Greece’s Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis took part in the 4th Sustainability Summit for South-East Europe and the Mediterranean organized by The Economist held Thursday and Friday of last week. Unfortunately, the narrative from Athens is a parroting of European Commission guidance on Greece’s tourism effort going forward. Theoharis. Apparently, sustainability for the future is all about survival and dependency on the EU.
I find it interesting (sad) that Mr. Theoharis and others seek to parrot the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen on so-called EU-wide actions which “need” to be coordinated. It occurs to me that the establishment of common rules on data collected, health indicators on the basis of which restrictions will be set, restrictions (advisories, bans, quarantines), categorization of countries and regions, as well as on the need for open and prompt information between countries should have been in place long ago in the event of a pandemic or other health catastrophe.
As pitiful as the EU’s lack of preparedness is, Brussels’ and Athens’ total lack of progressive thinking is even more stunningly horrid. The European Union, a market bloc in existence for over 20 years, cannot even protect its nearly 500 million citizens when calamity strikes. And as for Greek officials, spineless cowering to the bloc just to get money seems to be a disease far worse than COVID-19. I am reminded here of Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which guarantees that:
“A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities”.
Let’s forget, for the moment, that the EU should have long since had an emergency preparedness schema in place for catastrophes like COVID-19. The fact that Theoharis and others cannot seem to get their minds focused is even more worrisome. Take the purpose of The Economist summit, as an example of their total disjointedness. The following is a direct copy-paste from the conference webpage:
This annual gathering in Athens will once feature leading thinkers and cutting edge insights from around the world. Prominent international business and finance leaders along with cabinet ministers, academics and Nobel laureates from around the world will engage in an open dialogue on climate change, biodiversity aspects, and sustainability goals as we tackle one of the most crucial issues in the global agenda.
So, the leading “thinkers” of our modern world have boiled the COVID and Climate Change emergencies down to; “We need to work together.” That’s it? Nobel laureates, cabinet ministers, the fate of the waking world is boiled down to an ad nauseum glugging out of policy jargon.
Why even Prince Albert II of Monaco was on hand in Athens in order to add the royal touch to the discussions. Assia Bensalah Alaoui, the ambassador for His Majesty Mohamed VI Kingdom of Morocco took part, as did Hans-Otto Poertner, head of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany. The Economist events, sponsored by ELLAKTOR Group and other leading concerns in renewables, etc., should have produced something more than PR fluff at the other end of the media tunnel.
Theoharis and his colleagues look punchdrunk in recent photos. All they seem to be able to do is reiterate how unprecedented our unprecedented pandemic situation is, and how we all need to work together in an unprecedented fashion. Interestingly, only Argo and GTP have had anything to say about this conference. There’s not even a mention of Prince Albert II in the news, except a tabloid report on his alleged illegitimate daughter. This begs the question; “How can all these distinguished sustainability experts meet without anything substantive coming out of it?” Maybe Minister Theoharis’ final comments give us part of the answer:
“Together with the rapid and affordable antibody tests, we can get as close as possible to the previous ‘normality’ and look to the future with greater optimism.”
Like I said, “punchdrunk,” all our leaders seem to be gobsmacked by the coronavirus and the insanity from the private and public sector.