The following interview was published on the left-wing Italian web-site Il pane e le rose (Bread and Roses) on 13 September 2015, on the eve of the elections of 20 September. The interview with Savas Michael-Matsas, Secretary General of the EEK, was held by Stefano Macera.
The EEK( Workers Revolutionary Party) of Greece is a revolutionary Trotskyist organization, the Greek Section of the Coordination Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International( CRFI). It is founded in 1963 under the name of its predecessor EDE( Workers Internationalist League), which was transformed into the Party, EEK-Trotksyists , in 1985.
For more than five deacades, the EEK was and is active in the workers, popular, youth, and social movements, nationally and internationally continuously, before , during, and after the military dictatorship( 1967-74) until now. It intervened with its own candidates in most elections for the national Parliament, local governmet and the European Parliament. from 1977 onwards until now, in 2015.
As the world capitalist crisis that erupted in 2007/08 has a devasting social impact in Greece, in Europe and the Middle East-North Africa(MENA) regions, the EEK was the host of the three interntional Euro-Mediterranean Conferences, in Athens Greece, called by the Balkan Socialist Center 'Christian Rakovsky”, the Red Med web network, and the CRFI sections in the region, and attended by dozens of workers organizations coming from many countries and all Continents and from different political traditions of the revolutionary workers movement to discuss the situation and explore possiblities for common international actions.
The 1st Euro-Mediterranean Conference in June 2013 took place in the aftermath of the Gezi Park rebellion in Istanbul, Turkey, the 2nd Conference in March 2014, in the middle of the upheaval in Ukraine , and the 3rd in July 2015 at the peak of the Eurozone crisis and the capitulation of Tsipras and the Syriza led government to a new, third program of savage austerity measures imposed by the EU, the ECB, and the IMF to an already pauperized Greek people.
On 18-20 July, in Athens, took place the Third Euro-mediterranean Conference. Can you explain, first of all, its purposes and aims?
The central question, as it was stressed in the title of the Call for the 3rd Euro-Mediterranean Conference , was Wither Europe ? The dramatic sharppening of the crisis between the EU/ECB/IMF and Greece in June-July 2015 and the final capitulation of the Tsipras “Left” government was thorougly discussed in the Conference and there was a unanimous agreement in the Final Resolution that it is not solely a Greek national development but a turning point in the post 2008 global capitalist crisis, particulalry in relation to the failure of the entire EU integration project. Thus, the purpose and aims of the Third Euro-Mediterranean Conference were: a. to discuss how this turn affects, in different ways, forms, and degree, the life conditions and struggles of the working class and of all the impoverished populations in Europe, in MENA, and internationally; b. to develop further the international network of the workers and popular organizations participating to these Conferences; c. to elaborate a common program of transitional demands; d. to explore possibilites for plans of common international actions.e. To debate the question of the kind of revolutionary organization needed today
How were the Conference works structured?
There were plenary sessions with reports and debates, and work in special commissions for resolutions presented the last day of the Conference for discussion, ammendments and a vote.
Why did you choose to hold the Conference once again in Athens?
Apart from organizational and techincal reasons, it is obvious that Athens should be an ideal place for such a Conference taking place at the time when Greece had became the focus of the global crisis and of political attention world -wide.
The initial statement (the Conference call) contains some watchwords shared by many left-wing and class organizations: debt cancellation, reject of Troika's austerity plans, put an end to NATO etc. Which political project these claims are part of? And which are the political and social players that have to pursue this project?
Precisely because the programmatic points raised both in the initial Call and voted unanimously in the Final Resolution are shared by many left-wing and class organizations internationally, an international United Front of struggle and solidarity of these collectivities is more than necessary and urgent today. It could and should involve left wing and class organizations, social movements fighting against all forms of oppression and discrimination, workers' collectivities in occupied factires and workplaces experimenting forms of workers management etc.
In the Greek left, as well as in the international left, there is an intense debate about Tsipras' choises and his capitulation to the Troika. How did the Conference deal with this debate? What message did you send to those activists, many of them linked to Syriza, who have felt betrayed?
There was an extensive and rich discussion on the Syriza contradictory experience as a whole , from a political force sustained and brought to power by the popular expectations to put an end to austerity to the capitulation of the Tsipras leading group to the troika, against the popular will most powerfully expressed in the magnificent victory of the NO in the Referendum of July 5. We do not ignore at all the fighters likmed to Syriza who have felt betrayed, and we call them, not only to break from the capitulators but also to draw together with all those fighting in the workers movement, the revolutionary Left , including the EEK, the necessary lessons from this experience to move forward to an independemt revolutionary internationalist direction.
The “ Declaration in solidarity to the Greek people against the new 3rd package of “austerity” imposed by the troika” issued and circulated in the aftermath of the Conference, signed by a hundred of intellectuals and political activists of the Left and of emancipatory movements from all over the world was a powerful political blow to the capitulation of the Tsipras leadership and co-thinkers internationally, as well as against the 3rd Memorandum itself.
Greek case is often read as a clash between rich nations and poor nations, thus excluding any reference to the greek and international class struggle. On this bases, someone talks of alliance between mediterranean (southern) states in order to counterweight Germany and his hegemony power within the EU. What do you think about such proposals?
The EEK as well as all participants in the 3rd Workers Euro-Mediterranean Conference oppose a nationalistic reactionary line opposing nations of the Southern European countries to those in Germany and Northern Europe. There are two Germanies and two Greeces, and two Europes: a Germany and a Greece of the capitalists, and a Germany and a Greece of the working and subaltern classes as well as an imperialist -capitalist Europe and a Europe of the exploited and oppressed . Our strategic goal is the break up of the imperialist EU by the mass mobilizations of its victms, and the socialist unification of Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostik.
Apart from the final statement, has the Conference proposed political campaign to to be pursued at a continental level?
Decisions and inital steps are taken for an international campaign against unemployment and austerity in the EU, for solidarity to the migrants against the Fortress-Europe,as well as for an international Anti-War Conference in 2016.
Weeks ago we learnt about a call for the constitution of a political front of "No" (to the memorandum), signed by leaders of 13 left-wing greek organizations. What is/was your opinion about this? And what kind of approach will you have to this and similar initiatives?
There are many intiatives taken for a “front of the NO” taken by the above mentionned organizations, by the Antarsya co-alition of far left organizations as well by forces spliting from Syriza. The EEK is in full support for this kind of initiatives fighting to unify them.
Tsipras has resigned, and next 20 September elections will be held. In your opinion, what is the meaning of this Tsipras's move? And what EEK is going to do for the forthcoming elections?
The Tsipras government has collapsed because of the popular indignatiuon and anger produced by its capitulation to the troika. The leading group around Tsipras ignored even its own Party, its elected bodies, the decisoin to hold a Special Congress to discuss the signing of the 3rd memorandum etc. and Syriza imploded. A series of left splits followed and still continue : the forrmer Left Plartform founding “Popular Unity”, the former Speaker of Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou and her supporters joining now as independent candidates the “Popular Unity” lists in the coming elections, the Youth Organization of Syriza, which supports in the elections “all radical anti-capitalist lists” leaving Syriza and developing relations with the revolutionary left, et al.
There is a general re-alignement of forces involving those leaving Syriza , Antarsya , whcih has split as well with a sizeable minority joining the left national reformist bloc of “Popular Unity” . The EEK has formed an electoral bloc with the majority of Antarsya and other independent fighters of the revolutionary Left for the coming early eletcions on September 20, preparing for the historic struggles that will follow the episode of the early elections against the preparations for a new pro-memorandum capitalist coalition government led either by Syriza or the Right.
Interview by Stefano Macera