April 24, 2014

Greek Army Holds Celebrations For Its Patron Saint George

The Greek Army on Wednesday celebrated its patron Saint George in a special ceremony at the Infantry School at Halkida (on the island of Evia). At the event, which was attended by the leadership of the Armed Forces, representatives of political parties, municipal dignitaries and others,  National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, once again stressed the need for national unity, so that Greece can successfully come to weather the difficulties being faced by society at this time.
     "History has proven that whenever we joined our strengths we overcame difficulties, we successfully confronted the challenges and we opened paths of hope for our homeland. The same has to be done now, as well", Avramopoulos said.
The minister expressed his absolute satisfaction for the fact, that Greece "has one of the most trustworthy and effective defence systems in Europe and the world", adding that this defence system is primarily destined to both protect the independence and the integrity of the country and serve the international order of law.

The Army Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Christos Manolas in his order of the day urged the people serving the Army to understand, among others, that "the economic crisis must not in any case affect the defensive and deterrent ability of the country".

EU Against South Stream - Issue To Be Solved by Year End

Remember the South Stream natural gas pipeline project? The failed assassination attempt against the former prime minister of Greece Costas Karamanlis was because he decided to allow Greece to benefit from this particular project. The venture may have been under minded by the West since it does not want to see Russia expand its energy influence in Europe, but according to this article it looks like Moscow has quite a few aces up its sleeve and is going with the project at all costs.

(RIA Novosti via Voice of Russia) - Legal claims of the European Commission against the South Stream natural gas pipeline project are likely to be settled by the yearend, Russia’s Ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said on Thursday at a High-Level Opening Policy Conference of the European Energy Policy that is taking place at the College of Europe in Bruges.
     "Implementation of the project is in full swing and construction is underway as well. The first section of the pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of 2015," Chizhov said. "By the time, I hope, solutions will be found to all the problems of the current intergovernmental agreements between Russia and each member state of the South Stream corresponds to the requirements of the EU third energy package."
To coordinate the issues, a special intergovernmental commission between Russia and the European Union was set up at the beginning of the year.

The commission is due to amend intergovernmental agreements between Russia and six countries of the European Union the South Stream is to stretch across — Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria as well as through Serbia, which is not an EU member-state yet.

The European Commission claims that they violate the requirements of the EU Third Package while Russia insists the South Stream as a trans-border gas pipeline does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Third Package, which came into force after agreements had been signed.

The EU claims against the South Stream have stemmed from the main provisions of the Third Package that require all the pipelines to be managed by the operator that is independent from generation or production companies. Besides, the EC pushes for some of the project’s capability to be reserved for the supplies of natural gas provided by "independent producers.

FIRST TIME IN HISTORY - Erdogan Offers Condolences to Armenians for Genocide

By Joachim Hagopian (Global Research) - Today April 24th is considered Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day by Armenians throughout the world. On Wednesday for the very first time in history on the eve of the 99th year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the Turkish government abandoned its century long official wall of denial when  the Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences to Armenians around the world who lost ancestors at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

It was a historic gesture welcomed by many including a handful of prominent and outspoken Turkish historians who have been encouraging the government to change its longstanding policy of denying that Turks ever killed Armenians at all.

After reading his conciliatory message before the Turkish parliament, Erdogan received a warm reception from his ministers and legislators.

Erdogan’s comments stopped short of delivering an official apology for his nation’s committing genocide against the Armenians living in Turkey a century earlier during the final years of both the Ottoman Empire and World War I. The Turkish leader’s conciliatory tone is seen as a first step in the right direction toward openly acknowledging the tragic events of a century before. And though very few survivors from the 1915-1917 genocide are still alive, many Armenians all over the world still feel angry with raw emotions unable to either forget or forgive the Turkish government’s hard line stance of rigid denial throughout the decades.

Erdogan’s statement was issued in seven languages and widely circulated in the Turkish media.

The prime minister mentioned “shared pain” inflicted on not only Armenians but Turkish people as well, making it a point to include both religions and ethnicities as victims killed during the expulsions and brutalities during “the war to end all wars.” The prime minister remarked:
     “The 24th of April carries a particular significance for our Armenian citizens and for all Armenians around the world, and provides a valuable opportunity to share opinions freely on a historical matter. It is indisputable that the last years of the Ottoman Empire were a difficult period, full of suffering for Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Armenian and millions of other Ottoman citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin.”
Making a reference to no longer holding onto their “hierarchies of pain,” Erdogan diplomatically appealed to Armenians to refrain from holding the grudge that disputes their suffering was so much worse than the other aforementioned ethnicities along with Assyrians and Greeks who also suffered their own atrocities. This point only enflamed many Armenians like Aram Hamparian, the executive director of Armenian National Committee of America, who countered that the Turkish leader’s statement a mere “cold-hearted and cynical ploy” to minimize Armenians’ genocidal suffering. Hamparian added that Turkey is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally from other nations especially within its NATO alliance, and claims that Erdogan’s speech was designed as merely a “repackaging” of its genocide denials.

Less than a month ago Turkey was caught with its hand in the false flag jar.

A leaked tape surfaced with the Turkish intelligence chief, a general and a deputy foreign minister discussing a plan to stage a false flag attack on Turkey in order to falsely blame Syrian government forces that would then justify a military air strike on Syria. It was believed to be recorded either late last year or early this year. This kind of international embarrassment explains why the Turkish government has so vociferously been clamping down on social media.

Censorship has been a feeble attempt to prevent such humiliating disclosures from leaking out to the rest of the world exposing Turkey’s transparency toward military aggression against Syria at virtually all cost, of course with full stamp of approval from the American Empire.

Possessing a very rich and long history, Armenians are the first people to officially declare Christianity as their state religion in 301AD. Surrounded by Moslems, they are also the only ethnic group in the entire Middle East whose majority is Christian, with 97% identifying themselves as such. Thus over the centuries, they have historically been easy targets in the region.

It was also just last month that eyewitness accounts in Syria were reporting that mortar shells and gunfire were launched from the Turkish border toward the Armenian village of Kassab. Four weeks ago anti-Assad rebels began occupying the ancient Armenian town of 2500 residents. All but 30 of the Armenian occupants fled. A Syrian field commander in the area explained to journalists that al Qaeda insurgents initiated the attack “with clear support from the Turks.”

During the three year war anti-Assad rebels have vandalized ancient Armenian Christian churches in Syria. Armenian political science professor Ohannes Geukjian from Beirut’s American University stated, “Kassab is a symbol of Armenian history, language and continuity. It’s very symbolic. And so with the fall of Kassab, I consider it the defeat of Armenian identity in that area.”

Even before the World War One-era massacres, Armenians had made a home in the nearby Syrian city of Aleppo dating back to the first century. Loss of this historical Armenian home to extremist Islamist rebels indicates a very uncertain future for these displaced Armenians.

As recently as three weeks ago there were loud protests from Armenians from across the Diaspora including such Armenian American celebrities as Kim Kardashian expressing grave concern over more Turkish efforts of ethnic cleansing. Both the Syrian opposition rebel forces and Turkey have denied violence toward the Armenians.

With most of the Kassab residents temporarily relocated to the nearby town of Latakia thirty miles away, another thirty families have been reported to be refugees in the Lebanese city of Anjar. Since the anti-Assad rebels took over the town of Kassab, there has been little news coverage of the fate of both all the displaced Armenians as well as the thirty older Armenians too weak to leave the ancient Armenian community on the Mediterranean Sea.

A century ago a small portion of Armenian genocide survivors managed to stay alive despite their forced deportation across the desert from their homeland that is now Turkey to where they mostly resettled in the norther Syrian city of Aleppo. Though Armenian residents have called Aleppo their home since the first century, waves of genocide victims swelled the Armenian population in Aleppo by 1925 up to about 60,000 residents.

There were 70,000 Armenians living in Aleppo and up to 100,000 in Syria at the start of the civil war three years ago. At least 9000 Armenians that fled from Syria during the war have sought refuge in their Diaspora homeland Armenia and have been immediately accepted as citizens of the Republic of Armenia.

Due to the economic hardship of unemployment and difficulty finding adequate housing, many have since left and returned to Syria. Another 8000 refugees are reported to be living in Lebanon now.

Due to its volatile ancient history surrounded by a majority of Moslems nations, the small Christian ethnic group especially since the century ago genocide is currently spread across the globe. The estimated worldwide population of Armenians is eleven million. 3.5 million are currently living in the Republic of Armenia, including 130,000 in the disputed region of Nagorno-Korabakh that was a source of violent conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan in the early 1990’s. Another 5 million are
disbursed on every continent with anywhere between near a million to a million and a half residing in America, predominantly in Southern California.
     "The annual commemoration of the Armenian genocide every April 24th brings up deep emotional memories in Armenians throughout the world. As an ethnic group Armenians have tended to be historically traditional and proud of their ancient past and culture.
     Tough my centenarian father was still a toddler during his formative years when one third of all Armenians were being slaughtered, as a genocide survivor he grew up hearing and remembering some of the heinous crimes committed against his own family members back in the old country. And though he passed several months ago, his haunting stories of what occurred way back when still remain forever fresh in my mind. I recall a family relative who was a young adolescent girl at the time actually swallowing family jewelry to avoid the Turkish soldiers from confiscating her family’s heirlooms when they invaded and looted her home. Apparently the Turks engaged in a common practice of seeking and collecting every valuable possession belonging to Armenians. As part of the systematic killing, a Turkish soldier allegedly used his saber to cut open the girl’s stomach to ensure the acquisition of every last valuable.
Other stories corroborated with photographs taken at the time that have been frequently handed down from one generation to the next depicted starving Armenian victims being forced on a deportation march out of what is now eastern Turkey through the desert into Syria. Those who were too famished and weak to stay on their feet during the march as armed Turkish soldiers riding alongside on horseback prodded and pushed them, when the mostly women and children would fall to the ground, the Turks would regularly stab their victims and throw their bleeding bodies still alive to drown in the Euphrates River. Numerous accounts of the horrid scene spoke of the river running red.

The proclamation calling for extermination of all Armenians residing inside the Turkish borders issued on April 24th, 1915 proceeded in two organized phases. The first was launched on that April 24th date systematically rounded up, detained and executed the ablest-bodied Armenian males consisting of 250 patriarchal community leaders, the intellectuals, most accomplished artisans, prominent businessmen, clergymen from the Christian Armenian Orthodox church and professionals were targeted and slain. The premeditated genocide had been well thought out and organized, killing those deemed most capable of defending their people first mostly by firing squad. This earliest offensive to massacre the most able-bodied male leaders was the cunning and largely successful Turkish strategy designed to chop off the head of its victim in order to next easily dismember the body.

Thus the wholesale slaughter of the male population through massacre and forced labor generally preceded the deportation of women, children and the elderly on the death marches to the Syrian desert. In a three year period upwards of a million and a half Armenians were brutally murdered.

Despite Turkey’s denial the Armenian genocide is accepted as the first modern genocide of the twentieth century, one that Adolf Hitler just two decades later would use as his blueprint model for his own Holocaust against six million Jews he killed during the Second World War. Hitler flippantly referred to the “already forgotten Armenian genocide” as his cue to proceed forth with the second genocide of the century.

Twenty-three nations have openly recognized the prolonged tragedy of the Armenian genocide, placing increasing pressure in recent years calling on the Turkish government to suspend its official “living a lie” policy of unequivocal genocide denial. Of course due to the crucially important geopolitical location of Turkey as a key NATO ally of the United States to reign supreme as the sole global superpower maintaining full dominance and hegemonic control of both the Middle East and eastern Europe right up to Russia’s doorstep, America will never be among those 23 nations applying any pressure on Turkey to do the right thing, not when the US military occupies two significant military installations in Turkey.

The US maintaining its global superpower status in the strategic chessboard game of one-upmanship in the most oil rich region on earth obviously holds court over any moral principle or ethics of what might have happened to a small forgotten ethnic minority a full century ago. Incirlik US Air Force Base is located close to the ancient city of Adana near the Syrian border where the US has a persistent vested interest in fighting its proxy war to defeat the Syrian Army and the second post is Izmir Airbase in western Turkey that is utilized more pivotally for military operations in Europe.

The conciliatory remarks by the Turkish Prime Minister mark an important footnote in Turkish-Armenian history, and perhaps at least opens a small window for further dialogue between the two nations and people. In a current world where tensions and conflicts appear to be on the rise with war looming over a number of regional hotspots, the Turkish leader’s words of condolence offer a glimmer of light and hope that a spirit of forgiveness and mutual acceptance may pave the way toward much needed healing. And by this first step forward, perhaps it can set the example for more nations and more people to embrace our shared humanness and commonalities that in turn facilitates increased understanding, cooperation and peace.

Joachim Hagopian is an Armenian American who also is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.

BUSTED - New York Times Admits It Pushed Fabricated Evidence about Iraq, Syria & Ukraine

By Washington's Blog via Global Research -  The New York Times pushed fabricated evidence in the run up to the Iraq war.   A year later, the newspaper apologized for its inaccurate, one-sided coverage.

The U.S. and the New York Times pretended that Syria’s government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack … but that claim was debunked, and even the New York Times was forced to retract itseveral months later.

(The alternative media, including Pulitzer prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh, has also pointed out that it was the Syrians rebels – with the help of the Turkish government – did it).

Then the U.S. and the New York Times pretended that they had proof that Russian soldiers were the mysterious “masked men” seizing government buildings in Russia.  But a couple of days later, they were forced reporting from the alternative media – especially Robert Parry, winner of the George Polk Award for National Reporting – into retracting that claim, and admitting that their “proof” was almost as flimsy as proof of Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction”.

It seems like the alternative media is forcing the New York Times to retract half-baked, pro-war, propaganda claims more and more quickly.

New Day Dawns For Greek Economy, But Leftists Still B**tch About Its Failure

Greece's primary surplus totaled 3.4 billion euros in 2013 (excluding the financial support offered to banks), Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Wednesday. According to press reports, the primary surplus figure was based on Eurostat's methodology, while the troika estimates this figure at 1.5 billion euros.

A European Commission spokesperson was quoted by reporters as saying in Brussels that Greece's primary surplus in 2013 totaled 1.5 billion euros, corresponding to almost 0.8 percent of the country's GDP.

In a report, the Greek ministry noted that the general government's primary surplus, based on ESA 95, excluding the impact from supporting Greek banks, totaled 3.4 billion euros in 2013. The primary surplus, based on the framework of an Economic Policy Program, is estimated at 1.5 billion euros, higher than the program's provisions for zero surplus and surpassing budget provisions for a surplus of 812 million euros.

The report stressed that according to a recent report by Hellenic Statistical Authority on measuring primary budget balance, in the framework of an Economic Policy Program, a series of spending and proceeds were addressed differently from recording of fiscal data when presented by Hellenic Statistical Authority and Eurostat.

Such spending or proceeds are, for example, revenues from privatization of assets, spending on transactions related with a recapitalization of banks and proceeds from money transfer related with Eurozone central banks' income from their portfolio in Greek state bonds.

The state news agency quoted Staikouras as saying that the Troika's estimate was fully compatible with the government's decision to distribute a social dividend, repay overdue debt to the private sector and reducing non-wage cost in the country.

It should be reminded that on Wednesday Eurostat said that the general government's deficit totalled 12.7 pct of GDP in 2013, while excluding the financial support to banks, the deficit was 2.1 pct of GDP. Eurostat also said that the deficit amounted to some 23.109 billion euros in 2013, which excluding the financial support offered to banks led to a primary surplus of 3.4 billion euros, is a figure fully aligned with data released by Hellenic Statistical Authority on April 14.

On the other hand, in the same period under review it was reported that the present debt was estimated at roughly 318.703 billion euros, while Greece's Gross Domestic Product reached 182.054 billion euros.

Commenting on the confirmation of the country's primary surplus by Eurostat, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that Greece "was gradually drawing away from the crisis and laying the foundations for the future."
     "Today's formal announcement of the surplus confirms the great turnaround achieved by Greece's economy, thanks to the sacrifices of the Greek people," the prime minister noted.
On his part and when asked whether the 'countdown' had begun for a haircut of Greece's debt, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said everything else is arranged via the agreements that Greece has made.

According to the state news agency, the Finance ministry is expected to raise the issue of launching the debate over the Greek debt relief, even on a technical level, during the Euro Working Group meeting on Thursday in Brussels.

The government considers that the circumstances are favorable for Greece, as the meeting will be held a day after the ratification of the 2013 primary surplus.

The Euro Working Group will also prepare the agenda for the Eurogroup on May 5, during which Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is expected to make a political intervention on the issue of debt relief based on the decision of the Eurogroup on November 27, 2012, given that the government considers that Greece meets all the conditions to start the debate on the debt such as meeting 90 percent of the targets of the program.

Besides, according to government officials, the approval by the Euro Working Group of the 6.3 billion euro tranche to Greece will certify that the country has met around 90 percent of the targets.

During the Euro Working Group, the Greek side is also expected to present a four-page memo on the main issues of the development plan for the Greek economy, which was finalized on Tuesday.
     "The discussion will begin and we will see when this will end. What matters is that we achieved a primary surplus, that we are doing very well. That's what matters," he said.
He also declined to give reporters any details regarding Greece's proposals, replying: "We will see."

Later on, Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos underlined that Eurostat's announcement only confirmed the great achievement of the Greek people, which is the result of their big sacrifices.
     "With the surplus and the country's return to the international markets we exit the crisis and return to normalcy. However, some are saddened instead of being happy," he underlined, adding that "Greece is exiting the crisis, the fiscal deficit is impressively low and the next step is to make the Greek debt's sustainability official".
The news wasn't received well by most of Greece's opposition parties since they have based their political platforms on the failure of the government to tackle the economy.

For instance, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, said that "it is time for lies to come to an end. It is time for us to take (our) fortunes in our hands. It is time for us to change the status quo. Let us look at the truth straight in the eyes".

Speaking during an election campaign on the island of Crete, Tsipras accused prime minister Antonis Samaras "and his buddies" of "representing anomaly, they are pursuing anomaly, they are conveying anomaly, from the heights of institutions to the last Greek home and anomaly in parliamentary procedures" and spoke of "prolonged anomaly".

Responding to the speech, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that "political anomaly is expressed by him who attempts to undermine stability in his country, which is recovering, and he is delirious because he is not succeeding".

Opposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) said that it recognized the usefulness and necessity of a primary surplus but it then noted that it should be based on policies that promote economic growth and not on excessive taxes, public spending cuts, recession-causing measures and creative accounting.

As regards the allocation of the surplus, DIM.AR underlined that its distribution should not be based on attracting votes and that the goals should be economic growth, combating unemployment and exiting memorandum-imposed austerity policies.

On its part the Greek Communist party (KKE) said in an announcement that the state budget's primary surplus ratification by Eurostat for 2013, stressed that "the primary surplus is the result of bleeding the people that will continue with the prolonged memorandums and the EU's supervision apparatuses. This truth is being hidden from the Greek people by both the government - with promises for the so-called alleviation of the debt that will supposedly relieve the people - and by the other parties of the EU that defend this reactionary structure and acknowledge the debt".

Combined Reports

April 23, 2014

Western Balkans Facing (SERIOUS) Incoming Terrorist Threat - MUST READ

The following article was written by geopolitical and security expert Ioannis Michaletos and featured on his site RIMSE. HellasFrappe decided to republish it because we need to spread awareness about a subject that only comes to confirm our fears that there has been a serious penetration of Jihadists in the Balkan region from Syria. Why should Greek citizens concern themselves with this subject? Simple... It is happening right smack ion our neighbourhood and who knows... Maybe, just maybe these people stationed themselves in the Balkans after illegally entering through Greece! Besides... the mere fact that they are stationed on European soil should frighten all of us. Michelatos says that the implications of the ongoing "Jihadization" of Albanians in Syria poses a direct threat for the rest of Europe. When a prominent security expert warns European officials that this is a serious threat... and proposes that they should adopt countermeasures, then common sense dictates that his words should not be taken with a grain of salt, but must be respected and taken very seriously. Please read the article and re post if necessary.

Ioannis Michaletos (RIMSE) - The Western Balkan region and in particular Albania are threatened by the incoming Jihadists from Syria that have started rising in prominence over the past few months and have proved to be capable of substantial terrorist action.

According to a public report by the Albanian intelligence service (SHISH) there are 86 confirmed citizens of that country fighting in Syria nowadays on the side of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Nusra. Their recruitment took place in the country a while after the Syrian conflict erupted and they were sent to the battle field via Turkey, while it is estimated that they received additional training near the borders with Syria before venturing into the battle zones.

Already the Albanian prosecutor for serious offences has issued legal action against 13 of those and it is of interest to note that the recruiters and coordinators for these individuals from Albania originate from Kosovo who has a larger and more upscale presence in Syria than any other Balkan region.

On the 21st of March the general Albanian prosecutor Adriatik Llalla and the head of SHISH Visho Ajazi Lika met with the political authorities to discuss the issue that can -if not opposed - destabilize the country and pose serious security burden in the near future and in the neighboring countries.

From what it seems the Albanian authorities are going to get tougher in that field and try to uncover the exact composition of the networking involved that allows transfer of people to the battle fields.

It has to be noted though that these networks are transnational and have a great spread amongst different countries. Moreover the involvement of Kosovo figures inhibits a strict response by the Tirana government in most cases.

The implications of the ongoing "Jihadization" of Albanians in Syria pose a direct threat for the rest of Europe.

All information available by credible media sources and governmental executives that follow up on the developments, talk about preparations of sending freshly trained and battle hardened Islamists to the West via in the Balkans, as well as, in other Middle Eastern terrains with Sinai Peninsula and Iraq as the new 'Jihadi frontiers".

The head of the CIA, John Brennan in a recent reporting of its service noted on the danger of Syria becoming the springboard for global terrorism.

Already the Kosovo- Albanian national Blerim Heta has blew himself up in Baghdad, killing dozens of bystanders recently in what becomes the first Albanian "kamikaze".

It is important to note that in various internet forums that are directed mostly to young Albanians, trials of glorification of such acts and significant number of adherents and supporters has been noted, identifying the issue as having a broader social consensus rather than actions of isolated figures. Moreover the mutation of Jihadism from Syria to Iraq is clearly illustrated in that case.

Due to the lack of serious border control between Albania, FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Sanjak-Raska in Serbia the probability that a new generation of Jihadists will flourish aiming to strike in Western European countries is not out of the question.
Coupled with a lack of reliable data on the actual intentions of the residing Jihadists and those returning back, it is safe to assume that the threat level in that particular geographical zone is certainly on the rise.

In parallel, across Turkey there are literally masses of Jihadist from tens of countries going back and forth to the Syrian battle zone. Turkey does not have visa regime with a country such as Libya, further facilitating the connections between radicals across the world, who are mainly congregating in Istanbul.

At the same time the incumbent Erdogan-AKP administration faces tremendous tasks which are related to its collision with the strategic plans of mostly USA and to a second degree Saudi Arabia, due to its continuous affiliation with Qatar and its failure to secure a "win" in the Syrian war.

Its close relations at times with Iran have alienated Israel and in sort Turkey is steadily becoming a territory where various Jihadist groups may strike within as the situation becomes more and more blurred and various state and non-state interests are in conflict.

Thus it is safe to assume that Ankara sooner or later will enact a project to either repatriate or simply throw out a large number of Jihadists, which will then become a problem for the rest of the countries involved.

The Western Balkan states, although they do have a concrete knowledge for their own radical Islamic communities and still retain an extensive domestic surveillance network, they have almost a complete lack of information regarding the international coordinators and the wider strategic trends involved, as well as, the collaborating Middle Eastern and Magrebian networks that will supply with finance, training and weapons the potential local Jihadists.

  • - Broader security collaboration between Western Balkan countries and the international community
  • - Re-assessment on the vulnerability of the so-called "soft targets"
  • - Establishment of regional task force groups to evaluate the problem and propose practical solutions
  • - Wider political and regional initiatives on the educational and religious sector with the engagement of law abiding local elements
  • - Exchange of information and collaboration between Western Balkan security authorities and specifically those in Egypt, Israel, Iraq and Algeria
  • All the above of course include the tactical theater of the Western Balkans.
On a global level only a swift and decisive defeat of the Jihadists in Syria, along with a world power consensus on their marginalization could be a "success story" regarding the battling of international terrorism.

Read More - RIMSE

EYE OPENER - Turkish Flotilla Charity Tied to Terrorism - AGAIN

By Jonathan Schanzer (FDD) -  Serbian news agencies reported that a Turkish charity, best known for organizing a 2010 flotilla to Gaza that led to conflict with Israeli commandos on the high seas, is under investigation in Bosnia-Herzegovina for exporting weapons to jihadis in Syria. Reports suggest that the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) may have been working with several local charities and businesses, and even the Bosnia-Herzegovina Ministry of Defense.

The IHH has long-standing ties to Bosnia. As early as 1996, the CIA reportedly noted that the charity was one of fifteen NGOs sponsoring terrorist activities in Bosnia. Esad Hecimovic, a Bosnian investigative journalist, asserts that the IHH was linked to jihadist activity and arms trafficking during the Bosnia conflict. French magistrate Jean-Louis Brougiere further notes that the IHH played a role in Ahmed Ressam's failed plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve 1999.

The IHH came under considerable scrutiny following the 2010 flotilla to Gaza. The Dutch and German governments both issued designations of purported IHH branches for their ties to Hamas (the Turkish IHH denied any connection to them). U.S. agencies also began examining whether the IHH deserved a terror designation. A leaked classified cable reveals the Treasury Department's concerns that the IHH has provided Hamas with material assistance. To date, no designation has been issued.

More recently, concerns have surfaced regarding the IHH's support for extremists in Syria. A March 2013 McClatchy report suggests that the IHH provides aid to fighters in Syria, including the Salafist faction Ahrar al-Sham, which fights alongside al-Qaeda affiliates Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). In December 2013, Abu Khalid al-Suri (Mohamed Bahaiah), a senior al-Qaeda operative, was identified as a leading figure in Ahrar al-Sham.
According to the Treasury, al-Suri is al-Qaeda's representative in Syria and received at least $600,000 in 2013 from a Qatar-based al-Qaeda financier for operations in Syria.

The IHH came under additional scrutiny on January 1, 2014, when Turkish media alleged that the charity was transporting weaponry to Syria. The IHH denied the allegations. Two weeks later, however, Turkish anti-terror units conducted raids in six cities against people suspected of financing, arming, and fighting on behalf of al-Qaeda and other jihadists in Syria. Among the locations targeted was an IHH office near the Syrian border. At least one suspect was arrested at the IHH office in Kilis. Another IHH employee was detained in Kayseri after the police raided his home.

The IHH enjoys significant support from the Turkish government. These recent reports out of Bosnia-Herzegovina raise new and troubling questions about the charity's activities and why Ankara continues to lend its support.

Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


Italian Oil Giant Enel Eyes Oil & Nat. Gas Fields in Ionian Sea

According to reports in the Greek press, the Italian energy company, the Enel Group, submitted a request to search for hydrocarbons – namely oil and natural gas – in three key areas in Western Greece -or the Ionian Sea-.

One of the areas of interest is near the shores of Epirus, illustrating the growing international interest for energy in Greece. The other two areas are northwest of the Peloponnese and in the Aetoloakarnania region. The third area is in the Preveza-Arta region, between Aetoloakarnania and Ioannina.

(Quite interestingly, the two areas in the Peloponnese have been suspected of containing large amounts of hydrocarbons for decades and as much as our -lying- politicians hate to admit, they were included in older surveys that were produced in 1996 by the following oil companies: Enterprise Oil, Union Texas, MOL and ELPE.

Enel has expressed its interest in accordance with the relevant legislation, which is expected to allow the firm to carry out its surveys in the specific areas. On its part, the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change has the final say in granting permits.

BUSTED - Poland trained putchists to enter Ukraine 2 months in advance

Lies have shorter and shorter legs. Two months after the change of regime in Kiev, the Polish press has disclosed the role of Donald Tusk’s government in preparing the coup. The new revelations belie Western discourse and demonstrate that the current interim government of Oleksandr Tourtchynov was imposed by NATO in violation of international law.

In his capacity as EU negotiator, Radosław Sikorski signed a crisis settlement agreement with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in the evening of February 21, 2014. The following morning, the men he had secretly trained in Poland were about to take power.
    This article is based on information obtained by the Polish opposition. I erroneously cited as my source the satirical weekly Nie, which published a pastiche mixing truths and non-truths. The data it provides needs to be verified.
    In any case, the matter concerning the training of Pravy Sector members has in the meantime been brought before the Attorney General of Poland.
The Polish left-wing weekly Nie (No) published a startling witness account of the training given to the most violent of the EuroMaidan [1] activists.

According to this source, in September 2013, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski invited 86 members of the Right Sector (Sector Pravy), allegedly in the context of a university exchange program. In reality, the guests were not students, and many were over 40. Contrary to their official schedule, they did not go to the Warsaw University of Technology, but headed instead for the police training center in Legionowo, an hour’s drive from the capital. There, they received four weeks of intensive training in crowd management, person recognition, combat tactics, command skills, behavior in crisis situations, protection against gases used by police, erecting barricades, and especially shooting, including the handling of sniper rifles.

Such training took place in September 2013, while the Maidan Square protests were allegedly triggered by a decree suspending preparations for the signing of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement, which was issued by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on November 21, i.e. two months later.

The Polish weekly refers to photographs attesting to the training, which show the Ukrainians in Nazi uniforms alongside their Polish instructors in civilian clothing.

These revelations warrant a fresh look at the resolution adopted in early December 2013 by the Polish Parliament (Sejm), pledging its "total solidarity with Ukrainian citizens who, with strong determination, are showing the world their desire to achieve the full membership of their country in the European Union." Naturally, the MPs were not yet aware of their country’s involvement in the training of the very individuals who were planning - and ultimately achieved - a violent takeover of power.

This scandal illustrates the role assigned by NATO to Poland in Ukraine, analogous to the one entrusted to Turkey in Syria. The government of pro-European liberal Donald Tusk is fully committed to playing its role. Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski - a journalist and former political refugee in the United Kingdom - was the mastermind behind Poland’s integration into NATO. As a member of the "Weimar Triangle", he was one of three EU representatives who brokered the 21 February 2014 agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the three main EuroMaidan leaders [2]. Needless to say, the Ukrainian president was unaware of the Polish representative’s entanglement with the rioters. As for the Interior Minister and special services coordinator, Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (the great grand-son of novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz, best known for Quo Vadis?), he co-founded the Office for State Protection (Urzd Ochrony Państwa), Poland’s current intelligence agency. He also co-created and served as vice-president of the Centre for Eastern Studies (Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich), a national think-tank dealing with the situation in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with particular emphasis on Ukraine and Turkey. It exerts a profound influence on the West’s perception of current events, through its agreements with Carnegie Foundation [3].

During Yulia Tymoshenko’s government (2007-2010), the current interim president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Tourtchynov, had served as intelligence chief and deputy prime minister. He liaised at the time with the Poles Donald Tusk (already Prime Minister), Radosław Sikorski (then Defense Minister) and Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (director of the private intelligence firm ASBS Othago).

To overthrow the government of its neighbor state, Poland resorted to Nazi activists in the same way that Turkey uses Al-Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government. Not only is it not surprising to see the current Polish authorities rely on the grand-children of the Nazis that the CIA tucked into the NATO Gladio network to fight against the Soviet Union, but we should also be reminded of the controversy which broke out in the 2005 Polish presidential election, when journalist and MP Jacek Kurski revealed that Józef Tusk, the grandfather of Donald Tusk, had intentionally enrolled in the Wehrmacht. After denying the facts, the Prime Minister finally admitted that his grandfather had indeed served in the Nazi army, but claimed he had been forcefully conscripted after the annexation of Danzig. A recollection that speaks volumes about how Washington selects its agents in Eastern Europe.

In summary, Poland trained a mob of thugs to overthrow the democratically-elected president of Ukraine and pretended he was subscribing to an appeasement agreement with him on 21 February 2014, while his rioters were in the process of seizing power.

Moreover, there is no doubt that the coup was sponsored by the United States, as evidenced by the telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt [4]. Similarly, it is clear that other NATO members, including Lithuania (in the past, Ukraine was dominated by the Polish-Lithuanian empire), and Israel in its capacity as a de facto member of its military command structure, took part in the coup [5]. This arrangement suggests that NATO now runs a new Gladio network in Eastern Europe [6]. In addition, following the coup, mercenaries working for Greystone Ltd., a subsidiary of Academi, were deployed in the country in coordination with the CIA [7].

These facts radically modify the perception that we may have had of the coup of 22 February 2014. They undermine the arguments provided supplied to the press by the U.S. Department of State (points 3 and 5 of the factsheet dated March 5) [8] and constitute an act of war under international law. Therefore, the arguments peddled by the West regarding the ensuing the events, including the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the current uprisings in East and South Ukraine, are null and void.

  • [1] « Tajemnica stanu, tajemnica Majdanu », Nie, n°13-2014, 18 April 2014.
  • [2] “Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine”, Voltaire Network, 21 February 2014.
  • [3] “The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace”, Voltaire Network, 25 August 2004.
  • [4] “What about apologizing to Ukraine, Mrs. Nuland?”, Oriental Review/Voltaire Network, 7 February 2014. And “The Secret Agenda of Ashton and Nuland Revealed”, by Wayne Madsen, Strategic Culture Foundation/Voltaire Network, 12 March 2014.
  • [5] “Camouflaged Israeli soldiers on Maidan Square”, Voltaire Network, 3 March 2014.
  • [6] “The new Gladio in Ukraine”, by Manlio Dinucci, Voltaire Network, 21 March 2014.
  • [7] “US mercenaries deployed in Southern Ukraine”, and “CIA director in Kiev searching for missing mercenaries”, Voltaire Network, 4 March and 16 April 2014.
  • [8] “State Department Fact Sheet on Putin’s False Claims About Ukraine”, Voltaire Network, 5 March 2014.

Voltaire Network

SIGN PETITION Against Plan to Advance Global Internet Censorship

This is urgent. An Internet censorship plan is being finalized in secret meetings right now. We need all hands on deck at this crucial moment.

Here’s the situation: (US) President Obama himself is in secretive meetings with key political figures and lobbyists in Asia to lock the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Internet censorship plan into place.

We know from leaked documents that this secretive plan will censor your use of the Internet and strip away your rights.[1] If finalized, this plan would force ISPs to act as “Internet Police” monitoring our Internet use, censoring content, and removing whole websites.[2]

It will give media conglomerates centralized control over what you can watch and share online.

We urgently need your help to fight back. Add your voice right now and we’ll project a Stop the Secrecy message on key buildings in Washington D.C. to ensure Obama, the media, and everyone else knows this censorship plan must be stopped.

This is huge: covering 40% of the global economy, the TPP is being called a legal “blueprint” for the rest of the world.[3]

Once key leaders finalize TPP Internet censorship plans, those plans will be used to globalize censorship. You will be affected and this may be our only chance to stop it.

Our attention-grabbing message will shine a light on their secret plan and will make clear to Washington lobbyists that the Internet community will never accept the TPP’s secrecy or censorship. The more who speak out, the larger our projection will become, and the more people we can reach.

This is a decisive moment: we need to act right now. Join with hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to shine a light on the TPP’s job-killing Internet censorship plan. Let’s send decision-makers and the lobbyists pulling the strings a message they can’t ignore: “Stop the secrecy now.”

Thank you for being a part of history,

After signing the petition, please forward this message to your friends.

– The RootsAction.org team

RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, and many others.

  • [1] WikiLeaks: Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
  • [2] Electronic Frontier Foundation: TPP Creates Legal Incentives For ISPs To Police The Internet
  • [3] U.S. “Bullying” TPP Negotiators Amid Failure to Agree. Source: Inter Press Service News Agency.

EUROSTAT Confirms Greek Surplus & Deficit Figures for 2013

According to Eurostat’s figures, the Greek primary surplus was estimated to be 3.4 billion euros, while the Economic Policy Program said the surplus would range at 1.5 billion euros. In other figures, the General Government’s deficit in 2013 was estimated to be 23.109 billion euros, while the debt was 318.703 billion euros. Not including subsidies towards the banks, the General Government’s deficit was 2.1% less that EU and Eurozone averages.

In 2013, Greece’s fiscal deficit was 12.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the European statistics authority estimated that the public debt was 175.1% GDP, which was the highest rate amongst the 27 EU member states.

It should be noted that Greece’s fiscal deficit rate is the second highest in the EU, trailing behind Slovenia’s 14.7% GDP rate. Luxembourg had a fiscal surplus of 0.1% GDP, while Germany’s had a balanced budget. The lowest fiscal deficit was documented in Estonia (0.2% GDP), while only 10 EU member states had a deficit over 3%.

More precisely, the lowest rates were documented in:
  • Estonia (10%)
  • Bulgaria (18.9%)
  • Luxembourg (23.1%)
  • Latvia (38.1)'
  • Romania (38.4%)
  • Lithuania (39.4%)
  • Sweden (40.6%).
Conversely, 16 members had a public debt rate higher than 60% GDP, with the highest rates documented in Greece (175.1%), Italy (132.6%), Portugal (129%), Ireland (123.7%), Cyprus (111.7%) and Belgium (101.5%).

In a nutshell, the fiscal deficit of the 28 EU members and the Eurozone dropped in 2013, compared to the rate in 2012, while the debt increased.

The fiscal deficit for the Eurozone dropped from 3.7% GDP in 2012 to 3% in 2013, while in the EU it dropped from a total of 3.9% to 3.3%. The rate of public debt in the Eurozone increased from 90.7% in 2012 to 92.6% in 2013, while for the EU debt grew from some 85.2% to 87.1%.

The EU is full of it - Vlad the Lad is going to make them pay BIGTIME

By John Ward (The Slog) - I recently stuck my neck out by suggesting that when it comes to “economic sanctions” being placed on Russia, the West – especially the EU – are what that old paedophile Mao Tse Tung used to call “Paper tigers”. Now a Slog reader points to further confirmation of Russia’s relative safety in the face of Western threats, given that ‘exported commodities represent 20% of Russian GDP. Additionally, commanding over 10% of the global gas and oil market, Russia is a huge marginal producer of the most important commodities on a global scale (and with over 40% of the produced palladium, one can see why its price in recent weeks has exploded)’.

But it doesn’t end there: ‘ Russia supplies literally all of the natural gas that Finland and the Baltics consume and 70% of what Ukraine consumes, a key point of Russian leverage in the current dispute. Dependence is not limited to smaller, immediately neighboring countries; Germany relies on Russia for around one-third of its total gas supplies.

Although seasonal and other factors could lessen the impact of disruptions to these flows, there is no doubt that such potential disruptions would negatively impact European growth… unlike the great powers of the developed world which have been unable to grow at a BRIC-like pace, and thus were forced to borrow heavily from the future for some very modest growth today, Russia did not have that problem. As a result, Russian total external debt is tiny when viewed from the prism of an insolvent G-7 country.’

I’m grateful to Christo for so robustly confirming my viewpoint.

To use the technical term, the EU is full of it: it made a stupid move in getting into Ukrainian politics, and now Vlad the Lad is going to make them pay bigtime.

Read More - The Slog

ANALYSIS - Preparing Ukraine for a Proxy War with Russia

By Tony Cartalucci (Global Research) -  The BBC reported in their article, “Ukraine crisis: Biden to meet Kiev leaders in show of support,” that:
  • US Vice-President Joe Biden is to meet Ukraine’s new leaders in a show of support for the pro-Western government.
  • Mr Biden is due to discuss the forthcoming elections with the country’s interim prime minister and president during his visit to Kiev.
  • A phone conversation between the US secretary of state and Russia’s foreign minister earlier led to both sides blaming the other over the crisis.
Biden’s visit is not the first time Western representatives have traveled to Kiev in direct support of the “Euromaidan” protests and the subsequent unelected regime that violently seized power. US Senator John McCain would literally take the stage with the ultra-right, Neo-Nazi Svoboda Party leaders as well as meet with “Fatherland Party” member and future “prime minister,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk. 

In mid-April, CIA director John Brennan was confirmed to have travelled to Kiev. Forbes in their article, “Why CIA Director Brennan Visited Kiev: In Ukraine The Covert War Has Begun,” reported that:
    Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan traveled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine’s communications systems – and Washington isn’t about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.
Forbes would continue by suggesting arrangements were being made to prepare Ukraine for a possible proxy war with Russia – describing the shortcomings of Western backing during another proxy confrontation with Russia, the Georgia-Russia conflict in 2008 where Western equipped Georgian troops were humiliated after invading South Ossetia and incurring a counterattack by superior Russian forces. 

US Roadshow to Cover for Kiev’s Nonexistent Legitimacy

First McCain’s and now Biden’s trip to Kiev is meant to lend the “Euromaidan” derived regime international recognition and – Washington hopes – the illusion of legitimacy. However, the “Euromaidan” protests were led by a toxic mixture of Neo-Nazis, bigots, racists, and anti-Semites, many of whom were armed and conducted a campaign of violence to overthrow the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

These included the Neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, the “Fatherland Party,” and the admittedly armed Neo-Nazi “Right Sector” movement. The BBC would even concede that armed Neo-Nazis spearheaded the violence that ultimately overthrew the Ukrainian government in a short video report titled, “Neo-Nazi threat in new Ukraine,” which showed Neo-Nazis occupying the vandalized, ransacked offices of the ultra-right’s political enemies.

That the current regime has afforded top ministry positions to Neo-Nazi parties like Svoboda is particularly troubling. The Daily Caller in an article titled, “Ukraine party accused of anti-Semitism receives top positions in new government,” would admit:
    As the fires die down from the turmoil in Kiev, a political party that has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism and xenophobia is set to reap the benefits of the new government arrangement.
    The Svoboda Party will take control of not one, but three ministries in the interim government.
    These posts include the deputy prime minister and the heads of the agriculture and environmental ministries. In addition to these positions, a Svoboda lawmaker was appointed the new prosecutor general in the interim government.
If the nature of Svoboda is widely known, having been reported on for years by both the Western media and Western human rights organizations, then surely the United States and the European Union are well aware of the true nature of the new regime in Kiev. McCain and Biden’s rush to lend support for the regime is an attempt not to bolster leadership in Ukraine that represents the alleged values of the West, but to cover up the fact that the regime in Kiev represents the very antithesis of these values.

And of course, the very fact that the regime came to power through a violent coup, and not “democratic elections” as the West has repeatedly claimed is the only way a legitimate government can come to power, further undermines both the legitimacy of the regime, and those that seek to now back it – particularly the United States government and the European Union.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

OPINION - Decoding Tony Blair: Energy, Geopolitics & The Struggle with 'Islamist Extremism'

(Former UK Premier Tony) Blair's (recent) speech on the need to combat 'Islamist extremism' on a global scale is both deluded and dangerous. For a start, Islamism is a broad political trend. By adding the flexible word 'extremism' as a means to differentiate which Islamists are acceptible (or extreme) is a formula for open ended conflict.

Far from Blair being an irrelevance in this sense, the former Prime Minister is advocating a foreign policy that many are in fact pursuing at present but with a more robust attitude. As with anything Blair proclaims, the aim is to safeguard His Legacy and to make out that he was Right All Along about the need for a 'Global War on Terror'.

In order to do that Blair empahasises the need for correct propaganda and framing of the global conflict, one quite obviously about western access to resources such as oil and gas from the Middle East and Africa. Thereby, opinion can be mobilised on the basis of a moral cause and purpose instead of being seen as ruthless realpolitik.
    "The important point for western opinion is that this is a struggle with two sides. So when we look at the Middle East and beyond it to Pakistan or Iran and elsewhere, it isn't just a vast unfathomable mess with no end in sight and no one worthy of our support. It is in fact a struggle in which our own strategic interests are intimately involved; where there are indeed people we should support and who, ironically, are probably in the majority if only that majority were mobilised, organised and helped.
Amidst the evident absurdity ( a struggle by definition involves two sides and not one, though it may involve more than two ), Blair is agitating for western intervention ( i.e meddling ) in the affairs of all states where Islamism is a force to try and impose the right ( i.e pro-western ) government.

The Orwellian doublethink inherent in this strategy means supporting Qatari and Saudi Arabian use of Islamist jihadists in Syria to fight Assad but backing the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood, even when it carries out a coup and guns down protesters in the streets of Cairo.

The reason why that freedom to define Islamists as 'extremists' or not is important for Blair is clear; those Islamist militants who threaten western oil and gas interests across the globe ( Algeria, Somalia, Yemen, Egypt ) are 'extremists' who pose a danger to energy security. However, those Islamists in lands such as Syria who are used as proxies to remove leaders such as Assad who leans towards Russia and Iran are not 'extremists'. No, the jihadists in Syria are part of a battle for freedom. Not least, the pipeline interests Qatar and Turkey have for a Syria without Assad.

This is what is meant when Blair opines,
    'what is absolutely necessary is that we first liberate ourselves from our own attitude. We have to take sides. We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time. We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent and sees it as a whole. And above all, we have to commit. We have to engage".
Whether British people like it or not, Blair still represents the way global politics is heading ( at least as far as British politicians are concerned ). Spouting 'warmonger' or 'Bliar' is both boring and doltish. The need is to understand what Blair means and what interests are truly at stake.

For the fact is that Blair joined the 2003 invasion of Iraq as part of a geopolitical move to control it's large oil reserves in the period before shale oil and gas had become big business in the US and energy independence a goal. Put bluntly, unless alternatives to oil and gas are found, western intervention in the Middle East is set to go on.

Blair, after all, makes energy security the first and foremost of his reason to 'engage' with the Middle East, as,
    'it is still where a large part of the world’s energy supplies are generated, and whatever the long term implications of the USA energy revolution, the world’s dependence on the Middle East is not going to disappear any time soon. In any event, it has a determining effect on the price of oil; and thus on the stability and working of the global economy.'
While Blair can be criticised for Iraq, it's no use turning him into a hate figure as though British people could pretend their high octane consumer lifestyles where somehow disconnected with the need for stable and falling oil prices. That's a lesson Blair learned after the road haulier's strike of 2000 over petrol prices threatened his government


Dialogue Between an Elder and an Atheist: A Compelling Case for Christianity

One morning, the Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos was in a conversation with 2-3 visitors at his home. One of them was an ideological atheist and a communist. Suddenly, someone from outside came rushing in, and informed them that the city of Athens had been flooded with photographs of Mao Tse Tung, with the inscription “Glory to the great Mao”. It was the day that the Chinese dictator had died.

Elder: That’s the way things are, my child. Atheists do not exist. Only idolaters exist, who take down Christ from His throne and in His place they enthrone their own idols. We say: “Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. They say: “Glory to the great Mao”. You pick and choose which one you prefer.

Atheist: You also take your drug, dear father. The only difference is, that you call it Christ, others call it Allah, or Buddha, etc.

Elder: My child, Christ is not a drug. Christ is the Creator of the entire universe. He who governs everything wisely, from the multitudes of infinite galaxies, down to the minutest particles of the microcosm. He has given life to all of us. He is the One who brought you into this world and has bestowed you with so much freedom, that you can actually doubt Him, and even deny Him.

Atheist: Dear father, it is your right to believe in all of those things. But that doesn’t mean they are true. Do you have any proof?

Elder: You think all of this is just a fairy tale, don’t you?

Atheist: Of course.

Elder: Do you have any proof that it is a fairy tale? Can you prove that what I believe is false?

Atheist: ...........

Elder: You didn’t reply, because you don’t have any proof either. Which means, you believe they are fairy tales. I spoke to you of believing, when I referred to God; you, however, although rejecting my belief, essentially believe in your faithlessness, since you cannot back it up with proofs either. However, I must tell you that my belief is not something “out of the blue”. There are certain supernatural events, upon which it is founded.

Atheist: Just a minute! Since we are talking about believing, what would you say to Muslims or Buddhists for example? Because they also talk about believing. And they too have high moral standards. Why is your belief better than theirs?

Elder: So the criterion of truth is supposedly judged by this question of yours? Because the truth is most certainly one; truths cannot be many in number. The thing is, who is the possessor of the truth? That is the major question. Hence, it is not a matter of a better or worse belief. It is a matter of the only true belief.
I agree, that other beliefs also have moral teachings. Naturally, Christianity’s moral teachings are incomparably superior. But, we do not believe in Christ because of His moral teachings. Or for His prompting to “Love one another”, or for His sermons on peace and justice, freedom and equality. We believe in Christ, because His presence on earth was accompanied by supernatural events, which was a sign that He is God.

Atheist: Look, I also admit that Christ was an important philosopher and a great revolutionary, but let’s not make Him a God now.

Elder: My dear child! All the great disbelievers in history stumbled by that detail. The fishbone that stuck in their throat, which they just couldn’t swallow, was exactly that: That Christ is also God.
Many of them were willing to say to God: “Don’t tell anyone that You are God incarnate. Just say that You’re an ordinary human, and we shall be more than ready to deify You. Why do You want to be an incarnate God, and not a deified human? We are willing to glorify You, to proclaim You as the greatest among men, the holiest, the most ethical, the noblest, the unsurpassable, the one and only, the irrepeatable. Isn’t that enough for You?
The chief of the chorus of deniers, Ernest Renan, shouts out the following with regard to Christ: “For tens of thousands of years, the world shall be uplifted through You”, and “You are the cornerstone of mankind; if one were to wrench Your name away from this world, it would be like shattering its foundations” and “the aeons shall proclaim that amongst the sons of men, never was there born anyone that could surpass You”. But this is where Renan and those like him stop. Their very next phrase is: “But a God, You are not!”
And those poor wretches cannot perceive that all of these things constitute an indescribable tragedy! Their dilemma is inevitably relentless: Either Christ is an incarnate God, in which case, He is indeed, and only then, the most ethical, the holiest and noblest personage of mankind, or, He is not an incarnate God, in which case, He cannot possibly be any of these. In fact, if Christ is not God, then we are talking about the most horrible, the most atrocious and the most despicable existence in the history of mankind.

Atheist - What did you just say?

Elder: Exactly what you heard! It may be a weighty statement, but it is absolutely true. And I will tell you why.
Let me ask: What did all the truly great men say about themselves, or what opinion did they have of themselves?
The “wisest of all men”, Socrates, proclaimed that “I came to know one thing: that I know nothing”.
All the important men in the Old and New Testament, from Abraham and Moses, through to John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, characterized themselves as “earth and ashes”, “wretches”, “monstrosities”, etc.[1]
But, strangely enough, Jesus’ attitude is quite the opposite! And I say strangely enough, because it would have been natural and logical for Him to have a similar attitude. In fact, being far superior and surpassing all others, He should have had an even lower and humbler opinion of Himself.[2] Ethically more perfect than any other, He should have surpassed everyone and anyone in self-reproach and humility, from the moment of the world’s creation to the end of time. But, the exact opposite is observed!
First of all, He proclaims that He is sinless: “Who among you shall accuse Me of sin?” (John 8:46). “The ruler of this world is coming, and he can find nothing in Me” (John 14:30). He also pronounces very high ideas of Himself: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12); “I am the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
But, apart from these, He also projects demands of absolute dedication to His Person. He even penetrates the holiest of man’s relationships, and says: “Whosoever loves their father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whosoever loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). “I came to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:35). He even demands a life and a death of martyrdom from His disciples: “They shall deliver you to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you shall be dragged before leaders and kings for My sake…. And brother shall deliver his brother to death and the father his son, and the children shall revolt against their parents and shall put them to death.... You shall be hated by everyone, for My namesake. And he that shall endure to the end, he shall be saved. Do not fear those who destroy the body.... Whosoever shall deny Me before mankind, I too shall deny him.... Whosoever has forfeited his soul for My sake, shall recover it” (Matthew 10:17, et al)
And now I ask you: Has anyone ever dared to demand for himself the love of mankind, forsaking their very life? Has anyone ever dared to proclaim his absolute sinlessness? Has anyone ever dared to utter the words: “I am the truth”? (John 14:6) No one and nowhere! Only a God can do that. Can you imagine your Marx uttering things like that? They would take him for a lunatic and nobody would be willing to follow him!
Now, just consider, how many people sacrificed everything for Christ’s sake, even their very life, having believed in the veracity of His words regarding Himself! If His proclamations about Himself were false, Jesus would have been the most despicable character in history, for having led so many people to such a huge sacrifice! What ordinary man – no matter how great, how important, how wise he may be – would deserve such a tremendous offer and sacrifice? Well? No one! Not unless he were God!
In other words: Any ordinary man that would demand such a sacrifice from his followers would have been the most loathsome person in history. Christ, however, both demanded it, and achieved it. Yet, despite this ‘achievement’, He was proclaimed by the very deniers of His divinity as the noblest and holiest figure in history. So, either the deniers are being illogical when they proclaim this most loathsome figure as “holiest”, or, in order to avoid any bad logic, and to rationalize the co-existence of Christ’s demands and His holiness, they must concede to accepting that Christ continues to remain the noblest and holiest figure in mankind, but, only under the condition that He is also God! Otherwise, as we said, He would be, not the holiest, but the most loathsome figure in history, being the cause of the greatest sacrifice of all ages, and in the name of a lie! Thus, Christ’s divinity is proved by His very deniers, on the basis of those very characterizations of His person!

Atheist: - What you just said is really very impressive, but it is nothing but speculation. Do you have any historical facts that would confirm His Divinity?

Elder: I told you at the beginning, that the proofs of His Divinity are the supernatural events that took place while He was here on earth. Christ did not rest on the proclamation of the above truths alone; He certified His statements with miracles as well. He made blind people see and cripples walk; He satisfied the hunger of five thousand men and manifold numbers of women and children with only two fish and five loaves of bread; He commanded the elements of nature and they obeyed; He resurrected the dead, amongst whom was Lazarus, four days after his death. But the most astounding of all his miracles was His own Resurrection.
The entire edifice of Christianity is supported on the event of the Resurrection. This is not my speculation. The Apostle Paul said it: “If Christ had not risen (from the dead), our faith would be futile”. (1 Corinthians 15:17). If Christ did not resurrect, then everything collapses. But Christ was resurrected, which means He is the Lord of life and death, therefore God.

Atheist: Did you see all of this? How can you believe it?

Elder: No, I didn’t see any of it, but others did: the Apostles. They in turn made this known to others, and they actually “signed” their testimony with their own blood. And, as everyone acknowledges, a testimony of one’s life is the supreme form of testimony.
Why don’t you likewise bring me someone, who will tell me that Marx died and was resurrected, and that he is willing to sacrifice his life in order to testify to it? I, as an honest man, will believe him.

Atheist: I will tell you. Thousands of communists were tortured and died for their ideology. Why don’t you embrace communism in the same way?

Elder: You said it yourself. Communists died for their ideology. They didn’t die for real events. In an ideology, it is very easy for deception to seep through; and because it is a characteristic of the human soul to sacrifice itself for something it believes in, this explains why so many communists died for their ideology. But that doesn’t compel us to accept this ideology as something true.
It is one thing to die for ideas, and another to die for events. The Apostles didn’t die for any ideas. Not even for the “Love one another”, or any of the other moral teachings of Christianity. The Apostles died for their testimony of supernatural events. And when we say ‘event’, we mean that which is captured by our physical senses, and is comprehended through them.
The Apostles suffered martyrdom for “that which they heard”, “that which they saw with their own eyes”, “that which they observed and their hands touched” (1 John 1).[3]
Just like the clever speculation by Pascal, we say that one of the three following things happened to the Apostles: either they were deceived, or, they deceived us, or, they told us the truth.
Let’s take the first case. It is not possible for the Apostles to have been deceived, because everything that they reported, was not reported to them by others. They themselves were eye and ear witnesses of all those things. Besides, none of them were imaginative characters, nor did they have any psychological inclination that made them accept the event of the Resurrection. Quite the contrary - they were terribly distrustful. The Gospels are extremely revealing in their narrations of their spiritual dispositions: they even disbelieved the reassurances that some people had actually seen Him resurrected.[4]
And one other thing. What were the Apostles, before Christ called them? Were they perhaps ambitious politicians or visionaries of philosophical and social systems, who were longing to conquer mankind and thus satisfy their fantasies? Not at all. They were illiterate fishermen. The only thing that interested them was to catch a few fish to feed their families. That is why, even after the Lord’s Crucifixion, and despite everything that they had heard and seen, they returned to their fishing boats and their nets. In other words, there was not a single trace of disposition in these men for the things that were to follow. It was only after the day of Pentecost, “when they received strength from on high”, that they became the teachers of the universe.
The second case: Did they deceive us? Did they lie to us? But then, why would they deceive us? What would they gain by lying? Was it money? Was it status? Was it glory? For someone to tell a lie, he must be expecting some sort of gain. The Apostles though, by preaching Christ - and in fact Christ crucified and resurrected – the only things that they secured for themselves were: hardships, labors, lashings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, nakedness, attacks from robbers, beatings, incarcerations and finally, death. And all this, for a lie? It would be undoubtedly foolish for anyone to even consider it.
Consequently, the Apostles were neither deceived, nor did they deceive us. This leaves us with the third choice: that they told us the truth.
I should also stress something else here: The Evangelists are the only ones who recorded true historical events. They describe the events, and only the events. They do not resort to any personal judgments. They praise no one, and they criticize no one. They make no attempt to exaggerate an event, nor eliminate or underestimate another. They let the events speak for themselves.

Atheist: Are you excluding the possibility that in Christ’s case, it was just an incident of apparent death? The other day, the newspapers had written about someone in India whom they buried and three days later they exhumed him and he was still alive.

Elder: My poor child! I will recall the words of the blessed Augustine again: “O faithless ones, you are not actually mistrustful; indeed, you are the most gullible of all. You accept the most improbable things, and the most irrational, the most contradictory, in order to deny a miracle!”
No, my child. It was not a case of apparent death with Christ. First of all, we have the testimony of the Roman centurion, who reassured Pilate that Christ’s death was a certainty.
Then, our Gospel informs us that on the same day of His Resurrection, the Lord was seen talking with two of His disciples, walking towards Emmaus, which was more than ten kilometers away from Jerusalem.
Can you imagine someone, who could go through all the tortures that Christ underwent, and three days after His “apparent death”, spring back again? If anything, he would have to be fed chicken soup for forty days, in order to be able to open his eyes, let alone walk and talk as though nothing had happened!
As for the Hindu, bring him here to be flogged with a scourge – do you know what a scourge is? It is a whip, whose lashes each have a lead chunk or a piece of broken bone or sharp nails attached to their end – bring him here, so we can flog him, then force a crown of thorns on his head, crucify him, give him bile and vinegar to drink, then pierce his side with a spear, put him in a tomb, and then, if he comes back from the dead, then we can talk.

Atheist:  Even so, but all the testimonies that you have invoked belong to Christ’s Disciples. Is there any testimony on this matter, that doesn’t come from the circle of His Disciples? Are there any historians for example, who can certify Christ’s Resurrection? If so, then I will also believe what you say.

Elder:  You poor child! You don’t know what you’re saying now! If there had been such historians who had witnessed Christ resurrected, they would have been compelled to believe in His Resurrection and would have recorded it as believers, in which case, you would again have rejected their testimony, just like you rejected Peter’s testimony, John’s testimony, etc. How can it be possible, for someone to actually witness the Resurrection and yet NOT become a Christian? You are asking for a roasted fowl, on a waxen skewer, that also sings! It just can’t be done!
I will remind you though – because you are asking for historians – of what I said earlier: that the only true historians are the Apostles.
Nevertheless, we do have testimony of the kind that you want; and it is by someone who didn’t belong to the circle of His Disciples: it was Paul. Paul not only wasn’t a Disciple of Christ, he actually persecuted Christ’s Church relentlessly.

Atheist:  They say that Paul suffered from sunstroke and that it was the cause of his hallucination.

Elder:  My child, if Paul was hallucinating, the thing that would have come to the surface would have been his subconscious. And in Paul’s subconscious, the Patriarchs and the Prophets would have been top ranking. He would have hallucinated about Abraham, and Jacob and Moses, and not Jesus, whom he considered a rabble-rouser and a fraud!
Can you imagine a faithful old grandmother seeing Buddha or Zeus in her dream or delirium? She would most probably see Saint Nicholas or Saint Barbara, because she believes in them.
One more thing. With Paul, we have, as Papini notes, the following miraculous phenomena: First of all, the abruptness of his conversion. Straight from faithlessness to faith. With no intermediate preparatory stage. Secondly, the steadfastness of his faith. No wavering, no doubts. And thirdly, his faith lasted for a whole lifetime. Do you believe that all these things can occur after a case of sunstroke? They can in no way be attributed to such a cause. If you can explain how, then explain it. If you can’t, then you must admit the miracle. And you must know that for a man of his time, Paul was exceptionally well-educated. He was not your average person of a low status, who was totally clueless.
I will also add something else. We today, my child, are living in an exceptional era. We are living the miracle of Christ’s Church.
When Christ said of His Church that “the gates of Hades shall not overpower Her” (Matthew 16:18), His followers were very few in number. Almost two thousand years have passed since that day. Empires vanished, philosophical systems were forgotten, world theories collapsed. But Christ’s Church remains indestructible, despite the continuous and dramatic persecutions it has undergone. Isn’t that a miracle?
And one final thing. In Luke’s Gospel it says that when the Holy Mother visited Elizabeth (the Baptist’s mother) after the Annunciation, she was greeted with the words: “Blessed are you amongst women”. And the Holy Mother replied as follows: “My soul magnifies the Lord. Behold, from this moment on, all generations shall call me blessed” (1:48).
What was the Holy Mother at that time? She was just an obscure daughter of Nazareth. How many knew her? And yet, since that day, empresses have been forgotten, distinguished women’s names have been extinguished, the mothers and wives of great generals went into oblivion. Who remembers, or even knows Napoleon’s mother or Alexander the Great’s mother? Almost no one. But, millions of lips across every length and breadth of the world, throughout the ages, venerate that humble daughter of Nazareth, who is “more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim”. Are we, or aren’t we, the people of the twentieth century, living in this day and age when the verification of those words of the Holy Mother can be done?
The exact same things are observed in a “secondary” prophecy of Christ: While He was staying at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him and poured her expensive fragrant oil over His head. Christ commented: “Amen, verily I say to you, that wherever this gospel will be preached in the world, it will also mention what this woman did, as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:13). Now, how large was His circle of followers at the time, so that one could say that they outdid themselves in order that their Master’s prophecy be fulfilled? Especially a prophecy such as this one, which, by today’s world standards, is of no importance to most people.
Are they or aren’t they miracles? If you can, explain them. But if you can’t, then admit them as such.

Atheist:  I have to admit that your arguments are pretty solid. But I would like to ask you one more thing: Don’t you think that Christ left His work unfinished? That is, unless He deserted us. I can’t imagine a God that would remain indifferent to mankind’s suffering. We are down here toiling, while He, up there, remains apathetic.

Elder:  No, my child. You aren’t right. Christ did not leave His work unfinished. On the contrary, He is the one unique case in history where a person has the certainty that His mission was accomplished, and had nothing further to do or to say.
Even the greatest of philosophers, Socrates, who discussed and taught during his whole lifetime, and towards the end composed an intricate “Apology”, would have even more to say, if he had lived.
Only Christ – in the time bracket of three years – taught what He had to teach, did what He had to do, and finally said (on the Cross): “It is finished”. Another example of His divine perfection and authority.
As for the abandonment that you mentioned, I can understand your concern. Without Christ, the world would be a theatre of insanity. Without Christ, you cannot explain anything: why are there sorrows, why injustices, why failures, why sicknesses, why, why, why? Thousands of monumental “why's".
Try to understand! Man cannot approach all of these “why's" with his finite logic. It is only through Christ that everything can be explained. All these trials merely precondition us for eternity. Perhaps then, we might be honored by the Lord with a reply to some of those “why's".
It might be worthwhile, if I read you a beautiful poem (*) from the collection of Constantine Kallinikos Laurels and Myrtles, with the title “Questions”:
I asked a desert father of seventy years, whose silver strands were blown by the wind:
Tell me, O father, why, on this earth, do the light and the dark inseparably move?
And why must they - like twins - together sprout: the thorn and the rose, the tear and the smile?
Why, in the loveliest part of the woodland green have scorpions and vipers concealed their nests?
Why must it be, that the tender bud, before unfolding its fragrant bloom, be struck by a worm in the heart of its stem,
And left to die, like a shrivelled rag? Why are the plow, the seed and the hands a must for the wheat, to become our bread?
Why must everything useful, noble, divine always be purchased with tears and our blood, while selfishness ever rampantly reigns, and lewdness is swallowing up the world?
And why, amongst such harmony around, must tumult and disorder find their way?
The hermit replied, with his somber voice and right arm pointing to the sky, that there, beyond those clouds of gold. The Almighty weaves a tapestry divine. But since we are wanderers of the lower plane.
We see nothing but the knots and strings below. It is no wonder, why the mind sees wrong, when it should always be thankful and give praise: for the day will come, when Christians all, with souls that ride the skies with wings, will gaze atop God’s tapestry and see how careful and orderly everything was!
My child, Christ never abandoned us. He is forever with us, as a helper and a supporter, until the end of time. But you will realize this, only when you become a conscientious member of His Church and be joined with Her Mysteries.

* The poem is a loose translation that focuses more on the meaning that exact wording.

  • [1] From within sacred history, we observe how Abraham considers himself “earth and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). Job also (42:6). The great Moses hesitates to undertake the mission of liberating the Israelites from Egypt, believing himself to be too small and inadequate for such a job: “And Moses said to God : ‘Who am I, that can go to the Pharaoh, king of Egypt,... I am not capable... weak voiced and stuttering, I am.” (Exodus 3:11, 4:10). The same is said at a later time by the Judge Gideon: “My Lord, how can I save Israel?... for I am the youngest of my father’s house....” (Judges 6:15). David calls himself “a dead dog, and a louse” (1 Kings 24:15), "a worm and not a man, the disgrace of mankind and the derogation of the people” (Psalm 21:27). Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me, the wretched one, for I am deeply troubled, because, being a man and having impure lips, I reside amongst the people with impure lips, and yet I have looked upon the King, the Lord Sabaoth with my very eyes” (Isaiah 6:5). Jeremiah laments: “O Sovereign Lord, behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.... Cure me my Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved. For You are my boast.” (Jeremiah 1:6, 17:14). The three Young Men utter a confession about themselves and all of the population: “...for we have sinned and broken the law, by distancing ourselves from You, and we are sinners in everything and we did not obey Your commandments... with a crushed soul and a humbled mind, may we be received by You....” (Daniel 56 and 16). John the Baptist, the “greatest amongst those born of a woman”, confessed : “'I am not the Christ.' And they asked him: 'Who then are you? Are you Elijah?' 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' And he replied: 'No, I am just a voice in the wilderness, crying out: Make straight the way of the Lord... I am not worthy enough, to even loosen the strap of His (Christ’s) sandal.'” (John 1:20). Finally, the one and only and unprecedented Paul, considers himself a “monstrosity” and unworthy “to be called an apostle”, a “wretched person”, and “the first amongst all sinners” (1 Corinthians 15:89, Romans 7:24, 1 Timothy 1:15). But, we won’t take up any more time here.
  • [2] By applying the standard of: “The greater you are, the more you should humble yourself” (Sirach 3:18).
  • [3] This is precisely what is stressed in John’s Gospel: “the one who witnessed, testified” (19: 35); In other words, the one who wrote those things was the one who actually saw the soldier pierce Christ’s side with the spear, and he saw blood and water coming out of the wound.
  • [4] “They hesitated to prostrate themselves to Him” (Matthew 28:17). “And they (the apostles), upon hearing that He was alive and was seen by her (Mary Magdalene), disbelieved” (Mark 16:13). “He derided them for their disbelief and their hard-heartedness, because they did not believe those who had seen Him risen” (Mark 16:14). “It appeared to them (the Apostles) that their (the myrrhbearers) words were like ravings (=foolishness, delirium), and they disbelieved them” (Luke 24:11). “We had hoped that He was the one who was destined to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). “If I do not see the imprint of the nails on His hands and place my finger on the imprint of the nails, and place my hand on (the wound of) His side, I shall not believe" (words of Doubting Thomas, John 20:25), etc.

Source: Translated from the book The Life and Teachings of Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos. Edited by John Sanidopoulos

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