By Vasilis Kanellis
An old song by popular singer-songwriter Dionysis Savvopoulos, known by the diminutive name Nionios, says, “I don’t know what to play for the kids in the market of Lavrio. I am old, with suspenders and glasses, and I keep fearing for tomorrow.”
Alexis Tsipras in Lavrio today found something to play. He found his own narrative, collected from the ashes of Mati and from the tears of the relatives of the 91 dead.
The prime minister may be 44 years old and without suspenders and glasses, but in contrast to Nionios, he knows what to play for the children.
The sound of bulldozers is the narrative of this young person who was only five years old when the song was written. The market of Lavrio – where he announced government measures to confront illegal building – gave him a nice backdrop to speak about tomorrow, as he imagines it.
Yet, he did not speak a word about his government, and the errors that may have been made by state services for which he bears political responsibility.
He did not even attempt a “clear” apology, obviously because that is not part of his code of values. We did not see a shred of self-criticism in his speech, which focused mainly on how he will stem anarchic construction and tear down illegal structures.
It is not that the day after and a state plan that should have been implemented decades ago is not important.
However, for him to announce it pompously before Alternate Environment Minister Socrates Famellos, Environment Minister Yorgos Stathakis, and Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis – who signed a law with generous terms that allows owners to legalise illegal structures – constitutes a sign of disrespect for the dead.
These are the very dead whom junior ruling coalition partner Panos Kammenos blamed for the tragedy on a visit to the area the next day.
It is at the very least hypocritical to try to turn a page when you have left your dark mark on the previous page.
What one notes from Tsipras’ speech in Lavrio is that once again he was unable to imbue in citizens a sense of security, to convey the message that one can build a state that will protect them in difficult moments.
Mr. Tsipras followed the tried and tested path – to confront with communicatiosn tactics a tragedy that will move Greeks for many years to come. The blood of so many innocent people seeks vindication. It demands the assumption of real responsibilities by politicians in power, who hold responsible posts.
Four decades ago, Nionios feared for tomorrow. The same fear remains.