We are used to seeing our leaders serious, refrained – without an outpouring of emotion.
That is why it made such an impression on us to see Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras so emotional at the end of his speech outlining his program on the floor of Parliament on the night of Feb. 8
It was not only his sudden awareness of the burden his youthful shoulders must bear. Nor was it due to his realization that despite his efforts, his pleas have been rejected by countries that traditionally have been friendly to Greece – i.e., France.
It was an outburst of feeling from the accumulated sense of injustice he believes the people of Greece are experiencing, and that he is not encountering any understanding of it outside Greece.
Tsipras’ speech contained some poetic moments: “We declare categorically,” he said, “that we will not negotiate the history, the pride, and the dignity of our people. These are for us sacred and non-negotiable values. We are one in flesh and blood with the people. We are each word of the Constitution of this country. We swore upon it and we will serve it until the end, justifying our vision of the value of the sacrifices of the Greek people.”
The attitude of the early days of the Tsipras Administration, via the Prime Minister’s Parliament speech, has contributed to a climate of unity and optimism that is new and valuable.
Tsipras set the right tone on many issues, such as that the housecleaning should start in the offices of the President and the Prime Minister, and in Parliament. Symbolic measures, to be sure, but not meaningless.
Tsipras talked about tax evasion and inappropriate tax exemptions. He spoke on the question of the control of the media with a boldness not been seen, even though that is one of the country’s critical issues.
If the press in Greece is not freed, first and foremost from the state, and then from other influences, if a level playing field is not created for true competition in the media in Greece and abroad (I was informed that during the policy statement, one of the channels that broadcasts in the U.S., pre-empted the Prime Minister with tourism ads for various parts of Greece) the country will not develop.
There are two questions we must pose: first, will Tsipras implement what he has promised? And second, what will happen if – as I sincerely hope against it – he disappoints the people?
I waited until the end for my one complaint: the new Prime Minister, like so many others in the past, did not find a single word to say to Greeks Abroad.
Although expatriates cannot vote (how shameful!) that does not mean we do not care about the homeland and have nothing to offer, or that we don’t have a place in the nation.