7 Απρίλιος, 2016

Stavros Theodorakis: "The government of Mr Tsipras has not elaborated any solution"

To Potami

European people must assume their responsibility, in the same way that Greeks have assumed their responsibility. Besides, it is true that the European mechanism was sleeping, when the first flow emerged, and the first instinctive reaction was the retrenchment against the masses of desperate

Speech delivered by Stavros Theodorakis before S&D MEPs.

“Populism does not solve the migration issue,” stated Stavros Theodorakis in a speech that he delivered before the European Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats.
The event “Solidarity without Borders” was organized, upon the proposal of To Potami MEPs Giorgos Grammatikakis and Miltos Kyrkos to Gianni Pittella, during the second convention of To Potami.

Stavros Theodorakis pointed out that, even when it comes to migration and refugees, there are two different types of populism, fighting each other. The xenophobic kind of populism – the rhetoric that the “other” one, the “stranger”, the “different” one is dangerous and the populism of charity, the leftish kind of populism, saying that “There is room for everyone, especially given that they are poor and allies of people”.

Mr Theodorakis added that, “The government of Mr Tsipras has not elaborated any solution. It has chosen a certain policy, where it dived and is still diving in a major tank, where all types of populism meet, while the situation in the country is getting worse and worse every day”.

The leader of To Potami pointed out the responsibilities of Europe. “European people must assume their responsibility, in the same way that Greeks have assumed their responsibility. Besides, it is true that the European mechanism was sleeping, when the first flow emerged, and the first instinctive reaction was the retrenchment against the masses of desperate”.

These are the most important points of his speech:

“I come from a country that has been a prey of populism. The ideas of populists have prevailed these last years, in all, but a few, governments”.

“When it comes to migration and refugees, there are two different types of populism, fighting each other. The xenophobic kind of populism – the rhetotic that the “other” one, the “stranger”, the “different” one is dangerous and the populism of charity, the leftish kind of populism, saying that “There is room for everyone, especially given that they are poor and allies of people”.

“The prevalence of leftist populists, in January 2015, who rushed to establish a cooperation with some extreme right marginals, has made things even more confusing in Greece. In the beginning, people tended to believe that SYRIZANEL will be the worldwide savior of migrants and refugees. Port authorities were asked to stop going after smugglers. The Prime Minister said that “The sea has no borders,” while his ministers used to say that “migrants come to Greece in order to enjoy the sun and they, then, disappear when the sun is down”.

“The government of Mr Tsipras has not elaborated any solution. It has chosen a certain policy, where it dived and is still diving in a major tank, where all types of populism meet, while the situation in the country is getting worse and worse every day. The camps of the trapped ones turn into field of action for the extremists”.

“Fundamentalism is not a parthenogenesis phenomenon. I don’t know what is going on in Belgium, in Paris or Berlin, but I suspect that many of the problems that we face are all products of the same kinds of populism”.

“During a flight, some minutes after the takeoff, passengers are advised: “In case of an emergency, adults are instructed to put on masks of oxygen first, before they try to get them to their children. Let’s all think of the value of this advice. Migrants and refugees are actually the ones that do not know. In order for them to get some help by the ones who know, they need to feel secure. If they don’t feel secure, local communities will never take care of refugees”.

“When we had the meeting of political leaders in Athens on the refugee crisis, I pointed out that it was our obligation to take care of the orphans and the unaccompanied underage children, as if they were our children. We must allow them to go to schools right away, to eat whatever we eat, to play and grow up as children are supposed to grow up all over the world. Food, shelter, health and education. These are our obligations towards refugees”.

“European people must assume their responsibility, in the same way that Greeks have assumed their responsibility. Besides, it is true that the European mechanism was sleeping, when the first flow emerged, and the first instinctive reaction was the retrenchment against the masses of desperate. We now remember the times when vaults of seigniors opened up, in order to calm citizens down”.

“Yet, is it enough to give a bunch of billions to Turkey, Greece, later maybe to Italy, in order to keep distance from the problem? Our duty does not end with us taking care of refugees. We don’t have the right to empty the entire world, so that some countries can enjoy affordable workforce, while we will be feeling happy”.

“NGOs and churches, they offer food and meals. This is the easiest thing to do for a superpower like Europe. As long as progressive people are in charge. What is hard, tough, is something on which we don’t really spend time, thoughts and plans”.

- We must make sure that people who arrive to Europe now, they will actually be integrated. I do not mean establishing ghettos, but enabling access of these populations to economy and education.

- Let us not allow the creation of independent states in our neighborhoods and villages.

“I have been studying the analysis of experts about the causes of the radicalization of young people, who don’t even speak Arabic. Many of these young murderers have nothing to do with the rhetoric of Islam. So, the question is “What happened?”. Yes, we must definitely respect their religion and their culture. However, is education, women and children rights, the values of our European culture, are all these under discussion? But, this is all about the first major fight. The fight for the integration of these people into our societies. The second fight is all about eliminating the conditions of massive migration and massive refugee flows.

“Let me point out two things. Mr Moscovici commented on the need for reforms and the major need of Greece to exit the crisis, after six years, instead of just signing memorandums.

Greece and the government of Mr Tsipras, they have been legislating reforms, yet, they do not implement them. There is a huge distance between “legislate” and “implement”. According to the latest data released by OECD, Greece was and remains in the 19th position out of 20, in the field of foreign investments. Salaries and pensions have been cut, tens of bills have been voted, but the country is still at the bottom, when it comes to crucial fields: transparency, tackling corruption, justice and education.

I am stressing this to you, especially to you, because I think that you must have a constant clash with populism. Europe needs to realize that it is not enough to impose laws in Greece, or be interested in figures. They need to clash with populists that have been dominating the Greek political scene. Populists produce deficits. They keep reforms un-implemented. In the case of Greece, populists have been calling their conservative policy progressive”.

Photo credit: Theodore Manolopoulos

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