The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has been making significant political interventions in the country for over a century. The KKE is now a major opposition party in Greece, where all sorts of experiments with political and economic policies are taking place in order to overcome the serious debt crisis that has affected the country since 2007. People Dispatch spoke to Konstantinos Papadakis regarding KKE’s significance in the current political scenario of Greece and Europe. Konstantinos Papadakis is a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and central committee member of the KKE.
Peoples Dispatch (PD): The KKE has stated that the Prespes agreement, signed between Greece and Macedonia, is instigated by the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Several opposition parties have also opposed the agreement along nationalistic lines. How do you see the issue amid the hue and cry raised by these so-called nationalist forces?
Konstantinos Papadakis (KP): The fact is that the Prespa Agreement, in its 2nd article, clearly refers to the entrance of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ( FYROM) into NATO and the EU. This is the essence and the main purpose of the agreement. In this critical issue, all the bourgeois forces, both those supporting the agreement from the standpoint of cosmopolitanism and those opposing it from the standpoint of nationalism, have a common line. This is because none of these forces dispute the imperialist plans of the US, EU and NATO in Balkans, because all of these forces are adopting the goal of the Greek bourgeois class to become the leading force in the Balkan area. These are the meeting points of the government of Syriza, closest partner of the nationalist Trump Administration in the broader region and in coalition for 4 years with the nationalist party of ANEL with the right-wing party, New Democracy, and the criminal Nazi Golden Dawn, who supported the rallies under nationalist slogans. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) reveals these convergences and discloses the dangers for the people of the EU -NATO orientation of the agreement, as well as the seeds of irredentism that are included, the references to “Macedonian nationality” and “Macedonian Language” in the text of the agreement. Such seeds will be a constant source for the growing of nationalism by both sides.
PD: The KKE has been at the forefront of various struggles in Greece, representing various sectors, including workers, teachers, etc. It is also at the forefront of anti-NATO demonstrations and in solidarity with the progressive movements across the world. How do you assess the KKE’s role as a major opposition force in the country and in orienting the communist and workers’ movements in Europe?
KP: This increasing political role and influence of the KKE within the working class and the other poor popular forces and their struggles in Greece has not occurred by chance. These are the results of a clear strategy that rejects intermediate stages between capitalism and socialism, that rejects the support or participation in bourgeois governments. The KKE does not legitimize capitalist exploitation, and is confronting the role of all the bourgeois forces, including a new type of social democracy that is SYRIZA. This is the reason the KKE is focused on the development of the class struggle and the building of a strong social alliance with the working class playing the protagonist role. The KKE is devoted to give all its forces for the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism, the building of the workers’ power, socialism and having our country disengaged from the EU. We consider that this experience is also useful for the International Communist Movement for its militant regroupment.
PD: What do you feel about the rise of ultra-nationalist forces in various countries of Europe? What are the factors that contribute to their surge and what are your plans to challenge them?
KP: The main reason for the rise of the nationalists is the anti-people policy, which is being promoted by all the other bourgeois forces world-wide. The extreme right is a reserve for the capitalist system and a very useful force for the safeguarding of the capitalist exploitation and the interests of each bourgeois class which is competing with its antagonists in a wild race for the interests of monopolies at the expense of the people. In order to cope with it, we need to fight not only against them but also against the capitalist system that feeds them. Various so-called “antifascist fronts” that aim to whitewash social democracy are recycling the problem because it is necessary that we condemn also the political forces that are managing capitalism and support exploitation that creates support for the nationalists or the fascists.
PD: What are your views on the mechanism of the EU and the implications of its policies on the working class of the continent?
KP: The EU that functions as a European intra-state imperialist center was and continues to be a tool for the European great capital to increase its profits and safeguard its domination. It is not serving, nor can it ever serve the needs of the working people. The bourgeois class of the country has its own benefits from taking part in EU, always at the expense of the people.
The expectations that the EU can be reformed in a “pro-people” direction have been proved to be futile. The expectations cultivated regarding a change towards the interest of the peoples though its supposed “democratization” are unfounded.
The workers of Europe, the popular strata, can overthrow with their struggle, today’s negative correlation of forces and meet the preconditions to open up the road for a Europe of socialism that will guarantee the right to stable and full rights work, social rights, social security and income, the future of the working people.
How do you rate the performance of the Syriza government in Greece? Were they able to cater to the general will of the Greek people and ensure the advancement of the working class, as well as left-wing politics?
KP:Syriza inflicted great damage and harm to the Greek people as a continuation of the previous ND and PASOK parties. Syriza promoted harsh anti-people policies all these past four years, by the fact that it got into government by telling huge lies, promising abolition of the memorandum, and then creating the third, worst, harshest memorandum, and now, adhering to a post-memorandum Memorandum, an agreement with the “partners” that is also barbaric and anti-people, as was made clear by the vote on the recent budget. It promoted cuts in wages, pensions, huge taxation, the restriction of the right to strike, the rise of evictions of the poor popular houses, privatizations of the state ports, airports, railways, energy companies and so on And of course, it follows an unacceptable, dangerous policy that puts the Greek people at risk, and the sovereign rights of the country, one that “divides and rules”, leading the country to becoming a vast American NATO base with additional military infrastructures of the US and NATO.This is the reason why the Foreign Ministry of the US commented that the Greek government is the most devoted partner of US in the region”…. Moving closer to the EU elections and the regional and local elections of May, and whenever the general elections finally take place, the Greek people have the way out, to vote for a strong KKE.
The most important thing right now is for the Greek people to come up to conclusions and to organize their struggle together with the KKE and with the class-oriented forces of PAME in the trade union movement against this reactionary policy so as to fight for forming a strong and militant social alliance for the real alternative which is workers power, socialism.
PD: What is your take on the EU’s position over the current situation in Venezuela?
KP: The KKE strongly condemns the open intervention of the USA, the EU, NATO and the governments of Latin America in the domestic affairs of Venezuela and their attempt to impose a puppet-president via a coup. KKE MEPs voted against the unacceptable resolution of the European Parliament, which recognizes the puppet of the US, NATO and EU in Venezuela. The threat of a military intervention is still open in order to promote their dangerous imperialist plans as they do everywhere internationally. The so-called contact groups which the EU calls on is another trap for the Venezuelan people.
We denounce the stance of governments like those of Germany, Spain, Portugal etc. As well as that of the Greek government that says nothing about the open intervention of the USA in Venezuela and claims that allegedly the EU “is incapable of having its own foreign policy” when it does not recognize president Maduro and provocatively issues threatening ultimatums.
It is only the people of Venezuela that have the right and the responsibility to defend their interests and to choose the leadership of the country.
We express our solidarity with the Venezuelan people and we did also in the EP during the recent discussion. A people who are experiencing capitalist exploitation and crisis. We support the CP of Venezuela (PCV) in its fight for the rights of the working class, so that the people live without exploitation and imperialist interventions.