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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-04-15

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Tsipras: Program review needs to be concluded so that discuss on debt begins
  • [02] Sir Richard J. Evans to ANA-MPA: The current crisis cannot be compared to the '30s
  • [03] No violence was used against refugees during the readmissions to Turkey, says minister

  • [01] Tsipras: Program review needs to be concluded so that discuss on debt begins

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis) – The challenges Europe is facing and issues related to the Greek economy dominated Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' speech at Springer Axel Foundation on Thursday.

    The Greek prime minister presented the progress of the Greek economic programme as part of the implementation of the agreement with the partners. He also stressed the importance of concluding the program review immediately so that negotiations on debt relief begin.

    [02] Sir Richard J. Evans to ANA-MPA: The current crisis cannot be compared to the '30s

    Sir Richard J. Evans is one of the most eminent historians and academics in Great Britain, and is the president of Wolfson College in Cambridge. He is considered one of the most salient personalities in his field and is also a famous author. Sir Richard is internationally acclaimed by the broader public, for his best selling book "The Third Reich Trilogy", which is acknowledged as one of the best surveys and documentation of the rise, establishment and fall of the Nazism, the deepest socio-economical and political causes that produced its surging and its repercussions up to nowadays.

    Recognized as one of the most accurate researchers on the history of Germany in the past two centuries, Sir Richard is moreover a personality whose engagement transcends the formally delimitated space of the activities of a scholar and he is involved into every serious debate of his times. A landmark of this engagement was the crucial role he played as an expert in the famous libel case the denier of the Holocaust denier David Irving raised against the Americal historian Deborah Lipstadt in 2000, that ended with the rejection of the suit by the High Court of England. The findings about the forgery Irving performed on the historical facts showcased the importance of the accurate usage of the historical data and the unquestionable moral teachings derived from the thorough knowledge of the social realities that reproduce, foster and shape the historical truths, to defend the universal values.

    In the recent years, Sir Richard has focused also part of his lectures to the strident problem of the migration crisis and the consequent problem of the new nationalist and racist movements aroused by the current socio-economical situation in Europe.

    Sir Richard Evans was recently invited by the his editor in Greece, the 'Alexandreia' publishing house, on the occasion of the presentation of his 'Third Reich Trilogy". The event was accompanied by a series of lecture on migration, neo-Nazism and the crisis. During his stay in Athens Sir Richard had kindly accepted to concede an interview to the ANA-MPA and its redactor Dr. George-Byron Davos. Talking with a scholar of the stature of Sir Richard the conversation inevitably veers on a broad spectrum of issues, about which the interlocutor always get a lucid and straightforward answer.

    Following are published excerpts of Sir Richard's interview. The full text is available to subscribers at ANA-MPA.

    GBD. Sir Richard, our first question, inevitably is referent to your Trilogy and about the tendency of the public to seek similarities and draw a parallel between past circumstances, stated as historical facts and paradigms and present day situations—neglecting the fact that historical facts are outcomes of events and not causes of others. Could we detect similarities with the situation prior and during the rise of the Third Reich in the 30's with the actual crisis, or is a completely different case?

    RJE. Well, History never repeats itself exactly, but you can make comparisons. It's also useful to look back and see what is the same and what is different. So in Germany, when Hitler came to power—of course he came to power as the larger party, with more than 30 per cent of the vote and still in the last free elections won the one third of the votes of the people. It is a big percentage an of course is connected with the Depression and so the Wall Street crisis of 1929, with the American banks withdrawing their money from the German banks and the banks withdrew their money from industry, failure of banks, collapse of industry, and huge unemployment. And also infecting the middle classes in particular. By 1932 there were at least 35 percent unemployment, probably nearing 40% if the figures are accurate. That was of course much more than even in Greece and Spain today , which is about 25% or less. So it was a bigger crisis in Germany, and on top of that IN 1932 to 33 the Weimar Republik had already failed to deliver economic prosperity and the inflation in the early 20's was tainted with the anger of many Germans for having signed the Treaty of Versailles and giving away territory and the Reparations of course had came to an end in 1932. So, there are differences I think. You can see, both in Greece and Spain today, the unemployment leads to a rise of the left-wing parties, like Podemos and Syriza and that is the same in the Weimar Republic, the Communist Party grew and grew during the crisis and had 100 seats in the Reichstag and people were very afraid about it. A lot of middle-classers were afraid of the Communist seizing power and the Nazis got profit out of it, luring a lot of middle class voters. So, there are similarities and differences, I think, and the Nazis and the Communists were then opposed to each other, now of course you don't have the Communist party, the Soviet Union and the Cold War and all that. And of course it's much lesser threat to the middle class and so they have less tendency to vote really extreme parties. And another thing is that the Nazis are a really extreme party, I mean they showed a huge violence, an extreme violence; 400 deaths in the elections of July '32 and I don't think we tolerate such a violence anymore in the modern European Societies so when there is a party engaged in such activities like the Golden Down, is prosecuted and people are put off by that. The extreme, near Fascist Right in Europe is not as successful in these days as it was in Germany in 1932.

    GBD Somehow the Extreme Right and Neofasist rhetoric nowadays is more linked to an upright rejection of the EU and the wholesome economic handlings of Capitalism—not in a way the Left extends its criticism—and in a way that Nazis also used the criticism of the USA's Capitalism (and its links with the Jewish Capital) to persuade more people to fill their lines. Today we see many of these extreme movements to gain force by virtue of their criticism and shear rejection of the EU and their propaganda in favour of the return in the national states. Do you believe this is the surging of a standard ideology lurking since long ago in the hearts and minds of many Europeans and mostly middle class people?

    RJE. Of course the Nazis did oppose to international institutions, and the first thing Hitler did when he came to power was to withdraw from the League of Nation, that was the equivalent then of the UN now and there was no EU and International treaties and organizations and the consensus of the European powers used to be called the Concert of Europe and collapsed after World War I and didn't emerge till after the World War II. Nationalisms were very very strong in Europe and the Nazis took advantage of that. As nationalism has become much stronger, not just in the far right but in quite a lot of the political field, you find a large number of Conservatives, for example in Britain, that want to leave the EU and also the growth of Populist Parties, which are democratic parties, non violent, they don't want to destroy the system, but they want to push it much much further to the Right and you have this Populist parties, for example in UK the UK Independence Party, you have the Front National in France—which begun as a near fascist party but has moved a little bit further to the center, that is relative of course, it is right wing but stopped to say that the Holocaust was a tale in History and they have withdrawn from that short of rhetoric they had. These populist parties , I think an equivalent to them is Donald Trump, they express a discontent of groups of the population that they feel disadvantaged and in America, and in some extent in Britain we have a traditional right working class a lower middle class supporters of these parties.

    GBD. I would like to ask another thing, about a different tendency of the people to identify major changes and events in History with leaders or other salient personalities, as if History was not a progressive and accumulative adventure of many parallel and significant events. We always have this Great Man theory and now we talk about the new leaders, about Angela Merkel, Alexis Tsipras, or persons as Yanis Varoufakis and Wolfgang Scheuble who steer the future of people. Do you believe that there is still any space at all for them in History and given the present economic reality, according to which some may sustain it's the Directories dictate and the politicians follow?

    RJE. Well I think is both of course. What is fascinating about History is this interplay between individual and the larger range of forces and the extent to which these forces, which these may be, political, economical, cultural, can influence individuals, including individual leaders, and the extent to which individual leaders can mould and change these forces and that's the fascination of the political and other kinds of History. It's the famous saying by Bismark, who had created Germany in the 19th Century, he said "the art of statesmanship is to steer a course on a stream of Time".And so, otherwise is the stream of Time which flows with larger forces and if you have the ship of state you have to steer the course with it you can't steer against it. Even Hitler he couldn't effect it, but in his case it was nationalist that was happening and he worked it to his advantage.

    GBD. Another thorny question already raised in the past, but it is still vivid today, that says that independently of what is happening today is due to the failure and the incapacity of the intellectuals to provide answers and deliver solutions, due to –allow me to use a Weberian term—their professionalization, or to the lack of great personalities to sustain and promote the moral values any more. Do you feel that is also a responsibility of the intellectuals for the failure of Europe?

    RJE. Well, I don't know if that is right, and if we have exaggerated the influence of the intellectuals in the past. If you take someone like Sartre , this famous French intellectual in the last century, I don't think he had a great deal of influence because his politics where way off the center, there were rather eccentric in a way. So I do think we still have intellectuals and for this I think is very important for people who write and think to address a wider public and try to show their ideas, in a way it' s what I'm trying to do as an historian, I think we have the duty to talk to the broad public and not just to each other. It' s true there has been a professionalization in the universities, where more and more of the sociologists speak to each others in a special kind of language and so on, but still there are people who want to address a bigger public.

    GBD. As a British here in Athens what is the thing that strike you more about the situation in Greece and what you hope for?

    RJE. Well, I've been to Athens quite enough over the years, I suppose the last 30 years many times and two things strike me over the years. One is how much more modern and well organized it is—just the example of the Airport comparing to the '80s, that was horrible, now it's very nice. And so there's been a lot of improvement and so we see a lot of prosperity about what was 30 years ago..

    GBD. Careful, the airport was made and is owned by Germans….So we are in a slippery ground here….

    RJE. Yes. I know of course that Greece had a long and different history with Germans in the past, starting with king Otto. But I have also noticed signs of crisis. That I dare to say there weren't when I came many years ago at the early 2000, now even at the center of town there are buildings boarded up and closed, you can see beggars on the streets, which I don't remember before. So there is a sense of crisis. But it doesn't seem disastrous, it can be held and at the moment I believe there is a steady state and it is hard to see what is going to happen next.

    GBD. As a British citizen, the main issue in your country today is whether Britain will stay or exit EU. What is your opinion about it?

    RJE. Well, almost all mu adult life I lived being close involved to Germany and the European countries and so on. I think Britain should not leave the EU, I think we have an enormous amount to gain from EU. And in a way we do, from the point of view of universities, science, is very very important to have collaboration with European scientists. We have a lot of grants we get from European funds and with Europe's scientific institutions the collaboration is very important. I think is very worrying at the moment. British universities are the top in the world, along with the Americans, which is very unusual, you don't see it in other countries about the same size, Germany for example, they are not there. Oxford and Cambridge and some other universities are right in the top10, or top 20 and I can say it very proudly that recently by academics from all over the world the History Department in Cambridge was voted the best in the world. OK you had to share the place with other places , but never mind, we are in the top. So I think kind of international collaboration in a globalized world is very important, it helps us to pump up our weight in the world and isolationism from the Brexit is very worrying and of course there many other things to my opinion that Europe guarantees, the human rights for example and lot of other very important legislation, which of course a Brexit would get rid off, like workers' rights and all other things that guarantees EU. And I think is an expression of English nationalism about pull overs, it' s a reaction to the growth of the nationalism and devolution in Scotland and Wales. Scotland of course is pro-pro-European, Wales is pro-European and I think the English are looking for an identity. I have to say I'm a Welsh, and I'll say the Englishmen are looking for an identity and they find it worryingly in putting up a kind of an enemy, over there in the Continent. It's very striking that in England you don't talk about the Continent any more, you talk about Europe. I saw an advertisement in Gatwick Airport saying 'Europe is closer than you think'. Well, of course it is, we are in Europe, you know…..

    [03] No violence was used against refugees during the readmissions to Turkey, says minister

    No form of violence was used against refugees and migrants during the recent readmission a few hundreds to Turkey, Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Toskas told newspaper Efimeritha ton Syntakton, in an interview published on Thursday.

    Asked to comment on videos showing reactions by the refugees during their transport and violence by police, as well as on reports by organizations which claim they were not fully informed of their rights, the minister said: "About 90 pct [of the refugees] have applied for asylum. It cannot be that only 10 pct was not informed. Of course their transportation is not on a voluntary basis; however no form of violence was used."


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