Suddenly, I started feeling withdrawal symptoms by not seeing anymore on a daily basis the main protagonists of the Greek Crisis negotiations and I was wondering what they were doing these days without having to attend their regular “critical” meetings in Brussels. Interestingly enough, most of them decided to spend their holidays locally, in good old and beautiful Europe!
Christian Lagarde chose to spend her holidays elegantly at the hotel Conti in the beautiful area of Villeuneve-des-Avignons, South of France.
Angela Merkel with her spouse chose to go for Trekking at Solda, South Tyrol. Trekking is always recommended for those people who are taking serious decision.
Wolfgang Schäuble is a regular on Sylt island, a holiday resort for the super rich Germans.
Alexis Tsipras went on the island of Erikousa, a small island close to Corfu for few days with his wife Betty.
In the meantime, the Eurogroup signed the third bailout, around 85 billions Euro. Soon the whole “island” of Greece will be on sale with thousands of migrants who are arriving daily in a state of despair!
There is a boom of the Russian art exhibitions in London lately and this phenomenon is poured out in the name of loan between the two countries, Russia and Britain. Russian artefacts are imported to Britain and Greek artefacts are exported to Russia! People in decision-making positions argue that art is a powerful tool of diplomacy and certainly this is what the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor argued when he lent one of the Greek sculpture of Parthenon – the headless statue of a Greek god Ilissos to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in order to honour its opening. At least the Russians lend their own and veritable Russian artefacts, without treats and tricks and changing the meanings of what belongs to whom.
Anyway this is not the subject of this post but the exhibition which is taking place at the Gallery Saatchi in London with title “The legacy of WWII in Russian Art” and marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the world war II and it’s an attempt to allow viewers to get a perception of Soviet art as well as stimulate a dialogue between the Russian and British experience of war.
An exhibition well put which gives a short perception what was happening in the art spectrum during the Soviet period. The prominent art style during that period is the socialistic realism part of realistic art which allegedly its purpose was furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Some others believe that artistic life of that period was not suppressed by the ideology and the proof is the great number of landscapes, portraits and genre paintings which pursued technical purposes and thus were free from any ideology.
The viewers of this particular exhibition can see that both cases can be true.
The Yalta conference 1945.
Stalin approving a USSR model of the pavillion, Paris 1937.
Art can be a tool of diplomacy and smooth out in some ways the differences between Russia and Britain and generally the west. But Russians – as Andrei Nekrasov thinks as well as this was my perception of the people in Kazakhstan- feel their national identity most strongly when they come under pressure from the outside (see Crimea, sanctions etc). “The new Russian ideology presents European values as part of a hypocritical propaganda the west uses to rationalise its pursuits of geopolitical and economic interests. Westerners should not compromise on their values. But they should also be aware that neither economic sanctions nor military help for Ukraine are the right antidote to Russia’s new ideology. Instead they are potential trigger that could turn a suspicious Russia into an outright enemy” says Andrey Nekrasov, film and television director.
Meanwhile we shall see how Alexis Tsipras’ diplomatic skills will work with Putin on 9 April. He will be the first European leader to travel to Moscow since the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. Therefore he can play a double role as European leader and supporter of the people who feel crushed-creating a bridge between Europeans and Russians – something like that will help to elevate his position among the European leaders. So far, he has proved himself as a good communicator and now it’s an opportunity to prove himself as a proud member of the European Union!
Odeum of Herodes Atticus
Athens is back on stage – in the frontlines of the international newspapers -and I was back to Athens for some days to watch with my own eyes the whole performance . There was a new government and for first time in the Greek history a left party in power! And from that point, Athens’s fascinating story began.
The main characters are real bold and attractive and they are with the side of common people.They are young -Alexis Tsipras, the Prime minister is only 40 years old – handsome and eloquent – the Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, a man with real bravura, speaks eloquently English and Greek and he is expertised in Game Theory of Economics.
Alexis and Yanis went out and about in Europe as formidable actors starting their campaign by telling their story, the Greek story in a different and attractive way – not any more the old humiliated story of the capitalistic Europe about the corrupt little Greek cheaters. They were using heartfelt titles for their movement “government of national rescue” symbols and fashion, no ties, scarfs with a mischievous brand history in order to convey easily their message to everyone in the planet. All the international community of economists, economic analysts, journalist common people, even my uncle Raymond in his isolated farm somewhere in Wales, were fascinated by them and they want to listen and support them.
What they were saying was to remove Greece from “Palliative Care” and stop paying the big fat “doctors” and “Institutions” for this care. Let Greece and Greek people get real medicines and be responsible by themselves for their recovery. Meanwhile, the co-stars came up on the stage and the whole performance became a bit sloppy, not any more storytelling but some murmurs about numbers and graphs…
And as Simon Kuper wrote :
If you want to be heard, you need a story. If you don’t want to be heard, don’t tell a story. Be boring. Banks and Brussels both do that brilliantly. Put out long legal documents about “collateralised debt obligations” and people will switch off. Brussels jargon about “additionality” and “subsidiarity” achieves the same effect. Once nobody is listening, the actors can do what they like.”
Journalists from Netherlands interview Greek people in Monastiraki, Athens
In Greece there is an air of hope and I think at the moment the hope is more than the fear. The new elected government of Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party Syriza which according to my opinion is not so radical as the mass media wants to portray it, has already started to give signs of hope not only to Greeks but to all Europeans who are contemplating about the notion of Democracy in Europe. The French PM Francois Holland made the first step to attract the solidarity of the leaders to support free speech, one of the most important tool of Democracy and Alexis Tsipras has awakened the Europeans about another very important issue of Democracy which was deliberately forgotten.
Alexis’s Tsipras “left” hand, the highly eloquent and more flamboyant personality, the finance minister Yianis Varoufakis made the first step of repatriating Democracy in Europe. He stopped negotiating with Troika – a team of bank administrators of IMF, ECB and EU Commission- and made clear that he was rather seeking direct talks with the individual governments and IMF than negotiating with Troika. This first step of negotiation is the most significant for the European Union as a democratic Institution..
The supervision of the UNELECTED Troika-IMF, ECB and EU Commission- of the Greek government implementations was deeply humiliated not only for Greece but for all the European countries. It destroyed Europe’s integrity and respect for sovereignty much needed in Europe at the moment.
But as Paul Krugman has often pointed out, ‘economics is not a morality play… in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished’. The debt has to be paid and as Thomas Fazi at The Trokia saved banks and creditors-not Greece writes “unfortunately economics is never just about economics: whether we like it or not, morality and culture shapes people’s attitudes to economic issues, and nowhere is this clearer than with the issue of debt (private or public). It would be fair to say that the common man’s prevailing stand on the issue is that debts incurred have to be repaid”.
But at the moment, someone doesn’t need to be leftist or member of Syriza to see that Greece’s debt cannot be fully paid (roughly $270 billions) without driving Greece and its population into extinction.
Therefore European Union has to bring to the surface the forgotten core values of this Union, which except economics , is Democracy, Unity and Solidarity. Tsipras and Varoufakis’ struggle is in progress towards achieving this target..
P.S : After so much humiliation and despair for my country, I really feel proud of its leaders for showing to Europe the right direction without being cheap.