While the usual circus of Greek political life has started playing again around the Government and Opposition figures parading in the Thessaloniki Fair (the usual venue for political tension and invective around economic policy every fall, since time immemorial) foreign political figures have been adding spice to local news. The Presidents of Italy Sergio Matarella and Portugal Marcello Rebello de Souza met with their Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos to mull over European principles and values to be discussed in the forthcoming EU Presidents’ meeting in La Veletta, Malta – in view of the “Future of Europe” debate.
The debate’s main originator – French President Emmanuel Macron, who is not just a ceremonial Head of State but exercises executive power – was also in Athens, in a much-televised State visit. In an emotional speech at the Pnyx hill facing the Acropolis (the venue for the demos of Athenian antiquity, out of which democracy has sprung) he made a number of pronouncements not to be belittled.
For him “were we to remain blind [to the risks of European stagnation], we will be the generation that will shoulder the responsibility for the death of Europe”. Not an easy thing to say, for a convinced European. But read on: “In Europe today national sovereignty, democracy and trust are under threat”. And it this was not enough: “We should humbly confess that in Europe and the Euro area we have often relied on lies”.
If such is the European playfield, the game that is about to start is not exactly an easy one.