Archive for August, 2012

Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who was forced out of office last year after two years of protests, strikes and riots he imposed that ironically were antithetical to the platform of his PASOK Socialist party, has been re-elected President of the Socialist International.

Papandreou got the nod to stay as the organization’s leader during its XXIV Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, on Aug. 30, attended by more than 400 participants from over 100 parties and organizations around the world. The event took place under the heading of For a New Internationalism and a New Culture of Solidarity.

Papandreou opened the Congress, and was re-elected unanimously by a show of hands. Candidates for the post of Secretary General, incumbent Luis Ayala and Vice-President of the SI, Mona Sahlin from the SAP, Sweden, gave their electoral presentations. A vote then took place by secret ballot, overseen by the Electoral Commission, which included a representative from each continent. The election was won by Ayala.

The Congress, which runs until Sept. 1, was hosted by the African National Congress (ANC) in the year of its 100th anniversary, the first Congress in the history of the International to take place in Africa. More information is available at

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Friday, 31 August 2012

By Hseyin Hayatsever, Hurriyet Daily News

The worlds leading social democratic umbrella organization has gathered in South Africa, with its leaders including Turkeys main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) leadar Kemal Kldarolu, calling for humane economic measures to manage the global economic crisis.

People should not pay the price of the global economic crisis, because they are not responsible for its occurring, former Greek rime minister and president of the Socialist International George Papandreou said, speaking at the opening of the congress. We have to humanize globalism as we did for capitalism, he said.

The 24th congress of the Socialist International (SI) has opened in Cape Town, the first such meeting to be held in Africa. The congress takes place every four years and is attended by government leaders and Socialist International member parties. This years theme is For a new internationalism and a new culture of solidarity. The African National Congress, South Africas governing party, is hosting the SI meeting.

Speaking on behalf of French Socialists, Segolene Royal suggested that production should be promoted rather than financial investments. Each of governments, especially socialist ones, should create public investment banks. The mission of the left is to reverse current situation, Royal said.

Turkey was represented by the CHP as a full member, and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) as an observer member at the congress.

No Policy Without Human Focus can be Sustainable

Kemal Kldarolu was expected to be elected as one of the vice-presidents of SI. He was presented as a progressive leader revitalizing and promoting social democratic values, principles and philosophy in Turkey and in its neighboring regions in a CHP leaflet circulated in the congress hall seeking delegate support for him. The leaflet, which calls on delegates to support Kldarolu with the slogan Vote for Kemal, stressed that the CHP promotes universal values of social democracy.

The CHP, under former chairman Deniz Baykal, had been accused of moving away from social democratic values and shifting to a more nationalist line, which led to calls for the CHPs dismissal from the SI, ahead of the organizations 2008 congress. Baykal did not attend the 2008 congress, losing a vice-presidents chair to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Addressing the congress on its first day, Kldarolu said the state of the world economy calls for social democrats to establish shared goals and cooperation. We now know that neoliberal paradigms have proven hopelessly inadequate to generate solutions to our problems. This is why at the SI we are at the right address to find effective answers to our economic woes through social democratic solidarity, Kldarolu said. The global economy is still quite fragile although five years has passed since talk of economic crisis began to circulate, he said, adding that weak growth and high unemployment across the globe are the major bottlenecks.

No policy without a human focus can be sustained. Therefore, drawing the necessary lessons from the crises we are experiencing, we should find the right policies that will not leave economic balances to the mercy of the financial markets appetite for risk. We should, through joining our wisdom and assets, design plausible policies that suit the priorities of achieving sustainable high growth rates, protecting jobs and employment and embracing the most disadvantaged in society, Kldarolu said.

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For Greece a tear

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Andreas Papandreou: The Making of a Greek Democrat and Political Maverick. By Stan Draenos. I.B. Tauris; 256 pages; $49 and £30. Buy from,

The political mayhem which overtook Greece in the 1960s was avoidable and, in some ways, unexpected. Although the embers of a bitter left-right civil war were still smouldering, Hellenes began that decade in an upbeat mood. There seemed a decent chance that democracy would put down stronger roots in the land of its birth as prosperity grew.

Instead, one disaster followed another. The country’s future was furiously contested not only by scheming politicians but by other groups: street demonstrators, a politicised monarchy, the American embassy and foreign spooks. All this is subject to careful, intelligent analysis in a new biography of Andreas Papandreou by Stan Draenos, an American-based Greek historian and political scientist.

Using archives and interviews Mr Draenos studies every twist in the early political career of the man who later stormed to power as Greece’s first socialist leader in 1981. The book traces Papandreou’s return to Greece in 1959 as an American-trained academic, his metamorphosis into a political firebrand, his imprisonment in 1967, followed a few months later by his expulsion from Greece and exile in Sweden. (The family’s Swedish experience helped to mould Andreas’s son, George Papandreou, into a moderate social-democratic leader whose government fell victim to the euro crisis last year.)

Mr Draenos describes how Andreas’s father, George Papandreou senior, struggled from 1963 to govern as a prime minister of the centre, only to fall in 1965 after a quarrel with the king. The stakes rose as the younger Papandreou moved far to the left of his father, querying Greece’s role in NATO. But many of the book’s most original points relate to the older man, who, despite his populist style, was a staunch anti-communist. The story comes to a head in April 1967 when a clique of colonels seized power in a bid to pre-empt an election victory by the Papandreous; many Greeks suspected an American hand in the takeover. Military rule only ended in 1974 when the regime, again with an apparent wink from some American quarters, launched a disastrous coup against the leader of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, prompting a Turkish invasion of the island.

Can any parallels be drawn with Greece’s present-day travails? One thing, at least, never seems to change. There is a vicious circle in which heavy-handed external intervention in Greek affairs triggers feelings of victimhood and xenophobia, and reduces the chances of local politicians ever taking full responsibility for their country’s fate. As a political and psychological strategy, blaming foreigners is always easier than honest introspection— and easier still when foreigners really do behave badly. But that paradigm only goes so far when trying to understand the 1960s, and in this finely-worked study, Mr Draenos dissects the conventional wisdom, albeit from a perspective broadly sympathetic to the Papandreous.

And he provides some useful balance. A military coup, he argues persuasively, was never the preferred outcome of the American government, either in 1967 or the preceding years. Like some other analysts of the period, he also notes that the colonels’ coup came as a surprise to many influential Americans; they were expecting a generals’ coup, not a revolt from the middle ranks. Conventional thinking is right to deplore the criminal folly shown by the Athens junta in fomenting an ultra-nationalist coup in Cyprus in 1974. But, as Mr Draenos recalls, tension between Greek leaders in Athens (including democratic ones) and their Greek-Cypriot cousins had been simmering for a decade. To any leader in Athens, including George Papandreou senior, the idea of annexing all or even most of Cyprus seemed a tempting way of guaranteeing a place in history. Many Greek-Cypriots preferred their island to be independent and non-aligned. From the 1960s onwards, the internal quarrels of the Greek world were so passionate that all Hellenic parties underestimated the determination of Turkey to assert its interests.

Many Greeks recall with admiration the refusal of George Papandreou senior to accept an American plan to unite most of Cyprus with Greece while giving Turkey a base on the island. But, as is made clear by Mr Draenos’s account, the wily centrist leader was quite attracted by the plan; it was more the detail, and the bullying way it was promoted, that he disliked. And it was not the colonels, but George Papandreou senior, who sent George Grivas—a right-wing nationalist guerrilla chieftain—back to Cyprus in the hope of bringing to heel the independent-minded Makarios. Democratic politicians, as well as blimpish colonels, can engage in nationalist gamesmanship.

This book takes readers deep inside a political drama whose consequences are still with us. Many Greeks believe their country’s democratic development was fatally retarded by the junta of 1967-74; and Greek-Turkish relations have yet to recover from the Cyprus conflict of 1974. Some of the book’s details will be of interest only to specialists on the region; but for anyone who works through the details, it contains sobering lessons for the present day.

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