News - December 11, 2008


The Greek government is deliberately letting the violence in the country get out of hand to distract attention from its own problems, says Greek student Nickos Koutsodinos. He is one of the 64 Greek students at Wageningen UR.

The Greek students are following the developments in their country with concern. Koutsodinos, who is studying organic agriculture, is in daily contact with his family back home. ‘In Athens nearly all the shops in the main shopping streets have been destroyed and burnt out. There’s chaos and violence everywhere, and the government is doing nothing.’

Koutsodinos adds that it is only a small minority of the Greek population that is using violence. ‘They are not representative of the population as a whole. It’s mainly young people who have no jobs and take advantage of any crisis to create unrest. It’s like football hooligans; they are not concerned about the shooting of a 15-year-old boy by the police. They aren’t anarchists, they have no political objectives. They are just out to stir things up and disturb the peace.’

The violence works out well for the government in Koutsodinos’ opinion. ‘By not intervening or taking action, the government hopes that public opinion will shift direction. This way they can focus attention on the troublemakers and away from their own faults.’ But according to Koutsodinos, the level of dissatisfaction among the Greeks is very high. The Greek government is very unpopular. ‘In the last three months alone, four members of the government have had to resign because of corruption. There are lots of scandals and conspiracies. Many government services are no longer working, and that’s what has led to the strikes.'