Sunday, 30 June 2013

Eldorado Gold Faces Down Resistance to Gold Mining in Northern Greece

Canada's Eldorado Gold has bought the mining rights to recoverable reserves of an estimated 12 million ounces of gold in northern Greece, worth over $14bn even at today's depressed gold prices. Three quarters of this is in the region of Halkidiki, the three-pronged peninsula that is also home to rich forests, white sandy beaches and hotel resorts.

Here local resistance has plagued efforts by Eldorado's predecessor, TVX Gold, which eventually went bankrupt, partly as a result of losses and dashed investor expectations in the region. Eldorado has so far done better. It has won the local municipal council over, successfully applied for environmental permits and so far kept its investment on track.

Eldorado plans to extract and process gold ore three years from now. There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip, however. The prospect of turfing out and processing hundreds of millions of tonnes of ore is still a frightening one to many concerned for the environment, and those who disagree with the project have political backers.

The Al Jazeera report is here

Friday, 21 June 2013

Is The Greek Government Really Better Off Without The Left? Jubilation May Be Premature

This editorial was published on EnetEnglish.

The Democratic Left party made its withdrawal from the coalition official on Friday, when it removed its four cabinet members. At least three of these have been controversial for their internal opposition to austerity or their ideological differences from the rest of the cabinet. 

Antonis Manitakis, as minister of administrative reform, famously refused to fire a single civil servant while in office, despite the fact that Greece has pledged to ridding itself of 150,000 people from the overmanned public sector until 2016.  

Justice minister Antonis Roupakiotis was one of the more benign presences in an otherwise authoritarian and conservative cabinet. He advocated an anti-racism law the ruling New Democracy conservatives chose to bury. Partly thanks to his criticism, a new citizenship bill that would have made it harder for non-Greeks and their children to become enfranchised, or for Greeks to attend foreign schools, was never tabled in parliament. 

Deputy Health Minister Foteini Skopouli was a divisive figure, roundly criticised by the opposition radical left Syriza for failing to channel funds to hospitals and pharmaceutical suppliers. Her moment of highest controversy came earlier this year, when she allowed the Greek Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to run out of funds with which to carry out vital monitoring of HIV patients. 

Many observers opine that the work of reform and austerity measures will now move apace with the most change-resistant member of the coalition gone. But the government is left with a majority of just three votes in the 300-seat parliament - the type of margin that has historically ended terms of office prematurely. It happened to Konstantine Mitsotakis in 1993, and to George Papandreou in 2011. 

Now, however, the risks are greater. In 2011, Papandreou reluctantly invited the conservatives to join him at a time when Samaras was still touting the anti-austerity position. Samaras came kicking and screaming, but together they controlled two thirds of parliament under a consensus prime minister. Now, they barely produce an outright majority, and there are no other parties supporting the memoranda of measures that accompany Greece's bailout loans. 

It is almost as though a consensus is forming in Greek public opinion that the bailout plan won't ultimately be feasible and the country will be forced to declare bankruptcy - not because of ideological idees fixes or bone-headed opposition, but because the Greeks can no longer finance the recession through savings and work, and to allow themselves to drop into the abyss of their real standard of living is an indignity defying consideration. 

The problems aren’t just political perceptions at home. According to the Financial Times, the International Monetary Fund, a key lender, has openly stated that Greek debt is not sustainable. It threatens to stop paying Greece its portion of the bailout loan that’s keeping the country afloat, because its charter won't allow it to support a programme that doesn't add up. 

Greek Coalition's Fate Uncertain

This article was published by EnetEnglish.

Greece's political stability was in doubt late on Thursday night, as the smallest coalition partner walked out of the yearling government.

The ruling conservatives, socialists and the Democratic Left were locked in days of talks over how to revamp the state broadcaster, ERT, after the prime minister unilaterally shut it down on June 11, when Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis unexpectedly walked out.

Kouvelis later delivered a brief statement describing as "unacceptable" the government's failure to re-establish live broadcasts following a ruling to do so by the Council of State, the country's top administrative court. 

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras blamed Kouvelis for inconsistency. "Yesterday there was agreement on restoring the public television signal," Samaras said in a communique delivered after the talks broke down.  "We would hire the necessary personnel to operate all three frequencies. That was what tonight's talks were about," he said.

"In today's talks, Fotis Kouvelis appeared to argue outside the context of the agreement he put his name to yesterday," Samaras continued. "He asked us to re-open the ERT we shut down - in other words, to return to a nefarious situation with too many employees, abolishing all hope that something will change in ERT."

The government can remain in power even in the event that Kouvelis withdraws his two ministers, 14 MPs and vote of confidence. Conservative New Democracy and the socialist Pasok party together hold 153 out of 300 seats. However, the government would be severely weakened and might lack the legitimacy with which to carry out the difficult austerity measures and reforms that lie ahead.

The crisis between the three coalition leaders was sparked by Samaras' unilateral decision on June 11 to announce the immediate closure of Hellenic Radio and Television, ERT, in order to slim it down and restructure it.

Venizelos and Kouvelis have both demanded the immediate re-establishment of the signal before any revamp is put into action. A ruling by the country's top administrative court on Monday demanded the same. Samaras has so far reportedly agreed to re-establish the signal through an interim vehicle that would operate until the end of the summer, not by allowing the broadcaster to resume business as usual.

ERT has approximately 2,700 employees. Samaras has reportedly proposed hiring between 30 and 800 on two-month contracts in a temporary broadcaster. Venizelos on Thursday night demanded that about 2,000 people be rehired, including musicians.

Samaras said he would see his plan through. "The black will go," he said, in reference to blank television signals where state frequencies used to broadcast. "But we will never go back to the old ERT."

"It is clear that when we share a responsibility, we share a responsibility," said socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos after the meeting, in an apparent criticism of Kouvelis. "We cannot have this back and forth, this a la carte behaviour. We want the government to continue as a tripartite government. We ask the Democratic Left to participate in it as in any civilised European democracy."

Kouvelis did make his feelings clear to EnetEnglish earlier on Thursday. "We had agreed that a restructuring of the state broadcaster was necessary," Kouvelis said at a lunch organised by the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. "But the prime minister, over my objections on the method, proceeded with a legal act which I was unaware of," he said. Kouvelis said he was unhappy that the four cabinet ministers appointed by the two junior partners were never consulted about the act abolishing ERT. "We are a three-party government and we were sent a bill," Kouvelis said.

He was also unhappy that the television signal had been cut. "I knew this would offend the Europeans and it has. It has exposed the country," Kouvelis said.

The deepening crisis in the government has opened the prospect of an election in the immediate term. "People don't want elections but a government that acts quickly and effectively," said Venizelos.

The International Monetary Fund, one of Greece's key creditors, denies that it mandated the closure of the broadcaster. "The recent decisions regarding the state broadcaster have been the government’s," said Gerry Rice its communications director. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Greeks fight recession with growth in the field

An abbreviated version of this article was published by Al Jazeera

Cartons of Chian tangerine juice come off the production line at Kambos Chiou 

Greek unemployment, now the worst in Europe, was posted at 26.8 percent for March. The jobless have been steadily increasing since May 2008, when the recession began. The situation is so bad, that two years ago the unemployed and inactive population together exceeded the number of people in work, which means that roughly one third of Greeks is supporting the other two thirds.

In the midst of what may be the worst peacetime collapse of a developed economy, many Greeks have decided to go back to the land. The government has strongly supported this. Greece generated a mere 3.6 percent of its economy from the primary sector last year.

Last February, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras launched a drive to reform and expand agriculture, announcing a 350 million euro fund to encourage agricultural entrepreneurship. “There can be no economic growth without emphasis on the primary sector,” Samaras told parliament. His government has been setting up clusters of farmers in greenhouse and livestock farming, and wants to do the same for fish farming, already a growth industry.

The idea of returning to the land has legs. Some city folk didn’t wait for state support to go back to their country roots. For Damianos Zanaras it was a chance to return to his native Chios after a lifetime in shipping. He spent tens of millions of euros building a juice plant, financing the venture with his own savings as well as loans. ‘Kambos Chiou’ would in theory build its success by making a Greek export of the distinctively flavoured local tangerine as a juice, improving the lot of farmers in the process.

The reality has proven disappointing, because Zanaras overestimated local enthusiasm. “We’re still breaking a sweat to make ends meet. Times are hard and farmers don’t help,” he says. He blames the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy for “spoiling” them over the last forty years. “Now that subsidies have stopped and people have to work hard, they won’t. They let their fruit drop and don’t bring it to the plant.”

Instead, Chians have sought their fortunes in tourism, or away from the island. “There are no full time farmers in Chios any more,” says the plant’s commercial director, Yannis Trantalis. “We tried contract farming but it didn’t work. Most farmers didn’t want to commit. When people aren’t full time farmers they aren’t sure they can meet the production they’ve promised.”

The trouble is not just that Kambos cannot replace the European Union’s once- generous subsidy system.  It is also that Kambos is effectively having to replace the local farmers’ co-operative, which is defunct. Greek co-operatives were set up beginning in the 1960s to guarantee a minimum purchase price for produce, find markets for it and give farmers a collective ability to set market rates. Much of the difficulty in reviving Greek farming stems from the fact that in the 1980s those co-operatives were hijacked as a political infrastructure and never fulfilled their mission.  

“After Greece’s entry into the European Union and the arrival of socialism in Greece, these organisations… were transformed from organisations that served the farmer to organisations that served the party,” says Yannis Panagos, publisher of Agrenda, an agricultural newspaper. Put bluntly, the socialists used co-operatives to funnel money to the faithful and generate votes.

European subsidies were a separate boon that coincided with the socialists’ rise to power in 1981. They roughly doubled what farmers made by selling their product. The combination of subsidies and party money created an environment in which co-operatives easily lost sight of their mission, and it led to uncompetitive farming practices.

“Instead of using this money as a tool to invest and increase efficiency of agriculture, [farmers] used it as an income resource,” says agriculture minister Athanasios Tsaftaris. “They abandoned traditional products, shifted to monocultures, invested heavily in annual crops where the cost is very high; they exhausted a number of resources like water, fertilisers, energy. This increases costs dramatically, so this makes our agricultural products expensive, less competitive.”

The evidence of what Tsaftaris describes is strongest on the Thessaly plain, Greece’s largest expanse of arable land. For decades it has pumped groundwater to increase yields in cash crops like cotton and maize. It now faces an environmental disaster, as water tables have receded by hundreds of metres.

Unsurprisingly, Tsaftaris wants to help new farmers bypass the co-operative and subsidy system, and some of the most successful ones have done just that. Even on Chios, where tangerine groves are largely neglected, Vangelis Xydas and his brother have spun the successful Citrus brand out of their father’s tangerine grove. “We stopped seeing citrus products as fruit and started seeing them as a raw material,” he says. Citrus sells tangerine-flavoured preserves, desserts, pastas and baked goods through a small but growing chain of fully owned retail outlets.

“Every day we fight to break out into exports,” says Xydas. “We’ve looked at going into the German market with Cocomat, which will decorate its Berlin showroom with our products.”

Like Zanaras, Xydas would like to be something of a prophet in his own land, channelling other farmers’ produce into his branded, manufactured goods. And like Zanaras, he’s been bitterly disappointed. “No one wants to know more about what I have done and how. No one asked me to show him how it’s done,” he says, with a note of disbelief still in his voice. “People do see our example, and they see it as distant from them. They say we plugged ourselves into the right programme. It’s as though I don’t belong to this society.  I feel aloof.”

He is not the only one. Vasilis and Roula Balas perhaps suffered from rose-tinted vision when they quit their high-powered Athens jobs in IT and marketing to start a farm on their native Chios. “We wanted our family to grow up the way we had grown up, closer to nature,” says Balas.

The original plan was to make a living from cultivating mastic, the aromatic sap of a tree that thrives nowhere else in the world and is used as flavouring or as stomach-settling medicine. When the Balases’ twins were born last year, they realised that they had to create added value by doubling up their farm as a tourist attraction, but ran up against local inflexibility.

“When I approached the tour operators’ association suggesting that I, a farmer, operate tours, there was uproar. ‘What business’, they said, ‘does a farmer have being a tour operator?’” Although Balas convinced them to bring busloads of tourists to his farm, he came across a new problem. “I can’t sell them any mastic because the co-operative obliges me to sell my production to it. I’d have to buy back my own mastic from the coop at a premium.”

The Balases have had to go back to their old trades as freelance consultants to supplement their income, but they have not regretted their decision to leave Athens. As Balas points out, “we have our lovely family, which was part of the plan, we have our fields - that too was part of the plan - and we have our tourism business. We’ll be all right.”

Xydas believes that the countryside’s quality of life advantages can ultimately make up for some loss of income. “You have a simpler way of life and lower costs. Both growth and recession are more apparent in the city than in the country. We did not experience the benefits of growth before, and we do not feel the depression now.”

The fact remains, however, that innovators like Zanaras, Xydas and Balas are few. If the government is going to shift appreciable numbers of people into primary industry to help rebuild a broken economy, it will have to plan viable futures for them.

“There are basic pre-conditions – sun, land, sea, the experience of Greek growers – these are the comparative strengths of the Greeks,” says Agrenda’s Panagos. He envisions a future in which Greek products ride on an already healthy tourism industry to reach export markets without even leaving the country: “If we combine our culture and agriculture we will have a truly unbeatable cocktail.”

See two related television stories on Al Jazeera. The first is about innovative farmers. The second is about the environmental disaster on the plain of Thessaly

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

ERT Reveals the Fragility of Greek Politics and Free Journalism

This editorial was published by EnetEnglish.

Both the government and public sector employees have somehow come out of their battle for control of Hellenic Radio and Television, or ERT, worse off than they were before. Workers lost their fight to retain the status quo: in accordance with the incontestable ruling of the Council of State on Monday night, the government will be able to revamp the broadcaster as planned, shedding more than a thousand jobs; but  the ruling also forces it to restore ERT's signal until that job is completed at the end of the summer, which rubbishes the government's position that a vehicle cannot be fixed in transit.

A new spat now looms over whether the interim broadcasts will be carried out by the 2,700-employee behemoth or - the government's preference - a cut down task force of 200. But this is a rearguard action. What makes the battle of the past week important is that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras handled things the way he did, and this affects Greece's political future.

Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos let the cat out of the bag on Sunday when he told Real newspaper that, "We knew Mr. Samaras' intention. He knew we completely disagreed." Venizelos, along with the smallest of the three coalition partners, Democratic Left's Fotis Kouvelis, assumed that the conservative prime minister wouldn't touch the broadcaster without what Venizelos calls "a parliamentary majority", by which he means the two junior partners' 42 seats. Without them, prime minister Antonis Samaras cannot rule.

In riding roughshod over his partners, Samaras took a calculated risk. He decided that once presented with a fait accompli, Venizelos and Kouvelis would ultimately buckle under rather than risk an election. Their approval ratings have fallen dramatically since they joined the yearling government, while New Democracy's have remained stable. Even if they did decide to enter a new parliament diminished, their prospects for an alliance with any of the opposition parties would be virtually nonexistent. Venizelos and Kouvelis are thus forced to eat at Samaras' table, even when his policies are slow-acting poison to them.

The dosage of this poison has increased sharply this year, as Samaras has decided to go head-to-head with one of the country's most intractable political problems - the overmanned public sector. To meet Greece's international obligations, he must shed 4,000 workers this year and 11,000 next year as part of a total of 150,000 job losses over four years. The government has a shortlist of some 250 organisations it is thinking of abolishing or merging in order to achieve this.

Naturally, Samaras has become stricter with all public workers and with unions. In January he commandeered striking striking workers in passenger shipping; in February Metro workers; and in May the enormous union of secondary school teachers, who were merely threatening to strike. The law he used in each case is a presidential decree that predates the constitution and was never elected through parliament. It is a procedure granting the government extraordinary powers in a time of national emergency. Unions call it undemocratic, but the public has largely supported the increasingly autocratic Samaras because it is fed up with public sector unions holding the country to ransom for raises and benefits.

The problem with Samaras' policy is that he is not a dexterous enough enforcer of it. Most Greeks understand the need for state payroll shrinkage; after all, the private sector has almost exclusively borne the burden of 1.3 million redundancies. But taking ERT off the air to restructure it was an action worthy of a putsch in the eyes of Greeks. Not having the overhaul plan ready to hand was simply incompetent. The arguments of government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou - that closure was the only way to clean house both financially and morally - were self contradictory and damaging because of the impotence they imply.

Samaras is likely to pull further and further apart from his partners as he comes into his own as prime minister and pursues his political self-interest of taking ownership of as much of the dissolving political centre as possible. There will be plenty of pressure for reform for years to come, and this is a powerful political alibi in a country veering sharply to the right, as reactionary as that shift may be to decades of leftism. Venizelos and Kouvelis can expect to be increasingly unhappy in this chain gang. They may at some point be expected to walk out, calculating that the compromises involved in following Thatcherite policies are a bigger existential threat than the risks of re-election. An unnecessary provocation of the public, like that over ERT, would likely spark such a departure. Greece should brace itself for a brief and rocky remainder of the first Samaras term in office, followed by political convulsions akin to those witnessed in back-to-back elections last year. Whether another pro-austerity government can be formed is a matter of speculation, and so is Greece's continued presence in the eurozone.

There is a second, equally important issue related to the political one arising from the battle for ERT. It is that raised by the government spokesman last week - the independence of the media. This is practically non-existent in Greece, squelched between two forces of almost geological strength - party politics and media owners' material interests. For all the tug-of-war about pluralism between ERT and the government, ERT has never been above the fray of influence peddling and this administration has not proven itself a friend of independent inquiry; on the contrary, its communications policy is stubbornly autistic and the government spokesman is at least partly to blame for this.

Still, if the government is to be taken at its word as wanting freedom of expression it needs to back this up with a series of indispensable actions. The government needs to monitor the airwaves it leases accordingly, through a truly independent radio and television council free of party appointees. All parties - including opposition parties - need to withdraw their appointees from journalism unions, which they dominate. Their presence turns each discussion into a question of balance between political forces. Journalists who shamelessly act as rapporteurs of party lines on evening newscasts in private media need to be stopped. Government ministries and banks need to take journalists off their payrolls, and the international media need to be viewed with less suspicion. Last but not least, Greece needs to find a way to prevent its media from being owned by those very contractors who bid for state- and EU-funded projects. The government of Kostas Karamanlis attempted the latter in January 2005 with a law that prevented media shareholders holding one percent and above from bidding for state projects, on the understanding that they would abuse their leverage. The European Commission struck this down as contrary to the free trade principles of the common market. It was a rare instance of Brussels being wrong when Greece was right. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

Samaras' Waterloo Moment

This article was published on EnetEnglish.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras appears to have lost both legally and politically in his bid to shut down Greece's public broadcaster, ERT.

The Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, on Monday night was preparing to publish a decision that would force Samaras to re-establish ERT's signal, which has been off the air since last Tuesday on government orders. ERT employees have continued to put out a signal via the internet.

"The decision corroborates the abolition of ERT and its board," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said." He said the decision also instructed him to "broadcast from a public entity until the new public broadcaster is up and running." The government spokesman has said that this will be done by the end of August.

The Council's decision appears to mean that the government may proceed with its restructuring of the state broadcaster, scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer, but may not keep it off the air in the meantime.

During the course of the evening Samaras held a three and a half hour meeting with his disenchanted junior coalition partners, socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis, to hammer out a common position. "We're waiting for the prime minister to interpret the [court] decision correctly," Venizelos said, emerging from the meeting. Samaras offered to reshuffle the government at the end of the month, and to re-examine how decisions are made and announced as concessions to his partners, the prime minister's head of communications said.

The concessions underline the extent to which Samaras' government has been shaken by the events of the past week. His coalition partners have publicly disagreed with his unilateral decision, but are also making a stand on the rubric of the coalition's mode of collaboration. Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, speaking of conservative premier Samaras and his party, told Sunday newspaper Real, "New Democracy's plan [for ERT] was known to all the media... We knew Mr. Samaras' intention. He knew we completely disagreed. What would happen in any other European country with a coalition government? Would one partner proceed without a parliamentary majority?"

But the most unanimous public and political condemnation has focused on the act of taking state television off the air. The European Broadcasting Union's president, Jean-Paul Philippot, visited Athens last Friday to deliver a rebuke to the government in person. He called for the re-establishment of the signal "immediately" and said that allowing journalists to do their job was "non-negotiable". In defiance of the government-enforced closure, the EBU carried Philippot's press conference in Athens via the ERT signal.

The EBU is the governing body for all European public broadcasters, but European outrage has gone beyond it. The day before, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks told the Associated Press that the move "deals a heavy blow to a fundamental pillar of democracy." 

The autocratic style in which Samaras closed ERT has played into the hands of his political opponents at home. Media unions declared rolling 24-hour strikes in all private media, which have lasted for seven days. On Monday night Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition party, Syriza, held a rally in Syntagma Square to capitalise on the government's faux pas. 

"I'd like to inform the prime minister about something he refuses to understand: Mr. Samaras, you're finished.," Tsipras said. "Let me repeat that to make sure you've got the message: You are finished. Whether you patch things up with your allies tonight or not, goodnight to you. Just leave the silver, please, because it doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the Greek people." 

This was the first major political event not to be covered by Greek national television in decades, so Syriza installed an eight-camera crew and created its own production, which ERT streamed live. The event, complete with live music, camera cranes and slogans like "we are stopping the catastrophe, we are rebuilding Greece," had the feel of an election rally. 

New Democracy and Syriza are running neck-and-neck in the polls. A Kapa Research poll for the Sunday edition of Vima gave them 21.4 percent and 21.1 percent of the popular vote, respectively, with 19 percent of the vote undecided. The poll was conducted on June 12-13, when the ERT controversy was raging. A Public Issue poll conducted for Skai/Kathimerini on June 6-11, just before the controversial closure, found the pair polling at 29.5 percent and 27.5 percent of the vote respectively.  

The Slow-Motion, ERT Train Collision

A Syriza rally gathers steam on Syntagma Square on Monday night. This was the first major political event not to be covered by Greek national television in decades, so Syriza installed an eight-camera crew and created its own production, which ERT streamed live. The event, complete with live music, camera cranes and slogans like "we are stopping the catastrophe, we are rebuilding Greece," had the feel of an election rally. 

Several political and legal trains were in motion in Athens on Monday night following the closure of the public broadcaster, ERT, last Tuesday, and all of their tracks will cross in the next 24 hours. A few collisions seem inevitable.

Antonis Samaras, Greece's autocratic prime minister, was meeting his junior coalition partners beginning at 7:30pm, just as the leading opposition party, the radical left wing Syriza, held a rally on Syntagma Square in front of parliament. Samaras' job is to hold his coalition together after his partners disagreed with his closure of public television and have expressed broader concerns with his style of management. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras' job is to give the impression that the coalition's days are numbered and the next election race has already begun.

Several legal battles are also taking their course. The Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, will rule on Monday or Tuesday about whether Samaras' closure of ERT is legal. That would offer a legal answer to a political problem, one way or the other. In lower courts, a slew of media barons is engaged in a battle with unions over a series of rolling 24-hour strikes they declared last Wednesday, which are eating into revenues. Some newspapers and broadcasters have observed the strike, while others have not.

The most serious of these developments by far is the meeting of the three coalition members. Upon its outcome rests the question of whether the government will continue to exist, or fall apart. The anger of the junior partners, who are centre-left, should not be underestimated. Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, speaking of conservative premier Samaras and his party, told Sunday newspaper Real, "New Democracy's plan [for ERT] was known to all the media... We knew Mr. Samaras' intention. He knew we completely disagreed. What would happen in any other European country with a coalition government? Would one partner proceed without a parliamentary majority?"

Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic Left, the third and smallest of the coalition members, have complained in the past about Samaras' autocratic style of leadership. Tonight's meeting is likely to be about the broader rubric of their collaboration, not simply a patching up of differences over the handling of ERT. Venizelos and Kouvelis have not accepted Samaras' concession over the weekend to re-establish ERT's television signal with a small force of reporters, pending its broader restructuring. Hence the danger of an inconclusive meeting tonight, which would prolong the hiatus in the government's reform efforts. Rather than being a pilot for future overhauls of overmanned public bodies, ERT could represent a stalling of them.