Leter: The place of Greece in Europe

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The Independent Online
From Professor Roderick Beaton

Sir: Andrew Gumbel attributes to Andreas Papandreou the breathtaking achievement, for a prime minister of Greece, of securing EU funding for a bridge between the European and Asiatic shores of Turkey ("across the Hellespont"). In sober fact, the Rio-Antirrio bridge, if it is ever built, will span the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth, the waterway in which the armies of Christendom and Islam clashed in the year 1573, causing Miguel de Cervantes to lose an arm and take up writing as a career.

More seriously, in his eagerness to attribute all the political, social and economic ills of Greece to the agency of one man, Mr Gumbel's searing condemnation of the "towering personality of Greek politics over the past 15 years" gives your readers no hint of the fact that for three of these years, from 1990 to 1993, Greece was governed by the opposing, right-wing New Democracy Party under the premiership of Constantine Mitsotakis, and for another year (1989-90) by an all-party coalition.

To lay the blame for all the perceived ills of Greece today on one man is to perpetuate the most dangerous and absurd of all the myths on which the electoral success of Papandreou's Pasok movement and the cross-party emotion surrounding his departure from political life are alike founded, namely that l'etat, c'est moi.

Yours faithfully,

Roderick Beaton

Department of Byzantine

and Modern Greek Studies

King's College

London, WC2

18 January

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