GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer today warned the EU to take lessons from the painful experience of Greece during the future of Europe debate with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Strasbourg.

In his speech, Tsipras warned against the threat of the far right that is in ascendency across Europe, calling for a broad platform of progressives ahead of the upcoming European elections.

Tsipras also spoke about the economy coinciding with the end last month of the eighth and final international bailout his country went through.

“The international bailouts were not acts of solidarity as some people in this chamber hail. They were a great weight for the Greek people and this should not be a model for future crisis,” Zimmer said.

“It has to be made clear: what happened here was a humanitarian catastrophe. The European institutions and conservative governments had the biggest share in causing it. The Greek government of the Left put forward clear proposals as alternatives to austerity and was harshly blocked. It was told it should not even think about alternatives.”

“Now we must create the right conditions so Greece and countries in similar situations can escape the debt that remains. We need an international conference on debt. Likewise, we must safeguard humanitarian provisions for refugees. This is a European responsibility.”

“We all know a new economic crisis will come, and if we don’t want everything to crumble like a house of cards we need stability, sustainability and more democracy. Greek and European citizens need a sign of hope and solidarity.”

However, Zimmer demanded that clear red lines are set when European values are at stake:

“It is unacceptable that the EU acts outside the framework of social rights and tramples over the fundamental rights of citizens. This must never happen again.”

“We must change the way we think so that citizens see clear advantages of belonging to the EU. We learnt from Greek women and men the true meaning of solidarity, how communities got together to support each other. They showed us that the foundation of Europe is the solidarity between the people of its Union. This should be the Europe of the people, not the Europe of profit, or banks,” Zimmer concluded.

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