Greece First and Safeguarding the Promise of Our Future
Our great nation has, over the course of decades, been subject to a steadily-building crisis. It has been my mission and that of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) Party, to face this crisis head-on.
We have highlighted the challenges facing the Greek people, from political strife to divisiveness which has dramatically weakened the foundations of our institutions and their ability to serve. We have shined a spotlight on external threats on our sovereignty and security, both economic and social.
We have confronted those responsible for creating these challenges and for allowing them to grow; I have been privileged to have been entrusted by the Greek people, with the support of my Party and all of you to speak truth to power; to put myself in the firing line on your behalf and be an advocate for change.
Our Independent Greeks (ANEL) were responsible for keeping Greece in the Eurozone and the European Union, despite the offer of €80 billion from the then-Finance Minister of Germany to exit both. We have built close relationships with the United States and France who have helped us to remain in the European Union and avoid the German plan.
We have successfully built strong relationships with the UAE, Egypt, Israel and the rest of the Arab world through Cyprus while retaining our political leadership role in the Mediterranean. We have shaped the strongest partnership with the United States in the Mediterranean.
We have played an important role in highlighting the rights and protecting the lives of refugees while making Greece a beacon for human rights policy in the world.
We have also positioned Greece as an important energy player in the region. The agreement to create a natural gas bank in Alexandroupoli has enhanced the geopolitical and economic significance of northern Greece and we will soon be an important producer of natural gas. The strategically located East Med pipeline has the potential to ensure security of supply, facilitating independent natural gas delivery from the Middle East to Europe.
I believe and continue to believe in the European Union, a partnership which should reflect the fundamental principles and values upon which it was founded. However, this today is not the case and I have proudly led the fight against German domination.
The economic paralysis which continues to be imposed on us by Germany has not only created inequality within the Union at large and has had severe consequences for Greece. It has created economic turmoil through the need for higher taxation which has weakened workers’ rights, reduced wages and cut pensions, while damaging our welfare, health and education sectors. Compounded by the dangers of undocumented illegal immigration, this has led to cases of extreme poverty and insecurity in our country. I find this completely unacceptable and I am committed to continuing to fight this.
However in response, we have thus far seen no concrete plan of action from leadership, but continued political polarization and mudslinging. This inefficiency compromises the identity we’ve worked so hard to build.
We will continue to fight for this identity, fight for our independence and defend our sovereignty against those who have compromised it and helped influence political powers to betray their people. Greece is a sovereign country and should not allow itself to be subject to a coup d’etat by foreign forces.
We have succeeded in completing the memorandum period, but we must continue to defend our country from the crises that plague it and once again place in the hands of the Greek people the ability to create lasting change. Centuries ago, the Greek people were the founders of the very principal of democracy and innovators in its implementation. We created a worldwide movement. We must uphold this legacy and pass it on to our next generation, with the promise of a brighter future.
We are entering a new era in Greek politics. The Greek people have made their voices heard. They have voted for political change. I recognize Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the New Democracy Party’s victory in the European elections and sincerely hope that he will be able to deliver the political change our people have voted for.
I have always believed that Greece needs stability. Throughout my career, I have worked tirelessly to build consensus and contribute to the stability of our great country. It is our duty to the victims of the economic crisis, to those that are no longer with us, to the young people that were obliged to leave the country to find a better future elsewhere, to the families that have suffered and continue to suffer, that we create stability and a prosperous future.
Our success will be determined by our ability to bring our young people home and create prosperity. In order to do this, we need time to build the capacity to deliver that prosperity to the Greek people.
For that reason, my Party and I have today decided to announce our decision to withdraw from participating in next month’s elections.
We have listened to the voice of the people.
We realize that Greek politics needs a new perspective and a new way of doing things. I believe that I can deliver this new way.
It is my duty to continue serving my people. I will remain active. I will work alongside civil society organizations, both foreign and domestic, to support unity and promote the interests of the Hellenic people, to grow Greece’s profile in the international community, and to reinvigorate a political movement in support of the principles for which I stand.
Our actions for today and our vision for tomorrow will have severe ramifications to the Greek identity for generations to come. I believe I can contribute significantly to the defence and preservation of this identity, to our way of life, to fulfilling a personal promise for the Greek future. After serving you as an active member of parliament and government for 27 years, I know that today, I can serve you better from outside government than from inside. Working with other progressive voices, we will forge a movement of unshakeable, lasting change. We will put Greece First.