Letter from Athens: The Ostrakon for Pandemic Year 2021 Goes to ….

December 20, 2021

Phew, where do you start in a plague-ridden pandemic year to determine who in Greece was the most infuriating, morally corrupt, inept, incompetent, opportunistic, self-aggrandizing, self-centered and deserving ostracism?

It was used 2,500 years ago in Athenian democracy to neutralize someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant, though in many cases it was mere popular opinion that was counted.

Too bad I wasn’t living then or could have written Letter from Ancient Athens and gone after philosophers, Generals, and King Xerxes. I would have stood my ground until the Persian Army showed up and I’d be on the first trireme out.

The person nominated had 10 days to get outta town and the penalty for trying to return was death. But if they could stick it out in Thebes or Sparta or a Greek island, they could return in 10 years with no loss of status.

Using pottery shards called ostraka – or ostrakon for the singular – citizens could write the name of the person they wanted out.

In modern terms, you could use the broken pieces of the U.S. Capitol steps to write Trump, secure in the knowledge his zealots can’t write so they couldn’t name someone else.

This is a tradition now for Letter from Athens, and there is no shortage of candidates again this year, including the major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis ’Doublespeak’ Tsipras, who is both for an against COVID vaccinations.

Then there’s the Greek shipping oligarchs, the Kings of Avarice, but picking them would be like shooting dead ducks in a barrel because it’s just too easy and we’d have to retire the award in perpetuity for them because they won it in 2020 – or maybe that’s ‘losing’ it.

George ‘The Party’s Over’ Papandreou was right up there, if only appearing at the end of the year when – 10 years after he resigned as Prime Minister after calling for a referendum on austerity attached to a bailout he asked for – he showed up again.

His reign, or perhaps rain would be better, led to the gradual end of the PASOK Anti-Socialists whose veterans lead the center-left Movement for No Change (KINAL) party that registers around 6 percent of the vote.

Sadly, the death of the party leader Fofi Gennimata brought about an election to find someone else, and Papandreou threw his old hat in the ring only to be further repudiated, and losing.

If Time magazine could name Triple Crown Winner Secretariat it’s Man of the Year, then a whole herd of impunity – Greece’s Anti-Vaxxers – could be on the list to be ostracized. But we’d need so many shards of pottery we’d be accused of antiquity theft, which you can get away with if you’re rich.

It was also hard to pass up Konstantinos ‘Heil!’ Bogdanos, a former Member of Parliament from New Democracy, which has overlooked some quasi-Nazis in the party like him, although his antics were so bad he got booted.

Bogdanos, who has a history of right-wing extremism, was ejected from the parliamentary group after quipping that Communists were a bigger threat to Greece than Turks, but not as much of a threat as people like him.

To paraphrase the late, great George Carlin (where is he when you need him? Sigh) talking about religion, we can apply what he said to the 2021 recipient of the Ostrakon ……… drum roll ……. Cypriot President Nicos ‘Teflon-on-Teflon’ Anastasiades.

Because, “When it comes to BS, big-time, major league BS, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises, exaggerated claims, and ducking blame,” and that would be him.

Where to start? At the end of the year when he went to Madrid to meet Spanish Prime Minister Pedro ‘Zero, Not Zorro’ Sanchez – he’s no Don Quixote – the two danced around the 300-lb. Gorilla not in the room, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They talked about Turkey’s provocations in the seas without mentioning the words Turkey or Erdogan because Spain is selling arms to Turkey – which could be used against Cyprus – and Sanchez didn’t want to embarrassed.

But Anastasiades was, missing the chance to tear into Turkey and Erdogan on a platform bigger than those Turkey is using off the island to hunt for oil and gas in defiance of soft, meaningless faux sanctions from the Eunuch Union.

The Cypriot President is good at being quiet when it protects political interests and criminal Golden Visa recipients, but it’s left him a lightweight in an EU country that has no weight. And even the Useless Nations has ignored his pleas to do something about Turkey, which hopes to invade again.

Attempts to reunify the island whose northern third has been occupied since unlawful 1974 invasions by Turkey have gone nowhere for decades, including under Anastasiades.

That’s even though he was willing to let a Turkish-Cypriot be President every other term – a concession that would qualify him to work for the Yankees pitching hot dogs in the stands.

He won the Presidency in 2013 on the BS story he wouldn’t let banks confiscate depositors’ money as part of an international bailout deal and promptly let them do it after he bamboozled everyone.

Not here. So find a piece of pottery somewhere on Cyprus and write his name on it. Add BS.



The Turkish President has repeatedly declared that he does not recognize the Greek Prime Minister and that he is not going to talk to him again, apparently deeply annoyed that he has been cornered internationally, with Kyriakos Mitsotakis' speech to the U.

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