CULTURE

‘A little wisdom would not go astray’

The euro coin depicting the owl of Athena was the winner in Greek-American relations this week as President George W. Bush put on his glasses to examine the coin presented to him by visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The coin bears the image taken from the ancient silver four-drachma coin dating to 520-510 BC. The owl, along with the goddess Athena, symbolizes wisdom. We think it was a very wise choice of gifts by Simitis, the first prime minister from among the 12 countries of the eurozone to visit Washington and be received in the Oval Office. His gift of the one-euro and two-euro coins was rewarded with three minutes of prime-time television coverage, when competition for the airwaves is high. In Greece, journalists and commentators waited for the live images from the White House and then, afterward, from outside in the wintry garden. Among everything that was said, and everything that was left unsaid (which is just as important for a political commentator), the coins were the most popular. «Money makes the world go around,» as the song goes. However, there in the historic location of the Oval Office, the other side of the coin for President Bush was not a euro but Enron, the bankrupt company with a staff of 21,000 people, a scandal that is ever-present wherever Bush looks. It is only one of the latest headaches for the US president, who has had his fair share of catastrophes lately. Simitis’s own headaches were the libelous advertisement against Greece in the unfriendly Washington Times, taken out by «a Greek-American,» the CBS television show «60 Minutes» on terrorism and the fact that there is no photograph of his handshake with the powerful Vice President Dick Cheney, only those with Bush, his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the influential Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In a meeting with journalists from nine prominent news organizations yesterday, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and CNN, Simitis confronted US skepticism regarding November 17 and security for Athens 2004.