Dijsselbloem angers south European women
Until a few years ago, when before the leftist Syriza emerged as a dominant political power in her country, Sia Anagnostopoulou was best known as a professor of contemporary history with an emphasis on late Ottoman Empire.
She was also known in Turkey. Her book on the Greek-Orthodox communities of Asia Minor in the late 19th century has been published in Turkish as well as other studies of hers. She is one the Greek historians who includes Turkish among her foreign languages, and her wide circle of friends includes many well-known Turkish scholars.
However, for the last two years, her academic life was put on hold as her students pushed her into active leftist politics, as she says. And it was the people of Patras who voted for her “after checking her bio,” as she claims, which landed her in the party of Syriza. She was given the portfolios of the Deputy Foreign Minister and then of the Deputy Education Minister until the recent government reshuffle made Anagnostopoulou remain outside the cabinet and continue as a member of the Greek parliament.
And in normal circumstances, one would not have expected to see her name back on the headlines unless something extraordinary would have exposed her to public view.
But even for an eminent Ottoman historian from Greece who entered active politics in her late 50s, current political controversies simmering in the heart of the EU could not but cause her frustration and anger, especially as she is a citizen of the European south and not from the “elite core” nations of the EU.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem is Dutch, he is the current president of the Eurogroup and is known as Mr. Euro as he is in charge of the economy ministers group of 19 EU countries in the zone of the euro - which Greece also belongs to. He is also the Economy Minister in his country and the leader of the Dutch Socialist Party which suffered a massive defeat during recent elections.
Now, Anagnostopoulou and Dijsselbloem would not normally have anything to do with each other. But the Dutch politician made the mistake of opening his heart to the German daily FAZ, where he claimed that during the crisis of the euro, the countries of the north showed great solidarity with the countries that were hit by the crisis. “As a social democrat, I attribute great importance to solidarity,” he said. There was no problem to that, but unfortunately he went on saying, “But, they [south Europeans] have commitments too. They cannot spend all the money on alcohol and women, and then ask us for help.”
This was enough to raise hell among members of the European parliament, especially Spanish and Portuguese members, who asked for an apology from Mr. Euro, something that he refused to do.
But the strongest and most striking reaction came from Ms. Anagnostopoulou in a message on social media. A message full of anger and frustration.
“The Europe of democracy, dialectics and equality was solemnly confirmed by the statement of Mr. Dijsselbloem. The southerners spend money on women and alcohol. What is the most amazing? That politics is conducted on cultural characteristics. There are no ideologies, there are no policies, there are ‘Northerners and Southerners [as Christians and Muslims];’ that women of the Europe of human rights and gender equality are the ‘loot’ of the uncultured ‘Southerners,’ who spend the money of the cultured Northerners.öThat the Southern women are more or less ‘prostitutes.’ Europe is celebrating its 60th year and the likes of Mr. Dijsselbloem are controlling its future. I call all ‘prostitutes’ to reveal the undemocratic and neo-liberal face of Europe… Signed: A prostitute from the [European] South,” she said.
Not surprisingly, Anagnostopoulou’s message touched a raw nerve in Brussels days before the 27 members of state (minus Britain) celebrated the 60th anniversary of the union and signed the declaration for its future.
However, the new Declaration of Rome, signed March 18, confirmed, in a way, the raw statement of the president of the Eurogroup.
“We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction,” was declared in an official document signed by all EU leaders.
Hence, a two-speed Europe, a Europe of the fast and slow, of the good and the bad, of the honest and dishonest, etc.
It will be interesting to see how this two-speed orientalist EU will treat its relations with Turkey when its needs to quite soon.