THE NEW GREEK JUNTA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
One doesn’t have to be acquainted with George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’ to understand what is happening in Greece, the cradle of democracy: it is enough to recall Guicciardini’s dictum that the same things return with different colours.
In this case, instead of the junta’s Foreign Minister, Pipinelis, refusing (in 1970) to renew the famous Greek poet, ambassador and Nobel prizewinner, George Seferis’, diplomatic passport, we have the current Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. Avramopoulos, attempting to annul a recently retired Greek ambassador’s title of Ambassador ad honorem. The next stage is the attempted withdrawal of the retired ambassador’s diplomatic passport.
Avramopoulos actually went to the trouble of preparing a decree for the Greek president, Papoulias’, signature, annulling the title. Papoulias, himself a former foreign minister, signed it, despite the fact that he was once a vociferous critic of the junta. Plus ça change: the piercing analyst is entitled to think that he is now a mere instrument of the new Euro-German quisling junta: the image that comes to mind is that of a drunken fish swimming feebly with the current.
My tetchy and colourful rhetoric apart, let us take a quick but incisive look at what lies behind this bizarre and irrational act by Mr. Avramopoulos, bearing in mind the studiously oft-ignored human factors of greed, fear, ambition and envy. Avramopoulos is a former Greek diplomat, who resigned to pursue a more lucrative career in politics. Apart from emitting a good deal of hot air, including attention-seeking impractical ideas such as ‘merging Greek and Turkish society’, he has done nothing substantial for his country. This contrasts with Chrysanthopoulos, who stuck it out, and has constantly fought, with considerable panache, for his country. Avramopoulos actually praised Chrysanthopoulos only a few months ago for his long-standing service and his work as Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Conference. Thus there is a curious dichotomy here, which leads one to wonder whether outside influence has played any part. Greece has an unfortunate historical tendency to succumb to various foreign pressures.
Unlike most Greek politicians, Chrysanthopoulos cares for his country rather than for his personal image. He is a leading member of an organisation that, inter alia, advocates Greece’s exit from the Euro. He has written a number of articles critical of the government, and has expressed strong views in interviews by leading international journalists. Although Avramopoulos would not dare admit the reasons behind his silly move, it is clear to even the most naïve observer that Chrysanthopoulos is being attacked because his views have embarrassed the government.
As for President Papoulias, who once fought vigorously against the 1967-74 junta, he now seems to have transmogrified into a broken reed: one is inclined to wonder if he even thought about what he was signing.
Let us return to that great poet and Greek diplomat, George Seferis: his ‘crime’ was to have given an interview to the BBC in 1970 that was critical of the junta. It was picked up by the Soviet media, whereupon the junta accused him of acting against the national interest. His treatment, and that of Chrysanthopoulos, smacks of Goebbel- and Stalin-type behaviour, as well as that of the 1967-74 junta.
Who are the real traitors in this tawdry tale? Certainly not Seferis or Chrysanthopoulos, both of whom love their country, and who are exercising their democratic and constitutional right to help Greece by justifiably criticising the quisling neo-Ottoman plutocleptocratic junta that is destroying the fabric of the country. By their silly action, Avramopoulos and President Papoulias have not served the interests of Greece.
Dr. William Mallinson
Athens, 5 April 2013