Stavros Theodorakis, the leader of Potami, appeared today on the TV show "Front Line" (Proti Grammi), where he expressed his concerns about the desperate state of the Greek society, pointing out that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has not bothered to truly inform the country on the status of the negotiations.
Asked to comment on the negotiations and the Prime Minister’s announcement:
Though it took him some time, Alexis Tsipras finally realized that the people are desperate. It is not just the analysts, it is the citizens that say it. "Do something to reach a deal". This state of limbo is costing dearly to the economy. No one knows what is really happening. To be honest, I too have no information from Mr. Tsipras, even though I repeatedly asked for it. What really matters is information about the essence of the negotiations, not just the general intentions. I am afraid that the whole story of “We negotiate, we negotiate, we negotiate” is only for internal propaganda purposes. It is a strategy aiming at pushing us to the limit, so that when there is finally a deal, it will be instantly approved by the Parliament. They do not want their party and their Parliamentary Group to have the time to react to a harsh deal. It is a given that the deal will be harsh, and it would be harsh anyway, with or without Mr. Tsipras. But, I have the feeling that this government would have reached a far better deal in March, since in politics, as well as in medicine, time is of crucial importance. If a patient gets a medicine today, it may turn out to be lifesaving. If the same medicine is prescribed ten days later, there might be irreparable damage. I am afraid that there is already irreparable damage, and this is what the tourism statistics show. There are cancellations of tour packages, especially in smaller hotels. There is a serious problem on the islands.
Asked to comment on collaboration scenarios:
Every unsuccessful PASOK former minister is now trying to revive the old PASOK forces.. We are not interested in bringing back from the dead old political machines. We follow a course that is distinctly different, but not lonely. We are the progressive common sense party. We are neither extreme right nor extreme left.
For the lost reliability of Greece:
The disappointment of our partners does not lie in our refusal to set VAT to 11 or 13%. Greece lost the trust of its European partners because it is not willing to implement reforms. The people decided to have Alexis Tsipras as Prime Minister, but, at the same time, they want major reforms. The problem of Mr. Tsipras is that he caters more to his political party and less to the people. The focus of a prime minister should be primarily the people. The Greeks did not vote for the SYRIZA factions. They voted for Alexis Tsipras who promised to make changes to the Greek society.
Asked to comment on the deal:
The Prime Minister is my interlocutor and, as he has stated himself, Potami contributes to the national effort. We helped the Prime Minister, in order to help the country, not Alexis Tsipras himself. Generally speaking, you must have noticed that when it comes to negotiations, we are not one of those saying “once we have the deal, we will talk about it”. We are absolute. We will vote for the agreement, once it comes to Parliament, because, at this moment, the patient needs oxygen. We have no ax to grind. We will vote for the agreement, no strings attached. We do not care about Ministries and limos. The country’s economy is dying and we need to give the patient oxygen and then resolve our problems. In Greece, there is an internal opposition to a deal with our European partners, but this has nothing to do with Potami. I am talking about the drachma supporters, which are a certain part of SYRIZA, most of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) and the far-right fascists. They are the drachma lobby. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to cut short that debate. Is there anything more dangerous in Greece of 2015 than those who wish to isolate the country? Potami has no past ties to Memoranda, and it will not lead the country to austerity agreements. Potami advocates growth.
Asked to comment on SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras:
When it comes to foreign issues and negotiations, the government has the excuse that it is «sailing» in uncharted waters, but there is absolutely no alibi for what is happening in domestic issues, like Health and Education. The country’s hospitals are collapsing, while the process for the selection of their management is in the hands of political factions. The regional committees of SYRIZA hand pick those that will head hospitals. On such issues, we are in direct confrontation with SYRIZA. Mr. Tsipras must decide whether he wants to act as the Prime Minister of the country or the leader of factions. Let me point out something offensive that went unnoticed. Upon his return from the Summit, the Prime Minister did not focus on resolving the major issues discussed at the Summit, but instead was locked up in his office for two days with his advisors handling internal squabbles among the factions of his party.
Asked to comment on the kind of government that this government needs:
The solution is simple. The Prime Minister needs to form a progressive government, a common sense government, with personalities from SYRIZA, but also personalities beyond it. They should choose reasonable people from the society at large. We would have no problem collaborating with leftists that have no prejudices and no ax to grind.
1 June 2015
Photo credit: Theodore Manolopoulos