By Manolis Kapsis
For those who did not follow the war that broke out on Facebook and the criticism that Evangelos Venizelos received, let’s note the facts. It all started with the participation of the former Minister of Finance and former Deputy Prime Minister, together with the constitutionalist Nikos Alivizato, in an event of university students (some of whom are active supporters of SYRIZA and former candidates of the party) entitled “Are we staying in Europe? – Wiretapping , Rights and Rule of Law”.
Some reacted to the slogan “Are we staying in Europe?”. Mainly in the question mark at the end. Is there a question of whether we will stay or leave Europe? “We are staying in Europe, full stop”, commented Anna Diamantopoulou who, together with the university’s Vaso Kinti, started the dance of critical comments. Others were disturbed by the co-existence of Evangelos Venizelos and Nikos Alivizatos on the panel, with persons who, when SYRIZA gambled on the country’s European participation and its future or undermined democratic institutions, looked indifferently elsewhere. Or they sewed ministerial suits. Others were disturbed by the ironic reference to the We Stay Europe movement, a movement to defend Greece’s European identity, a movement in which ordinary citizens spontaneously participated, without party prompting, when the majority of Greek society had been fascinated by the nonsense of Alexis Tsipras that “there are and other ports”, outside the euro.
Others saw behind the question mark in “Are we staying in Europe?”, an irony and a questioning of the country’s membership in the European Union. As if they say to the old, heroic “we live in Europe”, is this the Europe you dreamed of and told us about? Where there is wiretapping by the authorities and violations of rights and the rule of law? Everyone saw another attempt by SYRIZA to take advantage of the wiretapping scandal and win votes, questioning the European orientation of the Mitsotakis government. Burdes. What are Evangelos Venizelos and Nikos Alivizatos doing there? most people wondered.
Evangelos Venizelos responded to some of these objections, noting that there is obviously no question mark as to whether or not we remain in Europe, but added that he will not discount his demands for the rule of law, that is, he will not be silent about wiretapping- which from yesterday took on another dimension – just so that the others would not come. And in any case, he can discuss with others, he added, even if he disagrees. (I guess the others don’t include those who wanted to send him to prison, it’s limited to university students).
Less convincing is the truth, was the defense of the title of the event, when he noted that the use of the question mark is “an indication of a very broad retrospective and resulting acceptance of the importance of Remaining Europe”.
In any case, the severity of the criticism of Evangelos Venizelos, as the posts followed one another and hundreds of users rushed to add their comments (secondarily, Nikos Alivizatos was also criticized, some even remembered his statements about Alexis Tsipras “that catches birds”…), is impressive. I don’t know if it also shows a fatigue with the hyperactivity of Evangelos Venizelos, that is, a discomfort with personal characteristics.
It certainly shows that the attempt to approach some – hiding behind the university status – with SYRIZA, through another “bridge”, that of wiretapping, meets with great reactions. It shows that the Anti-SYRIZA front is holding up well and has not weakened. And note that the unprecedented wave of reactions to the presence of Evangelos Venizelos on the panel of the event, comes from his former friends and from the (theoretically) electoral audience of the former president of PASOK. From people who ideologically belong to the modernization trend, and who now (probably) vote for Mitsotakis. For obvious reasons… They have not changed their position since the links scandal, as much as it has shocked and disturbed them and they certainly show no tolerance for the radical left. They haven’t forgotten.
And so that there is no doubt about where the event is aimed, I quote the comment made by the “bridge builder” Nikos Bistis:
“No, they are not fighting over the question mark in We Stay Europe. But because in the most official, solemn – and with the bull, so to speak – way, a tombstone is placed in the anti-SYRIZA Front. And correspondingly, the front against the undermining of the rule of law, institutions and of individual rights. And since the underminer is beyond all doubt the Mitsotakis government, in fact events like the one on Thursday, with the participation of authoritative Constitutionalists from a wide political spectrum, further weaken the flimsy government argumentation and practice. For reasons that do not need to analyze, the anger of all the nostalgics of the anti-SYRIZA Front is primarily channeled to Vangelis Venizelos and then to Nikos Alivizatos”.
He has a point. They are not (only) fighting over the question mark in We Are Staying in Europe. On the other hand, I am not at all sure that the front against the government is expanding. As for whether a tombstone is placed on the anti-SYRIZA front because Evangelos Venizelos and Nikos Alivizatos participate in a panel with SYRIZAs on wiretapping, it is checked. Judging by the reactions, the front is here and it’s strong. No one has forgotten, nor will they.