The choice of destination is a statement in itself: over the past five years Europe has focused on austerity, but we all know that fiscal discipline alone is not enough to ensure economic growth. Greece seems now to be stuck in a hopeless situation. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise and extremists of the right and left gain more ground at the expense of the Greek citizens, some of them living in inhumane circumstances and all this within the borders of the European Union.
On Saturday, Guy Verhofstadt together with the Mayor of Athens will visit the Welcoming and Solidarity Centre of Athens Municipality and the nonprofit organisation “Ark of the World”.
The “Ark of the World” takes care of children that have been experiencing abandonment, racism and social exclusion in one of the most downgraded regions of Athens, the “Platonos” Academy, where Golden Dawn’s influence is rising. The Ark offers daily kitchen soups for 800 people and takes care of more than 200 children. Its work against Racism and Xenophobia was recognized with awards form UNESCO as well as the Athens Academy.
These visits were arranged not only to witness firsthand how the management of the debt crisis has hit the Greek society but also to appreciate how Greek citizens work united and with determination to overcome the difficulties. An organization like the Ark is laudable in their tolerant and peaceful activities and solidarity in the middle of the crisis.
On Saturday morning, Guy Verhofstadt will also visit ERTOpen. ERT Open is what remains from ERT, the Greek Public Broadcaster that the government forced to close down in June 2013. Station workers continued to broadcast despite the loss of government support and funding. The abrupt closing of ERT is a typical example of a reform-gone-wrong, which lays bare the hypocrisy of the coalition government in Greece and its failure to effectively reform the public sector.
The visit to Greece is essential as closure of the campaign of Guy Verhofstadt as this country is the symbol of the need to change.
Greece needs a whole new model of society, away from corruption and closer to building democratic, accountable institutions. Such a new society is not made overnight.
Guy Verhofstadt wants to visit those places and those people in Greece who are contributing to his new project; he wants to see how Europe can support and accelerate that process.
For the coming five years, European politicians should approach Greece radically differently, think of a New Deal for the country that will model Member-State responsible public finances, but also create a more inclusive union.
10 June 2014Verhofstadt message to European leaders: Europe needs reform, not rejection
27 May 2014Guy Verhofstadt attended the liberal prime ministers' meeting today ahead of the informal European Council
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