26 Αύγουστος, 2015

Stavros Theodorakis: Mr. Tsipras has resorted to elections because he wants to hide the bills behind the polls

To Potami

"This is not an image of a serious country. Elections, referendum and elections again within seven months, this has not happened anywhere else in the world. It is an image that ridicules the Greeks" stressed Stavros Theodorakis during an interview with the television station Ionian channel. Meanwhile, the head of Potami was asked for the reasons behind Mr. Tsipras' decision to lead the country to elections, and stated that "this was done for one reason only: because he wants to hide the autumn bills behind the ballot boxes. People are now returning from their vacations, they are going to vote and then they are going to pay in October, and again in November, and again in December. It is the usual deceiving tactics of the political parties in power". The head of Potami did not neglect to mention the capital controls that have been imposed on the banks, stating that "the cost of closing banks is incalculable as it has brought the business of middle class society to its knees".

Stavros Theodorakis also said:

About the elections:

The foremost important thing was to stabilize the economy. Therefore it was necessary for some months, for as long as it was needed, that this government ruled the country with the tolerance of the opposition. At that point we were even compelled to vote for the bailout deal! Were we not going to vote for some individual issues? It was therefore necessary that Mr Tsipras acted responsibly, to take the decisions that he was committed to and immediately have elections afterwards. This is not an image of a serious country. Elections, referendum and elections again within seven months, this has not happened anywhere in the world. It is an image that ridicules the Greeks. Mr. Tsipras has resorted to elections because he wants to hide the autumn bills behind the polls.People are now returning from their vacations, they are going to vote and then they are going to pay in October, and again in November, and again in December. It is the usual deceiving tactics of the political parties in power.

About what emerges after the elections:

I am worried about the composition of the Parliament resulting from these elections. I fear we strengthen extremist forces. Strengthen the people who talk about the drachma. People with fascist ideas. The solutions do not lie in the extremes.  The solutions lie in moderation and logic. Moderation must however involve courage and quick, clear actions.But we speak of a country in need, above all, of logic. Serving an ideology should not be a priority of a movement. The priority of a movement is to serve people. This is Potami.

About the dynamics of Potami:

The slogan of Potami is "We can". In the past seven months of our parliamentary presence we have proven that we have the people and the solutions. People can disagree with what we say but we have never lied. Whichever issue we touched upon, for example migration, we came up with the solution from the outset. Once we expressed this solution, they tried to ridicule us. We even offered solutions for the social security issue. They do not want to hear us. Potami then says: "we can". I hope that this time, in September, the Greek society will think that it must put an end to the lies and give the green light to the people who have been telling the truth.

About companies suffering:

The loss for the Greek economy and the Greek family is huge and not yet calculated. I do not want to speak of specific examples, but we all know people who had healthy business activities but the capital controls that were imposed destroyed them. It is something that the country should avoid. It should be the top priority of any government but this one is not paying attention to what's happening in the market. Why is it that half the government is composed of people who are party grown, who have lived as civil servants within the parties and do not know what business means, what risk means, what it means to pay employees and what 23% VAT means.

About the closure of the banks:

The cost from the closure of banks is incalculable. I hear some silly people who allegedly defend the ordinary Greek that say "so what if the banks closed, the people have no money in the banks". That is wrong. I am not only talking about the suffering of pensioners. I'm talking about how devastated tourism, or exports have become with our banking system being under supervision. The biggest problem with capital controls is that they have brought the businesses of the middle class to its knees.

About SYRIZA's pre election lies:

When we told them that they can't pay the minimum wage of 750 euros they replied to us "we will give it to them and we will get it done by Monday afternoon", that is the day after the elections. When in the "Ethnos" newspaper Mr. Tsipras declared "I will tear the bailout deal apart and in broad daylight" this was an attempt to cheat the Greek people. First he was saying that we won't pay the ENFIA (property tax) and now he is telling us that we will in fact pay the ENFIA. This is deceiving the voter. Now you will tell me this isn't new, even the previous ones, New Democracy and PASOK did the same thing, but these things have to end at some point. We were given a lot of the blame for the directness of our political stance. Potami however is now being proven right in these predictions that it made in the pre election period

Read the full transcript of the interview:

Journalist: So, you just finished your meeting with the head of Popular Unity, Mr Lafazanis.

Stavros Theodorakis: That`s right, and by the way my, best wishes to Zakynthos and the entirety of the Ionian islands this day. I am at your disposal for all the questions that concern you, because I think the world has gotten a little bit confused, by which I mean your audience, with all these recent actions taken by the government.

Journalist: Do we have any other development, following your meeting with Mr Lafazanis?

Stavros Theodorakis: No. We are crystal clear. As you know, there are many differences between us and Mr Lafazanis. We firmly believe that differences are not to be hidden. Political forces must discuss, despite the many differences between them. There must be transparency. What is going on right now, most specifically, the fact that everyone clarifies their opinion, this is something that we asked for. Potami wanted this right from the start. We must not hide our political views. We must be clear and have the courage to declare our real views. We oppose the practice of SYRIZA, which had a certain rhetoric for many years, but changed everything, as soon as they assumed power. This is deceit. It is the wrong parliamentary behavior.

Journalist: Do you think that he had any other solution, Mr Theodorakis? As soon as he assumed power, he saw how things were. But, there was no room for him to maneuver.

Stavros Theodorakis: Does this really matter? What really matters is that he was lying. When we told them that they can't pay the minimum wage of 750 euros they replied to us "we will give it to them and we will get it done by Monday afternoon", that is the day after the elections. When in the "Ethnos" newspaper Mr. Tsipras declared "I will tear the Memorandum (bailout deal) apart and in broad daylight" this was an attempt to cheat the Greek people. First he was saying that we won't pay the ENFIA (property tax) and now he is telling us that we will in fact pay the ENFIA. This is deceiving the voter. Now you will tell me this isn't new, even the previous ones, New Democracy and PASOK did the same thing, but these things have to end at some point. When we got first elected, we were given a lot of the blame for the directness of our political stance. We used to say that there would be no rise of salaries and pensions, no abolition of ENFIA and they used to say “How can you say that, SYRIZA says that they will”. Potami however is now being proven right in these predictions that it made in the pre election period.

Journalist: Did Mr Tsipras have an alternative choice, than leading the country to elections?

Stavros Theodorakis: The foremost important thing -I guess that you know what is going on in the periphery of Greece- was to stabilize the economy. Therefore it was necessary for some months, three or four, for as long as it was needed, that this government ruled the country with the tolerance of the opposition. At that point we were even compelled to vote for the bailout deal! Were we not going to vote for some specific issues, if we were asked to? It was therefore necessary that Mr Tsipras acted responsibly, making the decisions that he was committed to and immediately have elections afterwards. This is not an image of a serious country. Elections, referendum and elections again within seven months, this has not happened anywhere else in the world. It is an image that ridicules the Greeks. The government must have waited and if, in practice, they saw that it was impossible for them to develop their parliamentary activities, then they could have quit.

Journalist: Why did he do it?

Stavros Theodorakis: For one and only reason. Mr. Tsipras has resorted to elections because he wants to hide the autumn bills behind the ballot boxes. People are now returning from their vacations, they are going to vote and then they are going to pay in October, and again in November, and again in December. It is the usual deceiving tactics of the political parties in power. As you know, previous governments used to have elections first and only then would they submit their budgets. They don’t want to tell people the truth. And the truth is what Greeks actually crave for! They want politicians who will speak the truth. Politicians that will tell the citizens how much pressure they need to put on themselves. They do not want false promises anymore. And let me tell you something. You must be thinking that it is convenient to me that other people are lying. No, this is not true. Because this way politics and young people, the youth, are disdained. I met some young people. They came to my office. They wanted to keep away from politicians. They have identified politicians with lies and false promises, in other words the vice of the old politics. They now come back, sealed by SYRIZA.

Journalist: It seems that young people are now not interested in politics. They have no preference for any politician.

Stavros Theodorakis: This is because they think that politics is a fake field of controversy. They think that the world of politics is totally different from the real world.

Journalist: I would like to ask you, Mr Theodorakis, how would Potami have handled the negotiations in January? If Potami had the power, how would it have managed to conclude the deal with the partners?

Stavros Theodorakis: This is a very good question. First of all, we wouldn’t have lied, just like SYRIZA did, in the pre-electoral period. There is not a single person nor social class, to whom he did not promise something. He made promises to everyone. So, firstly, we wouldn’t have lied to people. Then, as I have said, the country must have concluded a deal, before banks shut down, before capital controls got imposed. In a few words, a deal must have been concluded within the previous program. The last proposal made by Jean-Claude Juncker --you know what I am talking about, after the one that Alexis Tsipras passed on to referendum--  there is a real Juncker proposal… this is much better than the  Memorandum. So, we must have accepted and have improved this proposal made by Jean-Claude Juncker. We should have made the deal within the previous program.

Journalist: So, you would have avoided losing so much time?

Stavros Theodorakis: The cost from the closure of banks is incalculable. I hear some silly people, who allegedly defend the ordinary Greek, that say "so what if the banks closed, the people have no money in the banks". That is wrong. I am not talking about the suffering of pensioners. Though we must respect them. It’s their money too. This is not about SYRIZA. I'm talking about how devastated tourism, exports and companies with transactions abroad have become. You know what I am talking about. There are no more letters of credit by Greek banks. They are no longer accepted with our banking system being under supervision. The biggest problem with capital controls is that they have brought the businesses of the middle class to its knees.

Journalist: We still face problems with imports. Especially enterprises are suffering.

Stavros Theodorakis: I mentioned this in Parliament and he was almost laughing. He was wondering, what I was so stressed about. I told him that banks must not close. And they did. The damage for the Greek economy, the average Greek family, is huge and it has not been calculated yet. I don’t want to mention specific cases, but we all know people who had healthy business activities but the capital controls that were imposed destroyed them. This is something that the country should have avoided. This should have been priority number one for the country. But it wasn’t. Let me tell you why. Because this government cannot sense what is happening in the market, in Zakynthos, in Cephalonia. They don’t sense what is going on, because they are all party grown. They have only worked for the public sector, in the political parties. So, they have no idea what entrepreneurship means, what risk means. What it means that I need to pay my employees tomorrow and what 23% VAT means. And as far as taxation is concerned: We must implement a policy, based on the principle that we collect taxes from the ones that do not pay. It is inconceivable that it is always the same people that shoulder the burden in the Greek society. And, as you know, we do have many proposals.

Journalist: Potami’s slogan is “We can”. This will be your slogan and your first event will take place in Benaki Museum on Wednesday.

Stavros Theodorakis: We can. Let me tell you something, and I admit that I take pride in it. There were many people that were suspicious with us, when Potami was created. Within seven months, we managed to prove that we do have both people and solutions. Someone may take issue with us, but we have never lied. No matter what the issue was, we gave the solution and, in fact, much earlier. We gave them the solution. They taunted us. We gave them solutions on the social insurance system. They don’t want to listen to us. So, we say. We can. We do have the right people, we do have the solutions. And I hope that this time, this September, the Greek society will think that they must put an end to lies. They must give a green light to those who have been telling the truth all this time.

Journalist: Following the elections, the Parliament, what will it be like?

Stavros Theodorakis: I am really afraid of the type of government that will be formed after these elections. I am afraid that the extremes could be reinforced. I am afraid that the drachma supporters could be reinforced, as well as people supporting fascist ideas. Honestly, I am really afraid of this. But I am very optimistic. We receive very positive messages in Potami. However, I think that the Parliament as a whole will find it hard to live up to the demands of today’s society. Let me tell you something. You can’t find solutions in the extremes. There is no country in the entire world that managed to resolve its problems, going to the extremes, choosing extreme solutions. You can find solutions in moderation, in logic. Of course, modesty can mean boldness and fast clear actions. But, we always talk about a country that requires logic. This is what our country really needs. And it is sad watching brothers resorting to extreme views. They either evoke fascist theories, or they say “let’s go to drachma. We have nothing to lose”.  This country will lose if we resort to extreme solutions. These extremes must be isolated. Human-centered movements must be reinforced. For the time being, Potami is the only human-centered movement in Greece. What I mean by that is that is away from ideologies which were proven unsuccessful. Serving an ideology should not be a priority of a movement. The priority of a movement is to serve people. This is what Potami stands for.

25 August 2015, Ionian Channel

Photo credit: Theodore Manolopoulos