October 31, 2011
Last week, a shudder went through the Athens office that is the temporary home to the “task force”, the team of European Union civil servants dispatched to Greece to share their administrative expertise and help revive the country’s crisis-hit economy.
It was not a reaction to the uncollected trash that had piled up outside the building thanks to protests by the city’s rubbish collectors. Rather, it was the discovery that a leftwing Greek newspaper had printed photos of each task force member along with a front-page headline announcing: “The Prison Guards Have Arrived.”
Bureaucrats do not usually receive such publicity. But in this case it is a measure of the unpopularity with which they are viewed by a nation trying to come to terms with its humiliating loss of sovereignty.
Other Greek tabloids published cartoons depicting the taskforce’s German director, Horst Reichenbach, dressed in full military uniform and barking orders – a not-so-subtle allusion to Germany’s wartime domination of Greece.