A Greek tragedy

May 4, 2012 in Comment, General

The cartoonist Michael Kountouris shares his opinions from Greece in advance of this weekend’s elections:

I have tried many times to write about the situation in Greece. And each time, after writing a few lines, I stopped, feeling confused, disappointed, sad and angry about all the things I had to recall and describe.

Greece and the bill @procartoonists.org © Michael Kountouris

© Michael Kountouris @ Procartoonists.org

At this one moment I felt the need to speak to friends abroad about the situation in my country. The sequence of events over the last two years is a riddle to me. What headline would I give to this “correspondence”? Perhaps a Greek tragedy? A theatre of absurd? A farce, a comedy, a drama? I don’t know.

What I know is that Greeks are facing a daily attack to their incomes, their rights, freedom, hope, culture, dignity and honour.

Day by day we discover the depth of the corruption in our political system, corruption that goes way back. The saddest thing is that we also discover that our country has been vilified all over the world. Suddenly, Greeks became lazy, incompetent, outcasts, living at the expense of the rest of Europe, especially the Germans.

And yet, we are the same people who, during World War Two, were plundered of gold by the Germans and were forced to grant to the German Reich a ‘‘war loan’’ that was never paid back.

We are the same people who, for the past decades, are paying enormous amounts of money to buy American airplanes, German tanks, and French warships for the country’s defence. (If anyone wonders about defence, they can check the map and see England, Switzerland, France, Germany and their neighbouring countries and then see Greece and its own neighbouring countries).

This economical bleeding could have stopped if our allies had declared that the boundaries of Greece are also the boundaries of the EU. We have been exploited and now we are treated with complete irreverence and indecency.

We will be publishing the second part of Michael’s dispatch on Monday.

3 responses to A Greek tragedy

  1. Sarkozy’s opponent [so well known I’ve forgotten his name] in France said the other day, “I DON’T LIKE THE RICH”. Exactly which rich he meant isn’t clear, but as Michael’s Greek commentary suggests, riches are to be had by playing the system;by engaging sharp tax lawyers etc etc. What Michael so movingly describes could happen here. Much of it is a spiritual thing. Whilst the rich get richer by being wealthy enough to play the system [recently appointed Arriva boss gets £45k bonus for first week on the job], the not-so-rich, and poor get poorer – services removed, pensions shrunk.. OK, nicking all the rich type’s dough wouldn’t make much of a dent in the National Debt, but it might raise the spirits of the overwhelming majority. There is something morally wonky with an administration headed up by people who are, always were and always will be wealthy.

    A young UK doctor I know works with a Greek doctor who has spoken similarly movingly about her country’s plight. Not hysterically, but nonetheless movingly and the outstanding emotion expressed was shame.

  2. Very grateful to Michael (one of Greece’s best and most awarded cartoonists, but he’s too modest to say so) for writing such a moving piece about how the tectonic plates of international finance cause such pain up close at the grating edges (bad metaphor ends). When will they listen to that sensible Mr Keynes?

  3. What an eloquent, beautifully understated cartoon. We’re with the Greeks – at least, I think most of us are.

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