On the referendum in Greece

Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras
For six months now, the Greek government has been waging a battle in conditions of unprecedented economic suffocation to implement the mandate you gave us on January 25.

The mandate we were negotiating with our partners was to end the austerity and to allow prosperity and social justice to return to our country. It was a mandate for a sustainable agreement that would respects both democracy and common European rules and lead to the final exit from the crisis.

Throughout this period of negotiations, we were asked to implement the agreements concluded by the previous governments with the Memoranda, although they were categorically condemned by the Greek people in the recent elections. However, not for a moment did we think of surrendering, that is to betray your trust.

After five months of hard bargaining, our partners, unfortunately, issued at the Eurogroup the day before yesterday an ultimatum to Greek democracy and to the Greek people. An ultimatum that is contrary to the founding principles and values of Europe, the values of our common European project.

They asked the Greek government to accept a proposal that accumulates a new unsustainable burden on the Greek people and undermines the recovery of the Greek economy and society, a proposal that not only perpetuates the state of uncertainty but accentuates even more the social inequalities. The proposal of institutions includes: measures leading to further deregulation of the labor market, pension cuts, further reductions in public sector wages and an increase in VAT on food, dining and tourism, while eliminating tax breaks for the Greek islands.

These proposals directly violate European social and fundamental rights: they show that concerning work, equality and dignity, the aim of some of the partners and institutions is not a viable and beneficial agreement for all parties but the humiliation the entire Greek people.

These proposals mainly highlight the insistence of the IMF in the harsh and punitive austerity and make more timely than ever the need for the leading European powers to seize the opportunity and take initiatives which will finally bring to a definitive end the Greek sovereign debt crisis, a crisis affecting other European countries and threatening the very future of European integration.

Fellow Greeks,

Right now, weighs on our shoulders the historic responsibility towards the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people for the consolidation of democracy and national sovereignty. Our responsibility for the future of our country. And this responsibility requires us to answer the ultimatum on the basis of the sovereign will of the Greek people.

A short while ago at the Cabinet meeting, I suggested the organization of a referendum, so that the Greek people are able to decide in a sovereign way. The suggestion was unanimously accepted.

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will be urgently convened to ratify the proposal of the Cabinet for a referendum next Sunday, July 5th on the question of the acceptance or the rejection of the proposal of institutions.

I have already informed about my decision the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany, the President of the ECB, and tomorrow my letter will formally ask the EU leaders and institutions to extend for a few days the current program in order for the Greek people to decide, free from any pressure and blackmail, as required by the Constitution of our country and the democratic tradition of Europe.

Fellow Greeks,

To the blackmailing of the ultimatum that asks us to accept a severe and degrading austerity without end and without any prospect for a social and economic recovery, I ask you to respond in a sovereign and proud way, as the history of the Greek people commands.

To authoritarianism and harsh austerity, we will respond with democracy, calmly and decisively. Greece, the birthplace of democracy will send a resounding democratic response to Europe and the world.

I am personally committed to respect the outcome of your democratic choice, whatever that is. And I’m absolutely confident that your choice will honor the history of our country and send a message of dignity to the world.

In these critical moments, we all have to remember that Europe is the common home of peoples. That in Europe there are no owners and guests. Greece is and will remain an integral part of Europe and Europe is an integral part of Greece. But without democracy, Europe will be a Europe without identity and without a compass.

I invite you all to display national unity and calm in order to take the right decisions. For us, for future generations, for the history of the Greeks. For the sovereignty and dignity of our people.

Translated by Stathis Kouvelakis

“CHANGE GREECE – CHANGE EUROPE – CHANGE4ALL!”

Please, find in the following an initiative addressing the situation in Greece … and in Europe.

This is a call which you can sign when following the link

“CHANGE GREECE – CHANGE EUROPE – CHANGE4ALL!”

 

Syriza’s potential victory in the forthcoming elections in Greece is of the utmost importance for all those who want Europe to change course. Such a victory would be an expression of the demand for dignity and justice: for hope. The threats and pressure applied by EU leaders, the Troika and financial circles to influence the electoral choice of the Greek people are unacceptable.

Throughout Europe, we will defend the right of the Greek people to make their decisions freely; to break with austerity; to say ‘no’ to the humanitarian crisis which has plagued the country; to pave the way for a real alternative for Greece – for a social and democratic reorientation.

Most political forces in Greece bow down to the Troika, but Alexis Tsipras and Syriza decided to do the opposite. They have created, working closely with the social movements, a broad coalition whose dynamism may well win a majority. Syriza and its allies propose to fight back against the humanitarian crisis, to restore collective agreements and labour rights, to create a fair tax system and to democratise the political system. A Syriza government will make Greece a credible player and will make the survival of the country and the people a precondition at the outset of any negotiations. The government will commit the country to a new path, rejecting corruption and patronage, opting instead for a new type of development in the interests of all. It will propose a European Conference on Debt to partially cancel the debt. The reimbursement modalities for the remaining part can facilitate an economic recovery through a large public investment programme – which should not be included in the Stability and Growth Pact – and a response to urgent social needs. At European level, it will propose a “European New Deal” for human development and environmental transition. Throughout Europe, we need to break with the rationale which is destroying Europe’s collective social gains and fuelling the rise of nationalism and right-wing populism. We need a new project, based on inclusive development, cooperation and democracy.

Throughout Europe, we believe that such a change in Greece will not affect the future of the Greek people alone. A victory for Syriza will allow Greece to escape from the current catastrophic situation but it will also represent green shoots of change for Europe. Breaking with austerity policies would be a signal, a source of hope for those who want to stand tall. At the same time, if Syriza is voted into power, its government will need massive support from the people of Europe in the face of the pressures from the financial markets and political forces which fear any departure from the obsolete framework of capitalist globalisation.

Across society, from wide political and social forces, from many organisations and walks of life: we do not accept the pressure brought to bear to prevent the Greek people from exercising their free choice. Those exerting this pressure today share responsibility for the perpetuation of harmful ‘shock therapy’ at all costs.

Throughout Europe, we are assuming our responsibilities, supporting those engaged in struggle, changing the balance of power, waging the battle of ideas and uniting all those who want to build – alongside the Greek people – a social, environmental and democratic Europe. We stand with the Greek people because their battle is also ours.