FT Letter

I like the FT loads but sometimes they write silly article. There was on Greece earlier this month I read on the way out to Athens. I wrote this rejoinder which sadly the FT did not publish.

Greece has many problems but for Professor Aristides Hatzis to tell readers that Greece is on the point of becoming Weimar Germany (FT Comment 7 November) is overblown academic exaggeration.
I first visited Greece under the Colonels and have been back regularly since – I write from Athens – and while the economic difficulties are real, the politics still in the hands of an old guard, and social tensions evident the Greece of today remains a European democracy, under rule of law, that with more intelligent economic leadership from the EU will get over its difficulties.
Golden Dawn is an ugly, racist, anti-European, populist party with roots in anti-semitic nationalist European fascism. There are other parties in Europe which attract more votes with a noxious appeal to blame foreigners, attack immigrants, and the assertion that the European Union and the Euro are t blame for all of Europe’s ills.
Greece has survived worse political murders, not the least the assassination of Britain’s defence attaché, Col Stephen Saunders, during the period when I was PPS at the FCO. The killing of innocent people happens in London during G8 demonstrations or after the 7/7 bombing. London and other cities were in the grip of rioters in the summer of 2011 when Athens was calm. It did not mean Britain was about to turn fascist. Most European cities in recent decades have seen far worse riots and demonstrations and much greater support for extremist political parties of left and right than Greece.
There are huge problems here but I have been impressed by the stoic resistance of Greek people to the siren appeals of left and right to support political extremism, quit the Euro and their determination to work through their problems and shape a politics and economy that can serve a European Greece in the 21st century.

Denis MacShane

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