Impossible appointments

Greece must be the only European country where the most ignorant official can be awarded a sensitive and demanding political post. But we live in an increasingly complex world and as a result some ministries are faced with extremely complicated and technical issues. Delegates from abroad always arrive with a specific agenda while their Greek counterparts hide behind a haze of vagueness (usually while twisting a string of worry beads). As the foreign diplomats address security issues, the Greeks prattle on about their ancient ancestors or their efforts to bring jasmine back to Athenian neighborhoods. Greek premiers try to justify their appointments by saying things like «I had to put him somewhere,» or «He was the only one I had» I still get the creeps when I recall the words of some government aide who was speaking about a dubious decision during the last reshuffle: «The appointment was necessary, or the cards wouldn’t fall right.» That response sums up the country’s political conundrum. An old-style populist cannot tackle complicated issues just like a newspaper columnist cannot administer NASA. It just doesn’t work. «But I can only put out the players I have,» any premier will say. However, the key to success is to field the most successful members of society. Constantine Karamanlis did not mind that Georgios Rallis, Panayiotis Papaligouras, Evangelos Averof and Constantine Tsatsos were in some ways more sophisticated than he was. He simply wanted to get the work done. A solution would be to set up a core of ministries whose officials must meet some minimum requirements, such as common sense, experience, honesty and communication skills. The premier must come up with qualified staff so that he can play ball. The current conditions allow him to do so.