The Espace Karamanlis
Then tribute is paid to a great man, it is usually because of his contributions to the nation and the people. Those who attended the the European Parliament ceremony on Monday in honor of Greece’s late prime minister and president Constantine Karamanlis no doubt felt proud but also asked themselves whether this great statesman has received similar praise in our own country. The answer, of course, is no. Even the warm words that Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis used to praise Karamanlis’s contribution to the nation and Europe were voiced on foreign territory and at an event organized by foreigners. More hesitant and embarrassed was Foreign Minister George Papandreou who could not be absent from an event that had been unanimously decided by all European Parliament parties. What lies behind this unanimous initiative? The speeches of the European politicians provided a clear answer: Our European peers are not paying their respects to Karamanlis for pushing Greece into the European Community, nor are they commemorating him for his contribution to the European vision. They do so to invoke his legacy, as the path toward Europe’s integration is mired with obstacles. It is striking to see Europe’s current administrators going back to manuscripts that were written by Karamanlis 20 years ago in order to describe the role that the EU must play in the current international arena. This demonstrates that Karamanlis has been placed today among the leading Europeanists. His legacy is stripped of the national self-interest and political prejudice that usually adhere to the politicians of large states. This is a genuine expression of the EU’s common interest. However, regardless of any praise that Karamanlis is awarded abroad, his contribution will always be snubbed by his perennial political foes at home.