29 Ιούνιος, 2015

Stavros Theodorakis: I challenge Alexis Tsipras to a debate: Euro or Drachma

To Potami

In an interview on Ant1, Stavros Theodorakis, the leader of Potami, stated: "I came to realize that the Greek government had already reached an agreement on many things that it was not telling the Greek people. A characteristic example is the 23% VAT in the tourism sector that had become 13%. Mr. Tsipras was not telling that to the Greek people, and this was revealed today in Mr. Juncker’s document. SYRIZA keeps on talking in the Greek Parliament about a text that has been there for five days, while Mr. Juncker says that since then other documents were discussed, and a new text was reached. The Greek government must say which parts of the European Commission’s proposals it does not accept, or submit the new text to the referendum. Mr. Theodorakis added that Golden Dawn was the first political party to welcome the referendum. He said: “Golden Dawn, Independent Greeks and SYRIZA, the three that want to take us out of Europe. Are we going to accept this? It is time for people within SYRIZA that believe in Europe to stand up and speak up. At this point, the only pressure is coming from Syriza factions, the drachma lobby and those who have an interest in the country entering this black hole. Asked to comment on the referendum, Mr. Theodorakis stated: “It is up to the Greek people to decide whether, as from next Monday, our currency will be the euro or the drachma”. Finally, he urged Mr. Tsipras to join him in a debate.

The most important parts of the interview:

Regarding the progress of the negotiations, we know nothing more than what the average person knows. The government is pursuing a secret diplomacy, and wants to make the decisions by itself. Yet, I came to realize that the Greek government had already reached agreement on many things that it was not telling the Greek people. A characteristic example is the 23% VAT in the tourism sector that had become 13%. Mr. Tsipras was not telling this to the Greek people, which was revealed today in Mr. Juncker’s document. SYRIZA keeps on talking in the Greek Parliament about a document that has been there for five days, while Mr. Juncker says that revised documents were discussed since then , and a new text was reached. The Greek government must say which parts of the European Commission’s proposals it does not accept, or submit the new text to the referendum.

The disagreement between the Government and the Institutions is in the order of 500 million euros. The Government proposes measures of 8 billion euros, and the Institutions propose 8,5 billion, while Mr. Juncker insists that this is not the final proposal made by the Europeans. However, there is something much more important than this gap of 500 – 600 million euros. Does anyone feel safe leaving the European family? To abandon the euro? Because this is what we are talking about. Greece depends on the money coming from the European Central Bank. On Sunday, we will decide whether we want this money.. It is up to the Greek people to decide whether, as from next Monday, our currency will be the euro or the drachma.

Alexis Tsipras got a better proposal than the one that we discussed in Parliament. But, SYRIZA did not like it. Therefore, the Prime Minister is now in a dead-end, unable to handle the different opinions existing within his own party and within his own government. For example, Mr. Lafazanis wants the drachma. He wants economic relations with Russia. There are people in the government that do not want the cooperation with the European Union. Mr. Tsipras decided to gain some time, in order to find a balance among his factions. Mr. Tsipras behaved not as the Prime Minister of the country, but as the leader of his party.

The Euro is not the currency for the rich, but for the poor, as they will be the ones to deal with the problem. If Greece is no longer part of Europe, there will be no NSRF. How will we be able to finance nurseries? As I already said in the Parliament, we will lose some 42 billion euros. This money was not supposed to reach oligarchs, but ordinary people. Does anyone actually believe that prices will fall in Greece, if we return to drachma? The difference will be that, instead of 500 euros, we will have an equivalent of 180 euros, and we will have to buy the same things for our families. This will be another version of our Asia Minor national disaster. Some say that this will be endure for no more than six months, or a year. This is not true. A country that depends on exports will have to beg, for the years to come, to buy goods on hard currency. This will bring about the ultimate misery.

For some people in SYRIZA, it is clear. They do not want Europe, they do not want the euro. They build up imaginary conditions that are contrary to reality. This government’s amateurism is unbelievable. Since they were blackmailed, as they claim, why didn’t they do whatever they wanted to do earlier? Why now, in five days, in the middle of the tourist season, why now they go for a referendum? This is a motley group of amateurs.

We are all surprised by the government’s superficiality. This is the time for people within SYRIZA who believe in Europe to speak up. At this point the only pressure is coming from the Syriza factions, the drachma lobby and those who have an interest in the country entering this black hole. Golden Dawn was the first political party to welcome the referendum. Golden Dawn, Independent Greeks and SYRIZA. These are the three that will take us out of Europe. Are we going to accept this?

Potami is trying to put pressure on the Europeans to take a few necessary steps back. The Prime Minister himself acknowledged this in Parliament. What I am afraid of is that there is a group in the government, which is determined to take the country to the drachma. This is because they feel that their party will react negatively to any compromise, or because they feel that it will be easier for them to continue playing their political games.

I invite Mr. Tsipras to join me in a debate. To tell us what negotiation he conducted and disclose to the Greek people where there are issues. What Antonis Samaras refused to do, to have a debate with Mr. Tsipras, I invite Mr. Tsipras to do with me. Let us talk.

29 June 2015

Photo credit: Theodore Manolopoulos

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