PM Tsipras in EFSYN Interview: Progress or Regression – May 26 Elections Will End the Dilemma

FILE - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – In the upcoming local government, regional and, most importantly, the European elections in May 26, Greeks are called upon to show, by voting, the Europe they visualize and want to support in the future, and “decisively answer the dilemma: progress against conservatism, progress against regression,” said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in an interview published in the Saturday edition of Efimerida Ton Syntakton (ESFYN) newspaper.

Despite the fact that main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis rushed to say he would call for a snap national vote if his party New Democracy comes first in the Euro-ballot, “which will not happen,” said Tsipras, it is most apparent that the electoral result, at European level, will determine the continuation of the progressive path SYRIZA carved out in its time, “against those who steered Greece into its crisis, the memoranda, the social tragedy,” he added.

Tsipras elaborated that New Democracy’s right-wing agenda bears the alarming characteristics of autocracy, and “the glorification of law and order as a smoke screen for its antisocial program, as well as the abolition of basic labor rights like eight-hour shifts and five-day working weeks,” and called this political program “the ‘cult’ of the profits of the few, and the indifference to the lives of the many.”

Therefore, said the Greek premier, “this deception set up by Mitsotakis, his affiliated media and some public opinion poll companies, who evangelize New Democracy coming first in the European election, will collapse, and so will their call for an early national vote in Greece,” Tsipras explained, and reiterated that parliamentary elections will be held as scheduled, at the end of the SYRIZA government’s full four-year term.

Tsipras also deciphered Mitsotakis’ continued critique on SYRIZA’s recent legislation of anti-austerity measures as an ephemeral pre-electoral reach-out to voters by saying that the reasoning behind the main opposition’s onslaught against relief measures is that Mitsotakis intends to undo them, “to reverse them so that he can legislate his own harsh memorandum,” he added, and clarified that SYRIZA’s relief measures are permanent, not a bonus, within the flexibility of the state budget, and without burdening the country’s debt.

The prime minister said SYRIZA supports the European Left’s Nico Cue, who is running for the presidency of the European Commission jointly with the Slovene Violeta Tomic, but explained that both SYRIZA and himself personally would support any ‘progressive’ candidate who can stand against the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) candidate Manfred Weber, who, in the past, Tsipras said, “has pushed Greece closer to a Grexit scenario at every chance he had to do so.”

“People have to think about why Mitsotakis supports Weber,” he added.

On Greece-Turkey relations Tsipras said that “despite Turkey’s recent provocative actions in the region, there is no need to demonize Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or hamper Turkey’s EU accession course in any way,” but instead, he explained, Greece should use Turkey’s European perspective as leverage to push for reforms in Turkey, aimed at “democracy, equality and respect for human rights.”

Politics, Tsipras said, is an endless effort to change correlations, and “that means you have to evolve…yet there is one element that will not change as far as the Left is concerned, and this is our devotion to the interests of the workers, the social majority and our home country,” he concluded.