The real Greece?

Is it true then that «this is the real Greece,» as Prime Minister Costas Simitis blithely asserted last year? Is that arrogant and humiliating declaration indeed true and not just the product of passing indignation that unleashed remarks from the premier’s mouth which are usually exchanged only amidst the cigarette-smoke of coffee shops or the excitement of soccer stadiums? Is this the real Greece, then? Is it the country of wild gambling lead by deputies who are in charge of parliamentary anti-corruption committees? Is it the country of television-based prosecutors who claim to be helping purge the political sphere of corruption by taping «friendly conversations?» Is this Greece? The country were everyone is bought off, where crime, committed by famous and common people alike, forces public order ministers in horror to transfer their responsibilities to the untouchables of the financial crime squad who, in order to function as untouchables, actually need to be supervised by some other secret, and even more untouchable, agents. Is this Greece? The country where deputies are given a place only if they are to engage in factionalist activity or to serve objectives of self-interest and further entangled interests. Is this Greece? The country which humiliates itself on the self-styled news broadcasts and trash television shows, as their topic, or just by watching them? Is this Greece? A country that has supposedly been blessed by history, nature and all the gods, but which has finally ended up prey to 10, 20 or maybe 100 pop stars who have learned to freely deride all that is lawful and ridicule all that is sensitive? Is this Greece, the submissive, the rotten, the uninspired, the mean spirited and selfish state – a mere reflection of those who pretend to be its leaders? Or is it perhaps the other Greece, that profound Greece which we are deep down afraid of, for it outflanks the established meanness and small-mindedness; that is, the Greece of those 200 citizens who rushed in to Hania to hinder the forced return of migrants to their countries of origin merely because they took seriously, as they ought to, what we have been taught from a very early age about Zeus, the god of hospitality, and the values of a Greek identity which we praise, only to breach them a bit later. «I think you can expect to see visible progress during the year, because we have been working hard below the surface during the last year to set in place the mechanisms which are necessary to deal with the people who are intimidating the people of Kosovo,» Albiston said. «Yes, we will see arrests… during the course of the year,» he added.

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