"Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times."

Friday, 25 December 2009


“It’s a terrible waste of money,” said the former official. “It happens all the time. This is the Greek reality.”

He estimated that hosting the Olympic Games in 2004 cost Greece more than £12 billion, double what it would have been without “money flying this way, that way and often under the table”. Bribes are routinely paid by Athenians to speed up bureaucracy. Tax evasion is also rampant.

As for the new, centre-left government of George Papandreou, the prime minister, who is also the son and grandson of Greek prime ministers, the former official was dismissive. “They’re a bunch of amateurs,” he said. “Not one of them has ever earned a penny in the private sector.”

The previous government — of which he had been a member — was just as incompetent. He confirmed a rumour that Costas Karamanlis, the former prime minister, spent long hours on a PlayStation computer game at home when he might have been attending to matters of state.


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