The Prime Minister's retorts during a TV interview with Alpha on security in Athens have caused a stir, as citizens were flabbergasted to hear that they live in a safe country and the smiles are returning to their overtaxed faces.
Alexis Tsipras described the downtown area of Exarcheia, long a bastion of self proclaimed anarchists that use it as staging area for rioting and vandalism, as a special case. The area is a battlefield netween riot police and these groups of hooded youths two-three nights a week, during which times cars are torched, buildings vandalized, and shops looted.
When asked to comment on the barrage of episodes in the center, Tsipras replied: "You have forgotten what was happening in the center of Athens in 2008 with the episodes. We are a very safe city, we are a security pillar. There is also metropolitan violence and violence on stadiums. "
This comment alluded to riots in the past caused by these same groups. The oppositiion has long charged that these groups are in osmosis with many of the far-leftist strands within the governing party SYRIZA. Many point to the fact that prominent SYRIZA cadres were defense witnesses for urban terrorist groups and anarchist rioters, while family members of prominent SYRIZA figures have been arrested for a series of such misdeeds.
The Prime Minister invited the reporter to take a stroll together in the capital. "If we go for a ride, if we go together you will see tourists and smiling faces. Not like a city armored like a lobster. No barricades. The Greek state must have measures in the neighborhoods," said Mr. Tsipras, which prompted interviewer Antonis Schroeder to point out" If we go outside the Polytechnic at 12 pm I do not know whether we will ever leave ... ".
Indeed, on occassion, even members of the governing party, including, the by-now infanous, Yanis Varoufakis have been assailed physically and verbally in the heighborhood, while reporters have been beaten up.
Asked about the Exarchia area, which many describe as "to be avoided", the Prime Minister said: "Exarcheia has always been a special area. An operation was launched by ELAS for the illicit trafficking of drugs resulting in arrests. " To continue with the generality: "We are a very safe country in a Europe that is facing a security crisis. We have stayed out of it. "
Obviously the PM sees a version of truth hidden from the eyes of citizens who stare wide-eyed in disbelief as these self-proclaimed anarchists destroy shop fronts along Athens' main commercial venue, destroy government offices, break into parliament, destroy metro stations, beat up tourists attempting to shop on Sundays, and generally turn the city into a region of lawlessness and danger. And all the while, no arrests are made, and in the few instances that people were held they were let off by courts.
As one citizen mentioned on social media, concerning the invasion of parliament on Wednesday: " [Public protection minister] Toskas wanted to map out the anarchist space. The members of Rouvikonas complied and went to parliament in person to be registered."
The PM is in part correct. There are smiles on citizens' faces, but they are smirks, and they are mocking you Mr Tsipras.