SOCIETY

Benevolent Italian mayors visit Athens

Two Italian mayors who last month announced that they would give up a month?s salary in a show of solidarity with the austerity-weary people of debt-wracked Greece were in Athens on Wednesday, where they met with the president of the Confederation of Greek Municipalities (KEDE), Costas Askounis.

KEDE invited Cava de? Tirreni Mayor Marco Galdi and Baronissi Mayor Giuseppe Moscatiello to participate in a meeting with some of their Greek counterparts — including the mayors of Larissa, Kallithea, Amfilochia and Iraklio — in order to ?create bonds of solidarity and develop networks to restore a unified Europe.?

At a press conference following Wednesday?s meeting, Askounis said: «The initiative of our two colleagues came at a time when our country and its citizens are being targeted with ferocious criticism and pressure by European politicians who constantly accuse us of being the only parties responsible for the global crisis. On the other hand, solidarity and support for the Greeks is growing from Nantes to Paris, from Barcelona to Madrid, from Rome to London, Berlin and Monaco, and from New York to Australia. The ?We are all Greeks? movement demonstrated not only their sympathy for us, but also that the crisis is more than a domestic Greek affair.”

When Galdi and Moscatiello announced their modest initiative to donate one month?s salary to the Greek people, little did they know how much interest it would generate among the Greek media, political forces and institutions.

According to Galdi, his decision was prompted by ?deep gratitude to the Greek people,? and the desire to ?produce a chain reaction throughout Europe. We cannot say that we are all brothers, but surely — and I am fully convinced of this — we are the sons of Greece,? he said.

The two Italian mayors are also promoting more cooperation between the Network of Italian Mayors and the Greeks of Italy, with the aim of promoting a culture of solidarity between the two communities and new actions to support the Greek people.

Moscatiello also talked about the importance of Greece in Europe: ?Without its cultural heritage, the knowledge, grace and kindness of its people, Europe would not be what it is today; it would just be a Europe of coins and currencies. The Greek people feel alone, misunderstood and offended, and they are outraged by a treatment that feels undeserved, that violates their national dignity. The Greek economic crisis also expresses the weakness of Europe and through this symbolic act we want to remind everyone that Europe is a project of peace, cooperation and development between the countries.”

Galdi and Moscatiello also met with Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Ambassador Petros Panagiotopoulos, director of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad at the Foreign Ministry.

Finally, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the president of the Hellenic Red Cross, Andreas Martinis, according to which the Network of Italian Mayors agreed to organize awareness campaigns in Italy and in other European countries with which they have collaborations in order to raise awareness about the situation in Greece and to raise funds.

The first payment will be made on March 25, Greek Independence Day.