Iasonas Athanasiadis talks about ERT’s corruption and Erdogan’s autarchy

Greek "international" journalist Iasonas Athanasiadis
Greek "international" journalist Iasonas Athanasiadis Credit © Iason Athanasiadis

He is a journalist, documentary producer and observes all the events from Greece to Turkey, North Africa to Iran and Afghanistan. Monitoring the events from the forefront even led him to Iranian prison on charges of espionage. All the while, he has been a columnist in the International Herald Tribune, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, the Washington Times, and others. Iasonas Athanasiadis is one of the few Greek journalists who have live witnessed the recent events in Turkey and Lybia though having a special perspective about what is happening in the country.



Are there any examples of governments that closed the public broadcasting so ‘violently’?

I do not live in Greece but in Istanbul. While the last two years I am almost permanently in Lybia, whose country’s chaotic post-revolutionary regime still has not made decisions, two years after the war between Gaddafi’s government and the rebels supported by NATO, not only for the national broadcasting but for the more crucial issues such as army and national reconciliation. The TV channels here censor themselves and when they bother some of the paramilitary groups, they get raided in their offices or surrounded by military vehicles! Many journalists have got lost in secret prison and detention rooms where they are exposed to torture and other forms of oppression.


What is your opinion about ERT?

The limited experiences and contacts that I had in the channel from 2003 until recently, showed that ERT was not a decent and meritocratic organism and that many of its employees were not essentially qualified for the work they would supposedly complete. That is to say, I am not sure that the labor force of ERT disposed the critical mass in order to purge itself. So, in spite of the sudden and non-democratic way of the station’s closing, it was probably its futile attempt of reestablishment through a radical change in a kind of ‘shock doctrine’.  I am not sorry for the closure of the grid, and I do not resort to sentimentalisms about childhood memories that I allegedly owe to ERT’s programs -I certainly feel grateful for their insignificance, as it allowed me to establish true childhood memories- also I do not have great hopes that whichever TV channel is created it will get away with the curse of party identity.


Assuming that something is not working properly, do we adjust it or remove it?

It depends on the extent of malfunction. I did not understand if ERT is about to be banned or according to the bill, set up a new public, non-state channel. However, the truth is that the problems of Greece seem of low quality compared to the chaos of Lybia.

As the time passes Turkish Democracy envy less and less the Greek but on the other hand the jealousy of the Greek one will keep on increasing as to the ability to suppress the Turkish


When the people in Turkey massively go out in the streets in regards to the case of the construction of a shopping center in a park place does it mean that the Turkish has begun to break free, to react?

Protesters constitute a new demography for the current mostly non-politicized generation as well as a new historical stage of the social formation in Turkey. A recent research on the protesters revealed that 70% does not support any political party while 54% takes part in a protest for the first time in their life. The first days the Opposition did not manage to make the movement lose momentum (when Kemal Kilicdaroglu went to Taksim Square, his voice was drown out the slogans) while Erdogan’s close milieu keeps force feeding him with external interference scenarios. I do not rule out that there are exterior factors which want to take advantage of the setting, but if this is true, then they try to inhibit a completely local dynamic. The Turkish did not get out in the streets because they feel nostalgic for Kemal Ataturk or they hate Islam. Many people felt aggrieved about Erdogan’s neoliberal financial policies and his ongoing dictatorial behavior. Statistics are not the only truth for the Turkish economy which is efficient though, it is plagued by unemployment and subemployment.


As the time passes does the Turkish Democracy envy less and less the Greek one?

…I’d say yes. On the other hand the jealousy of the Greek one will keep on increasing as to the ability of Turkish to suppress. Many times Turkish lefties sadly expressed themselves on how ‘You Greeks manage to go out in the streets and face the police while we are vegetating.’ Now the roles have been reversed and while we are vegetating they are out in the streets. When did a protest in Greece manage to force the government to deliver, even temporarily, the park at the center of Syntagma Square?

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