Greeks in the Crisis: ‘We Need To Explain Ourselves’

By  |  0 Comments

What hopes and fears has the new government in Greece awakened, and how bad are relations with Germany? Four weeks after the election, SPIEGEL sat down to discuss the situation with six Greek people from different walks of life.

from Spiegel Online.de:

With tensions between Greece and Berlin having been significant in recent weeks, SPIEGEL decided to invite six prominent Greeks to a roundtable discussion at Katzourbos tavern in Athens’ Pankrati neighborhood.

The state minister is the first to arrive, 10 minutes early. Alekos Flambouraris, 72, wears a black suit, no tie and the kind of open-collared shirt made fashionable by the governing Syriza party in recent weeks. Flambouraris is a close confidant of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. “We need to keep up our contacts with the Germans. We want to explain ourselves,” he says.

Athens’ politically independent mayor, Georgios Kaminis, 60, arrives shortly thereafter on foot — an inconspicuous man wearing a corduroy suitcoat. The others are: Natassa Bofiliou, 31, a famous Greek pop star who has been threatened by supporters of Golden Dawn because of her vocal opposition to the party; Christos Ikonomou, 44, whose book “Just Wait, Something’s Happening,” is a compilation of short stories about everyday life in Greece during the crisis; entrepreneur Aggeliki Papageorgiou, 50, the owner of a small ice cream spoon factory that is on the verge of shutting down; and journalist Xenia Kounalaki, 44, who writes for the center-right newspaper Kathimerini and has been disappointed thus far by Syriza’s behavior in Europe.

The guests conduct their discussion in Greek and the event is moderated by SPIEGEL editors Manfred Ertel and Katrin Kuntz as well as co-moderator Angelos Kovaios, a journalist with the weekly newspaper To Vima. They spent three hours discussing developments in the country over Greek wine and Cretan cuisine.

SPIEGEL: What are we drinking to here — Syriza’s election victory, the compromise reached in Brussels or German-Greek relations?

The Minister: I’m drinking to the welfare of all people in Europe. Our negotiations and the compromise in Brussels also shows that this isn’t just a problem for the Greeks. Democracy is also at stake, with the standard of living declining in many countries. I’m drinking to better days.

SPIEGEL: That sounds rather florid. The debt crisis is about hard figures. It’s our impression that the governments and the finance ministers in the euro zone haven’t yet found a common language.

The Minister: With the compromise, we have established a foundation we can build on — and also common language. Still, the media and government in German also has a duty to properly inform the German people about our country.

SPIEGEL: Are you trying to suggest that the German media is responsible for problems in relations between Athens and Berlin?

The Minister: No, politics also conveys this image and in that sense we’re all guilty. That’s why I am here today. Things have gotten better. Many Germans no longer believe that it is only us Greeks who are responsible for the crisis.

The Mayor: Our common language is the rules of the European Union. And they have suffered. Because Germany carries the biggest burden for austerity policies, we deal with each other too aggressively. This applies to both sides — to the newspaper Bild as well as the Nazi caricature of (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schäuble.

Read More @ Spiegel Online.de 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to toolbar