The Greek origin, German MEP, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, speaks exclusively to IBNA for politics, Europe and the Balkans. As Mr. Chatzimarkakis pointed out, “the Balkans is a region with deep historical confrontational wounds and irredentist tendencies. Something not so obvious in the rest of Europe and as a result they are not given particular emphasis in the political scene of Western Europe. There is no European perspective for the countries that do not realize the significance of the rule of law”.
By Spiros Sideris – Thessaloniki
Mr. Chatzimarkakis, you have been named by Bild as the Greek ambassador in Germany. What was it that urged you to take up this role? Was it your greek heritage or maybe EU’s and Germany’s attitude towards Greece? In the end, how can someone describe Mr. Chatxmarkakis, as German, Greek, or a citizen of Europe?
Since the first time I was elected in 2004, I had said I would be the 25th Euro-parliamentary for Greece. I wanted to help improve relations between the two countries in any way I could, including the promotion of greek products in Germany and german tourism in Greece. After the crisis however, certain stereotypes and unhealthy conceptions surfaced, which caused a great deal of pain, especially to the Greek side. At that time my role as an ambassador was imperative, because I had to shield Greece in Germany. Indicative of this is what a German journalist recorded that in one day I had given over 20 interviews in Germany defending Greece. Beyond that, I always said that I am a European patriot. Therefore I feel and am a European citizen, who however, witnesses in recent years the effects of policies that do not serve the unity of Europe. We primarily have a cultural crisis and a crisis of understanding and secondarily an economic crisis. The unity in Europe is based on its diversity. A fact some people seem to have forgotten and have dug up policies based on national interests. This is wrong and needs to change very soon if we are to have a common future.
You have spoken of the need for a new image of Greece to be created. What do you think is the reason for the multilevel crisis that has been plaguing the country? The different perception and attitude of a big portion of Greeks regarding their relationship with the state or the relationship of the state with the citizens?
The relationship state-citizen is bidirectional. The dominant mentality in Greece is that of a clientelistic state. Politicians view the state as loot with which to maintain their power by acquiring the citizens’ vote. There is still the notion of transaction leftover from the Ottoman era. Bahşiş (bribery) and rüşvet (political favour). It is no coincidence that even the words survive. This is a clientelistic state that must be left behind, because It cannot give solutions. There is neither entrepreneurship, nor work , nor any kind of future in this model. It was applied in detached societies in the 17th and 18th century. Today there are completely different requirements of a modern state.
Μr. Chatzimarkakis, as the president of the delegation for FYROM in Euro-Parliament you have surely formed an idea for the Balkan region. The nationalist parties and movements are exerting “pressure” to their governments in order to play an important role in the pursued policies, creating destabilizing tendencies in the region. Is there a way for this nationalism to be marginalized? Is the induction of these countries in the EU the solution or do you think that the issue of the alarming rise of nationalism needs a different approach?
The Balkans is a region with deep historical confrontational wounds and irredentist tendencies. This is better known in the Balkans and in Greece, but they are not so obvious in the rest of Europe and as a result they are not given particular emphasis in the political scene of Western Europe. Beyond that, it seems there are irredentist moods and national trends, without always becoming public. I think that in a European level, what can be done is to be stated in official documents, in a clear and unequivocal way that these kind of trends do not belong in Europe. There is no European perspective for the countries that do not realize the significance of the rule of law.
“Greek European Citizens” is the political formation, which you lead and with whom you will contest for your entry in the Euro-Parliament in May. How much Europeans do the Greeks feel after 4 years of memorandums and pauperization? How much “citizens” can the residents of the EU countries feel, when the policies that are being pursued in Brussels are more about number and less about people? Is this the Europe we want? Is EU moving in the wrong direction? What is your position on the matter? What is your vision for EU?
Us “Greeks European Citizens ” seek the greatest possible representation of Greek women and men in the public affairs of Greece and Europe, but also the promotion and defence of the interests of the Greek State in the European Union and the international community. Our goal is for every Greek woman and man to be able to participate actively in decisions affecting their lives and future, but also the future of our country and of Europe. To create a democratic, socially equitable Greece in a Europe that has to change direction towards a Federal function, so as to become the common home of its people on an equal basis.
The vast majority of citizens is waiting for the end to the austerity policy, which was not based on effective planning. The new members of the European Parliament should overturn the univocal austerity policy and its side effects. This absurdity in Europe that divides Europeans in Northerners and Southerners, in “righteous ” and ” sinful”, cannot continue.
The democratic deficit that characterizes the functioning of the European Union today, manifests mainly on the lack of democratic legitimacy in decisions of high importance, which were taken in absentia of the citizens’ representatives. The austerity measures and the “memorandum” policy are policies of a Union that discredits its institutional function, because it pulls away from the humanitarian principles and values that were the foundation of its creation. The downgrading of the role of politics toward a high technocratic surveillance that takes a form of non-negotiable truth and determines which policies will be applied, is a deviation from the fundamental principles of Europe and must be changed.
We join forces, supporting the view of a Federal Europe of solidarity, mutual respect, common values and equal opportunities. The uncritical application of ideology in the field of economics, constitutes the “trojan horse” that will circumvent every Democratic and Humanitarian authority bequeathed to us over time by the European civilization, as reflected in all its historical manifestations. We think it’s time for a new social contract in Europe. The first step towards this should be a new historic compromise between the economically developed countries of the North and the austerity plagued countries of Southern Europe.
We believe in specific measures for development, such as the “youth bond”, which must be adopted by the European Central Bank in Greece to support job creation, a Eurozone budget up to 5% that will support the euro as well as development, an investment bank in Greece for the middle class with low interest rates along the lines of other European countries. These are some of the proposals aimed at effectively supporting development and the creation of jobs we need.
* Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is a German politician of Greek descent, Member of the European Parliament with the Free Democratic Party of Germany (part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe). He is a 2014 European Parliament candidate for the newly formed party Greek European Citizens of Greece.