'Ik ben zinnens een historische toespraak te houden in het Europese parlement,' vatte de liberale voorman aan, ' waarin ik de Griekse premier Tsipras de mantel wens uit te vegen. Hij leidt zijn land naar de verdoemenis en dat wil ik niet op mijn Europese geweten.''
Ga gerust uw gang, heer Verhofstadt,' sprak ik op neutrale toon, '
maar daarvoor hebt u toch mijn hulp niet nodig?'
'Natuurlijk niet, Van Dievel, maar misschien kunt ge me toch een handje helpen. Ge weet dat ik mijn talen spreek, ik sta daarvoor bekend. Verkavelingsvlaams, Nederlands, Frans, Duits, Italiaans, Servo-Kroatisch, Oekraïens, Letzeburgs, al wat ge wilt. Maar met Engels heb ik het altijd moeilijk, ik weet niet hoe dat komt.'
'Spreek dan Frans, heer Verhofstadt.'
'Van Dievel toch! Ik wil dat mijn speech wereldwijd wordt opgepikt. Ik wil dat ze in Washington en Moskou en Peking mijn gedacht over het Griekse drama kennen en daarnaar handelen. En dat gaat het rapste als ik Engels spreek.'
'U wil dus dat ik een Engelse toespraak voor u schrijf? Wat moet er zoal instaan?'
'Wacht, ik heb het klad in mijn binnenzak zitten.'
En zo geschiedde. De rest van het verhaal kent u inmiddels.
'Mister Tsipras, welcome in the European Parliament. You look like you have just pooped in your trousers. You must not be afraid. Ik may look like a scarecrow but I have a heart of gold. Everybody says it!
But I am also angry on you, mister Tsipras, and you work on my nerves and I will tell you why.
We are no longer sleepwalking towards a Grexit, we are running to it like lemmings. Do you know lemmings? I don't know if you have them in Greece. They are stupid little animals, but okay, let but drop.
We are running towards the cliff with our eyes open. But it is not me who is going to pay the bill. I have nice steady income and some à côté'kes and a beautiful villa in Tuscany, you should come over one day, when all this is over. I have a good wine under the stop, better than the bocht of Karel De Gucht, you know him perhaps. It is your people who are suffering and will suffer more if you don't listen to my advice.
I am going to be very clear, so it is perhaps better that you take notes, so you won't forget what I say. By the way, why are you listening to the translation, or is it an hearing aid that you have in your deaf Greek flap ears?
In Belgium, I am worshipped as if I were a Greek god, because I did so many good things for the country. I reformed Belgium so hard that it is now a model country with almost no public debt or unemployment. Our banks are doing fine thanks to the taxpayers. I did so many good things that it would take half a day to sum them up, you understand.
So you must do what I did. Or do you want a Grexit? I think not, hé, the Greeks are a bit stupid but not sooo stupid. At least I hope so.
You won the elections six months ago, mister Tsipras, and you have achieved almost nothing. In Belgium, we never loose time. Not later than two weeks after the elections a steady government is formed and we start with the force of the change. We use helfies. Do you know helfies in Greece? Probably not. It is something typically Belgian, I am afraid.
What the Greeks need is the following:
-stop clientelism and corruption! In Belgium we abolished these things when I was the prime minister. You can find clientelism and corruption only in the musea, nowadays.
-downsize the public sector. Why do you need 800.000 public servants? In Belgium we do it with 80.000 or something, I believe.
-transform the public banks in a healthy private financial sector. In Belgium we sold the ASLK and other prospering public banks for almost nothing to the privé and paid again when these private banks go into troubles.
-end the privileges of the shipowners, the military, the orthodox church, the Greek islands and not to forget the politcial parties, including yours. In Belgium we give no priveleges at all to companies, not to the diamant sector and certainly not to the political parties, who must live of the lidgelden of their members.
How do you want to be remembered?
You have strong mandate, mister Tsipras. Like me in the times of Purple. You won the elections and the referendum. Now do something with that! Follow my example: with this man it will become different or something like that.
How do you want to be remembered, mister Tsipras? As an electoral accident like Bart De Wever? You don't know him? That does not surprise me. Or as a real revolutionary reformer like me?
Don't fall in the dog shit. Don't betray your people. Show that you are cut from the right wood and don't be more catholic than the pope.
I have said.
Now please a big applause or even better a standing ovation.
Thank you very much!'
(Louis van Dievel is journalist bij VRT Nieuws en auteur.)