Tag Archives: Alexis Tsipras

What was Greek referendum all about?

Those nutty Greeks are driving me nuts.

They spend themselves into near oblivion. The European Union has bailed them out more times than I can remember. They run out of money, default on their debt payment, close the banks and then call for a referendum.

Greeks vote overwhelmingly to reject further austerity plans and, in effect, endorse the principle of pulling out of the EU.

Then the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, goes to the EU, offers a compromise package that includes — yes, indeed — more austerity in exchange for more bailout money.

Now the Greek Parliament has approved the deal and is awaiting word from the EU whether it will accept it.


All of this forces me to ask: What was the referendum all about?

I’ve been to the country three times. It’s a beautiful place, with lovely people, priceless antiquities, breathtaking landscapes, great food and — in Athens, at least — legendary traffic jams.

They threw over their currency, the drachma, to join the EU, adopting the euro as its currency. It staged a fabulous Olympics in the summer of 2004 — and went bankrupt in the process.

I do not want Greece to relegate itself to becoming an outlier nation in Europe. Its history is too rich, vivid and important to the development of the rest of the continent.

However, I’m tellin’ ya, they’re driving this Greek-American insane watching this drama unfold.

If a bit more austerity is what it takes to pull the Greeks’ chestnuts out of the fire, then the socialists who run the place need to suck it up just a little while longer.

‘No’ means no, in Greece

In Greece, they celebrate something called “Oxhi Day.”

“Oxhi” — and this is the rough spelling of the word, given that the Greek alphabet looks nothing like ours — is the Greek word for “no.”

It’s meant to mark then-Greek Prime Minister John Metaxas’s refusal to let Italian troops use Greek ports during the early years of World War II. Metaxas told Italian dictator Benito Mussolini “oxhi!” to his ultimatum; Mussolini then invaded Greece on Oct. 28, 1940 — and promptly had his troops slaughtered by the Greek army as they sought to advanceĀ south from Albania.

The Italian invasion stalled in the face of the ferocious Greek resistance. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi troops came in to rescue Mussolini from further humiliation — and conquered Greece.

Oxhi Day has been a big deal for Greece.


Now the word takes on a fresh meaning. The Greeks have said “oxhi” to demands for more austerity, which was a condition of more bailout money from the European Union.

The result might be that Greece leaves the EU, becoming — in the words of some observers — a “fringe nation” in Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vows to renegotiate a better deal for Greece. His left-wing government has grown weary of the austerity demands that others have placed on his country.

But to be candid, the Greeks seem to need some more austerity to help them curb their spendthrift habits. They have spent themselves into a tremendous debt crisis that they cannot solve — seemingly — by themselves.

I wish my the people who live in the country of my ancestors had voted the other way. The future of a once-vibrant nation now appears at best to be murky.

Just saying “oxhi!” might not be enough to save this proud country from ruin.

Once-vital nation set to cast itself aside

Greece has become a joke. And a decidedly unfunny one at that.

The country is about to conduct a referendum on Sunday. The outcome may determine whether the nation remains part of the European Union and a partner in one of the world’s pre-eminent international consortiums.

How did it come to this?


It sickens me.

I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of visiting my ancestral homeland three times. I know of the country’s rich history. I am acutely aware of the pride the Greek diaspora around the world have of this place. It’s magic is beyond belief.

Now it’s about to be reduced to a bit player, an outlier on the world stage.

The nation cannot pay its debt. Other European nations have grown weary of bailing out the Greeks. Frankly, who can blame them?

What’s more, the Greeks are letting their own pride take them down the road perhaps to further ruin.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras opposes further austerity measures designed to enable Greece to pay its debts. He is urging a “no” vote on the referendum, suggesting that it will strengthen the country’s hand and enable Greece to reopen negotiations with the EU.

All the while, the country — this cradle of western civilization — is being relegated to some peanut-gallery place on the world stage.

Those of us around the world who are proud of our ethnic inheritance are saddened beyond words by what’s happening there.

My own hope is that the majority of Greeks let some common sense rule by voting “yes” on the referendum.

As the essay attached to this post notes, the Greeks are left with two options. One of them isĀ bad; the other is worse.