The Greek diaspora has a dual role at this difficult juncture for the country. One is to help infuse people in Greece with the elements they are so sorely lacking and the other is to initiate an international mobilization in order to influence key decision-making centres around the world.
Greek society has simply been in the pressure cooker for too long. The outrageous has in many cases become the norm. We have become infused with cynicism, with the absence of meritocracy, with the complacency created by vested interests arising from a bankrupt establishment. Greece is a country that has a tendency of becoming untuned every 20 or 30 years and switching into crisis mode. Our pool of people who could offer their valuable services has all but run dry because the political system has bullied their type out of politics.
After all, we live at a time when a good part of the public is ready to oppose anything or anyone that rises above average. The ruling class has actually shaped its policy around this attitude. There are good and talented people out there who are working hard, who are productive, who are producing research, who are resisting the overall decline in their own way. But they are in despair because they have no voice.
Greece needs its diaspora, both the people who left because of the ongoing debt crisis and those who settled elsewhere a long time ago. Listening to successful members of the diaspora gives you such a sense of optimism, mainly because they still have confidence in the strengths of this country and believe that things can change for the better. They take no interest in political parties, in ties with oligarchies or so-called connections. These are the people Greece depended on at difficult moments in the past. Eleftherios Venizelos, for example, was able to utilize the diaspora productively in his ambitious campaign for modernizing the country.
Now is another one of those crucial times when we need our diaspora. The question is who can inspire these people into moving back and working for the good of the country, and how. If they are thrust into the situation as it is right now, they will probably run away screaming.
We also need diaspora’s help to deal with the military threat to the East. There is nothing wrong with holding protest rallies on the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute, but the case of Turkey requires a more organized and systematic approach, involving a serious awareness campaign and interlocutors who have a powerful influence and a plan.
Greece is, unfortunately, in a very tough spot and this happens to come at a time when the diaspora is lacking leadership and structure in some areas. This needs to change as soon as possible because it’s hard to build relationships and channels of trust when your back is against the wall.