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Myths, realities, Greeks and the economic crisis
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-07-07 08:55:24
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In general I’m pretty conservative when it comes to my compatriots’ reactions when it comes to foreign and especially north European politicians’ encounters with the contemporary Greek issue. People in Greece feel isolated and like the whole world and especially Europeans have put all their prejudice against them and I have to admit even from personal experience the idea north Europeans have for all the southern cannot be any further from the truth without that meaning that southerners haven’t got their own myths for the northerners.

I will give an example; southerners – without meaning to generalize – think that northerners are cold creatures without any sense of family ties or idea about friendship and loyalty. They think that their lives are work like little soldiers obeying orders and every single evening they are getting drunken consuming litters of beer. Then when their kids come of age eighteen the kick out of the house telling them that their obligation to them is over and from now on they have to do it on their own. Northerners have no idea about food; they eat only boiled potatoes and raw meat or sausages always joining them with beer. I presume most of you this minute laugh, shake your head in disbelieve but I insure you that I have heard a lot of those even from members of my family and my family was an educated one.

And then come the northerners and I will start with a personal example from the last ten years while I live in Finland. One of the first things I have to deal with is the surprise why I don’t live in Greece any more. And they continue describing the life they think I would live if I was still in Greece. Every day I would wake up in the seaside and after dancing syrtaki with the girls, I would eat moussaka and dolmades with Greek salad and feta, drink retsina and go for a small siesta. Then wake up early evening and after kissing mama and sisters go to the seaside and dance till morning under the full moon drinking ouzo! My job would be cheating foreigners selling them rocks for ancient marbles and my hobby would be flirting northern blonde girls. In general, lazy parasitic life. The odd thing is that the way they describe it you get a sense of envy from the very same people who accuse for this life.

Probably you think I’m joking but unfortunately I’m not and I got this attitude even from people that supposedly have enough brain to understand. Ten years ago when I started my company in Finland and I had to go through a certain bureaucracy one of the papers I had to fill was a marketing plan and there was one designed for …foreigners like me. The entire questionnaire was on how to open a …Greek restaurant, how to calculate profit and how to promote it in Helsinki. I’m not saying I was shocked, after so many years abroad very few things surprise me; still I was surprised to find it in Scandinavia.

But this is ok; you get used to it and gradually with a little humour you learn to answer to this short of attitude and questions. But lately this has gone beyond the people, beyond the simple prejudice and has become state attitude. Using the bailout Greece has fallen into most of the northern countries has brought out their darker prejudice not only against the Greek people but also against the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Italians including to that the poor Irish as well. Obviously for populist reasons politicians for all the spectrum of the political life, from the fascists and the euro-sceptics to the socialists and leftish northern Europeans talk about the lazy southerners, the corrupted southerners, the parasites southerners. And it is natural the action to bring the reaction and as I read in a blog a few days ago “what the northerners would have been if it wasn’t us the southerners to show them everything, wild animals living in caves eating each other.” Totally unfair but it reflects how the southerners feel in front of the disrespect they disserve.

And till now it is the people saying these things what will happen when states start answering – I’m long waiting for Berlusconi to come with the first quote – and where are the responsible states to stop all that before taking different dimensions. A few weeks ago a known German magazine had acropolis on sale in its cover and magazines all around Europe were too keen to suggest what Greece would sell to pay back the debt. National treasures or sentimental treasures. The Finnish Finland's Finance minister and Social democrats’ leader Jutta Urpilainen suggested that the Greek state owns a lot of property, a part of which could be shifted to a property management company. Shares in that company could serve as guarantees, according to the Finance Minister, and I’m wandering if she thought these things before coming out of her mouth and how much she would insult the Greek people. Actually does she care if she insults the Greek people? Or is she a cold money driven blonde northerner without any sense of loyalty (to her partners) with only joy drinking blood and beer?

And now dear leadership of the all mighty partnership of the European Union what? How much more you are going to screw this continent before actually doing something beyond accounting?

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