Friday, March 22, 2024

Communist mayor of Patras Kostas Peletidis visits Turkey, meets with TKP delegation

Kostas Peletidis, the communist mayor of Patras, Greece's third largest city, visited Turkey as a guest of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP). In a joint meeting with TKP, the communists of both countries evaluated the elections and communist approach to municipalities. 
Delegations from TKP and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) met journalists in Istanbul on Friday morning.

TKP General Secretary Kemal Okuyan opened the meeting. Underlining the deep friendship and cooperation between the TKP and the KKE, Okuyan said that the two parties would exchange views during the meeting.

Okuyan continued with the evaluations on the political atmosphere regarding the elections in Turkey, stating, “There was an electoral atmosphere in Turkey that we have always complained about, for years we have been saying ‘Turkey is being cleansed of politics, parties are ceasing to be parties, individuals are being brought to the fore’, but none of us expected the disgrace that we saw in these elections”.

He said that despite all TKP’s efforts on the ground and in the media, it had failed to ensure a discourse on political programmes, world views and ideological references in Turkey. Okuyan said: “Instead of politics, we are discussing individuals. We are not discussing the political views of these people, we are discussing which one of them is better at tearing the others down”.

How can a municipality whose job is to provide water have a water factory?”

Okuyan said that very important issues were getting lost in Turkey because of this atmosphere. “Let me give you an example. I saw it yesterday on TKP’s Youtube page. There is a programme with our candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Orhan Gökdemir. Not a tenth of what was discussed there will be discussed in the Istanbul elections”.

In response to Orhan Gökdemir’s question, “How can a municipality have a water factory?”, Okuyan said, “How can no one question this? One of the main tasks of a municipality is to provide healthy drinking water. How is it acceptable to produce water and then sell it instead? No one is asking these questions,” he commented.

Thousands of these money-counting machines work everywhere”

Commenting on the debate about the “money counting machines” that surfaced in the Istanbul elections, which were served up by the mainstream media, Okuyan said: “We cannot know the details. But we are going through a period where these money counting machines are working in every corner of Istanbul. Doesn’t the AKP (the ruling party) know this? Weren’t these machines used to sell Istanbul’s stone, soil and every other part of the city? There are thousands of these machines in all parties”.

Saying “We are a communist party”, Okuyan explained what happened in a television programme he recently attended. “If he had been in the studio, there would have been a fight,” Okuyan said of an opposition representative who called in to the programme and insisted that they were tired of everyone being left with the left and right with the right.

“He said: ‘There is a revolutionary situation in Turkey right now. He is using Marxist terms. What are they doing in the language of a spokesman for an establishment party? And no one asks, ‘Sir, when did you become a Marxist, if you have, what are you doing in the CHP (the main opposition party)?

Okuyan: We challenge them all

According to Okuyan, TKP is “trying to make its point in an election where they are unable to discuss”. “Nobody knows what anybody is saying. And that includes the left parties.”

“Politics takes place between different sides. We are asking our citizens to take sides in an election that has no parties, it is very tiresome. Everyone goes from one side to another.”

“Half of the current candidates have changed parties in the last year. People can change their political views, but they should at least tell us why they changed, so we can know. The problem is not just that Hamza Dağ (AKP candidate in a CHP-dominated city) did not wear a party badge, everyone wore one for him. There are hidden CHP members in the AKP, there are hidden İYİP (a nationalist party) members in the CHP… It’s a big mess. TKP is trying to stand upright and do politics in this chaos, they call us ‘outdated’. We will see. We will see who is old-fashioned and who is modern.”

But according to Okuyan, TKP is doing its work among the people very well. “We work all over Turkey. But we try very hard not to be part of this atmosphere of below-the-belt politics.”

Okuyan called for a political debate: “We call on all parties to oppose TKP. But the problem is that the debate will only last three minutes. They have become stupid in this environment. There are no ideas. They have even lost their language, they cannot even speak Turkish properly. We challenge them all.”

All polling companies are somebody’s manipulation tool”

At the meeting, Okuyan also spoke out against the election polls and the companies that conduct them. “I don’t want to get involved in the efforts of those who are trying to ignore TKP with some unseemly methods, we are a communist party, we are used to it,” Okuyan said, “but look, an opposition party is conducting a survey in Kadıköy, Mr Maçoğlu (TKP candidate under an alliance), who everyone is talking about, is not in the survey. The reason is that the questions were prepared before the candidates were chosen. When will it be published? On the 10th of March. It’s the same in Hatay Defne, people are saying ‘we will vote for TKP’, they are saying ‘there is no such party in the list we have’. What kind of world is this? All polling companies are somebody’s manipulation tools,” he commented.

“We will stay away from this environment. Look, we say nothing even to the parties that we can easily trample on. We don’t want to say that the opposition is fighting each other. We will let them rot in this political environment. We are confident. We will be back in action on 1 April. Let’s see if the others can appear in public… Let’s see how many of them resign from the party they were elected to…”.

There are bagmen candidates, everyone knows that”

The TKP general secretary went on to criticise the political environment that emerged in the local elections: “Many candidates in Turkey run for office to get money from other parties like a bagman in an auction, and everyone knows this.”

Peletidis: Strengthening of communists will be an important development

After Kemal Okuyan, the mayor of Patras, Kostas Peletidis, took the floor. Peletidis said: “The strengthening of the TKP in the local elections and the election of TKP mayors and councillors is of great importance for the people. It will be a very important development for the people to have such a basis in their struggle for a better life”.

The Greek mayor said that both countries are faced with policies that cause great destruction and grievances, “The security and needs of the people are seen as a cost in both countries and are sacrificed for the profits of the capitalist groups. We need a struggle in which communists are strengthened everywhere so that the needs of the majority are met and not the profits of the minority.

Patras is the capital of the region of Western Greece and the third largest city in the country with a population of 215,000. Patras is considered the country’s “gateway to the West” and has one of Greece’s most important commercial ports. On the other hand, the city has a vibrant cultural and artistic life, with scientific research centres, especially in the field of technological education, and the Patras Carnival.

“Despite the difficulties we face because of the anti-people policies of the governments, our experience shows that communists can bring about change: Communists always defend the interests of the people. They always tell the truth and never deceive the people like the representatives of the bourgeois parties do. The presence of communists in the municipalities, which are part of the anti-people order, is very important. Because although the municipalities are institutions that should serve the people, in practice they function as a source of profit for the capitalists, where all kinds of agreements are made with the people’s money”.

The Communist Municipality of Patras is not an oasis in the desert, a struggle is necessary”.

When asked by journalists at the meeting “You have been in power in Patras for three terms, how has the life of low-income people changed during this period?”, Peletidis stressed the need for struggle and not to have unrealistic expectations: “The life of the working class in Patras is not very different from the life in Greece in general or even in Turkey. So is the life of those who exploit the labour of others. This is what we say in Patras: You workers, what is the difference between you? Don’t you have common interests? Who are the real causes of your problems? Aren’t those who exploit you responsible for these problems? Who are those who have wealth, and who do they use to get this wealth?”

Peletidis said that as a community they were calling for “let’s take one side, let’s take the other side, let’s take the government to that side, let’s fight, let’s expose, let’s say what the real causes of our situation are”.

“We are not an oasis in the desert, but we are breathing. We are putting pressure on the opposing front. Young people are learning to defend their rights. We awaken the washed brains. We shine the light. We have dignity. Is this a small thing?”

The capitalists set their eyes on the public spaces, we won them”

Peletidis explained that there was a confrontation between capital and the people over public spaces in Patras and said, “We won. They wanted to build shopping centres, but we made them into big parks and squares”.

Noting that the workers’ children had no holidays, Peletidis said, “We built free children’s camps. We built play centres for children in the neighbourhoods. Kindergartens were free, we made them free and increased their number”.

Noting that families in Patras send their children to classrooms to support their education, Peletidis said, “But where do poor children go? To the public libraries we have set up.

We walked 220 kilometres as the people of Patras for our rights”

One of the most critical issues for local authorities is the budget. Peletidis explained that they walked 220 kilometres from Patras to Athens with the people of Patras to protest for an increase in the public budget, and that at the end of the action they had won.

As in Turkey, sport is one of the most important public interests in Greece. “We have built the biggest stadium in Greece in Patras,” said Peletidis.

Okuyan: We are ready to prevent the Turkish and Greek people from shedding each other’s blood if the day comes

Answering the journalists’ question about the ongoing war in Ukraine, the TKP General Secretary said: “As TKP and KKE, the priority of both parties is to prevent our own countries from being involved in a hot conflict and to raise the struggle against NATO.

Okuyan explained that it’s not only about the war in Ukraine and added: “The peoples of Turkey and Greece are also peoples that are tried to be turned into enemies when someone’s interests dictate it. We have made very clear decisions on this issue with our Greek comrades, we have preparations and principles. If such a conflict between the two countries comes on the agenda, we will oppose it with all our strength”.

Peletidis said he agreed with Okuyan’s views and said: “In whose interest are these wars? In the interests of the imperialists. We will not take part in these conflicts between the imperialists”.

Referring to the tensions between Turkey and Greece, Peletidis said: “Look, Greece buys two planes, then Turkey buys four, Greece buys eight and so on. Who pays for them? The people pay, we pay. We are going to stop this,” he said.

Comments from the Mayor: The main problem is the struggle for power

Asked by journalists what kind of preparations they were making, Peletidis said that they were trying to make all kinds of preparations, especially strengthening the building stock in Patras.

However, according to Peletidis, this is not enough to prepare for an earthquake. The question is how the central budget is used, and therefore political power.

“Are there resources in Greece today to make our houses and schools earthquake-resistant? Yes, there are. But someone is using these resources for ‘investments’, for ‘projects’. There are resources, but they are not used for the people. That is what we are fighting for. They are trying to take our resources and we are trying to take their resources. If we win, the earthquake problem will be solved, but not while they win. /