ATHENS – There is a chasm between Greek reality and how Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis perceives it, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras charged in an interview to Documento newspaper published Sunday.
“Greece and Greek society are experiencing a dystopia,” he stressed. “We are breaking one negative record after another: in the pandemic we had over 30,000 dead, we lead Europe; the price of electricity is the highest in Europe; car fuel prices and basic goods as well, we get first prize in Europe.” Yet both for the government and for the so-called free press, ranking 108th globally, “it’s as if we live in another country, in the constellation of the multiple success stories,” Tsipras said.
Households cannot manage to pay their bills anymore, the main opposition leader said, and have started cutting down on basic goods because of the high energy bills. The global inflation crisis and energy price spike within the European Union cannot be overlooked, but the difference of 23% between EU’s energy inflation of 39% (May 2021-May 2022) became 62% in Greece. “This extra 23%, that puts us at the (European) top, is the Mitsotakis price inflation added to the objective rise of prices globally. And its twin sibling is profiteering, also a Mitsotakis profiteering – look at the excessive profits of energy producers: from July 2021 to June 2022 they total 2.2 billion euros.”
In addition, Mitsotakis has refused to set a ceiling on electricity prices, and to substantially tax super-profits, “even though he was pressed by us in Parliament into promising he would do so.” The prime minister has also been fully responsible, along with the government, for turning the news into a party and personal propaganda, Tsipras said, also citing a Reporters Without Borders report that ranks Greece 108th in freedom of the press globally.
Asked what Syriza would have done for energy bills and the cost of living, Tsipras said, “We would not speedily shut down lignite (production) to accomodate investments by some to the detriment of energy security. We would not hand over the Public Power Corporation (PPC) to profiteering, when the crisis knocked on Greece’s door. And we would naturally cap energy prices, place PPC under public review immediately (…), even if we had to nationalize it.” His party would also conduct strict checks on basic goods’ prices and reduce the Special Consumption Tax (EFK) in fuel and VAT in basic food stuff, besides taxing excessive energy profits.
On other issues, Tsipras said that foreign policy needs to change and focus on stability and peace, both by a stronger effort toward dialog with Turkey, and an “updated version of peaceful coexistence” with Russia. He asserted that the EU is shooting itself in the foot over the Ukraine issue. As he proposed, “I believe that the search for peace must return to the European agenda as its top priority. Otherwise nobody will feel safe anymore about where this global clash may lead, given the fact Russia has great capabilities, stamina, and significant alliances.”