Letter to Mr Verhofstadt — A Modest Proposal

Dear Mr. Verhofstadt: By now you must have received several thousand messages of praise for your brilliant speech in the European Parliament. Your speech was full of eloquence, real world specifics, a keen sense of history, and an obvious love for Europe and for Greece.  You even offered to come to Athens to help. My question is, when can you start? Would you consider being Prime Minister of a Greek government of national unity?  It is not as crazy as it sounds.  You hit the nail on the head when you said that the Greek political class is the problem; they are all tainted and corrupt, Syriza is part and parcel of that system, and cannot or will not be any different.  As a people we are deeply divided, part of that is history, part of that must just be genetic, and at this time, to fulfill the program you so clearly and concisely elucidated, someone from the “outside” has to do it. Who better than you? First of all, you have done this job before, as Prime Minister of Belgium, a country with the same population size as Greece and one which is, let’s face it, also divided and with its share of dysfunctions.  You already have a plan, outlined with more depth and specificity than anything the Tsipras government provided.  You have a sense of history, not the cliché allusions to Classical Greece but to the real modern state.  You have an energy and optimism singularly lacking, frankly alien, to the Greek political class. Your being a foreigner need not be a problem.  As a Belgian, you are no doubt fluent in several languages, and the only Greek under 60 who could not communicate with true precision with you is Mr. Tsipras himself.  Anyway, given the way you pronounce Trikoupis and Venizelos (the Real One), you will no doubt make headway with Greek as well.  Being a foreigner is your greatest advantage; you have no local base or bias, and Greeks know instinctively that no Greek today can take command of the ship of state.  That is why the “electoral accident” of Tsipras occurred, because there was no real choice. Until now. Greek history is full of precedents of foreigners helping out or taking the helm at key times in our history, enabling us to rise over our divisions.  I prefer a more recent example.  In 2004 a German coach named Otto Rehhagel led a Greek team against 150 to 1 odds to the European Football Championship.  Our people have the will and the guts; we lack the leadership and the reforms. Come to Greece.  (Don’t worry about the citizenship, this is Greece, we can arrange something!)

Yours sincerely, Alexander Billinis, Co-founder,  Reform Watch Greece


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