PASOK must maintain sense of own strategy, Venizelos says

PASOK must maintain sense of own strategy, Venizelos says

Evangelos Venizelos, former deputy prime minister of Greece and former minister of foreign affairs, speaking with Kathimerini English Edition Editor Tom Ellis as part of the Delphi Economic Forum on Thursday, discussed the role of PASOK in a future governmental coalition, stating that, having borne the brunt of the fallout from the financial crisis, it cannot just be a complement to any government but instead must maintain a sense of its own strategy.

“SYRIZA was built during the crisis, and has replaced it in many ways,” he said. “The PASOK leadership displayed responsible leadership during the crisis” and broke its relationship with the more populist elements of its voting core.

Venizelos also discussed the stance of PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis in his rejection of both Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras as a possible leader in a coalition government with PASOK.

Venizelos also pointed out that there are many in Greece who desire a coalition government. He laid out how, in his time as deputy prime minister, Antonis Samaras had to accept a role of a prime minister that must seek broad support for his legislation. Venizelos stated that this, rule by consent, is the most widespread model of governance in Europe. In comparison, Greece can still be seen to be a more centralized model. He believes it would be good to move to a broader model of rule.

“We cannot threaten or be threatened that something will happen,” he said, stating that Greece has returned to normality. Either everything is fine, or everything is at risk, he said, rejecting the political discourse in Greece that presents both at the same time.

‘Greece has made a stable choice. It is a European country, it is a Western country’

“If ND is so attached to the role of PASOK [in a coalition government], then it should be more kind,” he said, decrying government rhetoric against PASOK in the aftermath of the wiretapping scandal. The contribution of every party to the creation of what Greece is today must be respected, he emphasized. He praised the importance of consensus, adding that on important issues cooperation between the parties is critical.

“Greece has made a stable choice. It is a European country. It is a Western country,” which is something all three major Greek parties have agreed to, Venizelos said on Greece’s foreign policy.

He also spoke on Greek-Turkish relations, stating that the window for fully exploiting the energy resources in the Mediterranean is closing. “The issue of delimitating the coastal shelf and the EEZ is urgent,” and if they are delayed it will make any commercial plans redundant. He said the countries should be obligated to return to the exploratory talks as well as confidence building measures. Venizelos also said we may have to invert the order of the Cypriot issue and Greek-Turkish affairs. He said that if Greece and Turkey managed to solve their relationship problems, it could create the positive momentum for resolving the stalemate on Cyprus.

If a delimitation is agreed, the two countries can proceed to work past their differences in international fora. “We must break the vicious cycle of stereotypes,” he said. “International law is a necessary element, but it is not enough,” he added.

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