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Train Crash that Exposed years of Greek Corruption sparks Protests

Corruption in Greece isn’t only just a thing of the politicians, it’s a mindset deeply planted in Greece’s way of life.

A country with a rich history and cultural heritage has been plagued by corruption for decades. Corruption in Greece has been a major problem for its economy and political system, and it has hindered the country’s development and progress.

Public facilities are on the brink of collapse, public services underperforming and a population dissatisfied with the quality of life, opportunities, and a justice system they don’t trust.

Greece’s train infrastructure was underperforming as well, with corruption not allowing young educated people to work there, public money intended for security upgrades disappearing and a government that is as corrupt as all the previous ones, nothing changed.

The Crash

In the 28 February, a civilian-carrying train collided “head to head” with a cargo-carrying one, the two trains were moving on the same rail. This is what happens when a human error combines with failing infrastructure and non-existent security systems.

When greek citizens were asked “what political party expresses your views”, most of the time the answer was “none”.

The collision only unveiled the massive corruption problem Greece has had for decades.

When the Greek state is to “profit” from its citizens, its very clear on the actions to be taken by them, as well as the consequences and fines that come with not complying, but when the state is to be responsible and get things done, things are very different, they’re actually the exact opposite, many public talks, unclear agenda and timelines.

That’s exactly how the train collision happened, there were many “promises” by the politicians that new security systems will be installed, but no one knew when and if this would ever happen.

While most countries have clear and simplistic ways of managing their rail networks, Greece had not two, but three companies managing just one railway! This was obviously caused by corruption and the reason was clear, having more people and companies to work on it just to have the ability to hire more people in the name of party gains.

How It All Started

Historically, corruption in Greece can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire’s occupation of Greece in the 15th century. During this period, corruption was a common practice, and it continued to flourish even after Greece gained independence in 1830. The Greek civil service, judiciary, and police force were all prone to corruption, and bribery and nepotism were widespread.

In the post-World War II era, corruption in Greece intensified. The country was recovering from the devastation of the war, and corrupt practices became more widespread as people sought to profit from the rebuilding process. The political system was also marred by corruption, and political parties used illegal means to gain and maintain power.

In the 1980s and 1990s, corruption in Greece reached its peak. Bribery, kickbacks, and embezzlement were rampant in both the public and private sectors. Corruption was particularly prevalent in the construction industry, where public works contracts were awarded to companies that paid bribes to politicians and civil servants.

The most notorious corruption scandal in modern Greek history was the Vatopedi land swap scandal, which took place between 2007 and 2009. The scandal involved the transfer of public land to a monastery in exchange for worthless, swampy land. Several high-ranking government officials were implicated in the scandal, including the minister of finance and the deputy minister of foreign affairs.

The Vatopedi scandal was a turning point for Greece’s fight against corruption. The scandal sparked public outrage, and the government was forced to take action to address the issue. In 2010, Greece passed a new anti-corruption law that established a special prosecutor’s office to investigate corruption cases. The law also established stricter penalties for corrupt practices, including fines and imprisonment.

Despite these efforts, corruption remains a major problem in Greece. The country ranks poorly on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, and many Greeks still view corruption as a pervasive and endemic problem. The Greek government has implemented several reforms in recent years to combat corruption, including the creation of a new independent authority to oversee public procurement and the establishment of a national anti-corruption strategy.

In conclusion, corruption has been a longstanding problem in Greece, with a history that dates back to the Ottoman Empire’s occupation. While the country has made significant efforts to address the issue in recent years, corruption remains a major challenge that hinders Greece’s economic and political development. Addressing corruption requires a sustained commitment from the government, civil society, and the private sector to promote transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior.