Antonis H. Diamataris -TNH/Publisher-Editor
The credibility of Greece is much improved from the very low point at which it once stood.
But much remains to be done, as was revealed when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced recently that about half of Greece’s HIV/AIDS cases were the result of people infecting themselves so that they could receive government assistance to which they would then be entitled.
This news made it all around the world. The well-known right wing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh stated, “That’s what the welfare state does to people.”
The original claim, which appeared on page 112 of the organization’s European report that was published in September, read: “H.I.V. rates and heroin use have risen significantly, with about half of new H.I.V. infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits of €700 per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programs.”
Ultimately, however, this report proved to be wrong, making it necessary for the WHO to retract it.
The truth is, Greece has had a significant increase in cases of patients infected with the AIDS virus since the beginning of crisis, but recent government figures show that the rate is now in decline.
Perhaps this incident will teach the foreign press not to believe the worst rumors circulating about Greece.
However, another incident shows that complacency – which to some extent has lessened, may lead to more surprises – if we are not careful. Because psychology plays a crucial role in the economy, the government is struggling to alter perceptions. Thus they highlight certain cases as examples of economic improvement.
However, while these are likely to be happening, society is also sending a message of fatigue. In the cellar, the boiler is rumbling.
While the rounds of negotiations between the Troika and the government no longer make the headlines, the following incident should awaken us. The top Troika officials, including the Managing Director of the IMF, had a teleconference with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras about delays in the implementation of its agreements with Greece.
It is not known how many times this has happened. However, it is not a common occurrence, and it is something that takes place only when there is a good reason. It thus constitutes a kind of alarm!
That is how important an issue it is for the Troika. As I have written many times, the Troika and Greece are marching in opposite directions. If that is intentional, fine. But if it is not?