To Spiegel magazine
With respect to the International prestige of your magazine, I am approaching you, with hope that you may publish the following “open letter” to the German people.
The scope of this letter is to facilitate a better rapprochement of European nations, especially the German and the Greek which has recently, been dramatically tested, due to the financial crisis.
See recent event with the suicide of a 77 year old Greek pensioner, at Constitution square inAthens….
Thanking you in advance.
An open letter to the German people referring to related historical analysis that led to the Greek financial crises.
Dear friends and partners from Germany,
I felt the need to address you as a simple Greek citizen, who is also affected by the consequences of the present economic crisis, in an effort to illuminate a situation that, I believe, has grown out of proportion. This happened due to unfortunate practices of misinformed journalists from both sides.
Greece has recently experienced a very hostile climate that has obviously been created due to extra burden the average German tax payer is feeling upon his shoulders.
No journalist has attempted to explain the benefits of European solidarity that, in the long run, would promote value for all parties.
Admittedly, for the last 30 years, Europe embracedGreeceand tried to provide support for the creation of adequate infrastructure to allow integration with EU.
Integration of most European countries was the principle that formed the foundation of EU.
Unfortunately, the Greek political world did not respond to the level of expectations that these historical times required.
On the contrary, many politicians were drawn into populism, demonstrated incompetence and in some cases corruption. As a result, this opportunity for development did not properly materialize, so thatGreeceappears to behave as a poor relative, creating a burden to other richer members of the EU family.
Populism is the greatest enemy of democracy, but this is true for all sides, including the German one.
It is not too long ago, that Angela Merkel addressedGreecewith the statement: “Proceed to bankruptcy and we will help you”. This is how the bad feelings were created in the Greek public. One needs to be naïve not to suspect that such statement is translated as:
“Sell your assets and some of your islands at low price”
Greek people are appreciative of the quality productsGermanyproduces and of the support to our tourism that, in any case, German people enjoy.
The biggest damage thatGreeceis suffering today, is the loss of the German tourist, for no real reason except for a misunderstanding due to populism on both sides, which has been amplified out of proportion.
Every nation has its own special characteristics and attributes which are deriving from their history and cultural experiences. A nation cannot be accused as lazy rascals and thieves….
On the other hand, Greeks admire the methodic approach, the industriousness and straightforwardness of the German people.
The large percentage of the Greek people adheres to European ideals and feels that Europe is their home, not only becauseEuropeis supporting them financially but mainly because they feel culturally and politically related.
The Greek spirit pioneered for the foundation of the European ideal. For us Helmut Cole is one of the inspiring creators of European Union.
We felt solidarity to the drama of the partition ofGermanyat the end of the 2nd world war and celebrated with you the fall of theBerlinwall.
We forgot very fast the wounds of the war.
Further, because of our own experience of a fratricidal civil conflict that followed, we were in a better position to understand and therefore sympathize with the German people for the partition of their nation.
We enjoyed the wave of German tourists that followed and we have shown the human side of reconciliation.
We have observed the reconstruction of West Germany, which was achieved with American financial resources, but above all, and most importantly, we need to note that it was achieved with the protection of West Germany’s frontiers for a period of thirty years, with no defense expenditure on Germany’s part, a fact that contributed considerably, as also in the case of Japan, to a fast industrialization for both countries.
Going back, at the same period, during the end of the 2nd world war,Greece suffered a second adventure, as it was engaged in a destructive civil war.
The ruins from the German occupation were not restored, instead, more material and social ruins were piled up till the end of the civil war, that took place, late 1949.
Greecewas, unfortunately, the only European country that was engaged in such civil war. This affected our capacity for economic growth which the rest of our allies enjoyed.
The residues of the civil war and the cold war between East and West that followed, made it easy for a military dictatorship to be established, this development, further delayed our association with EU and consequently delayed our economic growth.
Cyprusinvasion byTurkey, in the middle of the twentieth century, and its aggressive behavior inAegean Sea, gave the final blow to the country’s economy.
Even as late as it was , the final acceptance of Greece in the European family, finally happened, Greece, at last, became a member of the European Union that even the name Europe indicates the cultural relation. (Europe is a Greek name)
Yet, the infrastructure had not been concluded. The Greek state was not ready to follow the rate of economic development the rest ofEuropewas enjoying plus, there was a latent risk, which nobody could predict.
One of the most important obstacles, apart from the lack infrastructure, had been.the need to defend against the remaining of the Ottoman aspirations ofTurkey.
The hope thatGreecewill become the European frontiers to protect the country against aggressiveness exercised byTurkeydid not succeed.
Greece although member state of European Union and NATO was not considered, in practice, the European frontier and did not enjoy the same protection that other countries after the 2nd world war (West Germany and Japan) or even other NATO members enjoyed.
Greeceis deprived today of similar support. A single statement of EU or NATO that GREESEs frontiers are considered as EU frontiers, would have savedGreecefrom an enormous defense budget that would resolve the crisis overnight.
Instead was left on its own, member of an alliance that cannot cover its specific defense requirements.
As a resultGreeceis one of the main customers for defense purchases from France Germany andUSA. .
I truly believe that the Greek politicians are responsible to a high degree for incompetence and corruption, but corruption has two sides, the ones they receive money under the table and the ones who give it.
One of my Central European friends wrote to me, in view of pending elections: “It is time for Greek public to punish these corrupt politicians”
Yes, we want to punish these corrupted politicians, yet, without abolishing democracy.
But how could we do that if the same partners, friends and allies, and specifically you the Germans, are protecting them by not disclosing their names? The names of those politicians your companies bribed? Your companies are limiting their response to such accusations only to accept their responsibility for unethical practices, providing some compesations, seeking forgiveness, just to secure the continuation of major projects inGreece. (See Siemens projects and the covering of Christophorakos as the General Manager of Siemens Greece, who defected, hiding inGermany, avoiding Greek law prosecution)
I don’t want, in this way, to provide excuses for the incompetence and the corruption of the Greek political system but we cannot close our eyes to the participation of the other parties involved, leaving them unpunished to continue this practice, becoming moral perpetrators.
There is responsibility from this side as well. We need, therefore, in order to be fare and impartial, to examine all these in total. To resolve the issue, not only forGreecebut forEuropeas well, we need to eliminate such conflicts and hidden corruption, to work towards the successful operation of a multinational model of EU.Europe, including Germanyand Greece, has suffered enough during the 20th century.
The successful completion of the European experiment for an integrated European entity will be a hope for the rest of the world as well.
This is the belief, which most Greeks still have. The successful political integration of European nations will be an example for coexistence, and compromising practices, as principles, that will be propagated within G20 and UN.
It sounds a little idealistic, but I cannot see any other way out.A lot of opportunistic entities are lurking forGreeceto get out of European Union and take advantage of a weak economy. I hope German politicians will see the dangers of such a development.Greeceis indeed in a week position now, but it still has human and other resource potential.I want to finish this letter with a historical reference because I still believe that history is a source of knowledge and experience and not an excuse to cover inadequacies of the present.So, at the risk of being considered unforgivably romantic or old fashion, I would like to state that I am proud of being Greek, not only for my ancient cultural inheritance, but also for the more recent contribution ofGreeceto the European history, which is lost and forgotten over the years.It has taken only one Greek personality, Ioannis Kapodistrias, raised out of an occupied by the Ottomans, Nation, the first Governor of the Modern Greek State, that managed, between the 18th and 19th century, to contribute decisively to:
- The foundation of modernGermany by uniting the various Germanic states.
- The creation ofSwitzerlandas a unified Nation and,
- Stoped the disintegration ofFranceafter the Napoleon wars.
I wonder if any of these facts are known within the European public orGermany I suspect not, as much as Beethoven is known toGreece.
My dear friends and partners, Germans Swedish, Finish, Austrians, Dutch etc
Come for vacations to Greece, invest for the future of Europe.
A Greek citizen
36, Nikitara Str.