K. Rokonidas: "Making the change for Paros and our needs"
The leader of the People's Congress of Paros, Mr. Kostas Rokonidas in this discussion - interview gives answers to our questions but also clarifies issues that in one way or another can be misleading or even as levers of pressure and manipulation of the voters.
Mr. Rokonidas, we finally reach the ballot with only two combinations. Will the Parian people easily choose tomorrow's local administration of the municipality?
It is commonly accepted that "People's Congress" presents unprecedented momentum on the way to the ballot box. Many well-known names of Parian society of different political beliefs have been associated with you. How do you explain this development?
KR : Today's electoral reality in Paros is due to many factors. I will comment in four of them:
It is mainly due to the policy of all the forces that supported and support the civilian political system of the country and the impasse of its successive crises, which, over time, all of them spreading the hope, have cultivated in our people pessimism, individualism, the lack of interest in our political affairs locally and, in general, have led to the retreat movements in each space.
In this reality, on our island, the outgoing municipal authority of M. Koveos, which has been recorded with a negative sign by the Parian people, contributed greatly to the five-year deadlock, ineffective and compromising political practice.
Also, after the impossibility of forming a ballot of the so-called center-left space and the void that has been created, new electoral facts have developed on our island, a new electoral reality with only two combinations.
It is also due to the appreciation developed by Parians as a result of the timeless presence, the consistency of positions and the clear reason of the "People's Congress", which has a permanent orientation in the defense of what we call popular interests.
We do not claim the administration of the municipality from ambition, but from the necessity to emancipate the majority of the Parian people, to believe in its rightness and power, to raise its demands to the level of its present needs. We want to strive, to fight to improve the everyday life of the Parian citizen and, with all those who have joined together, to make the real difference.
Obviously, this is a "bet" against politics that is captive of unpopular choices and is based on the logic of trading, special favors, mockery and lie.
The messages that come from every corner of the island are optimistic. There is a huge stream of support to the "People's Congress", as opposed to the indignation of the citizens about the outgoing municipal authority of M. Koveos. Now, the reports of M.Koveos to the election results that he would wish to have, are illusions and outdated dreams.
What is the essential difference between the two combinations? Why choose "People's Congress "?
KR : We give priority to the needs of the Parian people for a better life that they deserve and to the problems of our island that relate to it.
We do not conceal that the context in which each municipality operates is the result of unpopular long-standing government policies which locally implement the EU's directives.
We clearly say that we have the ability to better cope with everyday life, within the possibilities that exist.
We clearly say that we will resist the dominant policy, whatever the "(coalition) marriage" after the parliamentary elections may be, and the obstacles that we will encounter in solving problems that have plagued us for years.
We do not hide that we will need and count on the support of the Parian people in this effort. It's not just a mayor and a city council to change things. The Parian people must come to the forefront, to claim what is due to them, as they did in the case of health.
We know that the embracement and acceptance by the vast majority of the Parian society is the result of the conditions that have been formed in these elections, but also of our almost twenty-five-year presence in the political life of the island, that we do not mince our words and do not back down when we find ourselves in difficulties.
What is the similarity with M. Kovaios' lineup "we insist on the act" when the act itself cancels the name of his political combination and provokes Parian citizens who experience a different reality? What relationship can we have with the big words and the effort of impressing with fake pamphlets?
Public relations, communicative tactics of empty content, commitment of candidates and voters on the basis of transaction and of special favors, on the basis of lies and untrue hope, hypocritical "independence", when the ND mechanism is at its disposal, the support of big interests that mortgage the future of the Parian people, are the political characteristics of M. Koveos.
All this is done in order to hide his subordination to policies that do not solve the problems; on the contrary, they daily make it harder for the lives of working people, self-employed professionals, farmers, breeders, young people and women.
They blame you for being supported by the KKE ...
KR : Who supports whom is known to our local society. The truth is that they approach our candidates and voters with the argument: "Are you going with the Communists?" They believe that with this primitive, divisive, civil war reasoning, they will raise conservative reflexes of the Parian society to prevent the great acceptance of the "People's Congress". The so-called "political civility" actually goes away and shows the panic in the possibility of losing local authority.
Others are hiding behind their finger. We say it clearly. "People's Congress" is the combination of the joint action of radical social forces on our island. We never hide that it is the combination supported by the KKE and that it includes in its ballot fighters, people from other political areas troubled by the course of developments on the island and in our country, opposing unpopular politics and looking forward to a different management of our island to the benefit of the quality of life of our fellow citizens and the future of our children.
We, as a "People's Congress ", say that the municipality, the prefecture, the central government and the EU are connected with a thread. The EU gives the directions of the anti-grassroots policies that we are experiencing, governments are specifying and channeling this policy to the prefectures and municipalities operating in each place as governmental bodies. The basis of this policy is the same regardless of the governmental shape at a time and the individual differences of the parties in our bourgeois political system. At the heart of our approach is this policy and how we fight for it, because this policy “gives birth” to the problems for the society of the many and the prosperity of the few and veconomically strong, and makes them stronger at the expense of the many.
That is why we say that the vote must be uniform. "People's Congress" in the municipality and the prefecture, KKE in the European elections and parliamentary elections. This is our position and we are trying to convince for it. It does not mean, however, that everyone on the ballot or voting will embrace it. Others agree to everything with us, others less and others more. Others we inspire as persons and trust us, others because they experienced us in opposition and they welcome our politics, attitude and positions.
You are accused of having been a refusal on refusal for five years, following "the politics of nothing", not making proposals, not voting for budgets, but only limited to criticism and pursuing ... all or nothing. What do you have to answer?
KR: Let's take them one by one.
First. Unfortunately for M. Koveos his communication advisors, not living in Paros, suggest characterizations that provoke the knowledge and the memory of the Parian people. When you are "nothing" you do not survive as a representative of the people for 25 years now, you do not survive as a combination with rising power over the past 10 years.
Secondly. The truth is that we steadily voted "present" in the technical programs and the budgets, because in our view they did not aim to meet real needs, did not solve real problems and implement the policy for which the majority of the Parians are very upset. Therefore, our attitude towards the priorities of the municipal authority is confirmed by the citizens themselves.
Thirdly. Some have confused things about the role of the majority and of the opposition. The institutional role of the majority is to propose and implement the decisions of the city council and the opposition is to control, judge, criticize and counteract rather than produce work that is the duty of the municipal authority. Through the years, we have done nothing less nothing more.
Fourth. Despite the limitations of our role, we were present whenever our island faced dangers (e.g. floods, fires), we were present in the mobilizations for health, against the installation of wind parks on our island, we used the process of “questioning” for asking questions about a series of current issues, such as municipal projects, arbitrariness etc.; we proposed out-of-the-agenda topics, urged the discussion of several subjects at the municipal council, such as school facilities, lack of staff, exploitation of public property, traffic and related regulations, the management of the public spaces, sewage works in Aliki - Ageria, Kostos, Lefkes, interventions in the land port area and more. All of the non-majority counselors have been forced to bring the problem of school facilities to the city council, despite their denial.
Finally, let me discuss a series of suggestions on wind parks, the construction of airport buildings, waste management, underground bins, etc. I also add that the Mayor was generally helped and supported by us for matters which we had agreement with and gave our opinion whenever asked.
It looks like their insistence on naming us as "ideologists of nothing" is offensive to themselves. We will not follow their logic. We will insist on the political debate that highlights the essence of the problems, because the elections are passing, but the injuries to the society remain. Confrontation is one thing, division is another. Besides, for us, the positive result from these elections is already recorded. The dozens of our fellow citizens who have sided with us and the hundreds who support our effort are the optimistic sign of this battle. If we now become a municipal majority, it is desirable, but it is not the ambition of persons without terms and conditions.
The island today has to deal with the serious and dangerous issue of garbage that works as a time bomb. What is your position to address the problem? In the long run, but also in the short term.
Why did you not vote for the undergrounding of the bins, as Mr. Koveos complains?
KR : Who has the responsibility that, for five years, he has not planned the second cell of the landfill site, even though the first one has theoretically reached capacity since last year?
Who is responsible for not managing bulky waste (e.g. mattresses) and removing them from the island?
Who is responsible today that Paros has accumulated waste in every spot?
According to Mr. Koveos we are responsible (!), because a poster was taken down by the rain and the wind, trying in a provocative manner to put the workers in cleanliness against us.
Who, instead of pursuing tactics and strategy on waste management, was spending money in wasteful celebrations?
In brief, we target :
Making use of the experience and knowledge of existing staff to help with designing the cleanliness sector, taking also into account the staff reduction policy over these years.
Promote a study on the existence of waste disposal stations to save time, staff, fuel, vehicle maintenance costs with a more efficient cleaning service.
To study the modernization and increase of the fleet with appropriate machinery.
Prioritize the study of the second cell of the landfill in conjunction with the conservative exploitation of the first.
Planning for the municipality to acquire the necessary space for the maintenance, parking of its vehicles and protection from weather conditions.
In all of the above suggestions, that we have outlined over time, one could add:
Integration program for mainstream business recycling.
Implementation and amendment of the cleaning regulations.
Collaboration with institutions and schools for a cleaner environment
Finally, I have to condemn M. Koveos because he is lying, which characterizes him when he is politically in a difficult position. For at least three years, in each of these discussions, we have raised the issue of underground bins. I challenge him to prove that we have not voted for the study or for the supply of such bins.
After a long delay, the master plan for the port of Parikia was presented. What is the position of your combination on this issue, but also on the issue of the traffic that is directly related to it?
KR : Just as you said it. It was presented by M. Koveos with a long delay in the pre-election period to convince the citizens that Parikia is the capital of the Cyclades! Mercy!
We must emphasize that this study is not an initiative of the municipal authority, as it is presented to appear, but is due to the fact that Paros is a port of national importance.
Let us say that the proposed solutions are based on the widening of the coastal front of St. Nicholas, that is, within a featured archaeological site where one may not even move a stone.
In addition, the recommendation does not deal with the traffic, which is a huge issue that affects residents and visitors. The inertia of the municipal authorities for many years in relation to this has created an explosive situation.
Immediate measures, such as interventions at the ex-Ghika junction to direct vehicles to the airport, tagging, etc. are needed; and, of course, a direct study for a bypass route of the Parikia; vehicles which are not directed to it, bypassing the Livadia coastal road, studying ways of avoiding the use of cars in the city, etc.
Our newspaper in the context of the equal presence of the candidates and the objective information of the Parian people presented the views of Mr. Koveos, and now yours. Does it serve or disorient, as many people think, organizing a public dialogue with Mr Koveos, to have a live debate?
KR: There are not many people trying to avoid public debate. They are few and it helps them to move amid rumor, away from what is the policy that responds to the needs of the Parians and the quality of their lives and from the real problems of the island. In a dialogue, you have to apologize for the fictitious image you are trying to sell, to justify the fake facts you use, to tell what kind of development you are talking about and to whom it is addressed. You have to be responsible for your real work and answer why, under conditions worse than yours, mayors elected elsewhere with the "People's Congress ", opposed unpopular policies, supported popular interests, delivered solutions and achievements, gave courage and breathing space to many people.
We have invited Mr. Koveos many times in public debate, but there has been no response on his part. In a public debate, we would have the chance to hear him tell us how he means making us a European destination. Explain to us what kind of Europe he is envisioning for us and for our children. The one that "battles" unemployment with half-employment? ; the one that eliminates social rights in health, education, welfare?; the one that diminishes wages and pensions? ; or the one that abolishes the 8-hour workday and proposes the 70-year retirement age?
He could also explain to us in what dream he saw that he made Parikia the capital of the Cyclades! And many more, which are relentless questions of the Parian people.
We, however, are still waiting ...