Viewpoint with James Zogby: David Sedney, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Lara Friedman, Paula Yacoubian

On Thursday’s edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby:DavidSedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan;Hanan Ashrawi, Member of the PLOExecutive Committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC); Lara Friedman, Government Relations Director for Americans for Peace Now; Paula Yacoubian,Journalist and Host on Future News (Lebanon).


David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense forAfghanistan, discussed the current state of military operations in thatcountry and addressed many of the key issues facing the U.S. campaign. Sedney addressed what he called a “common perception” of failure relating to combating Taliban forces in Afghanistan: “The common perception that we’re failing I think is really the flip side of what’s really happening, which is the Taliban are failing.” Sedney continued todescribe many indicators of success on the ground, and overall expressed optimism that U.S. goals in Afghanistan will ultimately be accomplished: “…not only can we win this war, we will win this war.”

 

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Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Member of the PLOExecutive Committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), critiqued this week’s meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dr. HananAshrawi offered the perspective of Palestinians on the Israeli blockadeof Gaza stating unequivocally, “It’s a cruel, illegal, immoral war crime.” Declaring the Israeli changes to the blockade as a “verbal exercise,” Ashrawi noted that Palestinians living under the brutal siegehave yet to see any real changes. “The Palestinians judge things by what happens on the ground and they see no progress whatsoever,” she added.

 

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Lara Friedman, Government Relations Director at Americans for Peace Now, also discussed the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, but focused primarily on the issue of Israeli settlements andtheir affect on the peace process. “It will take another 9 to 12 monthsof freeze after the moratorium ends in September before you actually see a visible slowdown and that’s what Palestinians need to see to have any confidence”, she said. On the Obama administrations role relating tothe settlement issue, Friedman stated: “it’s going to be very difficultto press the freeze issue come September if they cannot deliver the Palestinians for direct talks.”

 

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Paula Yacoubian, Journalist and Host on Future News (Lebanon), discussed Lebanon. Yacoubian spoke about Lebanon’s current economic and political status, and also described the overall mood in Lebanon, describing it as “festive”. “Lebanese and Arabs are coming to Lebanon to spend the summer”, she said. Though Yacoubian generally expressed a positive outlook on Lebanon, she did warn that the country has a potential to turn at any moment: “Living in Lebanon is like livingnext to a volcano, you never know when it’s going to erupt.” Yacoubian briefly discussed the firing of former CNN Senior Editor for Arab affairs, Octavia Nasr; “I couldn’t understand howcan CNN do something like that”, she said.

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Ronald E. Neumann, Taghreed El-Kodary, Charles Kupchan

Air Date: July 1, 2010

Ronald E. Neumann, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (2005-2007) and president of The American Academy of Diplomacy; Taghreed El-Kodary, Visiting Scholar, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace; Charles Kupchan, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book “How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace”.


Ronald E. Neumann, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (2005-2007) and President of The American Academy of Diplomacy, discussed the war in Afghanistan and how a change in military leadership will affect U.S. objectives in the country. About the recent removal of General Stanley A. McChrystal and appointment General David Petraeus to command in Afghanistan, Neumann said, “I was quite concerned that any new person would need time to get up to speed, that we were under time pressures, that it was a terrible time to have a loss of momentum.” Neumann continued, though, he believes Patraeus “will bring new dynamism” to the campaign and is confident in his ability. Neumann continued with a discussion on the political landscape here in the U.S. as it relates to Afghanistan and analyzed regional issues exacerbated by the war.

 

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Taghreed El-Kodary, Visiting Scholar, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, discussed the Gaza blockade. Taghreed addressed many issues related to the blockade, which in recent moths has come under increasing scrutiny from the international community. Taghreed addressed the Israeli “easing” of the blockade-what many have dubbed a PR strategy created to mitigate criticism for the siege. “What’s happening now is more stuff coming from Israel.” she continued: “what people in Gaza need is an activation of the private sector.” Taghreed emphasized the need for building materials: “the moment you are allowed these construction materials into Gaza, more than 1/3 of the population will work the next day.” Taghreed spoke directly to a telling call from a man living in Gaza, who among other things, detailed the various issues Gazans face each day.

 

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Charles Kupchan, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book “How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace”, discussed his book. Kupchan’s work looks at 20 diplomatic relations case studies dating all the way back through the 13th century and lays out models of interaction with one’s enemies, friends and potential allies. in this segments, Kupchan analyzed President Obama’s efforts to engage certain governments and regime including Russia and Iran. “In the cases that I looked at where friends try, but fail and they end up enemies it’s usually because of domestic blockage”, said Kupchan. In regards to Iran, Kupchan said it is not too late for engagement, and discussed the issues on that diplomatic front.

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: M.J. Rosenberg, Geneive Abdo, Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha, Ayed Morrar

On Thursday’s edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby: M.J. Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network; Genieve Abdo, Fellow and Iran analyst at The Century Foundation; Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha, Executive Producer and Director of the Film Documentary Budrus; Ayed Morrar, Protagonist of the documentary Budrus and co-founder of The Popular Committee Against The Wall.


M.J. Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network, discussed the Gaza Flotilla incident’s role in growing Israeli isolation from the international community. “Israel has never been this isolated before”, Rosenberg said. M.J. also commented on statements by members of Congress on the Gaza blockade: “They [certain members of Congress] consciously do what the lobby tells them to do. It’s all about pleasing AIPAC, pleasing the lobby and keeping fund-raising dollars coming in.” Rosenberg also responded to comments by Glenn Beck directly attacking Rosenberg’s recent article Lying About The Gaza Flotilla Disaster.

 

 

 

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Geneive Abdo, Fellow and Iran analyst at The Century Foundation, discussed internal Iranian politics. Abdo gave a description of the current political landscape one year after the Iranian presidential elections where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was controversially reelected. Abdo maintained that their is still Iranian opposition to the current regime, “I would even argue their is more opposition now within society to the state than there was a year ago”, she said. “The regime survived”, she continued, “they didn’t win”. However, Abdo stated that there has been a great deal of mobilization to keep political opposition at bay. When dealing with Iran, Abdo suggested that the U.S. policy should “pressure from many directions”.

 

 

 

 

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Ronit Avni, Executive Producer of the film Budrus and Julia Bacha, Budrus Director and Producer, talked about their award-winning film documentary Budrus. Budrus documents the struggle and process of Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who succeeded in uniting local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in a non-violent and unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. “We wanted to tell a story about non-violence”, said Ronit Avni. The film shows a side of Palestinian activism in a light which is rarely seen in mainstream media and has succeeded to raise awareness across many different groups. “Since Budrus, more and more Israeli’s have joined Palestinian demonstrations”, said Julia Bacha.

 

 

 

 

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Ayed Morrar, Co-founder of The Popular Committee Against The Wall and protagonist of the film documentary Budrus, spoke about the series of events that the film documents. Morrar discussed the ways he was able to mobilize non-violent resistance. Despite frustrating situations and temptation to fight back, Morrar said he built trust between activists and made them feel like partners. “If you want to achieve 100% your target, you must use 100% of your power”, he said. For Morrar, power comes from the struggle, which he believes is his duty, and from the will to foster real change through peaceful resistance.

 

 

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Michael Isikoff, Geneive Abdo, Raed Jarrar

On Thursday’s edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby: Michael Isikoff, Investigative reporter for Newsweek; Geneive Abdo, Fellow and Iran analyst at The Century Foundation; Raed Jarrar, Senior Fellow at Peace Action.


Michael Isikoff, Investigative reporter for news week, discussed a wide range of issues facing the Obama Administration, including the BP oil spill and the war in Afghanistan. Isikoff gave an analysis of Barack Obama’s presidency, discussing how the BP oil spill and his handling of the war in Afghanistan are perceived by the American people. Isikoff responded to poll results indicating a less than favorable view of Obama’s handling of both situations amongst Americans. In regards to the Oil spill, Isikoff dubbed Obama a “prisoner of events”, and stated that both situations could be viewed as “Obama’s Vietnam” and “Obama’s Katrina” respectively.

 

 

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Geneive Abdo, Fellow and Iran analyst at The Century Foundation, discussed the current status of international relations with Iran. Abdo analyzed U.S. policy towards Iran and described “a new regional dynamic” in the Middle East, in which, she said the U.S. must define it’s policy. “The [Obama Administration] policy [towards Iran] is starting to resemble Bush Administration Policy”, said Abdo. Abdo’s comments come within the context of a U.S. decision to impose sanctions on Iran despite headway made by both Turkey and Brazil in regards stopping Iran’s nuclear program. She explained that promise of U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran is fading.

 

 

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Raed Jarrar, Senior Fellow at Peace Action, discussed the status of Iraqi politics 3 months after the country held its most recent elections. Jarrar gave viewers an tutorial of Iraqi politics as of current, breaking down coalition platforms, issues and intrigues. Jarrar stated that the U.S. currently is not the most important player in fostering solidarity between the 4 main Iraqi political coalitions, and explained that Iran, Syria and Turkey have been more influential in the push for a national unity government.” Despite regional efforts to create a national unity government with includes all 4 coalitions, Jarrar said: “ I don’t think the situation is moving forward fast enough”. 

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Taghreed el Khodary, Paul Salem, Bill Press

On Thursday’s edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby: Taghreed el Khodary, Visiting Scholar, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace; Paul Salem, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center; Bill Press, Talk show host, The Bill Press Show political commentator and author.


Taghreed el Khodary, Visiting Scholar, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, discussed the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip. El Khodary, who reported for The New York Times during the 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza strip, spoke about her experience during her time on the ground. El Khodary was hailed for her work in Gaza, which painted a clear picture of the suffering and violence which occurred during the offensive. “It was really definitely a disturbing experience”, said el khodary. When asked about the current humanitarian situation in Gaza, el Khodary said that policymakers “try to avoid looking at the place that is Gaza as a political issue”, she continued: “it [the Gaza situation] goes under the humanitarian aid and humanitarian cases, and I disagree with that”.

 

 

 

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Paul Salem, Paul Salem, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center discussed Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iran. Salem began his segment with an analysis of Turkey’s emerging political influence in the Middle East, particularly commenting on its implications for the Arab and Gulf States. Salem stated that Turkey “has jumped into a leadership position in the central issue in the Middle East, which is the Arab-Israeli conflict, and has seized momentum that, in the olden days, Egypt had.” When asked whether or not Turkey’s role as a mediator in the middle east is being accepted among the Arab and Gulf states, he replied “Very much accepted.”

 

 

 

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Bill Press, Talk show host, (The Bill Press Show political commentator and author, discussed his new book “Toxic Talk: How the radical right has poisoned America’s airwaves.” Press discussed the hateful rhetoric used by many so-called right-wing talk show hosts use to articulate their political ideals. Press called talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck “very powerful” saying “they dominate the airwaves, talk radio airwaves in this country”. “There are 10 hours of conservative talk for every maybe one hour of progressive talk”, said Press. Press also stated “the leaders of the republican party in this country are rush Limbaugh, Glenn beck and Sean Hannity”.

 

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Gaza Flotilla Crisis

Air Date: June 3, 2010

Mark Perry, foreign affairs analyst and acclaimed author; Ufuk Ulutas, Middle East program coordinator atthe SETA-DC research foundation; Bill Corcoran, President and CEO of the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA); Edward Peck, former Ambassador to Iraq and Mauritania, and passenger on the Gaza flotilla.


Mark Perry, foreign affairs analyst and acclaimed author, discussed the recent Gaza flotilla crisis and US reaction to theIsraeli raid. Perry addressed the heavy handed Israeli boarding tactics that resulted in the deaths of 9 civilians. Perry said that thiscase of excessive force on the Israeli side makes him wonder “whether the Israelis thinks every time they open the toolbox and see a hammer, that they have to use the hammer”. Perry responded to Israeli allegations that link flotilla activists to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. To this Perry remarked, “If they’re Al Qaeda, why go on with paintball guns?”, he then added; “And why then release them all?” Perry concluded the discussion with describing the US diplomatic position given this incident, and how this crisis may impact future US relations with Turkey and Israel. “The United States now has to choose between siding with a NATO member…or siding with an ally; this is very uncomfortable politically for the United States.”

 

 

 

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Ufuk Ulutas, Middle East program coordinator at the SETA-DC research foundation, joined Dr. Zogby to discuss the Turkish perspective on the Gaza flotilla crisis. Ulutas explained that the Turkish customs office inspected the ships’ cargo to certify that they carried only humanitarian aid aboard. Thought the Turkish government was not a official sponsor of the flotilla, Ulutas explained that the Turks did warn the organizers of the “possible consequences they may face in Israel.” Ulutas then dismissed news reports that accuse the IHH, the Turkish charity sponsoring the ships, of potential ties to extremist organizations. Ulutas subsequently addressed the tense diplomatic situation between Israel, Turkey and the US: “This is definitely going to create complications for the US-Turkey relations… But at the end of the day, the US knows that turkey is a great asset, a better asset for the United States than Israel in the region.”

 

 

 

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Bill Corcoran, President and CEOof the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA),discussed the current humanitarian situation in Gaza. Having recently returned from his 7th trip to Gaza in the past three years, Corcoran explained that “the situation is deteriorating quickly…33% of homes are damaged or destroyed, 48% of children under the age of 5 are anemic, 86%of residents dependent on food aid, and 10,000 are without access to water networks.” Corcoran’s testimony comes as a response to reports, which refute any existence of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. contrary tonews reports that dispute the existence of a humanitarian crisis. To this Corcoran responded, “I don’t know where these talking heads are getting information, but it seems like it has an ideological basis to it, rather than a fact-based set of information.”

 

 

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Edward Peck, former Ambassador, past Chief of Mission to Iraq and Mauritania, and passenger on the Gaza flotilla, discussed his experience with the flotilla aid convoy headed to Gaza. Peck, who was on one of the smaller ships, explained who he was with and detailed incarceration in Israel. “They [the Israelis] said, ‘we’ll get you out of here right away, you’re being deported’”, said Peck. Stated that he was told he was being deported for entering Israel illegally. “I said, Icame up with my hands up and a gun at my back having been hijacked by pirates in international waters.”

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Amal Mudallali, Daniel Weiss

On Thursday’s edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby: Amal Mudullali, Advisor to Lebanon Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri; Daniel Weiss, Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress.


Amal Mudallali, Advisor to Lebanon Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, discussed the Prime Minister’s first official visit to Washington. Mudallali spoke about the current status of U.S.-Lebanese relations and highlighted the significance of Hariri’s visit for Lebanon’s role in Middle East and international community at large. Hariri’s visit to Washington this week came after a trip to Syria and many other countries in the Mid-East region in which the Prime Minister has begun the process of brokering new relations and opening new channels of discussion. “There’s a mood in the country [Lebanon]. I think the Lebanese people are really seeking stability and security in the country, and they want to keep on going with their own daily lives and having peace in the country”, said Mudalluli.

 

 

 

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Daniel Weiss, Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress, discussed the BP oil spill. Weiss, who leads the center’s clean energy and climate advocacy campaign, gave viewers an overview of damage caused by the the spill. “We’ve really never seen anything like this”, he said. “This is a slow motion catastrophe.” Weiss also gave analysis of the political implications the spill is having on the Obama administration, which has recently come under fire from some groups claiming that the president has not done enough to solve the crisis. “The real problem is that B.P. is both the criminal and really in charge of fixing up the crime”, said Weiss.

 

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Laura Murphy, Celinda Lake, Farhana Khera, Abdullah Abdullah

Laura Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office, discussed immigration and the current attack on civil liberties as a result of recent activity threatening national security. Murphy commented on Arizona’s immigration law, the recent debate surrounding parameters of Miranda Rights, and Senator Lieberman’s proposal to pass a law which would strip citizenship from suspected terrorists. Murphy also briefly addressed the use of drone attacks in the assassination of human targets including US citizens. “We [the ACLU] are outraged”, said Murphy. “I think this [the use of drones] is lawlessness on the part of our government.”

 

 

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Celinda Lake, Political Strategist and President of Lake Research Partners, gave an analysis of Tuesday’s primary elections in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oregon. Lake discussed the primary election results and their implications for Republicans and Democrats come November. Lake stated that the election results are a clear indication of: “How strong the anti-incumbent sentiment is.” 

 

 

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Farhana Khera, Executive Director of Muslim Advocates and the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML), discussed the status of her organization’s meetings with high-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “We’ve tried to get them (DHS) to be transparent”, said Khera. Khera stated that there is still information the DHS still refuses to publicly disclose. “We as Americans have a right to know how our government is using it’s power.” She did, however, iterate the meetings are a step in the right direction.

 

 

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Abdullah Abdullah, former Afghanistan Foreign Minister and political opposition leader to current Afghan President Hamid Karzai, discussed his presidential campaign. Abdullah ran as an independent candidate for the presidency in Afghanistan. The election outcome, in which Karzai emerged victorious, was a contested one, and allegations of fraud were raised.

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Hussein Ibish, Frank Sharry, Alex Spillius

Hussein Ibish, Senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, discussed the U.S.- arbitrated Palestinian proximity talks with Israel. According to Ibish, the question these proximity talks pose is whether or not direct negotiations will come about as a result. Ibish explained there is a strong likelihood that current negotiations could be “stalemated” for a long period of time. he also maintained that at any point either party could decide to cease proximity negotiations. “Right now, these [U.S.-led proximity talks] are sort of designed to light a fire underneath the Israeli prime minister”, said Ibish.”

 

 

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Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice, a Washington, DC-based organization devoted to comprehensive immigration reform, discussed the controversial Arizona immigration law and other areas of immigration reform. In a broader discussion about the current state of immigration reform, Sharry gave an overview of the politics behind the issue. “John McCain, is in the political fight of his life”, said Sharry. “A tough vote on immigration could cost him his political career.” “Republicans are scared by their right wings”, he added. Sharry also explained that the extreme political polarization in Washington is hindering reform.

 

 

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Alex Spillius, Washington Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, discussed the recent British elections. For the Fist time in 36 years, Britain has a hung parliament, a parliament where no political party holds an absolute majority. Spillius explained what political factors led to the hung parliament, and also gave a brief analysis of the implications the British elections will have on U.S.- British relations. “I think [Obama’s] White House has put a little distance between itself and Europe… [however]I think in Obama and David Cameron, you’ll see two men who are quite compatible and will get on quite well”, stated Spillius.

 

 

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Viewpoint with James Zogby: Joe Cirincione, John Limbert, Elena Panaritis

Joe Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares fund and expert on nuclear non-proliferation, discussed the meeting in New York of signatory nations of the non-proliferation treaty. Ciricione, as part of a broader discussion on nuclear weapons, spoke about whether or not the meeting in New York would have any profound implications on reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world and measures to prevent states from newly acquiring nukes.

 

 

 

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John Limbert, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, discussed U.S.- Iran relations. Limbert spoke about a number of different fronts in which the U.S. and Iran have been at odds with each other. Limbert argues that the U.S. should not engage Iran solely on the nuclear issue, but should diversify its approach by focusing on a wider range of issues. “The offer to start a dialogue [with Iran] based on mutual interest and mutual respect is still out there”, said Limbert.

 

 

 

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Elena Panaritis, Economist and member of Greek Parliament, spoke about the current financial crisis in that country. Panaritis, a specialist in the creation of markets in illiquid assets, property rights, and public sector management, explained the situation and its possible implications for Greece and the rest of Europe. When asked what caused such a terrible collapse of the Greek economy, Panaritis said “we [Greece] are a part of a European union that is having one currency but not homogeneous models of growth.”

 

 

 

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