Tsipras: We should not let Europe slide back to the past // Future of Europe Speech, September 2018

We should not let Europe slide back to the past Dear president of the European Parliament, dear members of the European Parliament, dear friends Thank you very much for the honour of having invited me to present to the European Parliament our ideas and our worries about the future of Europe and to discuss them with you It’s important and also symbolic that you give me this possibility, just a few days after the end our great adventure, the adjustment programs, and the clean exit from the support programs of Greece after eight years The last time I had the honour to speak with you, Greece was in a very difficult situation The policy of deficits and of wasting away the public money and the extended corruption of previous governments, had led my country towards bankruptcy and in parallel the fact that the institutions didn’t manage to advance and to foster the necessary structural reforms in the first two bailouts, and their push for austerity meant that we were on the verge of bankruptcy and also of a social explosion From 2010 to 2014 Greece lost one fourth of its GDP as unemployment, poverty, and social exclusion soared as well as the public debt Foreign investments were dealt with a severe blow and thousands of young scientists left our country The economic crisis in Greece and the failure to properly manage it, also turned into a political crisis for Europe When I spoke here, you may remember that about half of you praised me and the other half denounced me But there were very few among you who believed that I would manage Greece managed to deliver Three years later, it’s a different country We managed to become from a part of the problem to a part of the solution for Europe, and the clean exit from the last three-year bailout is, of course, a success First of all, for the Greek people, who sacrificed quite a lot to make sure our country would stay in the heart of Europe But it’s also a success for Europe as a whole We proved that if there is a spirit of solidarity and cooperation we can solve crises So we come out of this adventure in a stronger position We are standing on our own two feet and are optimistic about the future The first time since the crisis began, the sacrifices of our people had an effect We’ve managed to have a fiscal consolidation, we proceeded to deep reforms, which should have taken place a long ago Now, the recession belongs to the past and and we are on a growth path We have now new investments which make us a energy hub in the wider region Furthermore, we have proven that there is a way out of crises without destroying the social fabric We supported the weakest, the most vulnerable We managed to end the humanitarian crisis We provided millions of people who are uninsured access to the health system We did manage primary surpluses Three years earlier, no one would believe that would have been possible, because we managed to combat tax evasion There is no more wasting, there is no more corruption in public health and in public investments We made important reforms, like the unification of the social security funds and through the

sustainable adjustment of our public debt we become again economically sovereign We regained our position in European politics Last year we returned to growth And for this year the estimates are that we have 2.5% growth The last three years, we were champions in absorbing the EU funds and in 2017 we ranked second in absorbing and using funds from the Juncker plan We’ve had foreign investment of 3.6 Billion, which is the best performance of the last decade Within three years, unemployment fell by more than 7% We created more than 300,000 new jobs We supported public hospitals We have a unified first level public health We managed to tackle the weaknesses at schools and we increased our spending on scientific research to 1% of our GDP, and we are fighting to stop the brain drain, to turn it into a brain gain, by incentivising youth entrepreneurship and there is also a social income of solidarity This is a Greek version of minimum guaranteed income, and more than 650,000 citizens receive this amount So this means that poverty and social exclusion decrease We create a network of social policies to help the most vulnerable At the same time, swimming against the ocean, Greece is one of the few countries that managed to expand individual rights and freedoms for our citizens For the first time we are granting citizenship to second generation immigrants who were born and raised in Greece We recognised the sexual gender identity and we have agreed and adopted the possibility of marriage for same sex couples and we have abolished the sharia for the muslim community and we are creating a mosque for the Muslims in Athens In a Europe where there is more racism and xenophobia, Greece did its utmost to manage the massive migrant and refugee flows based on humanitarianism and the protection of international law While other countries unilaterally violated EU decisions, we, despite our difficult economic position, rejected the hatred calls Our local communities gave lessons of humanity and we worked together with the European Union and international organisations to face up to this challenge Today, the asylum authority, which did not exist five years ago, manages the greatest number, in relation to population, of applications for asylum Greece’s geopolitical position, contributes to peace and stability in a generally destabilised region Despite the instability and nationalist trends in Turkey, we kept channels of communications open and that means safeguarding peace in the Aegean Sea And we are trying to find collaborative solutions for the refugee issue and we’ve started talking for a just and sustainable solution on the Cyprus issue In this destabilised area of the eastern Mediterranean, together with Cyprus, we are the European factor of stability We’ve broadened our cooperation with Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. And at the same time we deepen the Balkan cooperation and co-development This means that we unlock the European perspective of Western Balkan countries, and the summit of our

flagship of our efforts is the historic agreement of Prespes with our northern neighbour, and we continue our dialogue with Albania After 26 years of disastrous nationalism domination, we managed together with FYROM’s prime minister Zoran Zaev to turn the page and reach a mutually acceptable solution through diplomacy and dialogue This is an agreement which could be a role model for solving other issues in our region Members of the European Parliament, let me stress that our exit from the last bailout does not mean that we will go back to the past Quite the contrary We are determined to avoid the mistakes and the behaviours of the past that led to the crisis The end of the adjustment programs does not mean a return to the past, it is a historic break with the past It is a new beginning, which establishes stability and security, heals wounds and gradually opens new growth perspectives for our country In the years to come, let me ensure you that we will continue our reform efforts, we will focus on the state’s rationalisation more and modernisation of the public administration, We want to cut the red tape, to deepen democracy, radical changes which will take place with the upcoming constitutional reforms, but we will continue our path of fiscal stability One of our priorities will be just growth and the protection of the working people Greece and the Greeks have proven these last years, that they are really deeply dedicated to the idea of European integration They had to suffer a lot, but they insisted on the European path of our country Despite the fact that some in Europe, in particular the most dominant ideas, hurt our people Let us, after 8 years of crisis, all come to some conclusions These conclusions should help us decide what kind of Europe we want and how we want to protect it against new potential crises in the future What is at stake today is of existential nature Until now, the management of the financial crisis and the refugee crisis and the security crisis has indicated many shortcomings and contradictions It tends to turn all these crises into an existential, structural crisis of the European project Let me stress, the failure of the European Union to give democratic and functional solutions to the present challenges will inevitably lead to the triumph of chauvinism and an increase in nationalist conflicts This will mean that we would go back to fragmentation without unity, without cohesion, without an international role and perspective During the financial crisis the European Union, instead of becoming more democratic through the use of our institutional framework of the treaty of Lisbon during this period, we became more technocratic and centred on national states Decisions were made behind closed doors, in informal bodies, without accountability and keeping EU citizens away And we had technocratic institutions like the Troika which held the keys of economic sovereignty and was not accountable to anybody The European institutions were granted a secondary role and the Eurogroup, which

does not have any recognised status, and the ECB and IMF became the main actors The fiscal fetishism in tackling the crisis meant that disparities became greater among member states and within them This meant that many of our people had to face abject poverty, and it created a lot of fear and insecurity to our citizens This failure of the neoliberal management of the crisis feeds the monster of chauvinism and right wing populism The extreme right instead of being the accused of history and instead of being isolated, came to the forefront The refugee crisis that followed, just confirmed the inability in Europe to go forward Since many of the member states do not share its founding values If the logic of isolationism prevails vis-à-vis cooperation, The refusal of European solidarity, the poison of hatred, and xenophobia, re-appears in Europe, 70 years after the tragedy of fascism We don’t just have to deal with the electoral success of some far-right populist parties but there is more xenophobia, more chauvinism, within the democratic political parties Racism and xenophobia are becoming the dominant political rhetoric in traditional conservative political forces, and not just in them This means that in many crucial countries the new balances can be dangerous for the EU project This could dismantle Europe In 2015, some of you were afraid of us, of Syriza and the left, because we are fighting for a better Europe You believed that whoever questions the current neo-liberal policies and disparities is a danger for our common project Today, those who believed in that, should admit you were wrong The real threat for Europe is not those who fight to change it but those who struggle to destroy it Those who are at the other end of the spectrum vis-a-vis all human values of solidarity Those of us who believe, dear friends, dear member of the European Parliament, those of us who believe in the European vision We need to put aside our real and serious differences to face this great danger The European idea should not be crushed between the destructive neo-liberalism and the horrible far right We have to give a decisive answer that the only way to safeguard the EU unification is to upgrade democracy, justice and transparency through bold reforms We should foster the perspective of a better Europe, with European solutions for the challenges we face, for the refugee and migration issue, for the climate change, for security, for the democratic reform of the Eurozone So that hope can defeat the far right fear We do not need more borders in Europe and less solidarity, we need a new social contract, for social cohesion and the prosperity of our peoples We need a deepening of the European Union

A stronger European Parliament, stronger European institutions through democratic, social control We don’t need a new priesthood of austerity We need a new Eurozone equipped with mechanisms to tackle disparities We need a new multi-annual financial framework to help social cohesion and convergence We need a legally binding social pillar of social rights We need to reform the asylum system, and achieve a just sharing of the burden We need common European mechanisms to fight natural disasters We need to strengthen the dialogue and European perspective of Turkey democratic in order for it to respect the international law and to make this great country democratic again We need a European foreign policy which will contribute to the solution of the crisis we are facing President, members of the Parliament, to conclude, let me say, that these last three years, Greece has managed to become a part of the solution instead of being part of the problem for Europe We’ve overcome the financial crisis We managed to bear the burden with dignity this great refugee crisis on behalf of the rest of Europe We’ve opened new possibilities for the cooperation of our peoples with a peaceful foreign policy Which makes us a player for peace and stability in this instable area of the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans All these efforts of the last three years, are a good prospect despite the fact that there are many clouds in our European sky We’ve shown there is a way if we really believe and if you really put your back into it, you can manage, and we believe that is the way for the future of Europe We have difficult fights ahead of us, the European elections next May will be more than just one more election It will be a political battle on the basis of our principles and values to defeat the extreme neo-liberalism and far right populism To transform the European idea to increase unity and solidarity among the European peoples In this fight, all progressive, democratic and pro-European forces have a duty to stand side by side, on the same side of history, and not let Europe slide back to the past Thank you very much