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The question of whether Greece remains in or tumbles out of the European currency may well have been decided by the time this article is published. Whichever way the referendum has now gone, my argument here is substantially broader than the current dispute, involving the extent to which Greece forms an essential part of the European geo-cultural community; a question more of an eternal nature than a merely temporal one.
As Greece’s economic health began to flatline in 2007/8, many chauvinist types in Northern Europe (specifically, British, German, Finnish and French conservatives) were quick to ask questions like – “How important is Greece to us anyway?” – “Who cares about Greece?” – “Is Greece/are the Greeks even European?” – “Why does Greece matter to us?” etc….
The attitude underpinning such enquiries would eventually lurch to the wild extreme in the German weekly newspaper Die Welt in which a columnist revived the canard that modern day ‘Greeks’ are not actually the famous ‘Greeks’ of old.
“The idea” he wrote “that the Greeks of modern times are descendants of Pericles or Socrates and not a Turkish-moulded mixture of Slavs, Byzantines and Albanians, used to be a belief among most educated Europeans. The architects of the EU themselves could not escape this belief. In this context, they brought clammy Greece into the European boat in 1980. The consequences can be seen every day.”
I’m not a geneticist and so cannot comment on the ‘Greeks are not real Greeks’ theory, but in regard to the first set of questions, the answers (in order) are as follows – “It is hugely important” – “We all should.” – “Yes.” – “Because of Islam.”
As alert observers (or at least anyone with a map and a brain) will have known for some time, the fate of Greece may foretell the fate of Europe… For over a thousand years, Greece has been the fighting border-guard of the West against the world of Islam, and should it fall now, or – just as bad – shift allegiance, our civilisation becomes at once a thousand times more precarious.
The Turkish army, for hundreds of years the nemesis of Greek aspiration, is the strongest in the Muslim world and considerably larger and better maintained than any in continental Europe. Indeed, Turkey’s military is the only non-European army currently occupying European land in contravention of international law.
According to most international rulings on the subject, the island of Cyprus is part of Greece. Turkey’s hold on the northern half of the territory is put up with only out of fear of Turkish arms.
Throughout history, various other Greek islands have been claimed by Turkish nationalists, and the Greek mainland was for centuries subsumed entirely by the Ottoman Empire, the modern Hellenic Republic only emerging from the dreamless sleep of Islamic rule in 1830.
At present, Turkey is also the only thing separating Greece (and thus Europe) from the territory of the Islamic State with which it has a rather dubious relationship. Routes through the country are almost always chosen by Western-born terrorists travelling to join ISIS, and local authorities have been notably slack in preventing this. Of course, if there are ISIS cells coming into Europe via Turkey, their footprints will first depress Hellenic soil.
The Greek military, for its part, is large by southern-European standards but still considerably weaker than the armed forces of Turkey, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Westward from Greece, the first war-capable nation-state is Germany. Europe at its weakest thus shares a border with Islam at its strongest.
History is known to have a gift for poetic irony. As Greece, Rome and Jerusalem are the fountains of our civilisation, it would appear both apocalyptic and appropriate that anti-Western Muslims are freely landing in Italy, crossing into Greece, and plotting the downfall of the Jewish State.
Also, the Greeks are some of the most Islamoaware populations of Europe. Their long history of occupation under Muslim rule, their steadfast adherence to (Orthodox) Christianity, the intense pride that most Greeks have for their language(with its own unique, non-Latin script), culture and history, infact make the Greeks model Europeans.
The only major issue they have is the importance that the political left have in their political system, which is probably a reaction to the decades long rule of right-wing military junta in the recent past. I suspect that this left-wing ideology with its emphasis on state owned industries, government jobs with generous benefits, welfare, is which caused the current crisis in the first place.
Defend the Modern World said:
I think it is probably best if Greece leaves the Euro but not the EU.
I cant help seeing parallels between Greece and Scotland at the moment. Both small countries are in the grip of leftie lunacy and really need to grow up. Both also desperately want to belong to the European club.
However one difference is as you point out that Greece is on the border with the dangerous world beyond. I’ve heard that a high military spending is one of the things that’s got Greece into the financial mess its now in.
To me it more and more suggests why we need a US of Europe. If all countries were contributing equally to defence, Greece would not have felt the need to spend beyond its means on this at least. Germany likes to brag about their superior economy, but are they paying their fair share of defence?
Ms Sturgeon wants to abandon nuclear deterrence so she can give more free stuff to people who cant be bothered to work for a living. However I doubt if the majority of European countries as a whole will ever feel comfortable with this, given especially the fact that most of them are closer to Russia, and it seems inevitable that some Islamic countries not so far away will go nuclear before too long as well. I cant see an independent Scotland that didn’t pay its fair share of defence spending being terribly popular…
Brave Scottish soldiers made a great contribution in past conflicts, but with Ms Sturgeon as commander in chief they will be armed with pitchforks and broomsticks. Our own defence force seems less credible by the day as well.
Defend the Modern World said:
I don’t think Nicola accepts the existence of an Islamic threat at all.
Defend the Modern World said:
Germany (in my opinion) should be spending more than 2% of its GDP on defence. The percentage should be adjusted to reflect the state of each respective economy. It’s cruel and unnecessary to ask a country like Greece to spend so much on defence.
Sorry stupid mistake the last sentence should have said:
The current UK armed forces seem less credible by the day as well.
As regards anyone who claims that the Greeks of today are not the descendants of the Greeks of the Hellenic age…I think they’re talking through their hats. Because I’ve known many Greeks – people of Greek immigrant descent here in Australia – who *looked* exactly like they had stepped down off one of those painted vases; or from off one of the classical-era bas-reliefs, or a bronze or a marble come to life. It’s an eerie feeling when you’ve looked at the ancient art, then a living person stands in front of you, their parentage from that part of the world, and you think…hey, those little black curls lie on the woman’s forehead just as they do in the painting, and the nose is just exactly the same shape. Just as I’ve met Italians who looked exactly like the people in the mosaics and frescoes from ancient Rome. And Copts who bore an eerie resemblance to the ancient Egyptians as portrayed in all those tomb paintings that we see in our encyclopaedias.