Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is still a sitting Member of Parliament while he teaches a course at Harvard, detoured to the prestigious all-boys Roxbury Latin School in Boston to tell students his country will recover from its crushing economic crisis and that he still remains inspired by its heritage and teachings.
Papandreou, who resigned in November of 2011 after two years of relentless protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures he imposed on the orders of international lenders, told the students that his goal while in office was to restore the economy through innovation and entrepreneurship, which didn’t happen as Greece had to rely on welfare loans from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
Papandreou, the former PASOK Socialist leader, said Greece can recover under current leader Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative party chief who was his roommate briefly at Amherst College in western Massachusetts.
Papandreou said Greece must take advantage better of its tourism industry and food exports and said the stereotype of Greeks was wrong. He said many people believe that “Greeks don’t work, they’re lazy and all they do is dance and drink ouzo.” But, he said, “Greeks were the hardest working workers in the world, second to South Koreans,” he told the packed room.
Papandreou’s visit was arranged by John Gabrieli, 19, a 2012 graduate of Roxbury Latin and a freshman at Harvard, where Papandreou is a visiting fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Governments Institute of Politics.
Gabrieli, who is currently involved in one of Papandreou’s study groups, said he imagines that if he were still a Roxbury Latin student he would have been very eager to hear the prime minister speak, according to the Gatehouse News Service.
“This is very relevant to what’s happening in the United States. I think he makes a very convincing case. This is something I’ve learned over the course of my semester,” he said at a reception following the lecture. “The fundamentals in Greece and Europe are sound, if we can make the right decisions as a society. If the government can govern appropriately and if Europe can get its house in order, then I think the fundamentals are strong,” Gabrieli said.
The school’s headmaster, Kerry P. Brennan, who is also an Amherst College alum, said at the post-lecture reception that he welcomed the opportunity to extend an invitation to Papandreou. The former premier said his holiday plans include a trip home to Greece for Christmas and said he expects his future includes more speaking engagements around the world, but didn’t say if he would participate in the Parliament.
(Source: Gatehouse News Service)