Greece: second thoughts on socialism

Every night, about 2,000 persons crowd into an open-air theater in downtown Athens to watch a 21/2-hour musical review called ''Do You Like Being Stuck to PASOK?''

The play, a political satire following an age-old tradition of Greeks airing their dirty linen on stage, presents Greece's trials and tribulations under a nine-month-old Socialist regime.

The sketches in the review are based on a love-boat representing Greece, which ran aground in a small island inhabited by a lighthouse guard and his parrot named Andreas - the name by which Greeks refer to Premier Andreas Papandreou.

The play makes fun of Andreas, his false promises, his failure to alleviate taxes - he actually increased them by almost 60 percent - to bring down prices, and to cope with other domestic and international problems.

''We could have filled a football field if we had one,'' said Yannis Gionakis , a leading Greek comedian who plays in the review.

After nine months of Socialist rule under the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of US-educated professor Andreas Papandreou, most Greeks seem to be disappointed with their government.

Andreas Papandreou polled 48 percent of the votes in the elections of October 1981 and rode into the 300-member parliament with 170 deputies to 112 for the previously ruling New Democracy Party, 11 Communists, and 7 independents.

The new premier owed his victory to his promises of bringing a change (allaghi as it is called in Greek) in the way the country was to be governed, combatting partisanship in the public sector (''Ours will be a Greece for all Greeks,'' he promised), fighting inflation, and in the fact that voters did not believe he was going to implement his plans on foreign policy.

Mr. Papandreou's foreign policy called for a withdrawal from NATO and the Common Market, an end to the presence of American bases in Greece, and a stronger stance vis-a-vis Turkey, which occupied 38 percent of the island of Cyprus and was threatening the status of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

''He is not going to do anything with these issues. He will play ball with the Americans and NATO, and of course he will not withdraw from the Common Market,'' said a physician who voted for Mr. Papandreou in 1981.

And Papandreou did exactly that. He kept paying lip service to some of his radical ideas, he invited Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat to Greece and promoted the PLO office in Athens into an embassy - the first European Community country to extend diplomatic recognition to the PLO. But he was very careful not to strain his relations with the West.

Instead of withdrawal from the Common Market, he presented member countries a memorandum stressing Greece's special position because of limited development, and asked for a special treatment mainly in the agricultural sector. The EC is considering the memorandum and has become, through its grants for the support of agriculture and the development of less developed areas, one of the main sources of foreign exchange for its newest member.

In 1982, Greece will receive $700 million in price supports and development grants. Next year it will receive $1 billion, and as Richard Burke, the Irish EC commissioner dealing with Greece's memorandum, said, if the country adapts itself more to Community practices, this amount may increase.

Greece withdrew from the NATO military wing in 1974 because of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, but returned in 1980. Papandreou as an opposition leader was opposed to reintegration; as premier, he accepts the decision of his predecessors.

Like them, he also maintains a strong military presence in the Aegean, calls for a just solution in Cyprus, and maintains a diplomatic dialogue with Ankara.

In the Aegean, since 1974 the Turks have questioned the 10-mile airspace around the Greek islands and accept only a six-mile air limit equal to that of the territorial waters.

The 10-mile air limit was established in 1931 and until 1974, Turkey respected it. Greece believes the new Turkish position is only a step toward the violation of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.

The Aegean intercontinental shelf where oil has been found and where Turkey claims the islands are lying on the Turkish seabed, is also disputed.

Greece's earlier governments have proposed a settlement of the seabed through the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but Turkey has refused such a course. Papandreou will not even discuss it.

Cyprus was invaded by Turkey in 1974 following a Greek-led coup against the late Archbishop Makarios. Turkish troops occupied almost 40 percent of the island's territory.

Both Greece and Turkey have accepted talks between the island's Greek and Turkish communities under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General. For eight years such talks have failed.

Now, the future of the island appears murkier because President Spyros Kyprianou announced his electoral cooperation with the island's Communist Party (AKEL).

Papandreou, who maintains a very gentleman-like position toward local and foreign communist parties, had to condemn the move.

On the US bases, the Greek government is ready to negotiate for renewal of their operation. Speaking on this subject, Papandreou said after his election: ''We are always for an end of American military presence, but these things cannot happen overnight.''

He actually indicated he was ready to renew the base agreement for another 12 years, and negotiations are scheduled to begin next October.

At present there are four main US bases in Greece. Two are Navy communications or listening posts. One is an Air Force transport facility at Athens airport; and in Suda Bay, Crete, the Navy and Air Force maintain one of the best bases in the Mediterranean.

But while Socialist Greece has kept above water-level in international affairs, its economic situation has deteriorated since last October.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the inflation rate went up by 11.5 percent during the first six months in 1982. The OECD also predicted a 4 percent fall in investments in 1982 and said the deficit in the balance of payments will be over $2.2 billion.

These figures, though not devastating, alarm Greeks when combined with actual life in Greece: This summer fresh fruit and vegetables cost 50 to 100 percent more than in 1981, tourism has dropped, and the shipping industry is facing its worst crisis since World War II.

The Socialists, concerned with moving their own cohorts into the bureaucracy and implementing their dogmas rather than keeping an orderly economy going, added to the crisis.

''They inherited near-chaos and turned it into a real one,'' said veteran publisher Eleni Vlachou.

Papandreou would not admit such failings for his regime, but even before completing nine months in power, he reshuffled his Cabinet he said, ''to cope better with the country's great difficulties in the economic sector.''

He increased the members of his new Cabinet to 52 - although he has appointed only 50 so far - and brought in among them, 14 technocrats. He abolished the Ministry of Economic Coordination, set up a Ministry of National Economy to coordinate development and foreign trade.

He also fired his finance minister, Manolis Drettakis, a hard-core Socialist, and replaced him with Dimitrios Koulourianos, a former governor of the Greek Bank of Industrial Development.

But ''the reshuffled Cabinet cannot bring about any dramatic changes if a new policy is not heralded at the same time,'' said Adamantios Pepelassis, a former governor of the Agricultural Bank of Greece.

''Even Lenin introducted his new economic policy when his socialist measures brought Russia to its knees. Papandreou should do the same. Steer away from sterile socialist experiments,'' he said.

Former coordination minister and liberal politician John Tsouderos, also US-educated like Papandreou, feels that Socialist proclamations more than actual measures have undermined the economy.

''It is the climate of security and trust which suffered,'' he said. ''Without it no investors dare to use their money and the threat of unemployment becomes imminent.''

Even Evangelos Averoff, the soft-spoken leader of New Democracy, the main opposition party, criticized Papandreou with strong words. Mr. Averoff predicted that unemployment will exceed 250,000 by the end of 1982 and said his party was preparing a new program of economic reconstruction.

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