Thou shalt not demand

Early reports by foreign news agencies concerning Greece’s fiscal woes made references to ancient Greek myths such as Pandora’s box and the Danaides’ barrel. Later reports mentioned «Byzantine veils» before finally resorting to more familiar stereotypes, such as the «land of ouzo.» These are just tired cliches, like those the Greeks themselves often use when speaking about foreign peoples. Their aim was not to describe the situation objectively but to put pressure on the country, to influence the Greek government, to guide the country’s economic and political system to better supervision. So while we were lauding The Financial Times reporter’s excellent grasp of Greek mythology, that same journalist was in Davos showering Greece’s prime minister with overt contempt. Premier George Papandreou, feeling slightly worse than embarrassed but not quite intimidated, quickly found himself on the defense, offering explanations and making pledges. This was, of course, something he has never done vis-a-vis those who elected him at home and whom he governs – i.e. before those to whom he is accountable. That is not quite the meaning of democracy – but we should not get stuck on definitions. It is neither wise nor modern. So we learned that things are not that bad – simply because they will get worse. We were told about plans to sack civil servants and cut salaries. The international audience at Davos, it appears, is considered to be more mature than Greek voters. The latter, after all, are responsible for establishing an extremely nepotistic and wasteful state, for squandering European Union funds, for investing in Pharaonic Olympic Games and for announcing before the elections that «there is money.» The new Commandments brought to us by the new Moses dictate: «Thou shalt not demand.» Can we at least ask for a sovereign state or is that also a sin?

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