Now I don't normally get involved in politics - I haven't seen much there to really inspire me, but I do get the feeling that George Papandreou, the new Greek prime minister (seen above arriving at the first ministerial meeting yesterday), is sincerely trying to turn things in Greece. Normally I wouldn't use the words 'sincere' and 'politician' in the same sentence, but here I think the optimist in me is getting the better of the cynic.
He seems intent on changing the understanding of the purpose of a government - that it should be there just to serve, support and respect the people. At the first meeting of the new ministers he invited the head of the Citizens Counsel organisation (an NGO which looks after the interests of the citizens) to come and address the new ministers for 30 minutes, telling them of people's concerns - mainly with the public administration. This, to me, was a bold and innovative move which helped underline that the essence of what they were doing was to serve the people.
He went on to ask the ministers to disband the innumerable committees which have been set up and which seem to have no purpose other than to be a 'nice little earner' for some people and a way to do and return favours. This will save the state about 150 million Euros a year - not a huge amount in the general scheme of things, but good housekeeping nonetheless.
The minister for the newly formed ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Tina Birbila is highly experienced in the field and an author. It was refreshing to see this young lady relatively casually dressed with her backpack slung over her shoulder at the swearing in of the ministers.
Papandreou is not (comparatively) a party animal (political party). He is open to working with anyone who can help provide solutions. He is also consulting with international experts to help kick-start the dire economy here.
As I said above, I do not like the world of politics but I have so far been impressed. I know it will take a lot for a change in mentality and attitude to filter through all the levels of public administration, especially, but there is a strong feeling that the first steps have been taken. To me it seems that this may be the beginning of a turning-point in this country and that indeed George Papandreou is the right man at the right time.