Alexis Tsipras' speech at the Die Linke Party Congress in Berlin, Germany

Alexis Tsipras' speech at the Die Linke Party Congress in Berlin, Germany

Comrades and Friends,

We are only few days away from the most critical European elections in the history of the European Union. Because this time, we are not voting only to elect members of the Parliament. We are voting to shape the balance of political forces in a Europe, which is at a critical crossroads. We are voting to hold back catastrophic austerity and regain democracy. We are voting for our lives.

To tear down the «wall of money». To overcome the North-South division. A division that cancels the European idea and Europe itself.

The dilemma is now clear: Either with the Europe of the peoples or with the Europe of the bankers. Either with democracy and solidarity that unite Europe or with austerity that kills Europe. Either with the European Left or with Ms Merkel.

And the answer is only one: All together, let’s march ahead, with the European Left. With Die Linke and SYRIZA. Once again with the Left!

Comrades and Friends,

I bring to you the message of hope and change that I receive from every corner of Europe. The optimism and the anticipation of the ordinary citizen of Europe on the street. That the Left will be the pleasant surprise of the European elections.

We can, we must and we will be. Because now is the hour of the Left. Now is the hour of democracy. Now is the time for change! The other Europe is not only our motto. It is the demand of every citizen in Europe. Wherever he or she may reside. In North or South, East or West.

I bring to you the hope of every citizen. Whose patience is over. Who cannot withstand austerity any more. Who cannot tolerate fear any more. Who are ready to vote for dignity and the European Left at the European elections.

In the four corners of Europe. Citizens are optimistic that, at the polls, we will break through the wall of austerity built by its three musketeers: 
the conservatives, the liberals, and the socialdemocrats.

Because in a few days we are not voting on the dosage of austerity. We are voting for its immediate termination. We are voting for a policy change. 
For democracy, justice and growth. That's why we are voting Left.

And I am optimistic. We will break through the neoliberal consensus of the three. The European Left will be the third political force in the next European Parliament and will play a leading role in developments. It’s becoming clearer with every day that goes by.

That we will leave the past behind:
Mr Juncker, who has presided over all the Eurogroup meetings for the Memoranda and austerity. And who has grave political responsibility for the failure of the austerity programs.

But also, Mr. Schultz. Who assumed the Presidency of the European Parliament in half term, after a political deal between the conservatives and socialdemocrats. And, in the critical periods of the crisis, he has shown no difference in essence from his right-wing predecessor.

And, the «determined duo», as their own Chairman, Graham Watson, characterized the liberals Guy Verhofstadt and Olli Rehn. The symbol of harsh austerity in Europe, Mr Olli Rehn. Whom the Liberals are hiding behind Mr Verhofstadt in order to deceive people ahead of the elections. That's why every vote in favor of Juncker, Schultz and Verhofstadt is a willing yes to the continuation of austerity. And every vote that is lost by abstaining for any respectable reason is also an unexpected yes to austerity.

Those who are critical to the current Europe from a progressive angle. They should be the first ones to go to the polls. They should be the first ones to vote down the political forces that have contributed to the current neoliberal and undemocratic Europe of fear and Memoranda.

Those in Europe who want policy change and a change in course. They should vote the lists of the European Left. But, above all, the first ones to go to the polls should be those who are the first victims of this crisis. The young and the women. From unemployed, they should become the pioneers of change in Europe.

May 2014 offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape Europe for the better. We must seize it. All the more since, For the first time, The peoples of Europe themselves, Have set the political agenda of these elections. No to austerity. Yes to growth.

That's why even the most consistent political supporters of austerity are critical of it, just ahead of the elections. But this opportunity should not be missed.

Now we can and must turn Europe Left. Because those who are now denouncing right-wing Euroscepticism, nationalism and neonazism are the same who fuelled it with the choice of the barbarous austerity measures. And we, the European Left. We are the only counterweight to the nightmare of the far-right and to the reappearance of the ghost of fascism in Europe.

Comrades and Friends,

Let me say it once again: The neoliberal European establishment. Ms Merkel and her political allies. Have taken advantage of the crisis in order to rewrite Europe’s postwar political economy. And to impose the Anglo-Saxon neoliberal capitalism. And they did that with myths and populism.

First, they said that the Greeks were supposedly lazy and for that reason they went bankrupt. But when the crisis began to spread, they did not dare to repeat it. They also said that it was the money of the taxpayers of the North that saved Greece. Once again, they did not tell the truth. Because, with your money, they saved the overexposed to Greek bonds European banks. That’s why the Greek debt was not restructured at the outset.

That is, with your own money you saved the European banks and the neoliberal governments of Europe. And then.  Out of the loans disbursed to Greece.  Only 1,6% went to the country’s government budget, namely, €5,3 billion.

The rest goes out from one pocket. And only after the self-destructive prerequisites of the Memorandum have been fulfilled. The money goes back in the same pocket. Because it is deposited immediately to a special account, only for the repayment of past loans.  This is the reality. And for this to happen successfully, Greece has plunged into a recession for the seventh consecutive year.

Because unlike the forecasts of the accomplices who pretend that Greece is a «success story». The OECD forecasts recession this year for Greece. 
At the rate of 0,3%. And timid growth after 2015 – and that only conditional. This is the growth which the troika had assured that it would appear as early as 2012. Now that’s postponed for until 2015 – and we shall see.

And so one reasonably wonders: The average German citizen. The average Dutch citizen. The Finn and others. Would they tolerate in their countries an official unemployment close to 30%? An unprecedented for a European country, in peacetime, humanitarian crisis? Children in school fainting from hunger? Small businessmen committing suicide because of debts and closures? Retired people who cannot afford to buy their medicine?

Show me the European country whose citizens would tolerate such living conditions.
And tell me: Would you describe that as a «success story»? As it is described by the advocates of austerity? By Ms Merkel, Mr Samaras, and his assistant, Mr. Venizelos, Mr Juncker and the duo Guy Verhofstadt and Olli Rehn . They talk about success, so that to continue with the austerity.

Or would you describe it as a modern Greek tragedy that must end immediately?

And it will end immediately. Because, I assure you. SYRIZA will win a great victory in the May 25 elections. A victory that would mean the end of the Samaras government and the beginning of the end of austerity in the entire Europe. The, beloved to Ms Merkel, Samaras government will soon prove to be a minority among the people. And I regret that I will say it here, in Berlin. And Mr Merkel, who will listen to it, will be upset. But soon, she will have to deal with a government of the Left in Greece. A government that – and I promise that to you. Will negotiate with her on your behalf as well. Because our own differences with Ms Merkel do not have a national sign. They, instead, have a political, social and class sign. And the end of the strategy of austerity in the South will be the most optimistic message for the working people in the North. That the devaluation of their labor will end. That their rights will be protected.

Comrades and Friends,

I want you to be fully conscious of it and convey this message to the German people: Everything that took place in Greece and in Europe’s South, with the austerity programs. It did not happen to tackle the debt crisis. The proof is that: Before the Memorandum, public debt as a percentage to GDP was 124% in Greece. Today, after four Memorandum years, it is 175%. Now, that the productive base of the country is in ruins. That unemployment is as high as never before. And Greece is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. Despite massive austerity, Greece’s public debt is unsustainable. Because debt sustainability has never been a policy goal. The policy goals have been austerity per se, privatizations and neoliberal reforms.

But the Greek public debt will not become sustainable without bold initiatives. Like writing-off a large part of its nominal value. 
Similar to the solution for Germany in 1953. Which has been a landmark in European solidarity.

But, if it is not sustainable. Then it will be a real burden and a threat, not only to Greece, but to the entire Eurozone. Those who think that the indebtedness of Greece and the pending debt sustainability is a negotiating weapon, they should know that they are holding a boomerang instead of a revolver.

Comrades and Friends,

I know that, once again, you are all looking at Greece. But this time you turn your eyes upon us with optimism. It was from Greece that the vicious and black circle of austerity and social despair started. It will be from Greece that the new circle of change will start.

But I want you to know that we, as SYRIZA, we are particularly looking forward to the German people and to the sister party of Die Linke. We are looking forward to your solidarity and support.

And, at this point, I would like to thank you on behalf of the Greek people and SYRIZA. For the sincere support of Die Linke on a European moral and political issue, still pending. That of German war reparations. And, in particular, of the forced occupation loan from the Bank of Greece at the time. A loan, with which Nazi Germany financed its warfare.

That’s why it is not a bilateral, Greek-German dispute. It is a European issue, which is pending and must come to an end. And its resolution will be a moral vindication for all peoples in Europe.

And we have the ability. We can and we should. SYRIZA, Die Linke, and the Party of the European Left. Become ambassadors of a new unity between Greeks and Germans. Among all the peoples of Europe.

Comrades and Friends,

In the few days left until elections. For the Europe of tomorrow. We are fighting all together for each and every single vote. So that, especially those who are reluctant or have political objections, go and vote. We fight that battle from door to door. To make the European Left a force that can decisively influence the everyday life of the average citizen in Europe. A force of hope and prospect.

In that battle, I am trying to contribute with all my strength, as your candidate for President of the European Commission. Your choice is an honor for the Greek people who are suffering from austerity. And for all the peoples of the South, as well as across the entire Europe, who are against austerity. That is why , on a democratic, social and ecological basis.

With the vote of the citizens in a few days. We will open our sails for a Europe of dignity, justice and development.

Comrades and Friends,

This May will be for Europe. This May will be for the young, the women, the unemployed, the people of labor and culture. This May is ours! We will be the pleasant surprise of this election.

We are holding our fate in our vote. We are holding our life in our hands.

We will succeed in our struggle! Thank you all very much

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