Ten years ago, shortly after the horrific death of the employees of the Marfin Bank branch on Stadiou Street, near Syntagma Square, I visited Athens.
I went to our office as I usually do, and immediately afterwards, I decided to go buy some flowers before I visited the scene of the crime.
I will never forget what I saw: a burned building, just a few days after the fire had been extinguished. And in front of it, on the sidewalk, a mountain of flowers with several condolence notes.
I stood on the opposite sidewalk and watched. The magnitude of the crime became even more appalling.
People stopped, left their flowers, bowed their heads respectfully; some wiped away their tears, and others, including children, left notes or wrote something on a piece of paper and then reverently placed it on the flowers and left.
On May 5, 2010, you will remember, anarchists set fire to the bank's branch, to "punish" the employees inside who did not participate in a general strike.
Three employees burned to death. One of them was pregnant.
The photo with the employees on the balcony of the bank, begging for help should be historic.
It should have been deeply etched in the collective memory of the Greeks, to become a banner of eternal condemnation of the left-fascists terrorists.
That’s what would have happened if the victims were from among the country’s supposed leftists.
I stood there for a long time.
Finally, when I crossed the street, I made my cross, and placed the flowers I was holding.
I read as many condolences as I could.
Each was more moving than the other. Many were written by children.
Nobody was talking.
The New York Times commentator, Thomas Friedman, who also visited the site, saw a drawing with a note that read: “In what kind of world will I grow up?” Signed by Lydia, a ten-year-old. He wrote his response to ‘Lydia’ in a column he titled “A Question from Lydia” – in which he discussed Lydia’s very good question.
When these images were transferred to the outside world, the euro sank, and fears of Greece's bankruptcy skyrocketed. (It was during the government of George Papandreou).
Ten years needed to pass – Kyriakos Mitsotakis had to come to power and make the decision – before the Greek state finally allowed the relatives of the victims to receive the amount of 2.24 million euros in compensation.
Finally, on Saturday, May 9, an event was held in memory of those who perished in the presence of the President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and the Prime Minister. A plaque was installed in the place where the three Greeks were murdered.
Although invited, Alexis Tsipras from SYRIZA, Dimitris Koutsoumpas from KKE, and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 – the parties of the Left in the Greek Parliament – announced that they would not attend. Does it surprise you?
What the Prime Minister did is an important, symbolic, and substantial action.
But the state still has a great outstanding responsibility: to finally arrest the killers of these people.
It will certainly not be so difficult. The Earth did not swallow them up. There must be some evidence – video, for example – which shows who the assailants are.
It is a matter of law. But above all, it is a matter of principle.
No state can, for whatever reason, allow murderers to still be free after so many years. And that was a political decision.
Greece is turning a page, however – even if ten years later some things remain the same. The country has changed a lot. And especially over the past year, during the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis.