OPINION

Commentary

In remarks yesterday, Greece’s European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou did not directly defend her original proposal to adopt English as our second official language; but she did show that her comments back then were not a mere slip of the tongue. It is needless to point out that implementation of her proposal would generate some very real consequences. One of these is that official state documents would have to be translated into English. Moreover, any citizen would have the right to request the use of English in all transactions and relations with the public sector. This is not what the commissioner meant, of course. Her remark yesterday that her proposal had actually opened a debate on this controversial issue highlighted the point that she did not merely intend to emphasize the need to learn English within the context of the EU. There would have been no objections had she proposed upgrading English to a core course in our schools, so that all senior high school graduates could have fairly good command of the language. Having said this, the education minister should do something in this direction. Diamantopoulou’s remarks are interesting because behind them them one can trace a syndrome of European provincialism. From the high post to which she leapt with the help of the prime minister, she seems attracted to the cosmopolitanism of Brussels and is manifesting her enthusiasm with a stunned provincial’s hyperbole. A closer reading of her original comments clearly reveals that the especially crucial matter of protecting the Greek language within the EU is, to her, only a minor detail or, at best, a lost cause. For this reason, she urges us to adapt to the new reality. Diamantopoulou is essentially underestimating the fact that the EU is made up of nation states and, in effect, integration can only be achieved and maintained if it respects the nations, the states and the cultures of which it is composed. This, however, requires respect for the sensitivities and the individualities of each constituent member. An integrated Europe cannot resemble a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures like in the USA. Those who dream of a kind of super-national homogenized European, who will speak the English language, only undermine the unification process.