It may be an exaggeration but I’ll use this phrase nonetheless just for the sake of economy of words: On Friday, the streets of Greece were filled with refugees, migrants and farmers. The first two groups had no other choice but to be there, while the latter claim to have had no other choice.
The great big camp that Greece has become today, with scenes of either complete desperation or “uncompromising militancy,” is overwhelming.
What does it mean when farmers say they don’t know when they’re going to give up on their campaign and liberate the country’s roads and that “all possibilities are still open”? What is the meaning of their throwing produce around, waving Greek flags and parking their tractors outside ministry buildings? What do the farmers mean when they threaten to take their battle “into the cities”?
What it all means is that the only reality they’re in tune with is their list of demands from the government: demands and privileges that range from the absurd to the extortionate. What would be interesting to ask, instead, is what anyone can expect to extract from a country that is as shattered as Greece is today, but that is a topic for a different discussion.
Could the farmers desist in their action as a sign that they understand that their demands transcend Greek boundaries? The answer seems to be no, as they keep all of their attention trained only on their own claims. Couldn’t they devise a different plan of action – more complex for sure – that makes room for the social and cultural challenges being faced by the entire country?
The problem lies with the fact that the tactic of retreat or any display of a more compromising stance has always been viewed as a defeat in this country. The consequences are visible: Each group shields itself in its own problems and concerns, without a thought for those of their neighbor. Complete fragmentation has always been the motto of Greek society.
For some days now we have been living with news of the myriad problems of thousands of refugees trying to reach Northern Europe, while at the same time listening to bulletins regarding what road the farmers have blocked and where they will be heading next. This country is like the waiting room on a railway platform where the trains have stopped coming… They have bypassed it, taking alternative routes.