Editor's note: On Monday, our author George Chatzelenis reported on the protests against the shutdown of public television in Greece. Later that day, the Greece court ordered that the state broadcaster ERT should go back on air (while still upholding the plan to replace it with a smaller broadcaster). In this commentary George Chatzelenis will compare the events in Greece with the situation in a neighbouring country - the uprising in Turkey.
Major protest and social unrest is currently taking place in both Turkey and Greece, two neighbouring countries. This situation gives us the opportunity to gain some insight about the situation by comparing the statements and responses in both countries.
The revolts in Turkey: A young generation battling for their future
At the moment, Turkey is in the third week of its uprising. Still, the people are not tired. Neither are they terrified by the extremely violent crackdown of the police. Instead they are remaining in the streets and are still raising their voice, directing their message to a Prime Minister who has shown his ugly side. It is true that Erdogan gave new impetus to Turkey. He paid off Turkey’s debt to the IMF and has established Turkey as a powerful player in the region. But power often drives men crazy. Turkey’s failure to gain more access to the Western world forced the government to make a sharp turn towards the east. This government, however, reckoned without the younger generation. This generation grew up with Western standards, and finds the new measures of the Turkish Prime Minister extreme and unacceptable. And as the last few weeks demonstrated, this generation does not intend to make a retreat any time soon. Nevertheless, the battle of this young generation has left behind a number of injured or even dead men and women. This generation deserves our attention and respect as they are still fighting for the future of their country.
Protests against media shutdown in Greece: Demanding democracy and free speech
In Greece, on the other hand, we have the sudden reaction to the shutdown of public media. Influenced by the revolt of the Turks, people were waiting for an occasion to gather in the streets. Our desire was fulfilled a week ago. The first reaction of the people was spontaneous and sincere. The road outside the main building of ERT was filled with people of all ages and economic status, people demanding the restoration of democracy and freedom of speech. As I said I think that the closure of ERT was just the pretext to get out on the streets. The spontaneous and honest nature of the protests lasted for two days. Then it evolved into a sort of trade fair. Once again I was disappointed with the lack of spirit among modern Greek.
But the story does not end here. On Tuesday (18/6), the State Council decided to turn the signal of ERT back on, but only until it closes again! Citizens rushed to celebrate. I am afraid, however, that this is a bluff. If people do not immediately understand this, things will continue to deteriorate. The occupation of the building of the state channel must continue.