegal migrants for so many years and the destructive economic measures that are enforced by every Merkel or Troika, I am very much afraid that in the next 10-15 years Greece may become like Kosovo and follow its fate.
The prosecutions of all those who are opposing the Greek government’s current political policies have reached a point of dictatorship, among whom the writer of this article, who has a very large unjustifiable file in the Greek security services. My personal security, freedom and integrity are threatened if I step in Greece, since without any summons or trial and with an in-force personal “high-up” order, my arrest has been ordered (and other things too, ….in memory of Mallios and Babalis [*1967 junta dictatorship torturers]) because of my objective journalistic activities, in an effort to silence me, in breach of the constitutional right of freedom of the press.
My voice however is not a voice of opposing politics, it is a voice of a fair-minded Greek acting in accordance with article 120 (4) of the Constitution. Given the current condition of Greece, the politics of bluffing and deception does not have any place any more.
The aim of Greece should not be the euro, but instead it should be the salvation of the Greek nation, so if that means returning to the drachma, ruble or dollar, then so be it.
For fellow Greeks abroad to be encouraged to invest in Greece, it is necessary for Greece to change course.
If the government is objectively unable to change course and stays adhered to the policy of non-governance either due to incorrect assessment or worshiping their chair, then they must be convinced from ‘above’, as required by the oath of Const. Article 33, because after the expected foreclosures of 700,000 homes from 01/01/2014, the next obvious option is that it will be convinced from ‘the base’ and this means unjustly shed blood of the people.