Samaras Says Times a-Changin’ in Greece

1949375Greece will not change unless it takes on populism and extremism, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told a meeting of his New Democracy party political committee.

“You cannot change a country if you do not fight and win the battle of ideas and if you do not keep an open battle front with populism and extremes. The Greek people are not passive observers,” he said, according to the news agency AMNA.

“The battle of ideas has a specific adversary; you have to know who the enemy is. Today it is necessary to bring productive investments to the country. Those who say no to investments are (our) opponents. Our goal is to bring more job openings – those who are against this and shut down factories are (our) opponents,” the PM said, speaking out against “those who reinforce hooded protesters and those who burn down the city.”

He didn’t mention the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party by name as he’s been reluctant to take them on as their support has risen to as high as 10-12 percent in polls, draining away conservative voters.

Samaras is overseeing a fragile coalition with his otherwise rivals, the PASOK Socialists, whom he brought into the administration so that he would have a majority in Parliament.

He said that, “There is a lot in our past separating us from PASOK, but there is a great commitment bringing us together: to take the country out of its crisis.” He admitted the parties, who created the economic crisis by packing public payrolls with hundreds of thousands of needless hires for generations in return for votes had made mistakes but said there were more important issues to be dealt with than patronage. “We are in great conflict with those who want nothing to change,” he added.

He said his priority is “first to save our country, otherwise we will not be worthy of its history…What will our children say if, when it΄s time to bring the country out of crisis, we start fighting over the past?”

He said only New Democracy and PASOK together can save Greece, but didn’t say if he meant they would be a permanent hybrid government or campaign against each other in the next elections and blame each other for policies they now both support.

He said some differences remain between them, although PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said, after being appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister with his party almost evaporating with around 5 percent support, that he’s in total lock step with whatever Samaras wants to do.

“Look at what is going on in Greece – a year ago, Greece was the only source of instability. Look at it today – uncertainty and instability everywhere around us, while Greece looks like the only island of stability.”

He made note of Yiannis Antetokounmpo, the 18-year-old Greek-Nigerian who was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association and held up the Greek flag when he was selected. Golden Dawn compared him to a chimpanzee.

“He has some people curse him and then complain that we call them neo-Nazis, while he is more of a Greek than those burning the Greek flag,” Samaras said. “We move on, leaving the extremists in their misery, their whining is turning off Greek society. The battle for ideas unites, does not divide the majority,” he concluded.

He didn’t mention that his party is also anti-immigrant and is moving to change the law to make it more difficult for people like Antetokounmpo to become citizens and that he’s blocking an anti-racism law that toughens penalties for attacks on immigrants.