The Italian crisis scares Europe and worries Greece. Do you think it will affect the exit of the Greek economy from the program and the agreement for the future?
The Italian crisis has been expected for many years. Italy may have primary surpluses, but the most important thing was that its GDP has stagnated for nearly 20 years, creating a permanent
risk factor for overthrowing its fiscal and financial balance. If there is one conclusion for Greece, but also for every national economy, is that the only medicine that heals all socio-economic
diseases is growth, and actually the kind of growth whose results diffuse throughout the society, into all social levels with no exception. The so-called "inclusive growth". When it is absent, problems accumulate and at some point they manifest – even through political occasions.
This is the main lesson that Italy provides us: the basis of every problem, not only economic but also political, is the lack of growth, and in this respect we are in the same boat. Only Italy is much larger than Greece and the consequences of a catastrophic crisis there will be serious for all of Europe, especially for us.
A clear exit or a ”precautionary line” and why?
Allow me to say that this is a question without any real content. The so-called “clear exit” is a mythological concept created by SYRIZA’s propaganda mechanism. And the fact that we are
discussing this today means that we are validating the success of this mechanism. It is a success not only of traditional demagogy, but of something much more: of creating virtual realities with
which Greek citizens are kept busy in order to forget the harsh actual reality they live in. It is Mr. Tsipras’s constant political attitude: to try to focus the debate on what he is saying and not on
what he is doing.
We all know, of course, that after the end of the memorandum and the “clear exit”, the country’s supervision regime by the lenders will be very tight, the inspections by the partners will be much more frequent and the fiscal measures much more painful.
But what is more important and more dangerous is that with the demagogy, the adventurism and the irresponsibility of the SYRIZA government, we are in danger of losing the credit line. We are in danger of losing the 27 to 30 billion, which is left from the third memorandum and thus of being exposed to the dangers of a major global financial crisis, which is by the way “simmering” and/or in the middle of the storm that will break out if Italy’s crisis is not prevented. That means we will be without the slightest protection when all investors abandon the bonds of the European countries of the South. What will we do then if we do not have a credit line and if we do not have the ESM to support us? I do not even want to think about it.
Do you see a possible disagreement between the government and the Institutions (troika)?
With a government like this everything is possible. Its course so far has shown that there is no rationale defining its actions. It is not unlikely that, in view of his exit from the government, Mr. Tsipras and his party will decide to return to the kind of opposition they exercised until January 25, 2015 or until mid-July 2015, when they were opposing themselves. Who can rule that out?
You know, I do not feel comfortable at all when I am asked what I think the SYRIZA government will do, because there is no reasonable criterion with which one can make an assessment of that. The only criterion that exists, perhaps, is the instinctive tendency they have to demagogue and distort reality. They have proven that they can do it even when they contradict themselves! Exactly as it happened in July 2015.
That is why I prefer to answer other kinds of questions. Not what I believe the SYRIZANEL government is going to do, but what needs to be done in order to develop the Greek economy and Greek society.
How should the Greek economy move after August and after the end of the program so as not to relive the nightmare of bankruptcy?
Unfortunately, the nightmare of bankruptcy will once again approach us as soon as we leave the protection of our partners. Especially, if international conditions are not favorable, which they are very unlikely to be. Interest rates are already rising internationally.
For this reason, we must not go out to the markets without a safety net from the partners. We must claim – that is the wise approach nationally – not only the support line, but even more. We must claim the water-proof protection of the Greek economy’s fiscal path from the turbulence of the international markets for the next five to ten years. I have recently mentioned this again.
And to do so, that is to convince our partners that they will not waste their time and money, we will have to show them through our actions and choices that we really intend to restructure the
Greek economy, make it productive and turn to growth and to end parasitism.
But this is a very difficult task. Especially when there are “party cornerstones” – members, supporters and fans -from the big parties that either wish to stay in power or cannot wait to
come back, in order to enjoy what they have been “deprived of” for so many years. This is very important; perhaps the most important thing.
We should try, those of us who sincerely desire the of our country, to speak the word of truth, to tell the truth to the society, uncovering the lies of SYRIZA. We need to explain that if the use of the term "return to regularity" means parasitism, consumerism and the corruption of yesterday, such a return simply does not exist as an option. Instead, the country, the society, the economy has to make a big turn to “regularity” because what we lived so far was not regularity, but a recipe for bankruptcy.
We have to change the way we live and the way we think, and, unfortunately, we have wasted almost ten years of the crisis without succeeding to do so, without even trying it. We have to understand that the only way of salvation for the country lies in growth. It is found, that is, in the creative, collective and individual, effort. At the moment, however, we live in a totally counter-developmental regime, in a situation completely hostile for any kind of development, where the country’s permanent, diachronic structural problems have become intertwined and mutually reinforce the problems created by the crisis, such as the collapse of the banking sector, the collapse of the insurance system, non-performing loans, and so on.
Unfortunately, there have been many reforms only in paper and we are still at zero, at the beginning. There can be no growth with a pathogenic public sector, there can be no growth without a banking sector, and there can be no growth with a judicial system that takes years to make a simple adjudication. There can be no growth when Education does not create the proper human capital for its economy and there can be no growth if we as citizens continue to regard as the enemy the one whom at the same time expect to offer us jobs.
Will you support a possible agreement with Skopje in the Parliament if it meets the Government’s requirements?
For the time being, we are in the dark – at least, I am – as to what exactly the government is preparing and what exactly it is that it wants. Personally, I would support an agreement that would cancel all the irredentism and expansive aspirations of Skopje against Greece. I think that for this to happen, a one-word, preferably, name would have to be agreed upon, such as Novamacedonia, untranslated and common for all, erga omnes, as it is often mentioned, in the framework of an agreement that will include a review of Skopje’s Constitution. This agreement would also be ratified by both the Security Council and the UN General Assembly. Under these conditions only, I would accept and support an agreement. But I cannot speak until I see something specific, because the fact is that we are still in the dark and we hear mutually opposite and conflicting information.
Are you for or against the simple proportional representation in the national elections?
I have been taking a stand on this issue for several decades and I have been repeating my firm point of view, which – let me say – is becoming more and more topical: the simple proportional representation is the worst electoral system that could be applied in Greece, given the current political institutions and the political tradition. It would lead the country to total destruction through chaos and lack of leadership. All conscientious and responsible Greek citizens patriots should do everything in our power to prevent the implementation of the simple proportional representation in Greece. Its implementation would be a crime against the nation.
Greek citizens should think maturely and responsibly about who they are voting for and not expect that the problems, which cannot be solved by either themselves or the demagogues they sometimes choose as their representatives, will be solved by the electoral system when especially this is the destructive system of the simple proportional representation.
When do you see elections being held?
I have already explained the reasons why I cannot make predictions about SYRIZA’s actions and choices. In the summer, and in view of the revelation of the fable of a “clear exit”, Mr. Tsipras may decide that the time has come to mix earth and fire, “after me let earth mix with fire”, to squander everything on benefits and to call for elections with the aim of going back to a raging “anti-memorandum” opposition, imputing all the suffering that will inevitably fall to the country because of his irresponsibility to the next government, hoping that at some point he will come back to power.
But then again, the opposite may happen: unable to abdicate the power he has so much loved, he may decide to remain attached to it until the last days of September 2019, hoping for a miracle. How should we know what is happening in Mr. Tsipras and his companions’ mind, since they have been shown to be totally incapable of thinking in a sensible way, even to prepare for the worst?
So, I do not think that these questions about what SYRIZA will do, the analysis of his choices and actions, fall under the competence of either the economic sciences or the political scientists. I think these are questions that can be better answered by astrologists, of whom, thank God, our country has many.
Mr. Tsipras officially takes part in the sessions of the Party of European Socialists as an observer. What have your partners in Europe seen that you do not see in the Movement for Change and you refuse to engage in dialogue with the ruling party?
Mr. Tsipras is trying – I am telling him he is trying to no avail – to ram the political Center, what we historically call ”Democratic Disposition” (Democratiki Parataksi”. He attempts to do so using
some vague “progressiveness” as a “besieging ram”, in an effort for his personal political survival, for his career, an attempt which has all the characteristics of the political adventurism that is typical of him. What is indicative, if not conclusive, of it is his attitude towards representatives of the conservatives – and I am not referring exclusively, nor mainly, to Mr. Kammenos but to other manifestations of the conservatives as well, with whom he maintains, at a minimum, good political relations. He is “winking” at them for a new bipolarity, of which he claims the one pole. A midsummer night’s dream!
But, Mr. Kabourakis, let’s not fool ourselves. No one in Europe considers Mr. Tsipras and SYRIZA as representatives of socialist politics. They simply consider him as the creator of the novel practice of “kolotoumba”. We all know that Mr. Tsiaris and his companions never tell the truth and have no credibility. They are a stalinist assortment in a meta-stalinist era. What sort of discussion can we have with them?
The other day Mr. Mitsotakis said that even if New Democracy (ND) gathers the majority needed to form a government in the next elections, he will seek collaborations. How does the Movement for Change see the opening of the ND’s president?
The issue with Mr. Mitsotakis, or Mr. Mitsotakis’s issue, is not whether he has good intentions or whether he tries “behind the words, under the lines” to say some serious and right things. His
problem is that he has a very heavy weight that keeps him pinned down. This is nothing more than the party mechanism of New Democracy, which is interwoven with the patronage state and with the parasitism that has led us to bankruptcy. As I mentioned earlier, there is a particular part of this mechanism, one of the many baronies of the party, which is in close cooperation with the government and Mr. Tsipras. One could say that they govern together.
I understand that he is trying to change this party mechanism from within and he is expecting to be in an advantageous position for this purpose if and when he takes power. I do not know whether he is capable of doing it. Anyway, these are internal problems of the conservatives.
At any rate, my personal view is that any government coalition between the Movement for Change and New Democracy cannot be based on good manners and good feelings. On the contrary, it should be based on a specific agreement that would be recorded and agreed upon to its last detail. And I am talking about a political and social agreement that will not refer to the “meaning of life” and “the future of humanity”, but it will refer to the very specific problems facing the Greek economy and society today, and to the corresponding very concrete steps which should be taken during the time of a government term to resolve and overcome these problems in order for the Greek economy to move forward.
The Movement for Change follows an equal distance policy towards SYRIZA and ND, in order to cope with the attacks of friendship that it has received from both Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Mitsotakis. But the dilemma still exists. Participation in the government or run-off elections if the first party does not gather the majority needed in the next national elections?
I believe that the recurrent elections, especially if at some point they are held according to the simple proportional system, it will be, as I have said, a shortcut to the destruction of the country. It is a route from which there will be no return. The elections must result in a strong government geared to the social reorganization and economic restructuring of the country; otherwise things will be very bad.
One last question, Professor Gatsios. Are you optimistic about the progress of the effort to form the new political party, the Movement for Change? What are you expecting from this effort?
The success of the Movement for Change lies in whether it will respond successfully to the historic request of the country’s uplifting. To be, that is, a rectifying movement – and as such a movement which aims to govern – that will express the people of work, production and creation, and which will confront parasitism and the diverse carriers of decline. To be the political expression of the great alliance that the country needs between all its productive forces and its youth. To inspire, by being the expression of our national collective consciousness. It is a difficult task. But I believe that we will all successfully meet the challenge, we will rise to the occasion. I am optimistic.