In a symbolic act of solidarity, two mayors from Italy recently gave up their monthly salary to support the Greek people, attracting a great deal of media attention in the process.
Dubbed Magna Grecia, the initiative has grown into a movement aiming to involve other mayors in Italy.
On the same day the Eurogroup finally agreed on a second aid package for Greece, an official confirmation came from the town of Baronissi of the General Assembly of Hellenic and Italian Mayors, scheduled to take place next Wednesday, February 29, in Athens.
Baronissi Mayor Giovanni Moscatiello spoke to Kathimerini English Edition about this initiative.
What inspired the Magna Grecia initiative?
My colleague Marco Galdi, mayor of Cava de? Tirreni, and I came up with this initiative to help the Greek people at this time of great difficulty.
It is just a symbolic act — certainly not economic — and is aimed at involving many colleagues from other Italian municipalities.
Greece undoubtedly has its faults but we should not be indifferent to this moment of weakness that the Hellenic people are facing.
How many people have joined so far?
We had extraordinary media exposure in Greece. We received more than 150 faxes from the Hellenic authorities and hundreds of e-mails from young students at the University of Salerno.
Also, programs on the initiative [were broadcast this week] on Italy?s national TV network.
Furthermore, today I spoke on the phone with some colleagues from a number of towns near Athens, including Apostolos Kimisis, the general secretary of the Confederation of Greek Municipalities, about a general meeting of Italian and Greek mayors, which will take place in Athens next Wednesday, February 29.
What is the view of the economic crisis in Greece from Italy?
The Greek economic crisis in Italy is being observed with great concern, not only because of the strong bond that exists between Italy and Greece, but also due to the possible economic contamination that could infect our country and all of Europe.
It is like our neighbor?s house catches fire and we do nothing to stop the fire. Sooner or later this fire will burn our house as well. Although it is a very banal example, it explains the reason for this symbolic act.
I believe that we are part of a single continent: In helping others, we help ourselves.
This is also an initiative of solidarity with a country whose history is of inestimable value.
We recognize that we are what we are thanks to science, theater, poetry and the arts, which were born in this wonderful country, a tourist destination for millions of Italians every year. [Kathimerini English Edition]