Tuesday, 13 April 2021

How Poetry Won Independence for Greece

This article was published by the Wall Street Journal.

The grave of Theodoros Kolokotronis on March 25, 2021

"All art is propaganda,” George Orwell wrote. This month Greece celebrates the bicentennial of its War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, won with the help of some of the most powerful propaganda ever written. During a virtual conference on the east Mediterranean last November, New Jersey senator Robert Menendez quoted some of it: “The mountains look on Marathon—/And Marathon looks on the sea;/And musing there an hour alone,/I dream’d that Greece might still be free.”

Lord Byron wrote these lines in his poem “The Isles of Greece” just before the outbreak of the Greek Revolution. Revered today as a Greek national hero, Byron saw in the modern Greeks the flicker of ancient genius fallen on desperate times, and he wasn’t the only one. Percy Shelley and his wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of “Frankenstein,” were also famously Philhellenes. In Pisa they took Greek lessons from Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Constantinopolitan Greek who would become the first president of independent Greece in 1822. The literary result of this relationship was Shelley’s verse play “Hellas,” written to help finance the Greek cause and portraying the Greeks as re-emerging from antiquity: “The world’s great age begins anew,/The golden years return.”

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Greece 2.0 seeks to transform the economy. Does it go far enough?

This article was published by Al Jazeera. 

2.0 Blueprint aims to make Greece greener, more efficient and crack down on tax cheats.


ATHENS, Greece - On the day US president Joe Biden presented his $2.3tr infrastructure bill, Greece unveiled a vision of state-driven economic regeneration that shares many of Biden’s priorities.


Greece 2.0 aims to leverage 57bn euros ($67bn) over six years to rebuild network industries, reform state services, attract investment and boost exports.  


Among other things, the omnibus plan would redesign the electricity grid to absorb renewable energy, install high-speed fibre optic and 5G wireless networks across the country, digitise government, hospitals and schools, modernise railways and reforest 16,500ha of burnt land.


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pitched the plan as a jobs creator and economic growth driver that will make Greece more sustainable, entrepreneurial and more equitable.

But transformation doesn’t come cheap.