Greece’s mainstream parties adopted the universal language of poetry as they locked horns ahead of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s triumphant declaration on Ithaca, the island home of the Homeric hero Odysseus, marking the country’s formal exit from the bailout programs.
The conservative opposition issued a statement that concluded with three lines from the CP Cavafy poem named after the island. New Democracy appeared to abuse the language, but left the meaning of the final line mostly intact.
Still, few appeared to recall that on his return to Ithaca, Odysseus slayed the suitors who had overrun his home.
Tsipras made sure to remind them with a warning: “We shall never forget the causes and the individuals that led the country to the memorandums.” This is why the prime minister’s address was mostly described as “divisive” – even though the fact is that Greek political life is no stranger to division.
SYRIZA responded with a statement ending with a phrase widely attributed to Galileo Galilei as he appeared before the Inquisition: “Errup si muove” [Sic] (“And yet it moves”). Of course, Galileo never really uttered these words because he would have been sentenced to death on the pyre.
What an opportunity for the public to admire the Tsipras spinmeisters’ knowledge of Latin. After all, it’s the end of summer and everyone feels free to say whatever comes to their head.
What essentially happened was the completion of Greece’s “rescue” program by our European partners. This means that our country will now have to face – without outside help – the “evaluation” of the markets.
SYRIZA has described this development as “as an exit from memorandum.” New Democracy and other opposition parties view the bailout completion as an intermediate step to a “fourth memorandum.”
We are free to choose how to view it according to our political judgements and persuasions.
In the spring of 2010, then prime minister George Papandreou announced from the remote island of Kastellorizo the activation of an EU/IMF aid package, presenting it as a lifeline that would pull eurozone member Greece out of the debt crisis.
What followed was more like devastation.
Two days ago, Tsipras declared from Ithaca the restoration of Greece’s economic sovereignty.
Such declarations can have no effect on a sensible audience, yet at the same time, there is reason to feel some relief. Greece is under European rule and that would seem preferable to any delusional single-handed leader. One can be content – almost.