Can we ever be serious as a nation?
German magazines and newspapers have criticised and ridiculed the official culture of corruption, deceit and fraud that dominates Greek political establishment for the last thirty years—and what do we do?
We turn patriotic and remind the world the 'Lights' that classical Greece gave to world civilisation!
At the same time the culprits of the fraud, the official Greek elite, withdraw in the background, having secured immunity to prosecution by law, and let the anger and the rage of the people be redirected against the journalists and the countries who expose and criticise them.
This has been their standard ploy since we joined the European Union and all financial help received by successive governments instead of being directed towards infrastructure works was pocketed by ministers and their political clientele.
I was wondering if the people who mock and blame the German magazine Focus know that:
1. Not one single Greek politician was ever prosecuted for the last 30 years for embezzlement and fraud?
2. That all of them have immunity against all forms of legal action against them?-
3. That money disappeared and new taxes are levied against the common people constantly in order to balance the books?
I remember the famous epigram by our national poet Dionysios Solomos: "Oh, my proud nation, fair and happy, always gullible and always betrayed". The finger of the Focus magazine was pointing to the right direction—successive Greek governments have been stealing money from their own people without fulfilling their obligations.
And when they are exposed, they vanish behind the scenes and leave patriotism take over against the Germans, against the Americans, the French and the EU—against all those who make the mistake to raise the finger and name the culprits! And us the hoi polloi are left to defend the honour of the country against those malicious 'foreigners'.... -
The plan of the Greek political establishment works perfectly, no one now accuses them for what happened; instead we remember of the Parthenon and the German occupation of Greece and the unpaid reparations... This is sad and it shows how Greeks have been fooled by their own state. The culprits will vanish again, nobody will be sent to prison and we will be happy that we defended our national pride.
By pointing the finger at the thieves and the impostors, only then you are really patriotic. Greek citizens are ruthlessly prosecuted by their own state for debts even of the insignificant amount of 180 euros!
Last year, I read in a newspaper, one hundred thousand citizens were dragged to courts and paid considerable fees for debts to the Greek state as low as 50 euros.
Meanwhile, ministers of the previous government who usurped huge amounts of money to build villas and make investments in off-shore companies are enjoying their immunity in Switzerland and in the Barbados.
The diabolical abbot of the Vatopedi monastery appeared on national television without any shame, or fear of his god, wondering why they accuse him; As a monk myself, he said, I don't need the money—I was using it for charity works and for rebuilding the monastery...." Yes, he is immune to prosecution too!
Meanwhile, new extra taxes have been imposed upon the population; the workers are forced to new austerity measures; salaries are reduced by 20 percent and all Green citizens are forced to pay for a crisis they didn't create!
Greek citizens must make more 'sacrifices', as it is so elegantly expressed by the government. Thirty years of sacrifices is too much don't you think? Sorry fellow Greeks—let us not be credulous suckers anymore.
We will prove our love for Greece only if we stop those who make her unreliable, dishonest and the laughing stock of the world—and not by accusing those who point them out.
President Obama said that Greeks are "distinguished for their philotimo" Greek politicians, by not being accountable, have lost their philotimo; and ordinary people are called to save it. I wonder if we save Greek philotimo by knowing that we have been hoodwinked by the most disastrous political establishment that the country has ever seen—and if we can take ourselves seriously when we allow such people to govern our motherland?
It's not the German magazine, it is us who should be pointing the finger at the thieves and the defrauders, we know who they are. Let the journalists do their work, let them expose the crime and unmask the criminals.
Vrasidas Karalis is Associate Professor in Modern Greek Studies at The University of Sydney.
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