I read the farewell letter that was published in Kathimerini by former Greek prime minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos following the recent death of his friend and colleague Giorgos Panagiotopoulos (both men served as presidents of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court).
I will not comment on the more personal aspects of their relationship, except for the importance given by Pikrammenos, now deputy prime minister, to “the way we were brought up” and “values we were taught [as kids] by our families and schools,” a decisive springboard for any society that aspires to move forward to a better future.
There are many didactic references for anyone who is interested in seeing a better version of Greece (an ambition some people are actually struggling for). References, that is, to a country where the rule of law is respected and inevitably plays a fundamental role in securing the smooth functioning of society.
There are also references to economic growth. After all, it is common knowledge that foreign investors have always been put off more by the absence of the rule of law than by high tax rates.
Pikrammenos points out that the two top judges had always been brought together by their shared beliefs, convictions, allegiances and, above all, by their shared passion for the objective, fair and expeditious administration of justice.
The element that permeates the emotional farewell of a top court official to an equally renowned colleague is the commitment to justice.
The message that effortlessly emerges is the necessity of appointing in the service of this key pillar for the proper functioning of the democratic system people with a proper upbringing and education, people who are dedicated to law enforcement, who work hard and perform their vocation with ethos, courtesy, objectivity and, ultimately, efficiency.
Every country – I would dare say, Greece more than other countries – needs honest, modest and low-key court officials.
Through their private behavior and professional careers these high-caliber judicial officials serve as role model officials and active citizens who, at the close of their significant career, bequeath a significant legacy and are a source of inspiration for future generations.
Their country needs them because they, both directly and indirectly, contribute to the betterment of the political system, the strengthening and prevalence of healthy entrepreneurship and – perhaps most important – to the cultivation of a sense of meritocracy and equality in society.