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Why Greece's Tsipras Could Prove To Be A Wise Choice

Pure necessity could turn Alexis Tsipras Greece's liberal prime minister-elect, into an unexpected reformer willing to go against client politics.

A Victorious Tsipras on Sunday
A Victorious Tsipras on Sunday
Silke Mülherr


BERLIN — Despite all the warnings from Europe, the Greeks voted for the leader they felt was right. Whether or not Brussels and Berlin like it, the next prime minister of Greece will be Alexis Tsipras, but does his Syriza party victory really seal the downfall of the European West, or at least the Eurozone?

There are a whole series of reasons why, in the end, Tsipras may not be the worst person to put Greece on the right path. Of course, his campaign promises — to reject the austerity program and create debt relief — are dangerous, not just for Greece itself but for the whole currency union. But not even Greek voters believe that Tsipras will antagonize international creditors.

What could turn him into an unexpected reformer is pure necessity. Populist Tsipras is going to have to present some unpleasant truths to voters, too many of whom aren't facing facts. Most importantly, Greece is broke, and if no alternative lenders can be found, Tsipras will have no other choice than to turn to the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund). Athens is faced with bankruptcy, and the Syriza boss knows that. So if common sense doesn't turn him into a pragmatist, the state of the Greek treasury will.

What Tsipras also has going for him is that his people trust him. Unlike the established parties in his country — and very much because of his sniping at Brussels and Berlin — he's not perceived as a puppet of foreign creditors. The 40-year-old promises to put an end to the Brussels diktat and see to it that the Greeks take their fate back into their own hands. That's a key right there because it makes clear what the Greek elections were all about: psychology. The wounded collective soul needed to be soothed. And the charismatic Tsipras stepped in to soothe.

Who but him could get the necessary reforms past all the resistance? The conservative government of Antonis Samaras misused its political capital. Despite all announced intentions, the public sector didn't shrink, and few inroads were made into stemming tax evasion.

Maybe what's needed is a leftist such as Tsipras from whom nobody is expecting a successful new start but who is paradoxically poised to bring one about. In Germany, for example, who would have thought that the Social Democrats under Gerhard Schröder would have rescued the jobs market and social policies with their Hartz IV program?

The Greeks saw no alternative to Syriza, and now they have to live with the consequences. Tsipras made the loudest promises about a new beginning for his country, and voters have officially tapped him to make it happen. In the future, all lamentations and blame formerly directed at Brussels will serve nothing. If Tsipras drags the Greeks down, they will have brought that misfortune on themselves.

Meanwhile, the left alliance now must show whether it dares to break with client politics.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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