Friday 9 December 2016

Cradle of democracy has sent a message to the world

Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30

‘Yes’ supporter wave Greek flags at a rally in Athens
‘Yes’ supporter wave Greek flags at a rally in Athens

I'm an Irish man visiting Athens during this historic tipping point for Greece. The people I've met are relaxed and happy. There is a genuine sense of calm. It feels like under the mounting pressure of the crisis, the Greeks are returning to who they believe they are - a happy, hospitable, relaxed, strong people.

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When I speak to people here, they all make it clear to me that they will cope with their unfolding future. In this ancient place there is a sense that they may now, for the first time in a generation, have the opportunity to be masters of their own destiny. When Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime minister, was asked how he thought what he was doing was right, he said: 'I don't have to think. All I have to do is look into the eyes of the hungry men and women on the streets of my country.' What is happening in Greece is about ethics. It's about what Adam Smith called 'Fellowness'. When a moral issue like debt repayment clashes with an ethical issue like making the already hungry people repay the debts of the ruling class, the ethical issue must win out.

I attended the protests last night in the centre of Athens. It was overwhelmingly peaceful. There were families with children in buggies holding small blue and white Greek flags and old men holding red flags that say 'óchi' (no). You don't have to speak Greek to know what people are saying.

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