Tsipras Chooses Wrong Time to Divide Greeks

The Novartis case – which is shrewdly referred to as the “Novartis scandal” by the Greek government – is obviously not an effort to fight corruption. It is a forced attempt to smear political opponents of the Alexis Tsipras administration at a time it has failed on several issues on both the domestic and international fronts.

After the massive protest rally against the use of the term “Macedonia” in the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tsipras and his advisors tried to downplay the number of participants and, much worse, brand the protesters “fascists”, “extremist right-wingers”, “nationalists” and other distasteful names.

It was the usual “divide and rule” tactics that SYRIZA is using, even before the leftist party came to power. “Whoever is not with us, is our enemy. And since we are the government of the people, whoever is not with us is the enemy of the people”, is the strategy followed by the prime minister and his cabinet and lawmakers.

The Novartis case is being brought to the forefront at the worst time possible for Greece. It turned attention from the grave current national issues to accusations that New Democracy and PASOK former ministers and prime ministers took bribes from a drugmaker.

And this at a time when Turkey is claiming Aegean islands that belong to Greece based on the Treaty of Lausanne. At the same time that Ankara lays claims on Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

Albania wants to negotiate sea borders with Greece and claims territories of Epirus belonging to Cham Albanians. FYROM wants to be called Northern or Upper Macedonia and maintain its constitution that includes irredentist aspirations.

Turkey’s provocations against Greece escalate. A Turkish ship rammed into a Greek coast guard vessel off Imia, a Greek islet that Turkey now insists is its own. Dozens of Greek airspace violations are carried out by Turkish warplanes every day. Turkish officials threaten to break the legs of any Greek politician who would dare to set foot on Imia. And so on and so forth.

Meanwhile in social media SYRIZA voters spit venom against New Democracy (mainly) and PASOK and demand the heads of the former ministers and prime ministers on the plate. Government-friendly newspapers attack the opposition with unbelievable menace, as if the indictment of the 10 “bribe takers” would solve all the problems of the country overnight.

Ever since Alexis Tsipras was elected to “serve the will of Greek people”, as he often says, he never specified who exactly are the Greek people he talks about. During his rule he often said that his government is for the “lower social strata”, the “poor”, the “less fortunate” and so on.

In essence, what Tsipras did from day one of his rule was to divide the Greeks to “Us” and “Them”. “Us” are the leftists, socialists, anarchists, faithful and haphazard SYRIZA voters and those disappointed by previous administrations. In general, people from the pool of the indignants of Syntagma Square in 2011.

“Them” are the middle class Greeks, the poor who took shelter from the crisis under the dangerous wings of Golden Dawn, those who believe that Greece belongs to the EU and the eurozone, liberals and in general all Greeks who did not vote for SYRIZA and are not likely to ever do so.

Now “Them” are portrayed as the supporters of those who took millions from Novartis and became richer on the back of the Greek people. The New Democracy and PASOK politicians who allegedly took bribes by the Swiss company are the enemies of the people.

Is it possible then that under these circumstances “Us” and “Them” could ever come together and confront the real issues that plight Greece? After such polarization, is it possible that, God forbid, Greeks can stand side by side and fight a war?

At the moment Greece cannot afford to let Albania challenge sovereign territories, nor can it give Imia to the Turks. If it does, the neighbors will later ask for more.

At times of national crises, great leaders inspire their people and bring them together to defend the national cause. Unfortunately for Greece, its leader is too immature to comprehend the gravity of the situation. All he cares about is prolonging his stay in office as much as possible and go for another term. A man who only two years ago did not know that there is such thing as “sea borders”, is certainly not capable of defending them.