Thanos Andritsos, member of the Greek anti-capitalist Left party ‘Antarsya’, explains why leaving the Euro is the only just alternative for Greece
JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: On a recent trip to Greece, the Real News spoke to activist Thanos Andritsos a member of the of the Greek anti-capitalist Left party Antarsya about their response to the terms of the Troika’s third bailout – which demanded more austerity. We started out by discussing the media portraying the bailout giving Greece a return to normality. THANOS ANDRITSOS: First of all we have to think of what normality is. I mean, for many, many people in Greece, for the majority of people in Greece, the normality of the last five years is insecurity, unemployment, and extreme problems. Right now, this normality that we are going to return, it would be a total social chaos. I mean, only from today on, I mean, there is going to be, there are going to be riots in important goods like foods, et cetera. There’s going to be a decrease in pensions. There are going to be privatizations in all, all the sectors of the Greek economy. Only if you see that there are, there is a new fund that aims to reach 50 billion euros from privatizations, and if you imagine that 12 original airports, the price of them are $1.2 billion, it looks extremely impossible to reach that kind of money even if you sell everything in Greece. So the normality that we see to return right now, it’s not a good normal. It’s a bad normality, and this is why people of Greece tried to change this kind of normality in everyday life. This is why they struggled for many years. This is of course why they voted for Syriza. And the–of course I’m not a member of Syriza. I didn’t vote for Syriza. I’m a member of another political organization. But it is obvious that this capitulation, these austerity measures are the exact opposite of what Syriza was proposing in the sense of, I mean, canceling the memorandum, changing this austerity policy and things like that. And this is why people of Greece right now, even if they feel–I mean, we understand that they feel maybe betrayed or they feel that they have suffered a great defeat. They should right now start fighting again, fighting back. We believe that we can stop–we have to stop even now, even the new memorandum, we have to stop it. It would be a social disaster. NOOR: So in his defense, Alex Tsipras the Greek prime minister, he said he didn’t like this deal. He didn’t want this deal. But he was negotiating with a gun to his head. He didn’t have a choice. And he doesn’t like it, but this is all they can do. What’s your response to that? ANDRITSOS: First of all to be honest, no prime minister in Greece ever said that these measures is what he wanted to do. Everybody said that they were with a gun in their head. But I understand that Alexis Tsipras probably didn’t want this deal, or Syriza wanted to do something different. This is not a problem of–this is not a personal issue. I am not saying, and [Antarsya] is not saying that it is a problem that Syriza literally are bad people or something like that. It is a problem of a political strategy. The exact–the specific political strategy of Syriza. They’re trying to combine, being inside Eurozone and European Union and not having austerity measures proved to be wrong. It proved to be impossible to stay in European Union and Eurozone to not be in conflict with all these–I mean, kind of agreements. [European agreements] and everything else. It proved to be impossible to combine that without having austerity measures. This is why Antarsya is proposing years, many years from now, that we should have a program, a political program for the rupture. For the exit from the European Union and the Eurozone. To start the different road with nationalization of the banks, nationalization of some important sectors of the Greek economy. Stop paying the debt, et cetera. NOOR: Because even the IMF has said it’s going to take 30 years for Greece to be able to start paying back its debt. It needs 30 years of no payments and serious debt forgiveness to be able to pay it back. So one of the members of Syriza that has advanced this has been Costas Lapavitsas. He made a speech last week at the Democracy Rising conference. But he’s been criticized. People in the left of Syriza have been criticized because they’ve said, you’re trying to break the party. You’re trying to bring down this first radical left government in Greece in decades. And the alternative could be worse. You could have a government that’s far right, for example. How do you respond to these type of criticisms, that now is not the time to be making these demands? ANDRITSOS: Okay. We understand this discussion, and obviously it’s not our job to say what someone from inside Syriza should do or not. First of all, we have, if, if–. First of all, you have to say that if it is a left government, has to have a left policy. If the policies of a government are not left and they are austerity measures and memoranda, then it’s not a left government. But apart from that, we are not suggesting anything to the people, that they have to do what they want to do. But what we are saying is two things. What we are saying are two things. First, that there is a need right now for a new political and social front of the forces that voted and still support no. it is the 63 percent of the Greek population. It is–there are many political forces of the left that they–they have understood that this road is not going anywhere. It will only continue this tragedy of the last five years, and it will be even worse. That is why we are suggesting and we are proposing, and we are–I mean, sure about that. And right now there is a very important period for the Greek left and for the people of the movement to start in a way criticize and fight against this government. The second that I would like to say is that we understand that many people inside Syriza want somehow to discuss it in their own party, to not let the government fall, and things like that. But what we are saying and what I am thinking at least is that all this important and huge political debate inside the left and inside the popular movement cannot be closed inside the discussions of a party. Okay, we understand that they have to discuss about it. But this is much more important than this. And we can have–I mean, the disaster would be to stay years and years waiting for the discussions inside Syriza to end up in something while at the same time the Greek people are suffering from these measures. And why, to be honest, this is why there is the, this danger for a rise again of the far right. Because the left should be left to implement left policies if they don’t want the far left to rise again. NOOR: All right. Thank you so much for joining us for this first part, and the second part we will talk about what leave–what a Grexit will look like, and what are some policies that can be put into place to prepare Greece for that eventuality. Thank you so much. ANDRITSOS: Same to you.