Ship taking on water

Back in December a bunch of hooded youths made a mockery of the Greek state right in the country’s heart, Syntagma Square. They were then followed by a resurgent terrorist group and, finally, on Sunday it was the turn of the charismatic robber. Who will be next? The most probable answers are «No one really knows» or «God help us.» Yes, we’ve come to this. When criminals, terrorists or hooligans realize that the state is defenseless, it’s only natural that we wake up each morning anxious to catch the morning news. The easy retort to all this, of course, is, «Well, this is Greece.» But that is simply not true. If Greece has come to this it’s because those in charge pick the wrong staff, they fail in their duties, they put personal interest over the common good – or all of these together. The drive for «change» in the 1980s left Greece in a mess. Unionism, nepotism, corruption and private ambitions undermined the basic structure that any country needs to survive. In less than 10 years, Greece relinquished all sense of hierarchy. Virtually all front-line services were disassembled. The police, the intelligence service, the civil aviation authority and the armed forces all suffered a heavy blow. The Athens Olympics were a breath of fresh air. In 2004, voters elected a new government, taken in by the pledges of meritocracy and rebuilding the state. But now Greece is fast heading into a storm with a ship that is taking on water and has a broken rudder. George Papandreou, the Socialist opposition leader, has also failed to grasp the severity of the situation. We must work together and examine the state we’re in. We need to work in a systematic manner and with outside help. It will take time and some of us are bound to suffer or at least lose certain privileges. But there is no other way. Future police recruitments will show whether the authorities are interested in picking their own boys or working in accordance with the principles of meritocracy. Meanwhile, we can say no more than «God help us.»

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