By Nick Stamatakis

A number of reports have seen the light the last few days (from AlJazeera  to Bloomberg and others) referring to the absolutely astonishing results we are watching from Greece, regarding the handling of COVID-19 crisis: With 2,011 total cases and just 92 deaths to date, despite the fact the the country is so close to Italy on the one side and Turkey on the other (the latter bordering with Iran)… The country is faring exceptionally well.  Let’s see the main reasons why this is happening.

  • Greece had at least a two week advantage on lockdown, compared to other European countries.  In late February, the Mitsotakis government decided to cancel the famous carnival at Patras and a number of other events, despite very strong complaints from local organizers and municipalities. Subsequently they closed all schools. The government’s face in the times of crisis, Dr. Sotiris Tsiordas, an excellent epidemiologist, a byzantine cantor, a father of seven children and a member of Greek Diaspora, played a central role in communicating and implementing the policies and has gained international acclaim.
  • At the same time, the end of February, it seems that the country experienced a “divine intervention”, an inexplicable coincidence, one of many throughout its long history. The migrant crisis in the big islands of the Eastern Aegean (Lesvos, Chios, Samos) appeared to approach a climax and the country seemed to be heading down the road of intense internal strife: the special police forces sent from Athens were chased away by the islanders, who took arms to protect themselves and their properties against the migrant invaders and the policemen.  At that critical moment the Turkish president Mr. Erdogan made the fatal mistake to open a new second front, pushing migrants through the northern Greek (land) border at the river Evros.  The threat of the country being overrun by Turkish-assisted migrants, forced the government to take action, recognizing even belatedly the widespread popular sentiment.  Helped by the locals and some Europeans, Greek police and armed forces sealed the border successfully for the past six weeks, until the Turkish forces finally retreated. The same was repeated at sea, where the Aegean border was finally sealed.  It was clear that, in sealing the border, Greece had escaped, along with the migrant invasion, the uncontrolled crossing of many COVID-19 carriers…  Turkey now figures among the “top 10” in the world with 50,000 coronavirus cases, neighboring Italy is at number 3, while Greece is ranking at number 50…
  • Geography clearly played a role as Greece, in contrast to Spain and Italy, is fragmented and communication between different parts of the country not easy. The government and local authorities were quick to put limits to travelling, especially to the islands.  So far, they were able not only to protect the locals’ health, but also to be in the best possible position to take advantage of the inevitable economic and tourism “boom”, which will certainly follow the end of the crisis. Some people argued that the warmer weather may have also played a role – but this does not explain the disaster in Spain…
  • Greece has been in a “crisis mode” for a whole decade. The government and the people were psychologically prepared to handle this new crisis, which they perceived as “not as harsh as the financial crisis” they had almost left behind. Facing hardships is truly ingrained in the Greek DNA: Wars, foreign invasions, earthquakes and other natural disasters, emigration and dealing with the sea, these are all very tough conditions the Gree<x52-k people have learned how to handle over the centuries. The last forty years of “peace and prosperity” were rather the exception in their long history. How were they equipped to handle all these enormous adversities?  With their deep faith in God.  If we just consider of what Saint Nicholas represents for generations of Greek seamen, we can easily understand how their faith proved to be a true life preserver… To translate it to the present conditions of “lockdown”, when you have faith you do not feel lonely… And you are able to help others. The very strong family and social ties certainly added even more resilience…
  • The biggest question has to do with the traditional lack of social discipline and lack of respect for any authority Greeks have proudly displayed through the centuries, as a central characteristic of their national character.  How a people who have performed all kinds of resistance to authorities, foreign and local, through the centuries, and still today are uniquely unable to follow simple traffic rules and signs, were able to so uniformly obey the rules of the lockdown by the Mitsotakis government (with some exceptions attributed mostly to the older population)?  This is truly a mystery for all foreign journalists… And they do not even dare touch it…  But it has an explanation.  First, the “hopeful” one: Today’s Greeks, were finally able to come face-to-face with the flaws of their national character and the effect these flaws have had on the financial disaster that hit the country ten years ago – and they decided it’s time to change.  Second, most modern Greeks have traveled, studied, lived abroad and they know what a modern society is supposed to do when facing such a crisis.  They had enough with their previous “provincialism”.  Finally, the most likely “historical”/social explanation.  Erdogan’s using the migrants to penetrate the Greek borders presented a true existential threat to Greeks as a nation, a threat of the same level as the Fascist invasion of 1940 and the Persian invasion of 490-480 BC.  The Turkish threat aroused their formerly “hibernating” fighting spirit and triggered their survival instincts. So, when the border crisis was coupled by the coronavirus crisis, the latter was perceived as a national survival fight also. Should we hope that this is the arrival of a new era of national unity and revival?
  • April 10, 2020,


 BELOW: Unbelievable!!… Who would expect that we Greeks would behave like Europeans and the Europeans would behave like Greeks?…


  1. Οδηγός μας ήταν είναι και θα είναι το
    DNA που μας χάρισε ο Θεός και η πίστη μας
    προς εκείνον.
    Θα πουν κάποιοι…. μα το DNA μας έχει ατέλειες,
    όπως η διχόνοια και η προδοσία και συμφωνώ ,
    αλλά με την θετική σκέψη , οι επιτυχίες μας να
    μην δημιουργούν υπερβολές και να θέτομε εαυτόν
    πάνω από τον δημιουργό μας.


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