It is inconceivable in a democracy for politicians to avoid public appearances for fear of being jeered.

It is even more inconceivable for this to occur at celebrations of national anniversaries, because a national holiday is by definition a celebration of the unity of the nation and not of division.

It is equally inconceivable in a democracy for a government to label all those who disagree with it mindless or fascists, especially when the disagreement involves a national issue.

That is precisely the error committed by the current government. In its efforts to downplay the backlash against the Greece-North Macedonia Prespa Agreement, the government ignored the sensitivities expressed by many citizens regarding the name Macedonia.

Instead of marshaling arguments, the government resorted to labeling its opponents. Instead of responding to disagreements with dialogue among democratic parties, it thoughtlessly relegated those who disagreed on the Prespa Agreement to the extreme right. Suddenly, the country was full of fascists who opposed the accord, as the government would have it.

It is precisely that stance that provokes the negative reaction. Those citizens do not forget that it was the ruling party, SYRIZA, which encouraged incidents at parades, the worst of which was the jeering and denunciation of then president Karolos Papoulias at a parade.

The same party trained the citizens who today are confronting it to feel that as “the people” they cannot be held to account. At the time, it justified such actions.

Today it is complaining, repeating the same error. Neither those who protested back then represented “the people”, nor are those who are protesting now fascists.

 

 

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