Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Greek NBG and Eurobank unit to recapitalise separately

Greek NBG and Eurobank unit to recapitalise separately - sources
98 · Analysis: Steady job gains seen bolstering economy. Sponsored Links. Greek NBG and Eurobank unit to recapitalise separately - sources. Tweet · Share this · Email · Print. Related News. Greece to extend bank recapitalization deadline: central bank ...
Greek banks get more time to recapitalizeGlobalPost
Urgent need for bank reform and recapKathimerini

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Israel begins annual Holocaust memorial day

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel dedicated its annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust to mark 70 years to the Warsaw ghetto uprising, a symbol of Jewish resistance against the Nazis in World War II that resonates deeply in Israel to this day.

Netanyahu called the uprising marked "a turning point in the fate of the Jewish people" where they transformed from helpless victims into fearless warriors.

Though guaranteed to fail, it became a symbol of struggle against impossible conditions, illustrated a refusal to give in to Nazi atrocities and inspired other acts of uprising and underground resistance by Jews and non-Jews alike.

While the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Israel's annual Holocaust memorial day coincides with the Hebrew date of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

Peres, an 89-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, also linked the Nazi genocide to Iran's suspected drive to acquire nuclear bombs and its leaders' repeated references to the destruction of Israel and its denial of the Holocaust.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing Jewish communities across Europe, warned of a sudden upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks and expressed alarm over the rise of extremist parties in Europe - particularly in Hungary, Greece and Ukraine.


Anti-Semitic Attacks Surged In 2012, Report Finds

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israeli researchers warned Sunday of a sudden upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, noting a...


Greek PM intervenes in 'difficult' talks with creditors

Finance minister reportedly lashed out at mission chiefs from EU, ECB and IMF as pressure builds over next repayments

Almost three years after Greece narrowly avoided bankruptcy with its first bailout from the EU and IMF, the country's relations with its international creditors have deteriorated as pressure over its next aid repayment intensifies.

The Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, was forced to step in on Sunday after negotiations with visiting inspectors who returned to Athens last week stalled. .

Indicative of the tensions, Athens' normally mild-mannered finance minister, Yiannis Stournaras, reportedly lashed out at mission chiefs from the EU, ECB and IMF during a heated exchange in his office on Thursday, telling them they could "take the keys" to the economy ministry if they continued to demand more austerity from a nation experiencing a sixth straight year of recession.

Emerging from the building, the economics professor uncharacteristically labelled the negotiations as "very difficult" and gave a taste of his own frustration. "The negotiations for the next loan tranches are still very difficult. I can assure you that things are not simple at all," he said.

After troika representatives abruptly cancelled a meeting with Stournaras late on Saturday, Samaras tried to smooth over the cracks. At stake are two slices of aid worth €8.8bn that have been put on hold because of the slow pace of structural reforms.

The first instalment, of €2.8bn, is contingent on the governing coalition agreeing to sack 25,000 civil servants by the end of the year and 150,000 by 2015. The demand has placed what is being described as "intolerable pressure" on Samaras's already fragile administration, with his two junior leftwing partners openly opposing the measure at a time when unemployment is nearing a record 30%.

Highlighting the discord, the administrative reform minister, Antonis Manitakis, in charge of streamlining the bloated public sector and aligned with the small Democratic Left party, threatened to resign – a move that would dramatically undermine the government's unity.

Other sticking points, according to well-placed sources, include the recapitalisation of Greek banks – and a possible merger between the National Bank of Greece and Eurobank – and a highly contentious property tax levied through electricity bills that the conservative-led coalition pledged to scrap when it assumed power last June.

Household incomes have fallen by as much as 50% since the debt crisis erupted in Athens more than three years ago. In an attempt to placate lenders and keep a restive population at bay, Samaras and his coalition partners proposed last week that the property levy be substantially reduced by broadening the tax base to include farmland and undeveloped real estate. Creditors, so far, have failed to react.

Greece faces two debt repayments, including €3.6bn in maturing treasury bills, this month and next. "Not reaching an agreement is not an option," said Pandelis Kapsis, a prominent political commentator and former government spokesman. "There may be a delay [in disbursement of rescue funds] but there is absolutely no way we can move ahead without an agreement," he told the Guardian.

Greece is likely to suffer from the turmoil in Cyprus, whose economy is expected to contract sharply following its own bailout agreement. But last week Samaras spoke for the first time of an economic recovery amid signs that fiscal consolidation was finally beginning to pay off.

"Even those who until recently had their doubts are today convinced that we can make it," he told an audience in Athens, insisting that with private sector hirings outpacing firings in March the country was at long last breaking the vicious cycle of recession.

The investment bank Morgan Stanley also predicted that Greece would achieve a primary surplus by the end of the year, saying it was now optimistic about the country. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Crowds Expected To Line Fifth Avenue For Annual Greek Independence Day ...

CBS Local

Crowds Expected To Line Fifth Avenue For Annual Greek Independence Day ...
CBS Local
The National Greek Parade steps off at Fifth Avenue and 64th Street and continues its march up to 79th Street. Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be among the dignitaries participating in the parade. As is tradition, a contingent of colorfully uniformed ...


Report: Anti-Semitic incidents surged in 2012

FILE - In this Monday, March 19, 2012 file photo, police officers gather at the site of a shooting where a gunman opened fire in front of a Jewish school in a city in Toulouse, southwestern France. Israeli researchers and Jewish leaders on Sunday reported 30 percent jump in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism last year, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, and expressed alarm about the rise of neo-Nazi parties in Hungary, Greece and other countries. (AP Photo/Bruno Martin, File)TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli researchers warned Sunday of a sudden upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, noting a link to the rise of extremist parties in Europe.


Neo-Nazis in Greece Have Global Ambitions

Neo-Nazis in Greece Have Global Ambitions (blog)
The Golden Dawn, Greece's far right political party, won a shocking 7 percent of the vote in elections last June and now holds 18 seats in the country's parliament. It's an understatement to say that its members have been buoyed by its successes. The ...


Why Italy should avoid the latest Japanese solution to economic woes

Rome, unlike Tokyo, cannot print money. But pushing up inflation while cutting welfare could be self-defeating for an aging society

Italy and Japan appear tied together in a three-legged race. Before long at least one is bound to fall over. Given all the recent publicity about Japan and the colossal amounts of money it is about to throw at reviving an ailing economy, it seems strange to lump the two countries together. Different cultures and business practices should make for a very unlikely link, but they are in a similar hole and Japan is leading where Italy could mistakenly follow.

Italy and Japan were once the two largest axis powers with Germany. After the second world war they all benefited from huge subsidies, mostly from the US and much of it in the form of debt write-offs. Unencumbered by debts, all three amassed huge savings, almost all of it through 40 years of manufacturing prowess dating back to the 1950s. Exports of everything from toasters to car parts fuelled an astonishing rise in living standards, much of it stashed in local banks or invested in government debt.

From the early 1990s all three entered a long decline, each weighed down by their own financial problems (the integration of East Germany, the Tokyo property bubble and in Italy's case, stagnant productivity) and falling birth rates added to their woes (caused, arguably, in part by the state's reliance on women to continue their domestic role without childcare support even when they entered the workplace).  

Germany's ageing postwar baby boomers broke free of the triumvirate. Among other things, they endorsed then chancellor Gerhard Schröder's mix of Anglo Saxon (reduced wages and reduced job protection) and French-style child support alongside swingeing cuts to the terms and conditions for younger workers.

Rome and Tokyo opted to borrow to protect the living standards of their ageing populations while also attacking the wages and conditions of the young. It didn't work. Though they still appeared to churn out top-of-the-line manufactured goods, especially in Japan, increasingly it was for assembly by foreign companies. 

In Italy, the car manufacture Fiat is haemorrhaging sales while Po Valley parts suppliers keep Germany's BMW fully stocked with brake pads and door panels. Likewise, Japanese electronics firm Sharp has become more dependent on making iPad screens for Apple than TVs or mini hi-fi systems under its own brand name and for its trouble has become persistently loss-making.

Japan's newest tactic has grabbed the headlines in the last week. Put simply, it will combine a long-standing policy of running budget deficits amounting to 10% of GDP a year with a massive US Federal Reserve-style money creation spree. An increase in VAT is supposed to keep a lid on the budget deficit.

Charles Dumas, the eminent boss of economic analysts Lombard Street Research, describes in his latest monthly review how Japan's refusal to adapt has cost its citizens dearly. Such is the loss of export competitiveness that per capita incomes are now around half that of the US.

Deflation, in the form of persistently falling prices, has deterred consumer spending (why spend when prices will be lower in six months or a year?) and encouraged savings because even though interest rates are at rock bottom, savings values rise each year relative to prices.

Dumas recommends Tokyo scrap its VAT rise for the time being and instead tax dead money lying around the Japanese economy doing nothing. His target is retained corporate profits, which are not invested or disbursed to shareholders. He recommends a punitive or even 100% tax, and a low or zero tax on their disbursement. The goal is to get cash out into the economy. Not the stuff created by the central bank and spent on other financial instruments in the hope that it will filter down into consumers pockets. Real cash.

While there is every reason to tax the wealth and savings of individuals, especially the super rich, attacking corporates, which in Japan combine wealth and caution in equal measure, is more politically acceptable.

The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said last week that the splurge in quantitative easing by the Bank of Japan will achieve the same end painlessly. Dubbed Abenomics, the policy aims to devalue the currency and push up inflation via more costly imported goods. Rising prices will persuade consumers to spend now, not later. When, the pressure of higher demand and more costly imports has brought inflation up to a new 2% target, theory tells us a higher level of consumption will be maintained, making for a healthier, higher spending economy.

The trouble with this argument, apart from the obvious environmental impacts, is that a cheaper currency raises the cost of the chief import, gas and oil, and everyone's heating, lighting and transport costs. Pushing up inflation while cutting living standards could be self-defeating.

The knock-on effects of quantitative easing in the UK and US on consumer spending are also disputed. They have arguably kept inflation from falling precipitously, and asset prices are bolstered – witness the rising stock market – but economic activity has shifted only marginally.

All this means Japan could be left with higher debts and an equally sclerotic economy with everyone doing what they have always done on slightly lower incomes. There is no chance of immigrants coming to the economy's rescue.

The same applies in Italy where the young and skilled are setting sail. Rome's membership of the euro means it is unable to print money. It could tax unproductive money in personal and corporate bank accounts, but like many European countries its banks are not in the best of health. Without an expanding export sector, it must look inward and has recently put the emphasis, like the UK, on a bonfire of welfare benefits.

Unfortunately for an ageing society, this policy brings us full circle. Without a welfare safety net that includes funds for childcare, the population will continue to decline. If Germany's example is anything to go by, Rome has already left it too late. Almost 10 years of generous benefits appeared to arrive too late for Germans who have fewer children a head than Italians.

No wonder several economists have speculated that Italy and not Greece will be the first to leave the euro. With a budget deficit of almost zero, it can survive with funds from Brussels. But an exit and devaluation would be a way for Rome to repeat the "spend and devalue" that encouraged the formation of the euro in the first place.

There is no easy way out. Only when governments realise they need to tax the dead money in their economies to release the funds for investment they desperately need, can the recovery begin. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Report: Anti-Semitic incidents surge in 2012

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli researchers and Jewish leaders on Sunday reported a 30 percent jump in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism last year, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, and expressed alarm about the rise of far-right parties in Hungary, Greece and other countries.

Following a two-year decline in the figures, the annual report on worldwide anti-Semitic incidents recorded 686 attacks in 34 countries, ranging from physical violence to vandalism of synagogues and cemeteries, compared to 526 in 2011.

The report linked the March 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, where an extremist Muslim gunman killed four, to a series of copycat attacks, particularly in France, where physical assaults on Jews almost doubled.

Researchers who presented the report at the university on Sunday said they had also found a direct correlation between the strengthening of extreme right-wing parties in some European countries and high levels of anti-Semitic incidents, as well as attacks on other minorities and immigrants.


Israeli researchers find 30 per cent rise in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2012

TEL AVIV, Israel - Israeli researchers and Jewish leaders on Sunday reported a 30 per cent jump in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism last year, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, and expressed alarm about the rise of far-right parties in Hungary, Greece and other countries.


Report: Anti-Semitic Incidents Surge in...

San Francisco Chronicle

Report: Anti-Semitic Incidents Surge in...
ABC News
Share. 0. Israeli researchers and Jewish leaders on Sunday reported a 30 percent jump in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism last year, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, and expressed alarm about the rise of far-right parties in Hungary, Greece ...
Sharp rise in global anti-Semitism, France leadsYnetnews
Film exposes 'new anti-Semitism in action'Jerusalem Post
Israeli researchers find 30 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2012The Republic
The Oshkosh Northwestern -The Jewish Press
all 14 news articles »


Report: Anti-Semitic incidents surge in 2012

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli researchers and Jewish leaders on Sunday reported a 30 percent jump in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism last year, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, and expressed alarm about the rise of far-right parties in Hungary, Greece and other countries.


Greek Cyprus to build gas plant with or without Israel


Greek Cyprus to build gas plant with or without Israel
Ioannis Kasoulides said the Greek Cypriot government is continuing talks with Israel, which has also discovered its own offshore gas deposits, on ways the countries can best exploit their mineral reserves. Greek Cyprus is particularly keen, hoping its ...
Anatolia only feasible gas route for Israel, Greek CyprusTurkish Press
Gas starts flowing from Israel's Levant BasinJournal of Turkish Weekly
The 'Great Game' in the LevantAl-Monitor

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Stournaras Tells Troika: “Take The Keys!”


Stournaras Tells Troika: “Take The Keys!”
Greek Reporter
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras took over talks with international lenders on April 7 after his Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras fired back at them over continued demands for austerity measures, including the firing of 25,000 workers and said ...
Troika postpones meeting with Stournaras, to see Samaras on SundayKathimerini

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Researchers log rise in anti-Semitic incidents

In Greece, Hungary and Ukraine, economic difficulties favored the rise of extreme right-wing parties whose anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric has apparently helped ignite attacks, it said.


Truth sounds suspect over BoC buying of Greek bonds

Truth sounds suspect over BoC buying of Greek bonds
Cyprus Mail
On December 12, 2009, Yiannis Kypris, the first general manager of the group, told Stockwatch website that “the exposure of the bank to Greek bonds is very small.” He explained that from the start of that year until October, 1.7 billion bonds had been ...


Greece: The Unfolding Drama

Greece: The Unfolding Drama
Last month, Writers & Company host Eleanor Wachtel travelled to Greece to meet with some of the country's most prominent thinkers and authors as part of a special series about the complex and challenging situation there. In this post, she shares some ...
International students in Greece to learn about crisisGlobalPost

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International students in Greece to learn about crisis

International students in Greece to learn about crisis
Khalid feels "at home" in the streets of Athens and Sheila sees "encouraging signs" of economic recovery in Greece, but Clemence admits to feeling "overwhelmed" by the "human impact of the crisis." International students have gathered in Athens this ...


Kanopy Dance's Antigone considers the horrors of war in ancient Greece

Isthmus Daily Page

Kanopy Dance's Antigone considers the horrors of war in ancient Greece
Isthmus Daily Page
Kanopy Dance ushers in spring and closes its 2012-13 season with Antigone (through April 7 at Overture Center's Promenade Hall). This production, like the two before it, benefits from the addition of new talent, both choreographers and dancers. Plus ...

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The feeblest economic growth looks good once you're used to austerity

Whether or not the chancellor avoids presiding over a triple dip, the truth remains that he took over an economy that was growing slowly in 2010 and pulled it under

Exiguous rates of growth in the parts of the economy that austerity doesn't reach do not constitute a justification for the chancellor's chilling strategy. But be warned: a last refuge of the scoundrel will be to claim "Look! It was all worthwhile. Thanks to our necessary and unavoidable policy of austerity, the economy is in better shape and is growing again."

The chancellor and his supporters will gloss over the inconvenient truth that the economy was in fact growing again when they took over in May 2010 – goodness: was it less than three years ago? It seems more like a decade.

It was not the troubles of the eurozone that derailed the recovery. It was the dramatic impact on business and consumer confidence of an austerity programme based on a misleading analogy – comparing our "plight" to that of Greece – and a false premise, namely that monetary policy would offset the impact of fiscal cutbacks.

What monetary policy – low interest rates, quantitative easing and assorted gimmicks – has achieved is to prevent the degree of monetary contraction that aggravated the depression of 1929-31. Even so, such is the continuing state of the banking system that even an enlightened monetary response has severe limitations.

There are moments in economic policy when governments make such obvious mistakes that even those of us who were taught always to see the alternative point of view wonder whether we are just "seeing things".

The most egregious cases often concern changes in what is known as indirect taxation, of which the most conspicuous element is VAT. Thus a rightwing commentator recently praised the Thatcher government for having "conquered" inflation after inheriting a rate of 10% from Labour in 1979.

What this revisionist omitted from the story was the way that, by almost doubling the rate of VAT for most transactions, the new government aggravated the problem. The conquest began a year later, by which time the year-on-year rate had peaked at 21.9%.

And in Japan, in the mid-1990s, the government of the time put an abrupt stop to an economic recovery by almost doubling VAT.

The big mistake the present British government made was again related to VAT: by restoring the rate to 20%, Osborne deflated the economy by close to 1% of gross domestic product, thereby taking it back into a recession whose length and consequences have justified the phrase "prolonged depression".

So here we are, with a public mood of resignation to prolonged austerity, and a chancellor who hopes that with the reappearance of even an exiguous rate of economic growth he will have fooled people into accepting that it was somehow all worthwhile. The ultimate in defeatism is manifested by those who complain that the economy has not responded enough to the biggest devaluation since 1949.

So what would your correspondent do? The first thing to establish would be that, although the trade and balance of payments figures are bad, there is no need for a devaluation: we have already had one of 25%. Because of the immediate effect on import prices, necessary devaluations tend to make the trading picture look even worse before it gets better – the J-curve effect. That is what has been happening. But, albeit slowly, there is evidence that the manufacturing and service sectors are finally waking up to the opportunities.

Traditionally, in order to make a devaluation work, the government has to "make room" in the economy by depressing domestic demand.

In present circumstances, however, there is no reason to do so. Our economy is so depressed, and operating so far below capacity and potential, that a major boost to domestic demand is necessary, and could be effected by a cut from 20% back to 17.5% in VAT.

This would have a more immediate effect than the longer-term infrastructure projects currently proposed – which are also necessary and for which there is also plenty of room in our depressed economy. These can be financed very cheaply: indeed, in many cases they are investments that will pay for themselves in due course.

The most important investment of all has to be in the sort of ambitious housing programme – no fewer than 300,000 new dwellings a year – that Harold Macmillan pulled off in the 1950s.

It becomes increasingly obvious that the bill for housing benefit is the consequence of neglect of housebuilding by successive governments, starting with Thatcher's. We see the pernicious social effects in the way cuts in benefits and the "bedroom tax" are disrupting so many family lives.

We need a secretary of state for housing (and nothing else) in the cabinet. Macmillan is reputedly one of the present prime minister's heroes. He should go for it! © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Bishop Wants Greek Court To Bar Mosque

Ahlul Bayt News Agency -

Bishop Wants Greek Court To Bar Mosque
Greek Reporter
Seraphim-of-Piraeus With the Greek government moving ahead with plans to build the country's first official mosque, Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus, known for his provocative views, has appealed to the country's highest court to block it as unconstitutional.
Muslims Pray at Greek Mosque for 1st Time in 90 YearsAhlul Bayt News Agency -

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Greek torments keeping Giorgos Karagounis outside cosy football bubble

Veteran Fulham favourite's playing memories now tempered by economic trials of fellow countrymen

Interviews with Giorgos Karagounis used to linger on football. They might touch upon the free-kick he looped beyond Fabien Barthez as Panathinaikos punctured Manchester United in the Champions League at the turn of the millennium or the diving header that scuttled through Arsenal's David Seaman a year later to thrust them into the competition's last eight. But they would inevitably gravitate towards that gloriously giddy summer of 2004 when Greece, against all the odds, prevailed in Portugal.

These days there are grittier matters on which to dwell. Talk drifts off piste to economic downturn and financial crisis, to compatriots struggling to make ends meet or even feed their families, and the smouldering sense of national pride that spurred Karagounis and his team-mates at Euro 2012 to party-poop their section and conjure an evening in Gdansk last June when politics and sport mixed far too readily. "Beating Russia and getting into that quarter-final with Germany was a great achievement," he says. "In terms of what we were up against, it was almost up there with what we did in Portugal winning the competition. It was us against everything. We had a duty to put a smile on people's faces back home."

Karagounis is a cult figure at Fulham, a veteran who was secured as a no-risk free transfer last summer and turned 36 last month but whose streetwise industry and weighty experience are already cherished by those on the Hammersmith end. Back in Athens he is iconic. This is a midfielder who, during 14 years in the national side, has won a record 124 caps and remains talismanic to the team currently second in World Cup qualifying Group G. He was a key player in 2004 and captain in 2012, even if he was to miss the culmination of both European campaigns – the first glittering, the second defiant – through suspension. He has featured for Internazionale in Italy, Benfica in Portugal and now in the Premier League, his reputation established and respected across the continent.

Others may bury their heads in the sand over events in a distant homeland, content with life in a Thames-side flat with Chelsea's Juan Mata and Oscar as neighbours, and ignoring the politics Karagounis freely admits he finds impenetrable. But there is no living in a football bubble when you are idolised by those who are suffering in a debt-ridden country as it gasps through its sixth year of recession, a third of the population living below the poverty line. "I'm luckier than most in Greece but, when you see your friends with the smile wiped from their face, not having enough to provide for their families, to buy food from the supermarket … You can't live your life oblivious to that, knowing how they're struggling back home. It's there all the time. Nagging at you. There is no escaping.

"We all felt it ahead of the Euros last summer. There was a desperation for us to do well. We had to give people something positive to cling to: they wanted us to put a smile on their faces, which is why the victory over Russia, the joy of winning that last group match to qualify, was almost doubled. It was about doing something for Greece and making people happy back home. It drove us on, particularly when it felt everything was going against us even there. We had to play half the first game [against the co-hosts Poland] with 10 men. I was booked against Russia when it was a clear penalty against me, which cost me a place in the quarter-final. And every single game was an away match because Greek fans couldn't afford to travel. But, despite all that, we got into that quarter-final. We made people happy. That meant something to all of us."

It was Karagounis's goal that defeated the Russians and forced passage out of the group, even if the player himself had to be substituted with his mind frazzled by a booking from the Swedish referee, Jonas Eriksson, after protesting the non-award of that penalty. The caution, his second of the competition, would deny him involvement in a poignant quarter-final. Germany are effectively Greece's biggest creditor and the country blamed for the severity of the austerity measures choking everyday life after the European Union bailout. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was in the crowd that day, watching on like Karagounis.

"It was a loaded occasion. Politically, it was charged," he says. "When we went to the Euros we all had dream scenarios in our minds. Mine was that we would meet Germany, partly because we hadn't played them for such a long time but also because of the significance of that contest, given everything the fixture would mean. Which is why I'd reacted so badly to being booked against Russia. I was devastated and, if I'd stayed on the pitch, I might have been sent off. My mind had gone and I was on the verge of doing something silly … This is the national team, my national team, and we'd need our experienced players against Germany. Seeing us then go on to lose [4-2] … It's hard to take. I've won so many caps but I missed that game and the final in 2004 through suspension. They changed the rules after that tournament and wiped yellow cards off at the semi-final stage. I was the last one to miss out on the old system. Jinxed."

At least he had celebrated with his team-mates at the Estádio da Luz while the world gawped at Greece's achievement. Almost nine years on and the names hardly trip off the tongue outside the Hellenic republic. That was a team spearheaded by Angelos Charisteas's goals and reliant upon the grey-haired Antonios Nikopolidis' saves. Angelos Basinas and Theo Zagorakis, the captain, graced the Premier League, two of eight from that squad who have featured in the English top flight even if only Stelios Giannokopoulos, at Bolton, made a prolonged impact. Yet when thrust together, in front of a disbelieving audience, Otto Rehhagel's team achieved something remarkable which, even now, seems inconceivable.

This unfancied side, ranked 35 in the world, had arrived with a record of five defeats and a draw (with West Germany in 1980) in major finals. And yet, having qualified for their first tournament in a decade, they beat the hosts in the opening game – with Karagounis kick-starting the tournament in style – knocking out the holders, France, the Czechs in the semis and, back in Lisbon, Luiz Felipe Scolari's Portuguese again in the final – not bad for a team whose base, in Vila do Conde, had been limited at best.

"People spoke about our organisation on the pitch but off it there simply wasn't any," says Karagounis. "We were probably the only national team at that tournament with no facilities available to us. We were staying in a hotel around 40km outside Porto with no gym, so if someone wanted to go and work out they had to find one locally.

All the other teams were staying in swish places with amazing facilities to use.

"But there was a sense of unity in that team. We worked for each other, struggled for each other, brought the best out of each other. We were committed, a tight group, and that was the driving force. The whole squad felt like a family. It got us through. The only regret is they didn't take advantage of what we achieved back in Greece.

"Sure, there was a new respect for the national team. Previously, the attitude had been club football was more important, that players shouldn't risk injuring themselves playing for the national team but save themselves for competitions like the Champions League. That changed. But in terms of organisation and infrastructure, winning Euro 2004 didn't kickstart anything. We had the team but not the structure. If anything, it's worse now than it was, given the economic crisis. The expectations of the national team may have risen but Greek football, in terms of infrastructure, is worse than it was 10 years ago."

Even so, it would still be easy to pine for home. It is apparently 23 degrees in Athens while, outside in the bitter cold, an April sky of dismal grey is belching flurries of snow on Motspur Park. Yet Karagounis's swansong with Fulham has actually whetted his appetite. His second stint at Pana had been drifting towards divorce last summer. Martin Jol had lost Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu and, on the eve of the transfer deadline, Mousa Dembélé and needed bodies. The veteran's availability had been advertised on the internet, his bustling energy, even in the twilight of his career, surely ready-made for the Premier League. He will make his 19th top-flight appearance at Newcastle on Sunday – he managed only 21 in two years with Inter in his pomp – to suggest this has been a successful marriage of convenience.

There is frustration this is all happening so late on in his career. "The facilities, the setup, the lack of politics behind it all … I love it here," he says. "There's a simplicity to it all, and it's refreshing. Proper football. I don't think the years I spent in Italy were wasted, even if I didn't play that many games, but I did have a chance to come to England after that (in 2005) and, in hindsight, that I should probably have taken the opportunity. I went to Benfica instead and loved it there, and now I'm finally here. The motivation is still there. I'm enjoying life. This is what I do. This is what I've always done, and the fans acknowledge the work I'm putting in. It's not just been about the impact I've made. It's about the impact these last seven months have had on me. It's been a great experience."There remains the possibility his stay could extend into a second campaign, though for that to happen his family would have to join him in London and the club would have to seek to renew his short-term deal. "We'd need both to happen before we know where I'll be next season but I'm sure there'll be talks, one way or the other.Wherever I am," he says, "I still want to play on and, ideally, get to the World Cup in Brazil. To tak e my country there would be the cherry on the cake. The perfect way to go out." © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds