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Interview of Al. Papariga, GS of the CC of the KKE, in the newspaper “Devnik” (FYROM)

published on February 26th 2010

Question: The KKE resisted the nationalist upsurge, which developed in Greece in the period 1991-1993. In 1992 it disagreed with the joint position of the leaders of all the other Greek parties, who had come to the decision that Greece would not recognise as an independent country any country which included in its name the term “Macedonia”. Can you tell us how the KKE today has shaped its position concerning this issue and if it agrees with the so-called “national red line”, which the Greek government invokes?

Answer: The KKE has repeated and consistently supported its position since 1992 that: The most important issue is not the question of the name, but the existence of guarantees regarding the inviolability and security of the borders, in addition that there must not exist territorial, minority, irredentist and other claims by either side. We are in favour of the safeguarding of relations of peace and cooperation, that the countries become good neighbours, that every form of irredentist propaganda is avoided, as well as acts that impede the approach and cooperation of the two countries. We proposed from the very beginning direct talks, without the mediation of the imperialists.

From this standpoint, when the intermediate agreement was signed (and the government of FYROM accepted that a common solution must be found), we stressed that, if the name Macedonia or a derivative of it is included, it should have a geographical definition, because otherwise it could act as a “handle” for the stirring up of various claims.

At the same time, our party has noted that our region (the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus, the Caspian) both then and now finds itself at the epicentre of imperialist rivalries for the control of energy sources, oil pipelines, natural gas and transport routes in general as well as for the control of a share of the market. Participation in NATO, the EU, which are imperialist unions complicates matters and provokes serious dangers for the peoples. What is needed is rupture with the imperialist organizations, in order to weaken them, to overthrow their plans, because even if there is a satisfactory agreement concerning the name, it is not enough by itself to ward off dangers for the peoples, which are caused by the designs of the imperialists.

Question: How is the current position different in relation to those which the KKE historically held concerning the Macedonian Question and is our feeling correct that today the KKE is trying to distance itself from the positions the party held in the period when Zachariadis was its G.S?

Answer: The positions, which the KKE has formulated, are positions which are based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism. This is our “compass”, which we have not rejected neither after the counterrevolutions in the USSR and the other countries of Eastern and Central Europe, in contrast to the other parties which “mutated and entered the “service” of the bourgeois class.

With this “compass” we faced and continue to face every issue. But this does not mean that the position of a CP on a certain question will remain “unaltered” over the centuries, without the CP taking account of the real situation, the social-political changes that occur, the basic trends of the changes, and the forces that are involved. And concerning the question of the geographical region of Macedonia, there have been developments over the years, above all due to the wars and the dismemberment of Macedonia and the changes in the composition of its population. Particularly after the Asia Minor disaster, the ethnic composition of the Greek area of Macedonia and Thrace changed radically. And so our Party which studies its history and draws conclusions came to the assessment that its position concerning a “unified and independent Macedonia and Thrace (within the framework of a Balkan Communist Federation) was mistaken after a certain point since it no longer responded to reality. This position was withdrawn in 1935.

New changes were brought to the region by the situation after the 2nd World war, and even “fresher” ones by the dissolution of Yugoslavia, by the emergence of attitudes from many sides which question the existing borders. Today the imperialists (USA, NATO, and EU) seek to foment existing and non-existent minority questions in the Balkan region, in order to “divide and conquer”. In the face of this situation the KKE enlightens the working class and the peoples stressing that basis of oppression today is not national, religious or linguistic but class! The basic contradiction in society is between capital and labour! And only the abolition of class oppression, the exploitation of man by man, the abolition of the exploitative capitalist system and the construction of a new socialist-communist society can place the foundations for the abolition of every form of oppression.

Question: A delegation of political refugees who live today in Macedonia participated in the event held in honour of the 60 year anniversary of the foundation of the Democratic Army of Greece. What is your stance in relation to the problem of political refugees, who live in our country? Why do you describe them as “Greek political refugees who live in FYROM” and not as Macedonians?

Answer: To begin with, in our opinion, from the moment Macedonia was divided up due to the Balkan wars, no one can possess the privilege of the exclusive use of the term “Macedonia” and its derivatives. For us a Macedonian is someone who was born in Thessalonica and someone who was born in Skopje, even if they speak a different language, even if they have a different national consciousness and religion. For us the term Macedonia has geographic and not national characteristics. Macedonia must be treated as one large geographical region, where various nations live. From the Marxist standpoint we consider that the predominant nation that exists in FYROM was created after the 2nd World War, when the necessary conditions existed (common language, territory, economic life and culture) within the framework of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

There are Slavophones in Greece. They are all Greek citizens (and some of them are of Slavic descent) and they must all be treated equally. We are against any form of discrimination at their expense and we fight against wherever and to whatever extent it occurs. The Slavophones in our country have not had over the years a unified national consciousness. Even during the Balkan wars some of them fought on the side of Greece, others on the side of Bulgaria. Today, they are bilingual, and to great extent live scattered throughout the entire country due to internal migration, mixed marriages etc. In other words, the conditions do not exist for the recognition of any “minority”.

On the other hand we observe that the government of FYROM and various nationalist circles in FYROM-with the backing of the imperialists (USA and EU)-have promoted intensely over recent years the issue of the recognition of “Macedonian” nationality (and correspondingly an irredentist “Macedonian” national minority within the territory of Greek Macedonia), territorial claims etc. this is a dangerous game, since we know very well that the imperialists have no concerns for the peoples and minorities, but only in the promotion of their class and geopolitical interests. This “game” takes on new dimensions in our region, after the NATO intervention, the occupation of Kosovo, as well as the recent unacceptable decision of the International Court in the Hague concerning the issue of the recognition of the “independence” of Kosovo.

This is the reason why we say that our former comrades, partisans of the heroic Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), who live in your country, were Greek citizens -Slavophones and several also of Slavic descent. They became political refugees because they fought in the ranks of the DSE. They were unjustly deprived of their Greek citizenship due to their political activity. Unacceptably, the PASOK government in 1982 excluded these militants from the law concerning repatriation of political refugees.

Question: Do you think that there is readiness in the Greek Government to repeal the law enacted in 1982 designed to repatriate only “Greeks by birth” and the one designed to return confiscated properties belonging to only “Greeks by birth”?

Answer: The Greek government of PASOK, like the previous one of ND, is fully assimilated into the

logic of the imperialist unions. It seeks from them the greatest amount of benefit, not for the Greek people, but for the bourgeois class of the country. If it assesses that such a decision better serves its plans, it is not out of the question that it will carry it out. In other words, whether this issue is resolved or not has nothing to do with justice, but with the general designs which the Greek bourgeois class has in the region and with the imperialist interests, which are on the one side interrelated and on the other in conflict with each other.

Question: In the discussion in the Greek Parliament concerning Greek-Turkish relations G. Papandreou called you a "common slanderer" accusing you of "adopting conspiracy theories and harmful speculation" and of "having become the best propagandist of the most extreme Kemalist general of the deep state in Turkey ". Your comment was that KKE has no confidence in the foreign policy being followed by the PASOK government. Do you believe that PASOK also conducts wrong policy for the name issue and why?

Answer: The positions of the KKE concerning the internal and external political line of PASOK, as well as of New Democracy, are well founded. They are based on concrete and unquestionable facts and arguments. PASOK has resorted to baseless false claims because it is unable to respond to the positions of the KKE which in any case express the great concerns of the Greek people about the government’s stance of retreat in the Greek-Turkish relations, in the Aegean Sea and the assimilation of our country into the dangerous designs of NATO and the EU.

I would like to stress again that we can not look at the “tree” in isolation from the “forest”. You cannot focus on the “name” and not pay attention to essential issues, such as the imperialist plans in the region. So, it is well-known that various imperialist powers have elaborated a scenario concerning the so-called “Greater Albania” or “Natural Albania” which aims to incorporate Kosovo into Albania on the one hand and on the other foments new territorial claims at the expense of Greece, FYROM and Serbia. They are trying in this way, in the name of a so-called “Great Idea”, to drag the workers of Albania, the Albanian people and of course the peoples of our entire region into adventurism on a massive scale and bloody hazards.

Our party, as you probably are aware, has in the past resisted the analogous notion of a “Greater Greece”, explaining to the people that it was “an attempt to pull the wool over their eyes”, the goal of which was to upgrade the role of our country’s bourgeois class.

The KKE today considers that the notion of a “Greater Albania” is supported by those who foment it, the imperialists; but as is well-known from other instances of national chauvinism and irredentism, such plans offer only adventurism, hazards and blood to the peoples of our region.

Neither the working people of Albania, nor the hundreds of thousands of Albanian immigrants, who live and work in Greece and are a part of the working class of our country, have any real interest in border changes, as this will increase nationalist hatred and feelings, it will impede in every aspect their position in their daily struggle to make a living, only to enhance the role of the bourgeois class of the country of their descent in its competition with the rest of the bourgeois classes in the region.

On the contrary, it is in the interest of those who sell “protection” in this region and wish to impose NATO armies as allegedly the “unique stabilizing factor”, in order to prevent the plans of their competitors to penetrate the region.

There are indicators that demonstrate that the bourgeois class of Greece does not object to participating in the imperialist games in the region, even in dangerous scenarios such as that of the “Greater Albania” and that of “Greater Bulgaria”, so that the issue of FYROM will be “resolved”. This is really “playing with fire”.

Question: Once you’ve said that there are no prospects for solution being found because the leadership in Skopje is not even discussing the problem and “has strong backing”. Who is our back and in today’s perspective, is there a possibility that Gruevski and Papandreou could close this problem soon?

Answer: Here is an undeniable fact which explains many things: The enormous American base CAMP BONDSTEEL which is located a few kilometres from the city of Skopje, and covers an area of 3.86 km2 955 acres (it holds thousands of American troops and their heavy equipment) and it is said as a joke that it is so large that it can be identified from the moon with the naked eye! A base that covers an area within the territory of both FYROM and Kosovo.

Clearly it is not designed, as some consider, only to guard the energy pipeline AMBO, which was planned to connect the Bulgarian port of Burgas with the Albanian port of Vlore (Avlona). It is in fact an important military tool of the USA in the region in order to strengthen its role in the Balkans, in opposition to rival imperialist powers, which seek upgrade their role in the region, such as Russia and China. A military base which reminds us that in the imperialist stage “war is the continuation of politics by other (and specifically violent) means”

It is obvious from the above-mentioned which forces support the current leadership of FYROM. Nevertheless as the serfs used to say in Russia “may God preserve us from the evil deeds, wrath, and above all the love of the master.” In the conditions of imperialism which we experience, states exist amidst, military, economic and political interdependencies. Friendly “axes” and “anti-axes” are being formed. As long as this web of imperialist connections is not brought down, there will always be great dangers for the peoples. And for the people of your country, with or without agreement concerning the name.

Question: When we discuss about the name issue, we remember your opinion that the main problem on the Balkans is the US policy and their plan for Europe. Do you think that US are interested for the name issue to stay opened?

Answer: Of course the US is playing a significant role but the imperialist organisations of the NATO and the EU which seek to fully incorporate the country into their plans are also involved in this issue. Such a prospect will bring only new burdens for the people of your country. Despite their claims, NATO and the EU cannot guarantee any security and prosperity for the peoples.

The US as well as the other imperialists does not aim at the settlement of problems in favour of the peoples. They are always interested in playing a role of the “mediator” between countries and peoples. Furthermore, we see that the “formulas” they propose e.g. the so-called “double name” are “solutions” that maintain not solve the problem.

Question: In the period when you gave this statement, there was information that Karamanlis as a prime minister had a plan to offer in Skopje a declaration that Greece would accept the double formula, if Macedonia give up the claims on Alexander the Great. Was there a discussion for this kind of declaration?

Answer: It’s not correct, in my opinion, to comment on information which has not been confirmed yet. Nevertheless, we believe that this proposal concerning the “double name” does not constitute a real solution to the problem which has arisen. On the contrary it will “recycle” the problem and give a handle to new imperialist interventions as well as to a new upsurge of nationalist tensions.

The KKE called the Greek people to express its solidarity with the sorely tried people of Egypt who are engaged in an uprising, and to denounce the deceitful role of the governments of the EU and the USA. Do you think that the Egypt hurricane could hit in Europe also?

The developments in Tunisia and Egypt enable the working people in Europe to draw political conclusions. At the end of January 2011 a meeting of 10 Communist and Workers’ Parties from 8 Balkan countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, FYROM, Romania, Serbia and Turkey) was held in Thessalonica at the initiative of our party. The theme of the meeting was “the developments in the region of Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean and the tasks of the Communists”. Once again the communists arrived at the conclusion that the real cause of the crisis is the intensification of the main contradiction of capitalism, that is to say the contradiction between the social character of production and the capitalist appropriation of its results. Peoples’ problems are sharpening; poverty expanding, as well as relative and absolute destitution that also embraces a large section of the population in the Balkan countries.

Day by day the peoples of Europe are becoming more convinced concerning the necessity of the slogan that KKE addressed from Acropolis: “peoples of Europe, rise up”! The only choice is to resist and disobey the anti-people, anti-labour measures of the governments and of the EU!

Question: Analysts in Athens claim that early elections could be possible if Greece failed to meet obligations undertaken with the EU and IMF agreement, but even then Papandreou would only opt for a government reshuffle. Is there a chance for early elections in Greece?

Answer: The important issue for the KKE is not that of early elections but that in the next elections, no matter when they take place, the Greek people must express their disapproval of the government of PASOK, New Democracy, all the parties of capital and the EU. And the reason is that the anti-labour measures that are being implemented in Greece and aim at the reduction of the cost of the labour force are also being implemented all over the EU to one extent or the other. It is a general assault against the working class in order for European capital to compete with the US, China, Japan, Russia etc in the global markets.

More and more working people in Greece understand why the KKE opposed the accession of Greece to the EEC and why it struggles today for the disengagement of the country from the bonds of the NATO and the EU. The indignation of the people against the government and the EU was expressed to some extent in the recent local elections when the lists supported by KKE throughout Greece approached 11% of the vote. This tendency must grow even more in the parliamentary elections strengthening the communist party that constitutes the bulwark against the anti-people policies. The working people are now convinced by their own experience about the correctness of our slogan “A Strong KKE gives strength to the people”

Question: Even Greece’s supporters doubt that the huge debt can ever be repaid in full. Annual budget surpluses would have to be intolerably high. There is talk of mass privatization of public property (although Mr. Papandreou balks at selling off any Aegean islands). Even so, nothing is likely to be big enough to make the threat of failure to meet the conditions go away. What would you do if you were on Papandreou’s place?

Answer: The KKE does not have any ambition to manage the capitalist crisis as the current government of PASOK lead by G. Papandreou does. We do not recognise the debt, which was created by the profits of the plutocracy. The capitalist crisis is not a crisis of debt, but a crisis of capital over-accumulation. The KKE intends to overthrow the capitalist system and build another society, the socialist-communist one, in order to satisfy the contemporary needs of the people. We have presented our political proposal to the people in detail which concerns every aspect of their life. Here we can briefly say that our party struggles for the formation of a social-political front which will not only struggle against the measures of the government, the EU and NATO but will also pose the question of power. It will struggle for the establishment of people’s power and economy in Greece. In this economy the basic means of production will be socialised, there will be central planning of the economy, Education and Health will be social services offered exclusively by the state and for free, the workers will work a 7 hour working day, men will retire at the age of 60 and women at 55 amongst others.

It goes without saying that such a choice will lead to disengagement from the imperialist unions, NATO and the EU, to the establishment of new institutions of people’s power. The political line of the KKE is a line of rupture and conflict with the capitalist system and the imperialist unions and from this stand point we struggle for the joint action of the working class, the popular strata and the youth of the countries of our region.


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