On the move

The festive fireworks displays and happy scenes marking the changeover to the new currency dispelled anxiety, and optimism overwhelmed government officials and the mass media. Then, the enthusiasm subsided and the complaints began. Public services were unprepared, cashiers weren’t able to manage change, the queues were unbearable, and profiteering has begun. Our leaders responded that we were the most adaptable of all Europeans, possessing the right temperament to overcome the difficulties of the changeover quickly. The general explanation was that Greeks easily become enthusiastic or disappointed, that we are behind the times and grumblers by nature. But other Europeans proved very adaptable too. And some others are behind the times: A French man proudly told the television cameras that he «would never lay hands on a euro.» Nor is suspiciousness purely a local product: The high nickel content of euro coins causes eczema, say some British scientists. When the fuss subsides, we’ll see what’s left. The North-South divide, armies of unemployed and poor, exploitation, the sidelining of the young, women and migrants, and growing racism will not be solved by the common currency, but by new ideological choices that give substance to the European dream. Athens was particularly hard hit, with even the major ring road of Katehaki Avenue being closed because of the snow, trapping motorists for hours. Only vehicles with chains on their tires could get to the northern suburbs.

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