Best columns: Europe
Stop the anti-German bigotry
If we Greeks want to mend relations with Germany, our politicians are going to have to drop the self-righteous act, said Pantelis Boukalas. In one toe-curling incident recently, the German ambassador to Greece, Peter Schoof, agreed to attend a wreath-laying event to commemorate the Greek victims of a Nazi atrocity, only to find himself heckled by a left-wing former lawmaker. Zoe Konstantopoulou told the ambassador he had no right to be there and began shouting about war reparations. Boos and catcalls followed, and Schoof hesitated, until an elderly Greek war veteran came forward, took his hand, and led him to the monument to lay his wreath. Konstantopoulou insisted she’d done what any Greek would have done. Yet it was the authorities in Distomo, the village where 214 civilians were slaughtered by SS troops in 1944, who invited Schoof to the event. Are they not Greek? And what of the 94-year-old who came to Schoof’s side, Manolis Glezos? A true patriot, he’s the soldier who at age 18 scaled the Acropolis to tear down the swastika flag and who now maintains it is wrong to blame today’s Germans for the crimes of their forefathers. We need more of his tolerance, and rather less of Konstantopoulou’s “dogmatic” certainty.
Leaders who betray our interests
Czech leaders have been muttering about making an extraordinarily dangerous move: leaving the European Union, said Petr Kambersky. President Milos Zeman suggested last week that the Czech Republic should hold a Brexit-style referendum on its continued EU membership. Oh, he would vote to remain, he assured listeners at an economic forum. But then he went on to complain that the European Union is “like the Warsaw Pact,” with “limited sovereignty” for members. When a Czech president compares bureaucrats in Brussels to Soviet dictators, he is clearly urging his countrymen to throw off their shackles. And he’s not alone. Vaclav Klaus, Zeman’s predecessor, is now explicitly advocating quitting the bloc. Sure, it’s easy to complain about EU regulations that require us to take in refugees or that ban smoking in restaurants. But what we get in return is “a Europe free of major conflicts, a Europe in which we have reliable allies.” An exit, leaving us cut off from our neighbors, would benefit only the country that once invaded us, overthrew our government, and kept us under Communist repression for decades: Russia. President Vladimir Putin would love to see a former Warsaw Pact nation like ours peel off from the EU and return to his fold. “The question is, Why are Klaus and Zeman playing his cards for him?”