Leter: The place of Greece in Europe

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The Independent Online
From Ms Despina Christodoulou

Sir: How unsurprising to read yet another wholesale condemnation of Greece in the British press. According to Andrew Gumbel's pseudo-sociological analysis ("An end to the Greek Myth", 17 January), Greece is "primitive", "undisciplined", a "fiefdom" of nepotism and corruption, where orgies of violence are commonplace, surviving only through the generous European Union funds that it squanders.

True, Greece is quite unlike the rest of Europe, but herein likes its strength. Greece's Byzantine and Ottoman pasts provide Greece with a cultural make-up and "mental geography" shared by much of the region but inaccessible to the rest of the EU.

Greece has an invaluable insight into the psychological aspects of the new nationalisms springing up in the nether regions of Europe - Chechnya and Bosnia being good examples. And, with the Balkans on track for recovery, Greece is due to become a regional powerhouse. This is where a "strategy" for Greece lies - to put it cynically, as Europe's outpost in the East. But first the rest of Europe must learn to appreciate Greece and its idiosyncrasies a little more.

Yours sincerely,

D. Christodoulou

Cambridge

18 January

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