Saturday, September 07, 2013

Keep Out! - The 78th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair

Inside the 78th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair the prime minister is giving a speech as prime minister have done for decades on this date. I will not bother to follow the speech, either in person or on TV as Samaras's public addresses are usually leaked well in advance and amount to a little more than  a series of soundbites linked together by the slightest of rhetorical devices, more akin to bloated TV commercials than anything Demosthenes would recognise.

"The economy is coming round, recovery is on its way, the sacrifices of the people are finally paying off."It's old, old stuff made all the more unconvincing by the fact that every prime minister has sad the same since the financial crisis began in 2009. Yes, the rate of decline in the Greek economy has slowed down to "just" 3.8% but unemployment is still rising, set to reach 30% by the end of the year if the latest Greek trade union research is to be believed.

On the other hand while Samaras was addressing the nation, safely ensconced behind thousands of riot police the people next to me in the cafe are discussing a mutual acquaintance;

"They're looking for a IT graduate, part time, 5 to 9 and you know what they're offering?
  200 euros a month, without insurance, 200!"

This is is the economic success story that the government and the foreign press are so happy to promote, a country in which salaries do not even begin to cover living costs, even for people with years of experience and advanced qualifications. An economy where millions are unable to start a family or even afford basic health care or a pension. Even if the books balance by the end of the decade the macroeconomic damage being wrought will last for a generation.

By midday the prime minister will have returned to Athens, his presence having left behind little than a bunch of high sounding promises and a lot of disgruntled commuters. The Trade Fair once again has become the political plaything of the leadership which fails to see that turning a city into war zone every year is not the best way to encourage international trade and especially not Greece's image abroad.

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