Sadly but perhaps not unexpectedly, Lucas Papademos became a symbol of the crisis that plagues our country’s public dialogue and public life. The blind rage of extremists that greeted the former vice president of the European Central Bank when he was chosen to lead a broad coalition in late 2011, when George Papandreou’s government was at an impasse, was perhaps the greatest accolade for a person who throughout his career has put the national interest above his own. Lucas Papademos would accept to play a leading role in our politics only at the head of a multiparty coalition, only when circumstances demanded it, only when his mission was to stabilize the country at a moment of danger. His term, between November 2011 and May 2012, proved this.
Papademos stuck to his mandate, conscientiously and with great dignity he stayed outside of political games. He did not grab the opportunity for personal political gain. He accepted the summons of the political parties at a time of great danger, when only a coalition under a mutually acceptable leader could stabilize the political system and keep Greece in the eurozone. He succeeded, but had the misfortune to see his coalition undermined from within, even as opponents of the governing parties poured abuse on him. Some of those in government today were among his fiercest abusers. Papademos attracted even more hatred and rage than the politicians who bore responsibility for the country’s troubles – precisely because he represents that which his critics cannot understand: He is a true patriot, he does not engage in trade-offs with them, he supports institutions and respects the law, he can negotiate with foreign partners without playing to the domestic gallery.
Such people are always alone and vulnerable in our country.
Terrorism has its own sick logic. The murderer wants his victim’s identity to be enough to make the killer a hero in the eyes of supporters. At a time when lawlessness is tolerated by many, Lucas Papademos became the perfect target. The lovers of violence, who mushroom in confusion and darkness, in lawlessness and dark bargains, cannot deal with such a foreign body. And they believe many agree with them.
That is why Lucas Papademos, apart from a respected compatriot and president of the Academy of Athens, is a symbol for all of us. Will we accept the attack on him as just another step toward deeper darkness, or will each of us, and society as a whole, stand up and shout, “Enough”?