ATHENS – The SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance candidates for the European Parliament elections on May 26 “reflect the face of Greece in the new era,” Prime Minister and party leader Alexis Tsipras said on Monday evening in Neo Faliro.
At an event in the Peace & Friendship Stadium (SEF) presenting the party’s candidate MEPs, Tsipras said the ballot “includes representatives of all lively powers of Greece’s new era, people outstanding in this country, in their jobs and in their social circles. They make the progressive alliance and our widespread appeal a reality.”
Greece, he said, cannot but follow the future road and not look back again.
Speaking at the event, Italian journalist, writer and politician Luciana Castellina – who is running on the Syriza MEP ticket – said she felt “gateful and honored” by Syriza’s invitation to join its ballot. “I had the honor of being the first journalist arrested by the Greek colonels” during the junta, she said, adding that in Greece she feels like home. But Europe, she said, “was born badly, raised badly, and must now change completely.”
Referring to European elections, Tsipras said that Europe “appears to be losing its direction and looking back with nostalgia to its worst days.” The fight today, he said, is against the kind of Europe which places profit for the few above people and downgrades social cohesion to promote inflexible fiscal discipline. Syriza fought that battle to change Europe in 2015, he noted, “and this battle did not break us: We did our duty, we stood up and we continue today, better positioned.”
In these elections, the prime minister said, the party’s goal “is not a good score, but to bring victory of the progressive forces again,” and to “signal the fact the country will not revert to the past. The Greek people are the only ones who can decide” this.
The years of fiscal austerity allowed the rise of the far right and the neo-Nazis, who gained ground in Europe, PM Tsipras said, where even moderate conservatives who speak against the exreme right adopt its agenda to the letter.
He then drew as example both main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, of New Democracy (ND), and the conservative candidate for European Commission chairmanship Manfred Weber, comparing both their positions with those of the leaders of Hungary and Austria especially in terms of how they treat migrants. “Our single great goal is not to allow the extreme right and neoliberalism to roam around Europe and our country,” Tsipras stressed.
The Syriza leader also rebuked Mitsotakis for being, as he put it, “the first candidate prime minister who presents policy to Greek society not as a promise, but as a threat,” and challenged him to a television debate, “face to face, without notes or prompters, on the economy, Europe and national issues.”
Speaking of Europarliament elections in general, he said that Spain would show it remains the heart of democratic Europe, while other progressive forces in Finland, Denmark, and even the UK, if it votes, will bring progressive forces to the forefront.
“We are not planning to sit and watch,” Tsipras said, “We are many, very many, in every nook of Europe: all of us citizens of Europe who want to see a different Europe, built on great ideas and values that nurtured its progress.”
Europe, he noted, did great things when it stood united, not when it broke apart into different camps; when it redistributed wealth; when it collaborated for great achievements in civilization and sciences. “These are the reasons we are now uniting our forces: to defeat fascism again, austerity, racism and totalitarianism and to bring to the forefront the values of European enlightenment – democracy, solidarity, social justice, environmental projection, and progressive,” Tsipras concluded.