Milestones often present opportunities and the upcoming 200-year anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821 could serve as an opportunity for a new beginning.
It may sound a bit ambitious, but incurable optimists who insist on believing that some things can change in this country now have a symbolic year, a specific date on which to pin their hopes of Greece turning a page.
The opportunity for the 2021 bicentennial to serve as a signal of rebirth for Hellenism across the globe should not be missed, but for any such endeavor to become a success, it needs to become a joint effort defined by unity of purpose by all, rather than viewed as an opportunity for self-promotion by some or for sidelining others. No individual, party or group should try to hijack an event that belongs to all Greeks, while the celebration of Hellenism should not be restricted to the borders of a single country.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was wise to choose Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki as head of the Greece 2021 committee given her success in organizing the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The committee, which will be tasked with designing a program of events to celebrate the Greek revolution’s bicentennial, will comprise eminent personalities from Greece but also from the Greek diaspora, where there is a marvelous and largely untapped stock of amazing individuals.
The 2004 Games can serve as a guide to what works, but also to what pitfalls need to be avoided. Many of the things that could go wrong are linked to chronic shortcomings of Greek society and this is a golden opportunity to address and fix them, especially now, after the traumatic 10-year crisis we went through.
The next step would be for the government to make an overture to the opposition so that the effort encompasses all of the body politic and society. Greece’s big “comeback” should be designed to benefit not one prime minister or party, but everyone. The present opposition will also benefit as one day it could be in government again. But, ultimately, the ones who will benefit are the Greek people.
In 2021 Greece can “reintroduce” itself to the international community. Apart from events organized in the country itself, the celebrations should also take place in major cities abroad. This process should be strategically geared toward promoting Greece’s international image with targeted campaigns and events.
A speech by the Greek president or prime minister at a joint session of Congress in Washington, for example, would go a long way toward showcasing the evolution and future prospects of the world’s oldest democracy to the political establishment and public opinion of the world’s most powerful one. Prominent Greek Americans could assist in making such an event happen.
Mitsotakis noted that 2021 will be a year “when all Greeks will be together and united in celebrating 200 years of freedom of the Greek state, with pride for our past and confidence for our future.” Unity and confidence is the crux of the matter, and the only way we can change.