Turning the page
The Athens Olympics opening ceremony by far surpassed expectations and vindicated its creators. Organizers offered a synthesis of art, history and culture; a splendid spectacle that will set an example for future events of that magnitude. Everything was perfectly organized and carried out with great accuracy. It was a quality performance, a show that was simple and spectacular at the same time, a blend of spectacle and art in the right proportions without the usual Greek hyperbole. It naturally charmed foreigners and won jubilant praise in the international press. The welcoming ceremony was the work of a new generation of artists who succeeded in wedding the old to the new, tradition and national history to modern techniques and state-of-the-art technology. It was a display of progress and of great ability by a country which seems to be turning a new page – a country which has the strength to escape for good the ills and the troubles of the Balkan peninsula and join the more advanced Western states. Greece has the capacity and potential to become a unique hub of progress on the southern edge of Europe, an advanced gateway to Europe, a competitive and productive country and a dynamic center on the border between East and West. The opening ceremony, as well as all the preparations for the Summer Games, the infrastructure and the organization of the event all give the impression that a new era has been ushered into the country. The conditions are present, so long as we make sure that this endeavor is not a passing trend, some one-off leap without continuity and consistency. Despite any shortcomings, Greece has taken some very significant steps: The country has become more stable, the basic structures of economic and social organization are in place, the new generation is mostly made up of educated and specialized persons – all elements which allow us to term a country organized and which enable it to absorb unexpected blows. These elements are necessary if the country is to consolidate recent gains and maintain a steady course without vacillations and dangerous about-turns. Herein lies the responsibility of the government: to ensure these elements of continuity and consistency. And this is the big challenge for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, a young man with vision and aspiration who wants to link his political career to new achievements by the country and its people.