HERAKLION, Crete – Speaking in the Cretan village of Houdetsi, north of Heraklion, where he presented the SYRIZA party’s Cretan candidates in the upcoming European elections, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday highlighted the invariably warm welcome that he met every time he visited Crete, noting that it had been “a birthplace of many fights for freedom and democracy, great struggles of resistance against all forms of tyranny.”
Tsipras presented Irish-born musician Ross Daly as SYRIZA’s Eurodeputy and praised the Musical Labyrinth workshop, co-created by Daly, as a “small miracle”. He underlined that the candidates on SYRIZA’s Progressive Alliance ticket are fighting the upcoming European elections “both to benefit Greece but also to battle from better positions in Europe as a whole.”
“We succeeded in rebuilding Greece as a synonym for recovery, democracy, humanity and also made it synonymous to a progressive proposal for the next day of Europe,” said Tsipras.
He said that the government’s arsenal of “weapons” in the upcoming European elections will be “our arguments, our work, our effort and the fact that we speak to people’s souls, with our ideas and our views.”
The prime minister said the government “fought a battle in the last four years and managed to keep this country on its feet…against a Europe that showed its racist side,” and went on to underline that election campaigns in Crete have always produced victorious results for all progressive, democratic political forces.
Tsipras said the European elections are a crucial crossroads because “Europe is incubating the snake’s egg”, referring to the rise of the far-right as an emerging systemic choice for voters on the European continent that rests on a neoliberal economic model, and referred to the ‘danger’ rising from the fact the popular Right adopted this agenda.
“We say that the people have not yet spoken their final word,” said the Greek premier, praising the winning socialist party in the Spanish elections and calling the European South the “frontline of the struggle for a Europe that moves forward,” against the reactionary, conservative and far-right political forces.
“In our country, the fight for the European elections will have an intensely national character,” Tsipras added, noting that it was the first electoral contest after nearly four years and after “repeated victory of the people” in all elections following the 2014 European elections.
According to the prime minister, the democratic forces and the people had supplied an answer to the crucial question: “Do we want an old and deeply conservative establishment that looted the country’s prospects and made it bankrupt to continue to rule our fate, or do we want to go forward.”
“Today, after great effort, we have managed to come out into a clearing of hope and optimism as the memorandum that had trapped and tortured us for eight years is over,” he added.
Tsipras said that the formal exit from the memorandum in August 2018 had been the first major milestone in this course, while the second major milestone was happening now, with the early repayment of International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans, made possible by the recovery of the economy.
He attacked the opposition parties and accused them of hypocritically deploring pension cuts at home, while abroad they were “begging their buddies in Brussels” to “punish the Greek government” for daring to strive to avoid further pension cuts.
Their strategy was based on “communications rather than essence,” Tsipras said, whereas the government was now in a position to implement a new economic policy, with no more cuts or austerity, “implementing each and every one of our pledges at [the Thessaloniki International Fair].
“Now the economy is going from good to better and there are margins for good news as well, for even better days to come,” he added.
Concluding his address, the prime minister said that the dilemma posed by the upcoming European elections on May 26 was whether Greeks should “allow the political dynasties of off-shore accounts and tax havens rule the land or whether we should go forward with the support of the many and the people.”