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Bulgarians and Greeks should not feel second class Europeans

06 May 2014 / 19:05:54  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The liberal political space is not very popular in Greece. At the national elections two years ago, the two main political forces which compose it, Drasi and "ReCreate Greece" joined forces with the participation of the Liberal Alliance, but failed to pass the 3% threshold and enter Parliament.

The two parties decided to participate together in the upcoming European elections and for this purpose they created the Gefires coalition (meaning “Bridges” – author’s note). It is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) - the third political force in the European Parliament, the candidate for leader of the European Commission of which is former Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Ferhovstad.

Well known to readers of GRReporter Areti Georgilis is an MEP candidate of Gefires. She is a certified archaeologist, journalist and has an MBA. Until 2011 she was a manager of a large company for public relations in Bulgaria. In the same year, she opened the concept bookstore Free Thinking Zone in Athens, and continued to develop business activities in both countries. She talked to Anastasia Balezdrova.

Mrs Georgilis, why did you decide to get involved in politics?

I have been involved in with politics since the age of 14. I have always been politically active, I've been a member of a party, I have participated in party administrative authorities at university and in the neighbourhood where I grew up, and that is why I'm not in politics for the first time. Just now I decided to get involved with what we call the "front line" of policy, i.e. to ask citizens to vote for me.

I decided to do it because I think that this is a critical moment for the history of Greece, in which we all have our own responsibility. It consists of the following: If we think that something is not done properly and those who govern us have not done it well, we have to say how it should be done and take actions. Criticism is no longer sufficient.

That is why I decided to run with the Drasi party, which is part of the Gefires liberal coalition.

Why with Drasi and Gefires, and not with a larger party, which would have more chances of being elected?

I have participated in a large party. I think that parties which are considered "large" are currently not able to prove that they can get Greece out of the impasse in which it has been blocked. I believe in the catalytic role of smaller parties for the need of democracy and I do not believe that alternation of one or two major parties in the government of the country is good for it. I think that it is precisely this that has created the clientelist state in which we are currently buried. Some people divide parties into systematic and unsystematic ones. I divide them into clientelist and non-clientelist ones. And precisely the clientelist parties have established the clientelist state which caused the crisis. I believe in pluralism, polyphony and the existence of small parties contributes to polyphony.

My decision to be a candidate of the Drasi party and Gefires coalition is dictated by the permanence of positions over the past 10 years. Drasi is one of the few parties which name things by their names, without worrying about the political price. For example, it talks about the need to reduce excessive taxation, because citizens cannot withstand this heavy burden. It is not possible for a person who has bought a small apartment with a lot of efforts and a bank loan to pay much higher taxes as if the state is his or her partner. This and all such wrong policies need to be corrected. And the solution comes only with reforms and economic development. What we need are parties which are willing to get the knife to the bone in terms of reforms and not to be afraid and not to take any action for fear that the party could lose its clientele.

What is your vision about Europe in the coming years and what measures should be taken in order to reduce Euro-scepticism?

I do not think that there is Euro-scepticism. Most of the studies which are carried out in Greece and Bulgaria do not show such a thing. Everyone thinks that the need to be part of the European Union is important and indisputable.

The problem is that the current European model suffers from certain defects which need to be corrected. For example, all European citizens should be equal. I.e. the Greeks, Bulgarians and other nations should not feel like second-class citizens in comparison to the Germans, Swedes or French. Therefore, Europe must fight for equality and democracy.

I would also like to have a Europe with less unemployment and more activity and mobility among young people. Over the past almost 10 years I have been working in Bulgaria and I do not feel any difference. I feel at home both in Athens and Sofia. My feeling when I travel is not that I am going to another country, but to another place in Europe. This feeling should be made available to all EU citizens, including those who do not travel. This is my vision about Europe - a country with European citizens who retain their traditions, cultural differences and individualities as nations, but are equal and have equal rights.

Which political party in Bulgaria would you cooperate with in the European Parliament?

I do not think that such a party currently exists, but we are making efforts in order to establish the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in Bulgaria.

Tags: Politics European elections Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe ALDE Drasi Areti Georgilis
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