It is true that God has given us the perfect plot of land. It is a unique place. Its natural beauty fascinates even the most traveled visitors. Its geopolitical value is incalculable, from the naval battle of Salamis to today. Its history is unsurpassed.
We feel lucky, and this sometimes makes us narcissistic or spoiled. We forget that we must prove ourselves worthy of our great heritage by keeping this land intact and well guarded, protecting its beauty and ensuring that future generations of Greeks will enjoy it as much as we do. None of this is self-evident nowadays. The threats we are facing are asymmetric. Our neighborhood is dangerous and unpredictable. It resembles quicksand.
We were fortunate to have had enlightened leaders over the course of our history who led the country to progress. In between, there were bankruptcies, civil wars, divisions and periods of corrupt rule. At crucial moments, however, we played our cards right. We always made sure to be on the side of the winners when important decisions were being made worldwide. We took advantage of our geopolitical position on numerous occasions to bring a lot of capital into the country.
We are at a critical juncture. We may fly, we may get stuck or we may face misfortune. Unfortunately, a good prime minister and some politicians, intellectuals or businessmen with a vision are not enough. The problem we are facing and the challenges are too big. We need a critical mass of people who believe that we can do better, who will disregard the usual line, “but these things cannot happen in Greece!”
A large part of the Greek establishment is completely rotten. It has grown accustomed to convenience, perpetual political give-and-take, destructive gossip and mediocrity. It makes sure to close the windows of opportunity when someone tries to open them. At the same time, vital pillars of the state have been eroded by laziness reminiscent of the good old state-run DEKO companies with all their ensuing problems.
For all this to change, we will urgently need a little help from our compatriots who left the country but are now ready to return. There are many of them, they are capable and the coronavirus pandemic has made them think again as regards whether they want to grow old away from their homeland.
We are given an opportunity now to bring them back and gain strength from their momentum and vision. We need them, almost as much as the Greeks at home needed the Greeks of Trieste, Vienna and Odessa 200 years ago.