In a speech made to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned the European Union against the rising tide of the far-right in countries across the continent. While addressing the House on the future of the EU, PM Tsipras also suggested that the 2019 elections would be a ‘make or break,’ that will be a battle for the future of EU and that progressive leaders in the EU must replace Europe of Fear with Europe of Hope.
PM Tsipras who oversaw part of Greece’s EU-mandated austerity drive and who oversaw Greece withdrawing from the EU bailout (In what he termed to be a ‘day of liberation’), also suggested that economic austerity had not only stifled growth but, has also fuelled sentiments of racism and xenophobia across Europe.
Further, Tsipras also laid some blame at the feet of the EU itself for its chauvinistic democratic values and failing to have any democratic legitimacy in the eyes of a European citizen. “The EU’s failure to give democratic and effective responses to modern challenges will lead irrevocably to the triumph of chauvinism and will rekindle nationalistic rivalry,” he said as he also called out the EU’s problematic handling of security and refugee issues.
PM Tsipras’s criticism comes in the face of rising Euroscepticism across Europe, including Greece. For years, voters and political parties have lamented the lack of power citizens enjoyed and the very technocratic, closed-door nature of EU’s bureaucracy comprised by the troika (European Commission, European Council and European Parliament).
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s warning is one of the many voices of concerns coming from political quarters of Europe, especially since the political rise of the far right in the past few years. Only recently, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and Italian Deputy PM Matteo Salvini had agreed on key issues close to the far-right. The riots by the alt-right in the East German city of Chemnitz also lend weight to what PM Tsipras said constituted a threat to democratic values.