SYRIZA Leader (Alexis Tsipras) Addresses Thessaloniki

Ο Αλ. Τσίπρας από τη Θεσσαλονίκη: Καθαρή νίκη

In the final week before the Euro-elections on May 25th, Alexis Tsipras (leader of the Greek opposition and the SYRIZA party) delivered a speech in Thessaloniki (second largest city in Greece).

If you do not understand Greek and want to know what the buzz is about SYRIZA and its young charismatic leader, have a look at the speech below. On the cusp of what might be a historic result that could overturn the dominance of Greece’s two establishment parties, Tsipras delivered this impassioned speech. A few sections  are highlighted below. The entire speech has been translated and presented further down.

Citizens of Thessaloniki,

Sunday will prove what we are now living : those at the bottom do not want this. And Monday will prove what we already see : those who are on top cannot prevail. Finally there will open another path for this country, a country which they have dragged and humiliated and tied to the apron strings of Merkel. They who have shown pride as they declare – Ma’am , here is your Greece !

Well, that is their Greece. The Greece of the murky entangled relationships of financial elites, of a kleptocracy , of the worn , the aged and outmoded. It is the Greece  of Samaras , Venizelos , Adonis , and Baltakou. Today they have made this Greece available, as they always did , to anyone who offers their protection.

However, the Greece that is of the people,  your Greece, our Greece ,is now in attendance. Not in the corridors of Berlin and in the basements of Cannes. Those places where prime ministers were appointed and governments sought the confidence of Barroso and the affectionate gaze of Mrs Merkel. The people are in attendance in the daily struggle against memoranda. They are in the streets and the squares for democratic resistance and a battle for survival and dignity, in toil to create the culture of freedom, the vision of social justice.

On Sunday, this Greece will stake a claim to take its future in its own hands. And this is the crucial question of the electoral reckoning : In what Greece will we and our children live? In a Greece built by the two partners of this current government with its interweaving corruption, lack of transparency, bribery and looting of the state? And, having produced this state of affairs, having milked it and benefited, they now presume to condemn -as if it’s not their own handiwork but the product of some parthenogenesis.

Which Greece is it? Greece as a guinea pig for the most aggressive sectors of international capital? Greece where supreme law , the Constitution , and the political roadmap will be based on the memoranda produced by the deputies of the modern Bavarians ? The Greece of Merkel , Schäuble, of Barroso and Juncker? In that Greece, or in a Greece of democracy, national independence, social solidarity, and a respect for civil liberties and national dignity?

See the full speech below

Speech Delivered by Alexi Tsipras (Leader of SYRIZA, Thessaloniki, May 21, 2014

Citizens of Thessaloniki,

I have a sensation of something I want to share with you: We are living a historic moment.

Our people these days are making history. Our resistance to the memoranda (of the Troika) and the politics of barbarism, has assumed the dimensions of an enormous political movement. A people’s movement edging towards victory is becoming greater day by day – from one end of the country to the other.

Yes , we will win. The people’s anger opposing barbarism of memoranda will prevail. The Greece that is persistent, the Greece that resists, will win this Sunday a crucial battle.

There are those who believed that with extortion , with lies , fraud , and conspiracy they could transform our country into a shooting gallery for speculators , a bankers paradise and a living hell for the people. They will see on Sunday evening how wrong they were.

On Sunday there will emerge from the polls a clear and undeniable popular message to this government coalition of numbness and hypocrisy: The people do not want you and your memoranda. It will be a decisive message and an overwhelming demand that no one can ignore. No longer will they be able to govern by violating the constitution and the truth, undermining our institutions and blackmailing their own MPs.

Sunday will prove what we are now living : those at the bottom do not want this. And Monday will prove what we already see : those who are on top cannot prevail. Finally there will open another path for this country, a country which they have dragged and humiliated and tied to the apron strings of Merkel. They who have shown pride as they declare – Ma’am , here is your Greece !

Well, that is their Greece. The Greece of the murky entangled relationships of financial elites, of a kleptocracy , of the worn , the aged and outmoded. It is the Greece  of Samaras , Venizelos , Adonis , and Baltakou. Today they have made this Greece available, as they always did , to anyone who offers their protection.

However, the Greece that is of the people,  your Greece, our Greece ,is now in attendance. Not in the corridors of Berlin and in the basements of Cannes. Those places where prime ministers were appointed and governments sought the confidence of Barroso and the affectionate gaze of Mrs Merkel. The people are in attendance in the daily struggle against memoranda. They are in the streets and the squares for democratic resistance and a battle for survival and dignity, in toil to create the culture of freedom, the vision of social justice.

On Sunday, this Greece will stake a claim to take its future in its own hands. And this is the crucial question of the electoral reckoning : In what Greece will we and our children live? In a Greece built by the two partners of this current government with its interweaving corruption, lack of transparency, bribery and looting of the state? And, having produced this state of affairs, having milked it and benefited, they now presume to condemn -as if it’s not their own handiwork but the product of some parthenogenesis.

Which Greece is it? Greece as a guinea pig for the most aggressive sectors of international capital? Greece where supreme law , the Constitution , and the political roadmap will be based on the memoranda produced by the deputies of the modern Bavarians ? The Greece of Merkel , Schäuble, of Barroso and Juncker? In that Greece, or in a Greece of democracy, national independence, social solidarity, and a respect for civil liberties and national dignity?

Citizens of Thessaloniki,

From the beginning we did not hesitate to characterize these elections as a referendum. Not because it suits us. But because reality itself demands it. When a people are destroyed and a country humiliated, indeed by the requirement and command of those who control Europe , then yes, the elections become a referendum.

In Cannes the ruling circles of Europe organize political defections , alter the political landscape , dole out the pennies of power , and then ultimately appoint government and prime minister. So yes, the elections are a referendum. When a nation has to choose between chains and a political change, then yes elections are a referendum. A referendum on which Greece what we want. A Merkel Greece , or a Greece of dignity. The Greece of kleptocracy , or the Greece of democracy. A Greece that belongs to the perpetrators of yesterday, or Greece that is of the creators of tomorrow. And yes, a referendum if you will, on what Europe we want. A German Europe or a Europe of all the people.

And let me tell you that Europe is not only one of troika style injustice , of exploitation, Berlin autocracy, the supremacy of the banks and big business oligarchy. There is another Europe that lives and breathes by the rhythm of progress through democracy and social justice. A Europe that is fighting for another Europe. A Europe inspired by our own struggle and immersed in many battles. I am as you know a candidate of the European Left party in all the countries of Europe. I saw , heard and felt this decision of millions of  Europeans, mainly in the south , but the north as well who united to fight for a Europe of democracy , respect of social justice. Against the Europe defined by Cannes and Berlin.

Fifteen thousand people the other day in Bologna , with Greek flags in their hands , were protesting for another Italy and another Europe. They were linking their vision with our own battle. We are all Greeks was one of their slogans. The powerful wanted to make us an example of what to avoid. Our people have led by example. The polls on Sunday do not only concern our own people. They touch all those who dream , want , seek to change their countries and our continent.

Because in recent years the pro-memorandum forces of destruction identify themselves with the euro and Europe , and tirelessly keep repeating they kept Greece in Europe , I want to clarify the truth of the matter.

The biggest scandal of our time , for which they are accountable and will pay on Sunday, is that they accepted and signed memoranda of understanding which served to exile Greece from Europe.

I ask – Why did they marginalise and humiliate Greece in Europe? Why did they adopt as their flag an anti-European racism against Greeks? Why did they remove Greece from Europe? Because Greece is no longer in ‘Europe’ , but a jungle wild labour laws. Why do the EU norms not apply to Greece in many key sectors of society? Why has the community welfare system (the workers achievement of Europe) been replaced in our country by a state of social savagery?. Why are wages in Greece anything but European. Why do indicators of democracy, freedom, sovereignty and national dignity rank Greece in the third world and not in Europe?

We want to return and bring Greece back into Europe. Not as a servant but as an equal co-owner. Not as silent butler of the powerful, but as a partner with a voice and our own demands. Not as a unit implementing enforceable orders, but as an active participant in decisions.

Our mission is simple and undeniable: let’s remake Greece as part Europe. With parity, with pride and with dignity.

Citizens of democratic Thessaloniki,

On Sunday we put an end to the destruction of millions of people through the policies of coalition. And we begin to build a wall of protection and solidarity of all those who are currently at the mercy of the most extreme poverty. We will breathe oxygen into the economy. And we begin the hard work of healing, the rehabilitation of wrongdoing. Such as the losses suffered by the people who invested the lump sum pensions, or their savings in bonds, only to have Mr. Venizelos cut them to pieces. To steal from them the fruits of their labours, that is the same Greek state that is the guarantor of the bonds.

Citizens of Thessaloniki,

One example of how the Prime Minister despises your intelligence was provided to us yesterday, with a stereophonic mockery of the Greek people. The man, who brought so much misery and poverty, put padlocks on shops and made thousands of people unemployed. Just two days before the election he was back and lying. Only we all know now that the only plan that he has as Prime Minister is the memorandum. Because once a liar, always a liar. Mr. Samaras, on June 2012, (again a few days before the election) said he would negotiate (on behalf of the country). He presented 16 bargaining points, but he already had in his bottom draw a signed agreement for the Memoranda to continue. Not only did they not re-negotiate, but they consciously deceived the Greek people. They did not respect the people’s mandate. He continued the same policy with his accomplice Venizelos, who had promised the Greeks to improve conditions imposed by the Memorandum. Two fakes and two liars peddling as truth, that the Memorandum was a ‘success story’. And now they ask for your vote with new promises.

Never before have promises in Greece been as synonymous with fraud, as with the two perpetrators of the current political depression.

Everybody knows just how it goes – the professionals, the retirees, the unemployed, scientists, young people, workers and farmers as they face the state, the tax authorities, and the police that stalk their lives. Poverty and daily insecurity belie the bubbles presented by Samaras and Venizelos. Who is willing to believe them again? But on May 25 it is not only the two years of coalition government and Samara that are being judged. It is the state, the political and economic establishment that led the country into today’s tragedy. An establishment that is more permanent and fixed than the royal family and courtiers of the 1950s and 60s.

Just think: Which families have for years controlled the economy, the government contractors, and the media? How many families control politics and political power? In which royal gardens of power and money did there flourish and bloom corruption, complicity, scandals and the subordination of the state to an economic oligarchy? A corrupt political and economic palace of slavery that spread its control across society, the state and public institutions. They stole and then destroyed the country. And now today they trying to retain power and multiply their profits through the tragedy enveloping society. These are the people behind the media parrots that advertise the crisis as an opportunity.

And it is necessary, these coming Sunday elections be a referendum that will convict them. The referendum on the memorandum politics that was not held in May 2010 will now be held in May 2014. And it will resemble the national referendum of 1974 that relieved Greece of the monarchy. Then we dismantled the royal palace. Now we can dismantle the economic and political palace. We can and will dismantle the system of power that has allowed Greece to become the scapegoat for the deficits of the Eurozone. A system that did not attempt (the obvious and minimum) to rescue the economy and protect society. A system that did not get anything in exchange for Greek participation in the Eurozone and ongoing support of the common currency. The tragedy that began in 2010 will soon arrive at its cathartic moment.

The deadly sins committed by the aged establishment during the post-junta period should be weeded out to prevent their recurrence. A new generation of politicians, a new political ethos, a new national consciousness of the people, are now coming to the fore. And the old will disappear no matter how much they are being supported by the most conservative circles of Europe.

Today the left, as the voice of unity and consciousness of the nation is powering a social and national revival.

And on Sunday Greece will not just turn the page. We close the book of transition and we will start a new book. On the cover of that book will be: Freedom, Equality, Fraternity, and Social Justice.

Citizens of democratic Thessaloniki,

In last Sunday’s round 1 local elections the ‘new and progressive’ and won a battle against ‘the old and conservative’. In Athens, in Attica, in a number of municipalities and regions, the forces of progress recorded significant successes. The successes overcame great difficulties , because the old resist by all means. Intrigue and lies are two of their most important means. This Sunday, success can and should be completed with the rejection of the select list of government consortium candidates. Complete with the victory of progressive combinations participating in the second round. And completed especially with the great and historic reversal in the Athens and Attica local elections.

On Sunday, however, is the mother of battles. The showdown that will determine the future of the nation. The referendum for the European elections. The basic issues for the ballot box are clear, no matter how much media parrots seek to confuse.

With Greece or Merkel?

With barbarism or for its overthrow?

With democracy or Cannes?

With yesterday or tomorrow?

And the answer to these dilemmas is:  With SYRIZA!

With SYRIZA – for Greece, to overthrow the old, for democracy, for tomorrow.

Because SYRIZA is the offspring of popular anger. The political power that wants to unite all Greeks, all those wronged and persecuted into a large political current for change. It is the power that transforms anger, protest, outrage into social action and national revival. And SYRIZA commits itself to that cathartic process of the rotten across the length and breadth of politics and society. Bringing to justice those involved in scandals. No matter what uncle they may have in Berlin or Brussels.

Therefore, we urge all citizens. All employees who are experiencing poverty and insecurity. All unemployed living the daily struggle of survival. All the middle class facing the nightmare of the padlock. All mothers living dead ends and the exile of their children. We call those people who believed their lies two years ago. Those who do not have our vote again. To vote Left for the first time. To change our lives.

We invite all the Greeks who cannot and do not want to live under the yoke of the memoranda and the burden of humiliation. In Sunday’s referendum, whatever you may have voted in the past, vote democracy, change and dignity. Greece to vote. Dropping the ballot in the ballot box of SYRIZA. And I’m sure they will. And the bigger more sweeping the victory of SYRIZA; the more certain will be the end of the coalition. The end of the memoranda. The end of our subordination and the end of our indignity.

On the 25th we finish with those who have finished us for so many years. And on the 26th we start on a new path of reconstruction and regeneration for the homeland and our people. Because the New Greece is born and will now have a voice in Europe. And her voice will be heard in Brussels and Berlin. Because I’m sure that on Sunday the people will win. New Greece will make the first step. We will win.

 

Translation by Adam Rorris

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