Sunday, March 14, 2021

Interview of the General Secretary of the KKE Dimitris Koutsoumbas in "Kontra News" newspaper

Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), gave an interview in the Sunday edition (14 March 2021) of "Kontra News" newspaper. 

The communist leader refers to the current political situation in Greece, the policy of New Democracy (ND) government during the Pandemic, Greece's Left political forces and the stance of the KKE. 

 Below, you can read a translated version of the interview:

Yanis Varoufakis called on SYRIZA and the KKE to form a joint front against the government on the occasion of the incident of police violence in Nea Smyrni... Why did you answer negatively?

Mr Varoufakis once again calls the KKE to mass mobilizations. We remind him, therefore, that for a year now the KKE has been leading mobilizations – on May Day, Polytechnic anniversary, strikes, etc – in fact, he invites us to do something we are already doing, while he himself doesn't do it.

The most important thing, though, is how repression can actully be confronted? Through arrangements between the leaderships of political parties or in terms of movement and mass struggles that will take on against the very cause of the problem, which is the anti-people strategy that requires the respective repressive shielding? For us the answer is the second. This is where every political force will be judged, without acquitting forces which, either tolerated or co-formed the institutional repression framework from governmental positions. SYRIZA and its former Minister, Varoufakis, aren't free of blame.

On the basis of the proportional representation electoral system, could the KKE support a government of co-operation of the parties of the Left, at least to pass some specific bills where there is seemingly a common line?

As it happens in life, so in politics you aren't what you say you are. And the forces you are probably referring to – SYRIZA, KINAL – have nothing to do with what we knew as the “Left”. They are forces that have been judged as governments, voted for austerity memorandums and anti-people measures, bled the people, put their stamp to emblematic, dangerous for the people, choices, such as the strategic cooperation between Greece and the USA. We have already answered your question since 2012 and life herself vindicated us in a tragic way, because the SYRIZA government led militant people to frustration and defeatism. In case the KKE would support such an anti-people government, that would be the best gift for the conservative and reactionary forces. Of course, we have no problem to vote bills that may provide relief to the working people. But, look this: SYRIZA is “committed” to secure the 7% of GDP for the “new” NHS, which is less than the 8% of 2015. As you can see, SYRIZA is in common line with others.

How should the people react to the phenomena of police arbitrariness? How do you respond to the government that acusses the opposition of inciting the protests?

It is the unjust and anti-people governmental policy that ignites popular indignation and instigate the demonstrations. The government legislates monsters, escalates authoritarianism and blames the people who are rightfully react. In fact, the government and Prime Minister personally presents SYRIZA as the “instigator” of the mobilizations. That could be the joke of the day, but the situation is very serious. Because the cases of unprovoked police violence aren't isolated incidents, but a strategic choice, a trademark police of all anti-people governments. ND upgraded an already authoritarian legislative and operational arsenal which formed by previous governments as well.

Despite the growing dissatisfaction of the people for the governmental management of the pandemic, the polls show that the KKE's percentage points remain stalled... Does this concern you?

In the polls we see that our Party not only stabilizes but also increases its strength. And from our daily communication with the working people we see that the KKE, beyond its electoral influence, is acknowledged by wide strata of people as the militant, credible force which, rain or shine, defends the worker-people's interests. The acknowledgement for the action and the assessments of the KKE includes dynamics that can strengthen resistance centers in workplaces, places of education, working class neighborhoods. Our major concern is how this acknowledgement will be transformed into support for the KKE within the movement in order to save what can be saved, claiming everything that the people need today to live as they deserve. We reach out to these people, no matter what they have voted for, to be together in the struggles and break fatalism which ultimately favors only those who create impasses in the lives of the people and their children: The ruling class, the EU, the governments and their parties.

The government intends to open the market by the end of the month and the Catering in mid-April... What is your position? Do you think that some activities should have been opened already, such as catering in open spaces?

If the government had implemented the proposals made by the KKE, by hospital doctors, by trade unions and other mass organizations, schools and universities wouldn't be closed and several activities, such as Trade, Catering and other industries, which remain closed, would have already been opened. The government's choices doesn't demonstrate incompetence, but a commitment to the policy that considers Health, Education and the people's needs overall as a “cost”. What is now urgent is the targeted support to those small professionals who have accumulated problems, in order for them to survive and be able to activate themselves when the restrictions are lifted. Especially for Trade, Catering, as well as for other sectors, we submitted a bill to write-off debts to tax authorities and banks, to subsidize individual insurance contributions, provide 1,000 euros monthly allowance, alongside long-term relief measures, such as the restoration of the tax-free limit and the abolition of excise tax.

The private health sector now seems to be stepping up the NHS effort. Do you think that valuable time has been wasted?

In order not to waste more time, that is more human lifes, the requisition of private sector is urgent, to take protection measures everywhere, to speed up vaccination with access to all available vaccines. When public hospitals in Attica are filled with camp beds, surgeries are stopped, examinations and treatments are suspended, the “voluntary” concession of two private clinics in Attica for a fee can't be baptized as “reinforcement”. Support to the NHS can only be given by the actual requisition, that is the immediate seizure without compensation of the infrastructure and staff of large private hospitals. We have already indicated, by name and address, five of them. Instead, the government deifies private health sector which, as if we aren't at war, not only is not under requisition, but profits out of this war.  

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