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Ill-Timed Petty COVID-19 Politics in Greece

Ευρωκίνηση

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and Deputy Civil Protection Minister responsible for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Tatiana Bollari)

At a time when Greece is internationally recognized as a success story regarding the containment and mitigation of COVID-19, the brunt of the crisis has barely left the country and the old ways of political bickering and division have reared their ugly heads yet again.

I for one was stunned to see the Prime Minister, just days after opening up the country, repeatedly over a three-day stretch visit factories to address small crowds and visit farms without face mask protection. It’s one thing to have done an incredible job of keeping the people unified towards a common goal through the crisis, but it's another thing entirely to give off an air of overconfidence and complacency in the face of what is still a clear and present danger until we have a vaccine.

Witnessing large gatherings, folks enjoying the good weather in major cities in Greece largely without masks and gloves makes me nervous. I'm not in the business of pushing conspiracy theories, nor am I a scientist or physician. What I do know though is that because we don't even have a treatment for the coronavirus it seems silly and dangerous for people to be congregating so recklessly as if things will just go back to normal if you close your eyes and believe. Ladies and gentlemen I am here to tell you, without my medical degree, without my test tubes in the lab that we are not going to go back to normal – not within 3 months, not ever. We are actually just going to a new normal as I have previously written and that new normal will require new rules similarly to every other time that Humanity has been faced a with crisis. For those old enough to remember what traveling was like before 9/11, you can share those experiences with people born after 2001 or 2002 and you will get looks of amazement. They will likely ask you “what do you mean they just kind of let you on?” You didn't have to remove any articles of clothing? It was a different world and so too will it be after the coronavirus.

I see the Prime Minister, his government  facing the growing challenge of opening up the country responsibly while being attacked by the opposition in Parliament, but not because their policies are bad – in fact, in terms of the educational aspect of things what the government is asking is for remote learning and teacher evaluations. The fact that the main opposition party SYRIZA is against teacher evaluations and remote learning is comical to say the least. Because there has not been meaningful evaluation in just about any industry in Greece.

Meritocracy might be a Greek word but it has been gone from its birthplace for a very long time. Now is the time for the parties in Parliament, just as they did during the debt crisis, to unify as one voice and bring Greece into the 21st century, albeit two decades into it already. Leave the petty, partisan, politics at the door, grab a mask, a pair of gloves and stay six feet apart from people where possible and rebuild a nation from the ground, up.