Saturday, April 29, 2023

A strong TKP in Türkiye and a strong KKE in Greece — that's what the people need

Interview of Eliseos Vagenas, member of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in TKP’s soL website:

Elections in Greece will be held on May 21. While it was expected that the elections would be held on an earlier date, they were postponed due to the train accident, which can be considered a "working class agenda". What is the political atmosphere in which Greece moves towards the elections?
The New Democracy (ND) ruling party has decided to put off the parliamentary elections, which are to be held by July 2023 and were originally estimated to be held in April. It is obvious that the train crash, which was a crime that had been waiting to happen as both the communist MPs and trade unionists had warned, caused great anger among the people, especially the youth. The situation that developed put all the parties that have governed in recent years, i.e. the right-wing ND, the social-democratic PASOK, and the “ruling left”, that is the “new” social democracy of SYRIZA, in an embarrassing position. All those parties are responsible for the train crash, the dismantling of the state railway company, the privatization of the railways, the unacceptable working and safety conditions that prevail with the sole criterion of increasing business profits.

The bourgeois parties needed time, hoping that the anger would fade away and not become a criterion for their condemnation in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The point is that a similar situation to the one in the railway exists in every sphere of social life in the country, which shows the workers that the managers of the capitalist system, whether right-wing, centre or “left-wing”, could not care less about people’s lives; they only care about the profits of capital.

We believe that today a significant part of the workers, thanks to the vanguard action of the communists and the KKE, have drawn correct political conclusions from the train crash. However, we know very well that much work is still needed because a large part of the people is still trapped in the false dilemmas that the bourgeois parties are intensely posing during the election period.

Bourgeois parties, who are responsible for the destruction of the Greek economy through privatization and free market policies, will try to form a government after the renewed elections in July, if not the first round. New Democracy, SYRIZA, PASOK,... Can we say that the elections in Greece will lead to new political dilemmas and problems? Can these actors be expected to address [solve] the real problems faced by the people?

All these bourgeois parties have been tested in practice. Whether in a period of capitalist growth or crisis they have served the profits of big capital and placed new burdens on the people. It is characteristic that in the four years of the ND government, PASOK has voted 70% and SYRIZA 50% of the laws put forward by ND in parliament. Despite their individual differences, they agree on strategic issues, such as EU policies, Greece’s participation in NATO, the strategic alliance with the USA and France, Greece’s involvement in the imperialist war being waged in Ukraine between the Euro-Atlantic imperialist camp (US, NATO, EU) and the emerging Eurasian imperialist camp (Russia, China and their allies). Whatever king of government will be formed, one-party or coalition one, it will be anti-popular.

The Greek people have experience of all those parties’ governance, which promise the earth during the pre-election campaigns and when they are in government they burden the popular strata with taxes, soaring prices, inflation in order for the capitalist sharks to increase their profits. The main issue is that the bourgeois parties and any kind of government  must emerge weak and the KKE must emerge strong in order for the people to be strong and for their struggle to grow stronger.

Considering the consequences of the ongoing war in Europe, what could be the effect of the elections in Greece on the politics of imperialism in the region which Greece and Türkiye are a part of? Is it possible for the "honeymoon" that the two neighboring countries have been having for the last few weeks to last? Or is it more likely that the interests of imperialism and monopolies will open a new and more dangerous chapter in the region?

Life has shown that the foreign policy of the bourgeois classes has a strategic perspective and is promoted, in one way or another, by political “managers” of all hues. Thus, Greek-Turkish relations will continue to be defined by the relations of competition and cooperation between the bourgeois classes of Greece and Türkiye, as well as by the US-NATO-EU competition with the emerging China-Russia camp. Let us not forget that foreign policy and domestic policy go hand in hand. An anti-popular domestic policy cannot be combined with a pro-peoples foreign policy. Today it is clear that Euro-Atlantic powers are trying to settle issues in many areas, seeking to handle or mitigate confrontations that may debilitate them in the face of a great conflict with their competitors. Those settlements are being pushed through with pressure and blackmail, lacking any principle, negatively affecting the interests of both peoples. Agreements without principles and all kinds of moves that lead to the violation of borders and the treaties that define them sow the wind and will reap the whirlwind. Such is the situation with the so-called co-management of the Aegean, which lacks any king of principle and serves the interests of business groups and NATO, to the detriment of the peoples and the environment.

The peoples of Türkiye and Greece share the same interests. They have an interest in claiming to live in peace and to struggle for their own future: against capitalist exploitation; against capitalist profits that lead to tensions and even to military conflict; for the abolition of the exploitation of man by man and the satisfaction of contemporary popular needs; for the elimination of those causes that lead the peoples to the meat grinder of imperialist war; against the involvement of both our countries in imperialist plans; for the return home of military forces on NATO and other imperialist missions abroad; for the disengagement of our countries from the imperialist unions of NATO and the EU; for the closure of US and NATO bases in our countries. The real guarantee of cooperation and brotherhood between the peoples will be formed when the working people take power in both Greece and Türkiye.

Going back to the political and social atmosphere in the country... We observe that class struggle in Greece has been on the rise recently, and that its revival has influenced the country's agenda. Considering also that the train accident was a result of anti-labor policies, to what extent can the working class agenda be impactful during the election period?

The economic and social developments certainly lead to a further aggravation of all the workers’-people’s problems. The exploitation of the working class is intensifying, its absolute and relative impoverishment is growing. The “great achievement” advertised by the ND government, i.e. the investments, not only did not address the problems of the workers but on the contrary, they multiplied them. They did not improve the people’s income nor did they contain its deterioration because they are based on old memorandum and new anti-labour and anti-people measures, on tax breaks and state subsidies to capital, which are paid for by the people through heavy taxation. High prices and inflation eat away at the people’s income. All of the above triggered important trade union struggles of the working class, the poor farmers, the lower and middle strata. Multiform, mass demonstrations and general strikes were held for wage and pension increases, for collective labour agreements, against the heavy taxation of the people, which paralyzed the country. There were also demonstrations in sectors and enterprises, in which workers were able to win some gains.

Clearly, therefore, the workers’-people’s demonstrations, which illuminate the path of struggle,  help so that certain steps in the political consciousness of the people are made. However, we must bear in mind that the bourgeois system possesses the powerful ideological tools to manipulate the people. Thus, the ruling party of the right-wing ND is trying to exploit the argument that the country needs a one-party government in order to have “stability”, so that the necessary “modernization” of the country can take place, as it says, to make it fully “European”. For their part, the “left-wing” SYRIZA is promoting the need for a “progressive” coalition government, which will supposedly implement a “pro-people policy”, accusing the ND of extreme right-wing deviation, and has included in its electoral lists not only parts of the social-democratic PASOK, but also former ND cadres. PASOK is willing to act as a wild card for both ND and SYRIZA and to join a coalition with both parties, as long as the prime minister is not the leader of those parties.

In the light of all your comments, we can move on to the election policies of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). What kind of a political call are you making to the Greek people in the election? How did KKE determine its election policies and candidate lists?

The KKE shows to the people that, despite their differences, ND, SYRIZA and PASOK agree on the crucial issues. They argue about “who” and “how” will govern, since the policy they will pursue is a given. Their only concern is the profits of business groups and not  our lives and needs. Stability for the governments of capital means inability of the labour–popular movement to react against the anti-labour and anti-popular attack. The KKE openly tells the people that it does not intend to participate, support or tolerate any bourgeois government that will be formed and will undoubtedly be anti-popular. The KKE will express the popular opposition to any kind of anti-popular government.

Because stability for the people presupposes a strong KKE, a strong labour–popular movement and at the same time weak anti-popular governments. The more and the faster the people themselves cancel the various anti-popular government plans, the better conditions will be formed to hinder anti-popular measures and to gain achievements; more new possibilities will open up on the path of the radical overthrow of the system. For this reason, every popular vote for the KKE cast from all those who recognize its credibility, consistency, stability and militancy under all circumstances counts.

In the previous parliament, the KKE elected 15 out of 300 MPs. More KKE MPs means more power to make the voice and the problems of the people heard, more militant supporters in the struggle for our just cause, everywhere. The KKE’s lists are made up of workers, farmers, scientists, artists and others who have joined us in the struggle in the previous period. They include people who are not members of the KKE, some of them even supported other parties in the past but now have come to the conclusion that the only solution for the people is to join forces with the KKE.

Lastly, as you know, presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in Türkiye on 14 May. In the light of the SYRIZA experience in Greece, what message would you like to give to the voters in Türkiye for the upcoming elections?

We believe that the electoral strengthening of the communists both in Türkiye and  Greece will be a message against nationalism, against the competition of the bourgeois classes, for the defence of workers’–people’s rights in both countries. In this direction, the path can be opened for a just society, for progress, peace and cooperation between the peoples, against the imperialist unions of NATO and the EU and the interests that today undermine the future of the two peoples.

The working class of Türkiye has its own party, the Communist Party of Türkiye, and it is called upon to vote for it in the elections.

To those who say that a vote cast for the communists is a “wasted vote” because they are not going to govern now, we reply that in fact the exact opposite is true: wasted votes are those that are not cast for the CP but in favour of the bourgeois parties that will ostensibly humanize the barbaric capitalist system. Just as a lost struggle is only a struggle that was never waged, a one that is postponed indefinitely.

The two peoples today need a strong CP in Türkiye, a strong CP in Greece, in all workplaces, trade unions, popular neighborhoods and in the May elections, in order to wage an organized struggle against all anti-popular measures, to rally forces against the imperialist war and capitalist exploitation, to cause cracks in the system of exploitation of man by man and eventually “to change everything” by building the new, socialist–communist society.

We wish the CP of Türkiye every success in the May 14th elections!