World View: Greece’s Alexis Tsipras Compares Himself to the Tragic Antigone

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Greece’s Alexis Tsipras compares himself to the tragic Antigone
  • Furious European MEPs plan for humanitarian aid for Greece
  • Tunisia to build a wall and a moat along the border with Libya

Greece’s Alexis Tsipras compares himself to the tragic Antigone

Antigone - oil painting by Trung Cao
Antigone – oil painting by Trung Cao

According to reports, many officials in Brussels are worried that Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras is “sleepwalking to disaster.”

A speech that Tsipras gave to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday has raised those concerns. Tsipras said:

We want an agreement that will bring a final end to the crisis and show there is light at the end of the tunnel. The money that was given to Greece [went to the Greek and European banks and] never went to the people. …

In ‘Antigone,’ Sophocles taught us that there are times when justice for men is above the laws of men. This is such a moment.

It is really weird that Tsipras is referencing the tragic Antigone character. Antigone was famously the daughter of the incestuous relationship between Oedipus and his mother, Jocasta. Antigone’s situation does resemble Tsipras’s in some ways, but the story does not end well. This is from the Cliff Notes summary of Antigone:

As the heroine of Antigone, Oedipus’ daughter grapples with Fate on her own, not just as a child or a dutiful daughter. Her decisiveness and courage appear in stark contrast to Ismene’s passive timidity, and, in this tragedy at least, overshadow even her brother Polynices’ bold attempt to take Thebes. In championing the laws of the gods above the laws of the state, Antigone occupies the ultimate high moral ground, but she is not impervious to doubt. Just before she is led off to her death, Antigone mourns the life she is leaving by her own choice and even seems to regret her decision. The moment passes, however, and may represent simply a small proof of human weakness that makes Antigone’s strength all the more dramatic.

So what should we make of Tsipras’s reference to Antigone? She championed the laws of the gods above the laws of the state, and occupied the high moral ground, which I’m sure Tsipras feels is true of himself as well. But at the end:

Antigone has hanged herself and Haemon, in desperate agony, kills himself as well. On hearing the news of her son’s death, Eurydice, the queen, also kills herself, cursing Creon. Alone, in despair, Creon accepts responsibility for all the tragedy and prays for a quick death. The play ends with a somber warning from the chorus that pride will be punished by the blows of fate.

Is that where Tsipras sees himself and Greece going? Kathimerini and Cliff Notes and Trunc Dao

Furious European MEPs plan for humanitarian aid for Greece

Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras received applause from the left-wing members of the parliament, and boos from the right-wing members. However, it is clear even those members of the European parliament (MEPs) who would like to help Greece are exasperated by his behavior, and this was reflected in some of their responses.

The liberal Jean-Claude Jüncker, the president of the European commission, was deeply offended by Tsipras’s campaign rhetoric last week, and was extremely angry at Wednesday’s meeting:

I’m strongly rejecting all these accusations which were thrown to the public during the campaign that we are not respecting the dignity of the Greek people, that we are terrorists. I don’t like this word. Who are they, and who do they think I am?

European Council President Donald Tusk spoke calmly, but firmly:

Until today I have avoided talking about deadlines. But tonight I have to say it loud and clear: that the final deadline ends this week.

Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium, and now leader of the Alliance of Liberals And Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament was shouting as he spoke:

Greek political class didn’t do enough themselves in the case of Greece. That is the problem today.

And I’m angry I have to tell you, I’m angry, because you are talking about reforms [[waving his hands for emphasis]] and WE NEVER SEE concrete proposals of reforms.

At this point, Tsipras has almost no credibility left, even with this supporters, because he has repeatedly lied.

He has now been told that he must have specific written proposals submitted by midnight Thursday, to give European Union leaders time to review them. There will be a meeting of EU (EU, not eurozone) leaders on Sunday to decide whether to approve the plan. The mood seems to be that nothing short of a major capitulation by Tsipras will be accepted.

If not, then all economic aid to Greece will end. Since this will mean the collapse of Greece’s banks, the EU on Sunday will discuss humanitarian aid to Greece — emergency handouts of food, water and other essential supplies — something normally reserved for war zones and third world countries. AP and Business Insider

Tunisia to build a wall and a moat along the border with Libya

Last weekend, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was in a ‘state of war’ against terrorists, and imposed a 30-day state of emergency, after the terror attack that struck Sousse, Tunisia, on June 26. A terrorist with a Kalashnikov assault rifle strolled through the hotel grounds, opening fire at the pool and beach, reloading his weapon several times and tossing an explosive. He killed 37 people.

The investigation has revealed that the terrorist had been trained in Libya, and so Essebsi announced on Wednesday on state TV that the Tunisian army will build a 160 kilometer-long wall along the length of the country’s border with Libya, with a moat next to it. The prime minister indicated that the wall would be made of sand and would be finished by the end of the year. He said security cameras and surveillance posts would be placed at regular intervals.

My personal belief is that a determined terrorist will find a way around a wall and a moat, but the government of Tunisia is desperate, and willing to try almost anything.

Tunisia would join Kenya which is planning a wall along its porous border with Somalia, following frequent infiltration by Somali militant group Al-Shabaab, which has carried out deadly attacks that has harmed the tourism-dependent economy.

Walls and fences are becoming very fashionable these days. As we reported last month, Hungary is setting aside $23.5 million to build a temporary security fence along Hungary’s entire border with Serbia. The fence will be 4 meters high and 175 km long. VOA and Mail and Guardian Africa

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Antigone, Sophocles, Jean-Claude Jüncker, Donald Tusk, Guy Verhofstadt, Alliance of Liberals And Democrats for Europe, ALDE, Tunisia, Sousse, Beji Caid Essebsi, Libya, Kenya, Somalia
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