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 2nd Article of Prespes Agreement clearly refers to the entry of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into the NATO and 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, the closest partner of the United States in the broader region; Syriza’s coalition partner, ANEL; the right-wing party, New Democracy; and the criminal Nazi “Golden Dawn,” who supported the rallies raising nationalist slogans. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) revealed these convergences and explained to the Greek people the danger of EU-NATO orientation of the agreement as well as the seeds of irredentism embedded in 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 on 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 struggles of the working class and the other sections of the Greek civil society has not occurred by chance. These are the results of a clear strategy of the party that rejects intermediate stages between capitalism and socialism. That’s why the KKE does not support or align with any bourgeois governments. The party does not legitimize capitalist exploitation and is confronting the role of all the bourgeois forces, including the new type of social democracy rolled out by Syriza. We are focused on the development of class struggles by building up a strong social alliance with the working class. The KKE is devoted to using all its strength for the struggle to overthrow crony capitalism, along with consolidating workers’ power, and disengaging from the EU. We also consider this experience useful for the revamping of the international communist movement.
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 policies which are being promoted by the crony capitalist bourgeois forces worldwide. The extreme right is a reserve for the capitalist system. It has been proved many times that ultra-nationalism is very useful for covering up capitalist exploitation and safeguarding the interests of bourgeois class which is competing with its antagonists in a wild race for the interests of monopolies at the expense of the rights of the people. In order to overcome this difficult situation, we need to fight both the ultra-right and the capitalist system that feeds them. Various so-called “anti-fascist fronts”, propped up by social democrats, are also catering to them by defending the exploitative capitalist system which provides cover and life to the ultra right-wing forces.
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 functions as an European intra-state imperialist center. It was and continues to be a tool for the European big capitalists to increase their profits and safeguard their domination. It is not serving, nor can it ever serve, the needs of the working class. The bourgeois class of various countries in the region have their own benefits from taking part in the EU, that too always at the expense of the peoples.
The expectations that the EU can be reformed in a “pro-people” direction have proved to be futile. The big claims of a change in the EU towards the interest of the peoples through its supposed “democratization” are also unfounded.
Only socialism can guarantee freedom, including social rights and social security, to the working class of Europe. It can be achieved only through the struggles of the working class and other progressive sectors of Europe, not through the co-habitation with the big capitalists and certain groups of politicians in the region.
PD: 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 to the popular will and seriously hampered the collective aspirations of the Greek people against austerity by continuing the policies of the previous New Democracy and PASOK parties. Syriza has promoted harsh anti-people policies all these past four years. It got into government by telling huge lies, promising abolition of the bailout package or the Second EU memorandum (Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece) during the Greek debt crisis, and then signing the third, worst and harshest memorandum on 12 July 2015. And now, it is adhering to a even more disastrous agreement with the EU that is also barbaric and anti-people, as was made clear by the vote on the recent budget. It has promoted cuts in wages and pensions, imposed huge taxation, restricted the right to strike, contributed to the rise of evictions of the poor, privatization 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 and the sovereign rights of the country at risk, one that “divides and rules”, leading the country to becoming a vast American NATO base with additional military infrastructure 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.
This is a most important time for the Greek people. They have to draw conclusions from their experiences and organize their struggles together with the KKE and other class-oriented forces. We have to form a strong militant social alliance against this reactionary government and build a real alternative through workers’ power and 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 US, 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, as well as Greece that say nothing about the open intervention of the US in Venezuela.
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 the progressive, working class sectors in the country, including the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), in their pursuit of a life without exploitation and imperialist interventions.