I live in hope that, one of these days, I shall be in a position to say something positive and cheerful upon being asked by a journalist after my views on the latest ‘Greek Success & Recovery’ story as put forward by Greece’s Prime Minister. Unhappily, I am not able to do so presently.
When asked by CBC Radio, the other day, to comment on the Greek PM’s claim that Greece is “an island of stability” in its region, I was embarassed. Once upon a time, with the Balkans in a state of hideous civil war, and with Turkey in the clasps of military quasi-dictatorship, there was some pride to be had that Greece was, indeed, an island of stability in the region. But now?
The other day in a working class suburb near Pireus Nazi thugs unleashed another of their murderous assaults on left wing activists, hospitalising nine of them. Greece’s industry is continuing to wither in an economy were fewer than 2.9 million employed (often underemployed) people are struggling to keep alive 1.4 million unemployed souls and another 5 million inactive Greeks. A place in which even asset rich citizens have been pushed into despair by a state demanding increasing property taxes from real estate that its owners can neither rent nor sell. Juxtaposed against this torrent of grief, it is Greece’s neighbours that seem like an ocean of stability. Our neighbours in the north live a difficult yet stable existence, with mild growth and reasonable political stability. Bulgaria may not be Heaven on Earth but at least it is not unstable. Turkey has had it fair share of troubles in recent months (in Taksim Square predominantly) and yet, compared to Greece, it remains a dynamic, hopeful, progressing (of not progressive) land – with a population whose majority are behind their government (in sharp contrast to the Greek PM whose party’s support, in the opinion polls, almost never exceeds 25%).
To take a leaf out of his predecessors’ 1990s’ claim about Greece being the only EU outpost in the Balkan morass, and attempt to impress the West with the argument that Greece remains a beacon of Western values in the region, is utterly disengeneous for Mr Samaras. If he truly cared to reignite Greece’s beacon in the Eastern Mediterrenean and the Balkans, he should begin by using his veto powers in the next EU Summit, demanding that the ‘Greek problem’, which Greece has no way of solving alone, be discussed rationally and immediately – and not in a year’s time when it suits Berlin and Paris. As long as Mr Samaras refuses to do this, his ‘island of stability’ will beget one bout of cruelty after another. And nothing destabilises more than pointless, sequential cruelty.