Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bleak (Ζοφερό)

Dear Angela,

By now, you must be well informed about the angry reactions of my compatriots after the leaked plan from the German government, which proposes a eurozone "budget commissioner" to take control of Greece's tax and spending. I suppose it's only a natural outcome of the events as they have turned out. Most people will agree that Greece is incapable of looking after her own finances, despite the changes that have actually taken place in the country, which reminds me of the saying 'Rome wasn't built in a day'. But by reacting in this manner - behind Greeks' backs, with reckless disregard for history - you must also bear the consequences of your own actions. 

There is a great focus on money right at this moment: the Greeks owe it, the Germans want it paid back. Every day, Greeks hear someone telling them that if some kind of agreement isn't reached with her creditors, she risks default and bankruptcy. Just when we seem to be reaching some kind of mutual decision on this issue, the last thing we need is a misguided comment to upset the seemingly submissive atmosphere, at a time when things are already looking quite bleak and hopeless in Greek people's minds. Talking behind their backs instead of being upfront with them can only result in suspicious feelings being cultivated, the opposite of what my job as a politician (even though I am not one) is supposed to bring about. 

Dusk, 29/1/2012
If both sides are constantly accusing each other of fitting into a one-size-fits-all stereotype ("Greeks are lazy lying cheats" versus "Germans are Nazis"), there is no hope that our mutual problems are going to be resolved any time soon. This is not a denial that Greeks have a different way of seeing things from the Germans, and vice-versa. It simply shows how little focus is being placed on people rather than money. If this continues, I don't think I'll be able to stop any outbreak of unchecked anger and populism from dominating the reconciliation processes. Among a nation of people who have felt not just financial exhaustion, but also international humiliation, there is no knowing where this scenario will lead. It's plainly obvious that there's no amount of money that can solve the problem, whether that money is in euro or drachmasHuman dignity, individual liberty and democracy have always been above any kind of debt.

Please note that this conversation between us must remain private. I personally don't want my name to be associated with the stereotyping of nations and people, like my predecessor, who often claimed that he was governing a corrupt country. It's something the ordinary man (or woman) on the street can talk about, but not public persona in my and your position. 

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Winter in Crete - it's bleak for many reasons this year, and not just due to the economy. This winter has been one of the coldest and wettest in a long time. The road to Lefka Ori (Omalos, Samaria Gorge) is now blocked. I won't be surprised if it snows on lower ground.

Dawn, 30/1/2012

Throughout this past month, the sun has hardly shone more than five days, and there are still at least another two months of winter to go. How different to the winter of two years ago, when we hardly turned on the heating...

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