By Maria-Christina Doulami
IT IS often said that the Cypriot donkey has a greater tolerance than any other animal. And it tends to be admired by others, because you rarely see an animal endure so calmly so much hardship. That is what the people of Cyprus are like. They are fighting through the crisis patiently and serenely. That is what MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis saw. The MEP was recently in Cyprus for a very interesting lecture on the economic crisis and Europe.
In Cyprus there were no demonstrations or clashes, as usually occurs in other countries under a Memorandum, despite the fact that the Troika’s descent on the island is criticized on a daily basis. In fact, when the haircut of deposits was announced in March, it was the Spaniards who protested for Cyprus. Why didn’t the Cypriots? Maybe it is indeed due to composure. But so long as the donkey is not complaining, it will be beaten even harder. And what actually comes out, just as with voter abstention and the depreciation of political life, is simply apathy. A silent tolerance, as if no-one has yet truly understood anything. Or because they see no reason in protesting because “nothing will ever change”.
Chatzimarkakis stressed that we need to fight, to protest and to react to decisions taken outside democratic procedures. Participatory democracy, he said, is not only about voting every 4-5 years. It is about taking part in the country’s political life, about stating your presence, even if others try to exclude you.
This MEP is first in line to set an example. He speaks truths no-one dares to say (for example that Germany made a profit of €110 bln from the crisis). By saying things as they are, justifying them, and without paying attention to political affiliations and interests, he shines a light on how a true representative of the people should behave, someone who cares about the voters who trust him and not the seat in which they put him in. He himself even expressed disappointment with the EU institutions, stressing that Europe has lost its way. The European Parliament, in particular, he said, plays no role in managing the crisis as the majority of MEPs simply do not want to budge from their comfort zones, and do not even dare to stand up to a Commission that only sees what it wants.
Chatzimarkakis is right. He sees all this, he experiences it first hand, and yet he raises his voice. When asked why he does this, if he is optimistic that something will change, he replied that the reason is for his children to be able to live wherever they please. He thus sends the message to the new generation – the “me” generation – that sometimes life calls for mutiny. That this generation should look beyond itself, beyond what the previous cohort taught it – that it’s all about personal affluence often with blinders. In order for the world to change (for the better), we must first change from within, as people and as mentality. But first we need to comprehend that to some things we need to react and dare to differentiate. ‘Being cool’ is not just about raising your voice on the internet and among friends, but being bold enough to take action even beyond these.