“Free coffee for journalists in the press room finished at 12 o’ clock,” a newswoman knew to report on a private television channel. Debt-ridden Greece could not but apply strict austerity measures during the opening ceremony of the 5th Greek EU Presidency. The much-appreciated silk scarfs and ties were crossed out long ago with order of Foreign Minister. 140 thousand euro for ties and scarfs? Not with coalition government partner, the socialist and society-close PASOK.
The 27 EU commissioners who rushed to Athens for shaking hands and congrats-wishes were transferred from the airport to downtown with a bus. No, a public transport bus, but with a bus hired spacial for this occasion, the media reported.
Exceptions were scheduled for the highest of the EU VIPS: President Manuel Barroso was taken to city center with a limo. Also President Herman Van Rompuy will enjoy the same privileged treatment.
For some weird reason though, 45 luxury limos were captured by the camera outside the Zappeion where the commissioners were meeting with the ministers of Greek cabinet.
I assume the EU commissioners will be driven to their hotel rooms with the limos. But I’m not 100% sure.
As I write this post, Greek ministers and EU commissioners are being lined up for the traditional family photo.
Reading the ceremony program this morning, I saw no time reserved for lunch. I hope, the Greek hosts did not hand out lunch boxes with a couple of olives, two feta cheese cubes, a sesame roll and a pipette with ouzo – to conform the ceremony with the troika imposed strict austerity. Such a lunch box would ridicule the country EU-wide.
Whether with austerity or not, “the EU Presidency will help Greece to restore its image abroad,” Greek journalists reported.
Hoping that the Greek EU Presidency will restore the content of my meanwhile empty wallet as well, I can tell you one thing: average Greeks do not get impressed by the big smiles shining from the carefully brushed EU teeth.
For details about the priorities of the EU Greek Presidency as announced this morning, please, be so nice and google the relative key words.