ROME - Having surrendered to Capitalist lenders, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras nevertheless used the 60th anniversary of the European Union to say he wants it changed, recalling his promise to spread a Leftist revolution after being elected in January, 2015.
That didn’t happen and it was the other way around as Tsipras succumbed to the country’s European lenders in imposing more austerity he vowed to reverse, saying he had no choice because Greece needed the money.
After saying he was considering not signing the Rome Declaration to renew vows over EU values because he was upset about being squeezed to renege too on his Radical Left SYRIZA’s principles for money, Tsipras went along with it and then barked about it afterward.
In a statement directly linked to his coalition’s bogged-down talks with the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) over terms of a third rescue package, this one for 86 billion euros ($92.94 billion), Tsipras said “This is not the Europe we envision and want, but there is no doubt that we must struggle within it (European Union) to change it,” the business newspaper Naftemporiki reported.
He’s facing demands for post-2018 additional pension cuts, taxes on the poor and diluting workers rights as he previously accepted but now doesn’t want with his broken promises plummeting his popularity.
In a statement later carried by the state-run broadcaster, Tsipras referred to what he called the "neo-liberal directions" that the Union has followed over recent years as the "primary enemy of Europe", calling for a "return to the founding principles of the Union".
Tsipras said that he had put the crucial issue of the EU's social acquis and whether this was equally accessible to all EU member-states at the center of the discussion, the Athens News Agency reported.
Contradicting what was reported, he said: "Obviously, the answer I was given was positive but it remains to be seen whether rhetoric and the action continue to diverge. We will see this very soon”.
He said the reply he got - opposing what he wants - "encourages us to continue in a struggle that concerns the workers and people of Greece as much as the workers and all the peoples of Europe."
Tsipras was also critical of trade unions in Greece, which he said were "in the rear guard and not on the front lines, as in other countries in Europe."
He added: “We are engaged in a struggle and will continue to fight in order to protect the founding values of Europe, the social acquis (social rights) and to regain the reliability, the policy, trade unionism and institutional organs of the EU." Europe's biggest enemy, he said, was the neoliberal direction that the EU had adopted in recent years.
Tsipras welcomed the clear references within the Rome Declaration to a need to reinforce Europe's social character, noting that such references "had been missing in recent years, from texts written in a purely technocratic language" and noted that the struggle must continue.
Asked whether he had concerns and doubts about the final wording of the Declaration, Tsipras replied affirmatively and said he had given thought to whether he should sign it. "Primarily, however, I believe that we succeeded in including an important reference to the necessity for a social Europe," he said, noting that it was "an ongoing battle and we will continue to fight."
In a message for March 25, the anniversary when Greece celebrates its 1821 revolution and the war of independence again Ottoman rule, Tsipras said that the day celebrated a Greek revolution that had been linked over time with the struggles at the heart of Europe, for independence, freedom and social justice.
"This struggle, in different conditions today, a struggle for national sovereignty and independence is dominant and will be dominant with the framework of the EU," he said.
The 60th anniversary since the founding of the European Union was also an opportunity, Tsipras said, to return to its founding values.
"Now is the time to reflect upon and recognise these founding values and return to them. We cannot dream of Europe's future without focusing on human dignity and social rights. It is necessary for us to rediscover these values, to rediscover the social model," he said.
The current danger was far-right populism, the Greek prime minister said, and this was a phenomenon linked to the policies currently being implemented. If Europe's leaders were unable to provide European citizens with a vision, he warned, "there will be room for anti-political and anti-European forces to emerge,” he said, ANA added.