“The fall of the Patriarch”*

On the 28th of October 1940, Greece once more saved the world, putting up resistance against the Italian Fascist forces and the German Nazi war machine. Here's what Hitler's Chief of Staff, General Wilhelm Keitel, had to say at the Nuremberg trial after the end of the WWII: "The Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia; if we did not have this long delay, the outcome of the war would have been different." It took Italy and Germany a total of six months to subdue "little" Greece, while mighty France, Europe’s superpower then, had fallen in about a ...week!

Nowadays, once more, Greeks are at the forefront of the struggle against the obscure forces of financial speculation that have gained - at our expense - the power to ruin states and group of states in the name of greed. It is only fitting that people who cherish freedom, democracy and the basic right to vote in, question and vote out the assholes that govern our lives, stand on the side of the Greeks while they are doing the work for all of us!

It is not just about debt, default, Euro and all the other nonsense we hear galore these days: things, as usually, are much more complicated than that. The main struggle going on right now is between people, all of us, and supranational centers of financial manipulation that hold our governments by the balls (do they have any?), rendering democracy obsolete and making a mockery of citizens’ power.

We are not talking about conspiracy theories here, but organized groups that bet on countries’ default, while supposedly helping them to recover from the mess they themselves pushed them in. Obama couldn’t deal with them (he, and Bush before him, gave them money by the bucket, but they don’t lend to people, because they say it’s irresponsible under the ciscumstances!). Zapatero even ordered his country’s secret service to spot and kick their ass when they started attacking Spain last year.

In the case of Greece, the political caste that collectively brought the country to ruins finally decided to bring an …outsider to clean its shit. However, their(?) choice, Professor Loukas Papademos, isn’t as outsider as they want us to believe he is. From 1994 to 2002 he was Governor of the Bank of Greece and he helped manipulate, along with Goldman Sachs, the country’s books in order to enter the Eurozone. From 2002 to 2010 he worked as Vice President of the European Central Bank. Can a man from the banks defend the people’s interest if that means that he has to wage war against the web of greed that for so long employed him? It remains to be seen.

One (that can think, that is) cannot fail to notice the similarities with …Turkey’s case. In 2001, when the country’s economy was in tatters, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer appointed the World Bank Vice President, Kemal Dervis, State Minister for the Economy. Dervis worked with the International Monetary Fund and the rest of the supranational “benevolent” usurers to steer Turkish economy to calmer waters, leading to today’s boom which current Prime Minister Recep Tayip Ergogan threatens to undo as spectacularly as he worked to create it. However, the Turks did not unquestionably succumb to the IMF and the World Bank demands and prescriptions, but they fought hard to taylor them to their size and their people’s ability to bear them.

The opposite Papandreou has done the last two years in office, because either was unable to lead or because his role there was to destabilize the Eurozone, something that he did remarkably well, cashing on the irresponsible behavior of Germany’s and France’s leadership that failed to deal comprehensively with the minor - in comparison to bigger players like Spain or Italy - Greek problem, before it became a systemic threat for the entire Eurozone. Instead they chose – because they didn’t or couldn’t confront the supranational web of greed – to “punish” the Greeks for their supposedly illicit behavior …

An admiral, a chanteuse and …Kazantzakis!

Admiral Stavridis became the second public figure after Greek popular singer Angela Demetriou, known for her intellectual prowess, in calling Kazantzakis a poet! He spoke thus at the Archons annual gala this past October, where he was honored with the Athenagoras Award! Let me set the record straight: Kazantzakis wasn’t a poet – although he did write a few poems – but an exceptionally gifted writer who managed to gain international readership.

It seems Admiral Stavridis has a tendency to be …creative, even playful, when it comes to historical facts and that doesn’t exclude even his family’s story. A few years ago, he published a book titled "Destroyer Captain," in which he wrote that "in the early 1920's, my grandfather, a short, stocky Greek schoolteacher named Dimitrious Stavridis, was expelled from Turkey as part of 'ethnic cleansing' directed against Greeks living in the remains of the Ottoman Empire. He barely escaped with his life in a small boat crossing the Aegean Sea to Athens and thence to Ellis Island. His brother was not so lucky and was killed by the Turks as part of the violence directed at the Greek minority.”

Since resuming his duties as NATO Europe Commander Admiral Stavridis has toned down the Turkish persecutions against his family, saying that his ancestors “left” Turkey, providing no further explanation. He said the same thing at the Archon’s dinner and I frankly can’t understand what his angle is: does he negate the fact that his family was chased away by criminal elements of the Turkish army, did he lie when he wrote that in his book? Has he been threatened by the Turks of by their supporters in the Department of Defense and he had to change the narrative?

James (Demetrios) Stavridis needs to put his act together, because he has us all, Greek-Americans, Americans and Turks, confused! A proud US Navy Admiral cannot be viewed as recanting his story for the sake of an appointment, however important that is!

Guess who’s lobbying for Ergogan now:
The Patriarch!

It’s interesting that the Order of the Archons, whose main work so far has been devoted to defending the Ecumenical Patriarchate against the abuses of the Turkish regime, didn’t react to Stavridis’ assertion that his family “left” Turkey, although everyone, including himself, knows this isn’t true.

But there is a pattern lately regarding the Archon’s stance vis a vis Turkey, which should call everybody’s attention, especially the members of the Order. Last year, they honored Mr. Egemen Bagis, the Turkish Secretary in charge of the European Union, with a medal for religious freedom and human rights, if I recall correctly, at a conference organized in Belgium by the Archons on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. A few days before been honored, Mr. Bagis who for years was president of the Federation of Turkish American Societies in New York and that could explain some of his connections with the Patriarch’s people here, had said that Cyprus, an independent country, member of both the European Union and the Eurozone, doesn’t even exist as a nation!

This past September, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan visited New York for the UN General Assembly, the Archons organized a meeting for him with some very influential Greek Americans. Take into consideration that besides a few obsessed pro Turkey State & Defense Department characters, none else wants to see Erdogan in the US, given his anti-Israeli overtures. For certain power circles here, he’s considered worse than Ahmadinejad!

It should not come as a surprise then that Erdogan and his cohorts have turned to the …Greeks for help in order to ease the isolation and to help crack the impasse. They sense that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew could summon at their disposal the vast pool of connections within the Greek American community. And it’s not just the Archons, there is much more …

Now, none can seriously claim that the Patriarch is working for the Turks or even worse that he’s a spy and the rest of the crap that surface here and there (not without reason, never the less). But knowing the totalitarian nature of every Turkish regime, it’s only natural that the Turks force Bartholomew to help the “motherland”. In fact, each time he travels here they use his presence as a reminder of how tolerant their society is and not a few times the Patriarch himself has advocated in Europe for Turkey (there is nothing wrong with that so long that it doesn’t harm the interests of Greece, Cyprus and last but not least human rights and religious freedom in Turkey proper).

As the pressure on Turkey will mount due to Ergogan’s policies, the pressure on the Patriarch to use his well positioned American flock will increase. What makes the case more complicated is the fact that Bartholomew too is eager to help Erdogan, because truth to be said, he has taken some brave steps in making the life much easier for the Patriarchate and Christians in general. It’s also a good opportunity for Bartholomew to prove his “patriotic” credentials, always in doubt in Turkey. However, it’s ironic now that Erdogan has managed to corner himself, the Greeks should to come to his rescue!

What we have seen so far is just the beginning. As I stressed in last month’s Perixscope, it is imperative that the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church in the Americas become independent. It will first and foremost help the Patriarch if his ability to lobby for Turkey becomes obsolete. The pressure on him will be lifted and he could spend more time putting his Patriarchate in order. As the world is threatened with imminent doom both physically and metaphysically, the Patriarch, a champion for ecology himself, has a lot of rescuing to do before he bothers with Erdogan’s (political) salvation!

*A Gabriel García Márquez novel


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