COMMENT

Lost in translation

By Alexis Papachelas

Perhaps we have not yet grasped the extent to which Greece has earned a bad name across the world.

Take, for example, the presidential debates in the United States. During the third installment of the televised debate on Monday night, Republican candidate Mitt Romney once again warned that the USA is on track to face a debt crisis like Greece does.

Our country has evidently become internationally associated with financial turmoil, with a chronic problem of failing to solve its problems, and all in all in a very negative stereotypical light. No serious investor ? save for hedge fund sharks trying to sniff out a good deal ? would want to invest in a country with such a bad name.

It is nevertheless striking to see that diaspora Greeks are not able, or are simply unwilling, to react to all that.

Up until a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an American politician to speak of Greece in such a manner without triggering a strong and effective reaction from the Greek-American community.

It?s sad to see that the Greek-American lobby has been dormant for many years. Greek politicians, for their part, always like to visit New York, but they?re usually more interested in bargains at the big department stores and only make contacts with professional diaspora reps.

At the same time, a large part of the diaspora appears to be deeply disappointed in the motherland. Everyone has a story to tell about some corrupt state official, the mammoth bureaucracy, or the plethora of obstacles they ran into when they tried to make an investment in Greece.

We all seem to be lost in translation.

Diaspora Greeks fail to understand our foot-dragging and our failure to solve our own problems by ourselves. They are trying to understand how the ?system,? as it were, has managed to kill all those qualities that enable Greeks to excel in the United States, Australia and other foreign countries. They are fed up with the vacuous talk of Greek politicians.

Sure, there are exceptions. The Greek patriots of the diaspora who are trying to help the country, ranging from George Logothetis, who gives speeches urging fellow members of the diaspora to invest in Greece, to Peter Nomikos, who is trying to help with the Greece Debt-Free campaign.

The truth is that in order to shake the stereotypes which allow the Romneys of this world to portray Greece in a bad light, we first have to make Greece into a nation that we can be proud of.

Online