NEWS

ND honorary leader says he has ‘never been a dogmatic anti-communist’

You claim that you have always had excellent relations with the Left, due to your part in the resistance against the World War II German occupation of Crete. We reached two agreements with the EAM [communist-led liberation front] which saved Crete from civil war during the resistance. Civil strife happened later in 1946-50, but on a restricted scale. Along with Sophocles Venizelos, we managed to exempt Crete from executions, saving many communists who had been sentenced to death. I have never been an anti-communist, as George Papandreou [senior] was. Andreas [Papandreou] was essentially anti-communist. He never had any real contact with the leadership of the Left, which he probably abhorred. He simply wanted the Left’s followers, which he partly managed to win over by means of various slogans. No, I was never a dogmatic anti-communist. I just was never a communist, nor a fellow-traveler or a «fashionable socialist,» as many presented themselves as after 1974, even Giorgios Mavros and Ioannis Zigdis. I had the satisfaction of entering politics as a liberal and it is as a liberal that I am leaving, following the great liberal tradition of Eleftherios Venizelos that pervades modern Greek history up until this day. It is the liberal forces that are even today the social pioneers, but their hands are tied by thousands of commitments. Is ND afraid of saying that it is a liberal, democratic force? When I was prime minister from 1990-1993, I followed a purely liberal policy, breaking with many traditions. Perhaps it was a mistake, perhaps I asked more from the people than they could bear. In following a liberal policy, ND is at the same time obliged to respect situations and habits that have been established for years. It can’t change everything at once. Everything will change when wage-earners begin to observe by experience that liberal policies are in their interest. My relations with the Left have always been good because they have been clear and sincere. We have always known what we each wanted and what the bottom line of our agreement has been. When we reached agreement with [the then-Greek Communist Party (KKE) leader] Harilaos Florakis in 1989, we each knew very well what each of us was and just how far we could go with each other. In my dealings with the Left since the occupation, I have learnt the value of a dialogue. It is not always easy, but it is a fundamental method of political action, requiring patience, sincerity and respect for the other. With Harilaos Florakis, we often reached a stalemate, but I would then patiently and reasonably explain my position to him.