A man sits on a bench looking out over Athens from the top of the capital’s Lycabettus Hill, on Tuesday. Thinking Greeks are concerned and frightened by the disregard for coronavirus safety measures displayed by a section of the population, but also the so-called ‘elite.’ [Yiannis Liakos/InTime News]
These are perilous times for a large part of the planet, with difficult situations in many regions. They are especially dangerous for us Greeks, even though we are “part of the West” and members of its key institutions. On top of the concerns and fears triggered by the pandemic and its economic fallout on the thinking citizens of the Western world, we are further threatened by the negative characteristics of the so-called “Greek reality,” and mainly by Turkey’s unfettered provocative behavior, which has reached a new high in recent days. We refer, of course, to the concerns and fears of the thinking members of Greek society and the political class.
Thinking Greek citizens are frustrated because their way of life has, perforce, changed, but they are even more concerned and frightened – justifiably – by the fact that their lives are at risk from the novel coronavirus. They feel that their very existence is under threat, especially if they are of a certain age, as a result of a large portion of the population either consciously ignoring public health measures – many local communities continue to have this mentality, despite mounting infection figures – or are always looking for an excuse to break the rules. They also feel exposed by an irrational political debate that instead of focusing on how to contain transmission of the virus, tends to center – on the initiative of the opposition – on how to exponentially increase the number of beds in intensive care units, as if this would be an effective response to the actual virus.
The same thinking citizens are concerned and afraid because they know that apart from those sections of society that always behave responsibly, the onus of managing the pandemic also lies with state officials, from the government to regional governors and mayors, who missed the mark in some cases, like Thessaloniki, or who appear reluctant to show the necessary ownership of the measures for containing the virus. The behavior of the so-called elite is, after all, indicative, which is why thinking people break out in a cold sweat when they think of the restrictions being eased for the holidays, even though they understand the need for the economy to be given some room to work.
Lastly, thinking Greeks know that we’re in deep trouble when it comes to Turkey and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They are extremely concerned – and have been told as much by many different people – that the period until US President-elect Joe Biden takes office will be critical. Ankara’s recent escalation of tension shows that it is seeking to take advantage of the power vacuum in Washington, so it is not entirely unlikely that it will try push Athens into a military response.
Greeks also know that they cannot rely too much on a safety net from Brussels or Washington, even when the new US administration takes over. They also see Turkey challenging the country’s sovereignty over islands and territorial waters, while trying to convince Europe to abandon Greece and Cyprus to their own devices and make nice with Ankara. Their fears, therefore, are entirely justified.