Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), gave a comprehensive interview in the weekend edition (1-2 February) of the "Efimerida ton Syntakton" (EfSyn) newspaper.
The KKE leader refered to various interesting issues, including Greece's domestic political matters, the country's relations with neighboring Turkey, the sinful role of social democracy and the stance of the KKE towards cooperation governments.
Below, you can read a translated version of the interview:
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—The world’s rich people and their political representatives gather every year in Davos and express their anguish for the escalation of inequalities. Do you think that they are afraid of something or they just pretend being concerned and philanthropists?
— Above all, they try to regulate the contradictions between them which are difficult to bridge and to ensure their domination over the people of the world. Of course, they are concerned about how they will manage the escalation of inequalities, which are the other side of the enormous wealth accumulated by the bourgeois class as a result of the capitalist way of production. That because more and more working people now feel that this system is a dead end for their own needs.
— Despite the increase of poverty, despite the fact that very few people – the billionaires- have as much wealth as half the planet, we do not see powerful reactions by the citizens and neither the communist and left-wing parties – with few exceptions – strengthen their influence. Do you have an explanation?
— Dynamic reactions and struggles break out in a number of countries, even if they haven’t yet gained a more radical, revolutionary orientation. Therefore, we do not zero everything out, without , of course, ignoring the negative correlation of forces that exists today for the people, as a result of the historical backlash, the overthrow of socialism, which still cast heavy shadow and affect the orientation, cultivate defeatism, frustration and rejection.
Above all we do not nullify the agonizing effort made by Communist Parties in a number of countries – many of them starting from scratch – to organize the struggle and restore the prospect of a new society, a socialist-communist one.
An obstacle in this effort are “left” and social democratic forces which reinforce the logic “There is no alternative”, contribute to conservativeism, give a helping hand to the system, cultivate paralytic illusions that the unfair capitalism can become fair and humane. In our country, who is truly and substantially opposed to the ND government? The forces of the KKE which lead in each protest: From the auctions and the Social Security system to the cancellation of the dangerous agreement with the USA.
Where is the supposedly left-wing SYRIZA? Actually, it is opposed to secondary issues, being in line with the government in the big and important issues which, however, determine the lives of our people and the country’s course.
— We are out of the memorandums, but there is no development in the horizon. Do you think that there no way for Greece to get back on her feet, as long as we are in the European Union and the eurozone?
— The EU is a union of capitalist states. The monopolies, the capitalist ownership have the power. The point therefore is that any growth recorded concerns capitalist profits in our country as well. In no way it is accompanied by replenishment of the major financial losses, much more so with substantial increases in wages, pensions, labour rights, benefits in Education, Health, Welfare, Social Insurance. On the contrary, we are experiencing greater exploitation of the working people, the leveling of the rights. That’s what the ND government guarantees. It continues the course from the point that SYRIZA left it.
As for the question whether or not the people can get back on their feet, we answer: Yes, with organization and their own plan for their own path of development, with disengagement, of course, from the EU and NATO.
— You expressed your strong opposition to our country’s involvement in the crisis of the broader Middle East region, with the deployment of “Patriot” missiles and a frigate in Saudi Arabia. What are you afraid of? Don’t you trust our allies? They say that they support us…
— The deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia and the frigates at the Strait of Hormuz confirm that our country is drenched up to the neck in the dangerous imperialist plans. The agreement with the U.S. is the most characteristic example. The whole of Greece is a military base and the people are a target. I remind you of old statements by Russians and, recent ones, by Iranians. And all these (happen) for the sake of Greek monopolies, to make any deals. Nobody can trust the bourgeoisie’s allies, who back Turkey and legitimize her assertions. Just because SYRIZA threw into “the washing machine” the crimes of USA and NATO, does not mean that they have been laundered. You see, not all of us have a goldfish memory.
— Do you think that, at some point, Erdogan will pass from aggressive rhetoric to actions that could lead the two countries in a war conflict?
— Everything is possible. And that is why various staffs set to the people the false dilemma “compromise with Turkey or military conflict?”. Each side is equally dangerous for peace, the country’s sovereign rights, the future of the Greek and Turkish people.
A war incident is likely to lead to a dangerous compromise, with granting of sovereign rights and co-exploitation of the wealth in the Aegean. But this will not ensure peace, since all it will do is to “light the fuse” for new war conflicts, with the participation of big competing powers.
The bourgeois “concerns” regarding recourse to The Hague consist part of the framework of the co-exploitation, compromise scenarios, within the effort of a dangerous complacency. What will be included in the “arbitration agreement” which is a precondition? It will record the positions of the two sides and the turkish government will be able to set all her assertions, thus setting a precedent. Except from that, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has other bad precedents, violations of principles of the International Law such as with Kosovo. We support the non-violation of the borders and the setting of the maritime zones in accordance with the International Convention on the Law of the Seas.
— For Mitsotakis’ government the “law and order” doctrine is sacred. Do you think that the democratic achievements of people are threatened?
— If anything is proven with the ND government is that the implementation of the anti-people policies goes hand by hand with state violence and arbitrariness, authoritarianism, repression. This is why the issue of repression must be at the front of the workers-people’s needs so that such plans will not pass, especially those relating to the restriction of strikes and demonstrations and employers’ terrorism. Of course we didn’t expect something different from the New Democracy government. The democratic conquests have always been in the target of the governments, also of those governments which rhetorically care about democracy. With the previous government, for example, there was an “anti-democratic” policy too: Anti-strike law of Minister Achtsioglou, criminalization of mobilizations against auctions, reactionary provisions for the academic sanctuary, etc. Stepping on these, the ND government comes to take off even more aggressively this policy.
— The Minister of Development Adonis Georgiadis said that “the Left was constantly destroying Greece”. You represent a party which fought, under both difficult and normal circumstances for national independence and social justice. How do you receive such an accusation?
— Georgiadis and his like-minded people, both inside and outside New Democracy, think that they found the opportunity, due to the problematic governance of SYRIZA, to slander radical Left, to rewrite this country’s history and to pour again the poison of anti-communism. Of course, their major goal is to hit the KKE and those who never lowered the struggle’s flag, those who are still fighting. They are trying in vain. The deposits of the people’s movement, as well as the decades of struggles of leftists, militants, communists are not soiled, neither by the dirty and unhistorical slanders of Georgiadis nor by those who, in the name of the Left, tried to dirt pure ideals in order to justify their anti-people governmental actions.
— In Portugal and Spain there are co-operation governments with the participation or tolerance of the communists. Okay, they do not overthrow capitalism, but they improve the situation of the working people. This is not negligible. Is there any chance that something like that will happen in Greece?
— The workers produce the wealth and the few ones are getting rich at their expense in Portugal, Spain and Greece. The gap between the capabilities of our times and their standard of living is growing. Unemployment and underemployment are maintained in high levels. The retirement age has been increased.
The Portuguese government blackmailed the teachers who were on strike in order to impose freeze on wages. It used the army and political conscription against the strike of tanker trucks drivers. It implements privatizations, harsh taxation for the people and tax exemptions for the capital. The government in Spain announce anti-social security measures. They recognized Venezuela’s coup plotter Guaido. They implement the whole strategy of EU and NATO. Even SYRIZA cannot compete… How could someone talk about an actual improvement of the working people’s lives?
Social Democracy is always looking for “crutches”; that has been proved throughout her sinful history. But the mission of the Communist Parties is to fight for the satisfaction of the daily people’s needs and pave the way for the abolition of capitalist exploitation. This is the only way which, directly and in the long term, brings particular achievements, through struggle and protects against the dangerous integration into the system and, above all, paves the way and creates conditions for the hopeful tomorrow of a new society.
— Under what circumstances would the KKE participate in a cooperation government?
— The “costume” of cooperation government is very much in fashion lately, with more recent example the so-called progressive forces, only that they call “progressive” anything that is in the system’s interests. A cooperation government within the framework of the exploitative system will implement anti-people policies. The KKE will participate, with all its forces, in the governance of a really workers-people’s power that will express the actual cooperation-alliance that our country needs; the one that serves the interests of the working class and all popular strata. And that can only be decided by the people, when they will realize the enormous power they have, not only in Greece, but in the whole of Europe and all over the world.
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