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Halkidiki: Where Neither Numbers Nor People Thrive


There’s a book by Francesco Guccini and Loriano Macchiavelli in which a “spirit” comes down from the Apennine mountains to sabotage the Bologna-Florence railway. Nobody knew who it was and it became kind of a legend among the workers, because the sabotage was a revenge for an explosion in a tunnel that cost the lives of many of their co-workers.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>That’s what last month’s events in Halkidiki in Northern Greece reminded me of…

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>Or, at least, that’s the story the mainstream media of Greece reproduced, because according to the local media, the claims of the hostage-situation and the petrol dousing were never confirmed — neither were they mentioned in the announcements of the company or the Minister of Public Order.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>A couple of days ago, this state-terrorizing campaign reached its peak with an invasion of the riot police in the town of Ierissos. There, the police started invading houses and looking for “evidence”, while the inhabitants of Ierissos of course reacted by creating barricades and trying to force the police out. The riot police, however, did not hesitate to throw smoke bombs and chemicals inside the town, including the school, inside which a student was injured and several others experienced difficulties breathing.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>After all, the Prime Minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, and his Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras keep repeating in their public appearances that “development” is what will take Greece out of its economic impasse (“As an economist I believe that this [development] is the cure for Greece”, Samaras said in a meeting with Angela Merkel). But what does Samaras’ “development” look like?

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>Yet the case of Halkidiki is even more interesting and characteristic of the role of the state in the era of neoliberalism: a state that is willing to sell its assets even below market price, to have its police act as “private army” of the buyers, without absolutely any benefit for the national economy, just to pledge loyalty to the — invisible? — God of the Market.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>In Halkidiki, and especially in the area of Kassandra mines, it has been known since ancient times that there’s gold and copper. In 1996, the Canadian company TVXS submitted a plan to mine the gold and copper, yet the citizens of the area reacted, took the case to court on the basis that a huge-scale mining process would heavily affect the forest and the surrounding areas of enormous environmental beauty, and they won the case.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>The government, in 2003, came up with the solution: it would sell the right of mining the Forest of Skouries and its two preexisting mines as well as the nearby areas (covering an area of 317.000 square meters in total) to a company that was created just three days before the deal, Hellas Gold. And it would do so for only 11 million euros (it is estimated that in the area there is gold worth 6 billion euros and copper worth the same — the mines are worth 12 billion euros in total).

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>Today, 95% of the investment belongs to Eldorado Gold and 5% to AKTOR (Bobolas, who is the owner of AKTOR is also the owner of several media outlets in Greece, including a TV channel, newspapers, etc.).

Lagarde list scandal), appealed the decision, asking for the private company not to pay the money back to the Greek state (!). Now pay attention:

excellent documentary by Exandas.

scientific research produced by a group of nine professors from Aristoteleion University of Thessaloniki, the water and soil will be heavily poisoned while the flora, fauna, and agriculture will suffer irreversible damage and the area as such will become a heavy industry zone), but also comes into land conflict with other livelihood activities that take place in the area (farming, fishing, bee breeding etc.), which will have to stop since their vital space will be used up for mining.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>The only “benefit” the Greek State will “gain”, are the around 5.000 jobs (according to the company and the Greek state) that will be created in these times of crisis (crisis for some, opportunity for others). Of course, these 5.000 jobs will last for as long as the mining activity itself is expected to last: a period of 27 years.

steelworkers’ strike that it broke, is characteristic of the role it chooses to play under the pretext of the financial crisis: the role of the protector of the investors, even against the local communities’ or the workers’ will. And it is sending a message: “Come and invest in Greece. It does not matter what the local communities think, we will protect and impose your investment, in the name of ‘development.”

who attacked and punched a woman MP of the Communist Party on live coverage a year ago), even though he could not provide any evidence of himself (and his car) being in a different place at that time (a hospital, he claimed), in a court room full of Golden Dawn members, was acquitted of charges. “Due to doubts”, said the prosecutor.Subcomandante Marcos for those “above”

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