Back to ‘normality’

At the peak of the holiday season, one of most Athenians? greatest desires is finally coming to fruition: law and order appears to reign in the Greek capital at last.

For the first time in the country?s recent history, August came with a surplus of tension and conflict.

The protests by taxi owners and drivers may have been suspended, but they have left the country?s foreign visitors with a very damaging impression, as for just under three weeks, the taxi strike upset everyday life across the country with cabbies disrupting traffic by blocking roads, airports and ports.

This should be the last time this happens.

The cabbies? strike also raised a very old question: does the citizen have a way to defend his or her right to a ?normal? life?

The need for normality in the capital, the demand of the average person to enjoy the basic privileges guaranteed by the rule of law appears to have been won. It?s a victory that came with a great deal of suffering and psychological torment, but it is still a victory.

Meanwhile, beside reports about the end of the taxi strike, is the news about the evacuation of demonstrators? tents and the restoration of Syntagma Square at the heart of the capital — a highly symbolic move on behalf of the state, but also one with major practical implications.

For two months, the city center was under siege, affecting the lives of citizens and tourists alike. Regular sit-in demos by the Indignant disrupted traffic on Amalias Avenue in front of the Greek Parliament, effectively cutting the city in two.

Athens this summer demonstrated that it can bounce back from a number of hits. The city managed to stand back on its feet, but now it will have to pay the bill.

It is a hefty price tag too, according to the City of Athens, which recently announced the cost of repairing damage.

There are, however, some things that cannot be fixed by money alone, such as the fact that Athens?s reputation as a tourist destination has been seriously tarnished given that for weeks on end its image was a far cry from that of a civilized European capital.

Nevertheless, it is time to repair the damage, because there is no other option.

We are almost in the middle of August and the city is half-empty. When the people start to trickle back they will want normality. Will they get it?