Maria Katsounaki MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Some open their hearts while others line their pockets

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TAGS: Politics, Migration

There are two ways of dealing with the migration crisis, according to Greece’s prime minister: One is by showing solidarity with migrants and respect for their rights; the other is by displaying xenophobia, fear and hatred. 

During his visit to the United States, Alexis Tsipras was presented with an award by the not-for-profit network Global Hope Coalition for Greece’s response to the refugee crisis. “We are proud because at the time when other countries in Central Europe were building walls and fences, the Greeks opened their hearts,” Tsipras told the audience. 

In the various speeches made during his visit across the Atlantic, Tsipras stuck to the same pattern, which was distinguishing “our way” from the “other way,” whether he was referring to humanitarian ideals or economic figures or trying to lure foreign investors. 

For example, he emphasized that political stability is a necessary condition for a country’s smooth economic activity, adding that economic indicators reflect that such stability has been restored in Greece. He went on to contradict this by referring to the alarming rise of extremist forces that pose a threat to Europe’s social cohesion and economic performance. 

Meanwhile, the Greek premier did not waste an opportunity to lash out at the “traditional conservative parties,” saying they must stop shifting closer to the positions and rhetoric of these extremist forces. 

That’s all nice and vague. The question is what happens when it’s time to foot the bill – especially when solidarity appears to come with huge budget overruns.

What happens when allegations surface pointing to the mismanagement of European Union funds (an estimated 1.6 billion euros) provided to improve living conditions for thousands of migrants and asylum seekers and when the EU’s anti-fraud agency decides to launch an investigation into the case? 

Sure, a large section of the Greek people “opened their hearts,” but at the same time it appears that others were lining their pockets. And when a country makes headlines for fraud and lack of transparency no foreign investor will ever want to put their money into the local economy (which would also improve the economic indicators). 

The two paths are often nothing but a mirage. An oft-played trick which fuels hatred from the reservoir of what is ostensibly solidarity.

Because there can only be one path of political stability and it involves transparency and accountability. It does not come in conservative or leftist colors.

It has the strength to fend off extreme forces because it presupposes respect for others, be they Greek or foreign.

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