Tsakalotos: The political balance in Europe is shifting

Tsakalotos: The political balance in Europe is shifting

Athens, January 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

The belief that the coalition government of all Left forces in Portugal moves “to a positive direction”, which will benefit “not only the people of the country, but all of Europe’s other peoples”, as part of a transformation of the political balance in the continent, expressed in an interview, published Sunday with the Portuguese agency Lusa, the Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

Tsakalotos, who visited Lisbon on Saturday as part of his tour in European capitals, which started Friday in Rome, to discuss with his counterparts the course of the third loan programme of Greece, stressed that “he is worried that while the left and the center-left suggest economic policies that meet the needs of peoples to deal with problems in wages, pensions and the welfare state, there is a rising (far)Right wing in France, the Netherlands and Austria, which is very dangerous”.

During his short visit to Lisbon, the Greek minister raised the issues to be discussed in his talks during his European tour, such as the banking union, unemployment, investment, emphasizing that “they are common problems as Greece and Portugal have many similarities”.

Regarding the programme to be applied by the Greek Government, the Finance Minister stressed that “it is important for progressives to walk based on progressive ideas, practicable policies, such as how to manage the health system, education, reform the pension, how to distribute income, how to guarantee that the banks will ensure a real economy, rather than to speculate”.

According to Tsakalotos, “all this can demonstrate to the people of Europe that there is a different way and raise barriers to the emergence of a nationalist right, which is worrying” as a phenomenon.

In the same logic, Athens’ third lending programme, according to Mr. Tsakalotos should be part of “a progressive strategy”, which will indicate its positive aspects, as the changing political scene eg in southern Europe is forcing the rest of Europe to heed the will of its peoples.

The Greek minister at this part of his interview admits that there is a big difference from someone to be in the opposition than to the exercise of power, saying that “I still sense the danger that many progressives and social movements still believe that to be a progressive government you do not need to do anything”.

“That is what happened in Greece. Many believe that to be a leftist government they don’t have to do anything, not even at political level”, he says.

Making his position clear, the Finance Minister stressed that “the Left can not operate in this way. It must work together with social movements, not only protest movements, because they always propose new and different views of how things should be done and how we must see things”.

Under this political transformation, Tsakalotos says it is of critical importance for SYRIZA to “reignite” its relationship with social movements, since “in Greece, there are important movements connected with the social economy, the economy of solidarity. We are interested in giving them more space to act. They are an integral organic part of the process of development. There are many people doing many things to reform things and society. And this is very important and vital”, he adds.

According to him, the “relationship with society” is a decisive factor for the success of the challenge the present government has faced and is facing, a government which the people entrusted again in the recent elections.

“The Right does not need that, but the Left can not exist without this relationship”, Tsakalotos says. “In social policy, persons in need of assistance should have a say in the type of assistance they want”, he says.

In conclusion to the interview, the Finance Minister concludes that: “The technocrats, the centrist forces merely point out that the poor need this, the sufferers that, but what is primarily needed is dialogue with the people, knowing what troubles them because they have information we do not know. This interpersonal relationship between social movements and leftist governments is very important. I repeat, right-wing governments do not need this, but we need it”.