Thursday, 3 November 2011
"Σε γνωρίζω από την κόψη"
At the time the Achaemenid Empire was the wonder of the known world. At its peak, it would have spanned three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe covering some 8 million square kms, with a total population of 50 million souls. It was highly organised with an elaborate civil service and administrative structure. It's financial and taxation systems were sophisticated, and there was free trade across the empire.
Fast forward 2500 years and we find a large economic power finding itself in thrall of a small insignificant country. Greece has a population of only 10 million, the European Union - 300 million plus.
It's difficult to imagine either Chancellor Merkel or President Sarkozy as Xerxes the Great, but to my mind George Papandreou is a fitting successor to Leonidas. He's a man of steel, with a crystal hard determination to keep the hoards of Brussels civil servants from over-running the Acropolis.
Unfortunately, just like Leonidas and his brave 300, George has been betrayed by his own countrymen (his fellow Cabinet members).
Greece is in a mess, the Greeks know that as well as anyone. They don't need being constantly told that by a stuffy German Fraulein and a funny looking Frenchman. As far as Athenians are concerned, they and their fellow sufferers are being ground down to dust by the heel of the EU. In the word of one savvy Greek: "We have a choice. Being poor and ensnared or even poorer but free."
I imagine the Greeks will need all their ancient spirit of adventure and discovery, should they tell Berlin, Brussels and Paris; ""We don't give a drachma for your Eurozone."