Kasselakis to ERT: I have been given a clear mandate to change SYRIZA

The 4th SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance congress that concluded over the weekend gave him ‘a clear mandate’ to move ahead with ‘transforming’ the party, Stefanos Kasselakis said in an interview on Monday.

Speaking to national broadcaster ERT1, the SYRIZA leader expressed the opinion that his position was strengthened by the congress, and added that he would “remain leader of SYRIZA until national elections”.

Kasselakis said the entire audience at the Tae Kwon Do stadium in Faliro, where the congress was held, supported him and shouted ‘Hands off Kasselakis’. He underined, “There is no issue of casting doubt, there is a crystal-clear mandate to move ahead to structural changes that SYRIZA needs as a party.”

The main opposition leader also commented on the stance party member Olga Gerovassili took and said that “in essence, she said she did not wish to become party leader,” while he himself wanted to “so we can govern Greece,” something party members also wish.

Asked to comment about a statement by former party leader and former prime minister Alexis Tsipras shortly before the congress began, Kasselakis said that he ‘respected’ his initiative but considered it ‘a mistake’ not to attend the congress. He did not want to comment extensively but added that “the cycle of the SYRIZA government of 2015-2019 is over and another one is starting under my leadership, and that is how we shall move forward.”

In terms of the main opposition party’s future, he said that “the members will decide the direction they want to take their party” while the aim was very clear: open markets with labor rights and a social state, a rule of law, and “a foreign policy that will not find Greece getting incolved in the troubles of the United States and other countries,” as well as “a strong defense with human rights which are not cast into doubt.”

Kasselakis also rejected the founding of non-state (private) universities in Greece as detrimental to public education and as creating ‘two-speed students.’

In terms of the agriculture sector’s demands, the main opposition leader said the decisions that were needed were ‘easy’ but the government ‘did not make them’. As he said, “I am not in favor of blowing up the budget, but there are proposals that make sense. How is it possible that farmers cannot survive, consumers cannot survive, with the pricing on the shelves, and both of these occuring at the same time? Obviously, because cartels are in the middle.”

The SYRIZA leader also took a stance against dispatching a Navy ship to the Red Sea. He asserted that “we spend too much money for our armaments – these armaments must remain in Greece for our defense,” while he also opposed sending military aid to Ukraine.

Kasselakis called on SYRIZA supporters to take part in the process to select candidates for the European Parliament elections in June.