With or with­out a tie

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

If Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wanted to go down in his­tory as the “Greek premier who did not wear a tie,” he has cer­tainly achieved it and does not need to make any ex­tra ef­fort – pro­vided, of course, that he re­mains (in this re­spect, at least) consistent, and does not start putting one on and tak­ing it off on var­i­ous oc­ca­sions. Tsipras men­tioned the tie in an in­ter­view on Rus­sian tele­vi­sion ahead of his visit to Moscow, and then again dur­ing the joint press con­fer­ence with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. He said that he wore a tie when Greece achieved a “very sig­nif­i­cant agree­ment with our Euro­pean partners... but I took it off the same day and dur­ing the same speech.” The sym­bol­ism was fur­ther boosted when he de­scribed as an “ac­com­plish­ment” the fact that he is “prob­a­bly the only Euro­pean leader who has gained en­try to the most im­por­tant fo­rums and the most im­por­tant seats of gov­ern­ment, from the Krem­lin to the White House, and from the Vat­i­can to Down­ing Street, and all over the world, and in Bei­jing and ev­ery­where, with­out a tie.” He later took it a step fur­ther, liken­ing the tie to a noose around the neck, which he got rid of, when he ex­plained the “suc­cess” of ob­tain­ing Greek debt re­lief, which “may not have writ­ten off [the debt], but...” Yesterday, dur­ing the joint press con­fer­ence, a Rus­sian jour­nal­ist brought up the is­sue again. Clearly, there­fore, af­ter so many ref­er­ences, the tie ceases to be sim­ply a sar­to­rial ac­ces­sory or a rare ref­er­ence, as it is men­tioned even in “the most im­por­tant fo­rums.” It even ceases to be a cute joke or a cu­rios­ity. The ba­nal­ity of rep­e­ti­tion has cost the joke its aim, mak­ing it look like an awk­ward com­ment when all other ar­gu­ments have been ex­hausted. It is nei­ther un­con­ven­tional nor anti-sys­temic. It has be­come a small les­son in po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and how pre­ten­sion loses its ef­fect, how it can­not with­stand the test of time be­cause it is not sup­ported by any­thing else (such as an­nounc­ing a new pol­icy). In­stead of link­ing one’s premier­ship with growth or pros­per­ity, or at least with ef­forts to im­prove sec­tors such as ed­u­ca­tion and health, one is only re­ferred to in dic­tio­nar­ies as an ex­am­ple next to the word “tie.” Even if Tsipras’s fans ap­prove of it as a style choice and his op­po­nents point to it as a sign of de­cline, it is nei­ther. It is not about shift­ing the de­bate ei­ther. In­stead, it shows there is noth­ing noteworthy about the prime minister to men­tion.

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