Original version aired on Dialogos Radio in March 2016.
Each year, on the 25th of March, Greeks around the world commemorate the beginning of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire. A commemoration which is closely tied into Greece’s national and cultural identity, and with the freedom and independence of the modern Greek state, after 400 years of occupation by the Ottomans.
But which independence and which sovereignty are we actually talking about here? The result of the Greek revolution of 1821 may well have been the end of 400 years of Turkish occupation and control, but what followed since then and what continues until today is a different sort of occupation, a political and economic occupation and increasingly a cultural one as well. Modern Greece has never been an independent or sovereign state.
In its modern history, Greece has been a colony and protectorate of the Bavarians, who soon after Greece regained so-called “independence” brought in their royal families to rule Greece. Greece was a colony and protectorate of the British, who employed divide and conquer techniques against the Greek people in order to assert control and dominance, as was the case immediately after the end of World War II, when the British turned their backs on the rebels who resisted Nazi occupation and sided with far-right, fascist, criminal elements who had been Nazi collaborators. Greece has been a colony and protectorate of the United States, who brought in so-called “patriotic” elements into power in the 1950s while emptying the country of its educated youth at the time, and who later on brought a full-fledged military dictatorship to Greece, in the name of freedom and democracy of course. And since 1981, Greece has been a bona fide colony of the European Union and later the Eurozone.
This sort of foreign control has become ingrained in the minds and the mentalities of most Greeks. It’s a mentality one comes across every day in Greece, that Greece belongs to Europe, belongs to the West, belongs to NATO, that Greece would be nothing without the European Union and the Euro and America, while you hear others saying that Greece must be saved by another power, by the Russians. You rarely, if ever, hear anyone talk about Greece standing up on its own two feet, as a nation and as a country, without being under the umbrella of some other power, some savior, without belonging to some sort of a so-called “alliance.”
Therefore, when this sort of neocolonial mindset predominates in your society and your national mentality, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When the so-called political leaders of your country, a bunch of ignorant and repulsive clowns and traitors, downplay the significance of this national day of commemoration and tell us that on March 25th of 1821 what took place was an “economic revolt” or that a new “nation” (pay attention to the word here), nation, was born, or that this commemoration belongs to the so-called European cultural heritage and inheritance, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When the totality of your parliament is comprised of political parties who have exactly the same position regarding Greece remaining part of the so-called “European family,” and is comprised of political figures who tell us that the memorandum and austerity agreements are a “blessing,” and there is absolutely no democratic debate of any kind regarding the issue of exiting the EU or the Eurozone, tell me, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When these so-called blessings, these memorandum and austerity agreements, have resulted in a GDP decline of 25 percent, a decline in domestic consumption of 28.5 percent, a reduction in pensions of 61 percent, an official unemployment rate of 26 percent, a 35 percent increase in the use of antidepressants, as well as 50 percent of the population living at or below the poverty line and over 500,000 mostly young and educated people abandoning the country and migrating abroad in the past eight years, tell me, are you truly an independent, sovereign country?
When the resounding result of the July 2015 referendum, which rejected new austerity measures, was itself rejected by the government which clueless people around the world hailed as a government of “hope” and “change,” by a fascist, authoritarian, and traitorous faux-leftist government which went ahead and enforced the harshest austerity agreement to date, a government which earned the electoral support of less than 20 percent of the Greek population, tell me, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When bills that are placed before parliament must also be reviewed and approved by Greece’s European so-called partners, when they have the unilateral right and ability to declare Greece as being in a “state of emergency,” and when they can decide, for instance, what crops Greece can and cannot grow, what amounts of these crops to grow, and where Greece is allowed or not allowed to export this production, when your government’s finance minister says that his government is signing anything that the Europeans ask them to sign, tell me, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When the Nobel Prize-winning European Union, in which Greece apparently must remain “at all costs” says that your country must accept hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants and when there are apparently great sums of money available to support them and to support the country, Turkey, that is trafficking them into Europe even though it is not an EU member-state, while Greece is told that there is no money for salaries or pensions or health care and that more cuts are needed, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When this so-called European “family” forces your country to accept an active NATO military patrol on your land and in your waters and forces you to accept the presence of police and military personnel from Turkey, while turning a blind eye to the thousands of violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters committed by Turkey each and every year, tell me, are you an independent and sovereign country?
When Turkey does not allow Greece’s official aircraft, in which the prime minister is traveling, to land on a Greek island and in a Greek airport, at the same time that Turkey has a police and military presence in your own country, officially and unofficially, and when Turkey considers any Greek attempt to explore for hydrocarbons in its Aegean or Mediterranean seaspace an act of war, tell me, are you an independent, sovereign country?
When your country does not possess its own domestic, national currency but instead uses what is in reality a foreign debt instrument, meaning the euro, and when you are unable as a country to develop and enforce your own economic, monetary, and fiscal policies, when your country is indeed forced to sell off all of its valuable public assets for ridiculously low prices to foreigners and the proceeds from these sales also go immediately to foreign hands in the name of repaying an illegal, odious debt, tell me, are you an independent and sovereign country?
When your very own government has watered down the teaching of your language, your history, and your culture, when it requires your children to learn at least two foreign languages, something which few other countries require, and when it enforces an education system which favors rote learning and does not allow even an inch for critical thought, when this very education system apparently teaches the new generations that they are European first and then Greek, are you truly an independent and sovereign country?
When all of the major avenues and thoroughfares in Greece’s major and smaller cities are named after Greece’s former foreign royalty instead of bearing the names of prominent Greeks from Greece’s ancient and modern past, when we have avenues named after Queen Amalia and King Constantine instead of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kolokotronis and Papanikolaou, are you truly an independent and sovereign country?
When you have altered and watered down the Greek language to the extent that practically half the words used in daily parlance in Greece today are English words, even though corresponding Greek words exist and were once used, are you truly an independent and sovereign country?
And the icing on the cake is that if you say such things in Greece, if you ask such questions and raise such issues, you are immediately branded as a “nationalist,” a “fascist,” a “Golden Dawn” supporter, a “racist,” and every other defamatory categorization one can come up with. In other words, in modern Greece today, one who stands up for their homeland, for their language, for their history and culture is now considered some sort of far-right fringe element. We’re European now, not Greek, we are told. When this mentality and this line of thinking predominates in society, especially among the young, tell me, is your country independent and sovereign?
Today, what Greece needs is a new March 25th. How can this occur though when the solution for Greece’s youth is to abandon the country, one that many don’t even consider their homeland, without a fight? How can this take place when the prevailing attitude in Greece is one of “woe is me, what can we do, we have no choice?,” and when there is such fear, indeed such terror, of leaving the so-called European family and missing out on the vaunted European dream?
Greece needs a new March 25th, but in order for this to happen, the people of Greece need to undergo their own personal March 25th, in their minds and in their attitudes. Will this ever take place though?
Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.
Original version aired on Dialogos Radio in March 2016.