The Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a speech from Ithaka on the occasion of the end of the bailout programs after eight years of austerity and memoranda:
Today a new day begins for our country.
A day historic. The memoranda of austerity, recession, and social depopulation have finally come to an end. Our country regains its right to define its own fortune and its future. Like a normal European country. With no external compulsions. Without any other extortion. Without new sacrifices of our people.
Our place is closed, the two black Clashing Rocks are closing down on it, the poet says. We are leaving these Clashing Rocks behind us. Knowing that Greece is its history. Achievements, struggles but also great pains. These things that have set its course throughout the centuries.
A journey that was never easy. But it always had a destination. Even in the darkest days, during the biggest storms.
Greece has experienced its modern Odyssey since 2010. Within five years, unprecedented things happened for a country in time of peace. We lost 25% of our national wealth. Three out of 10 were unemployed. Six out of 10 young people, too. Austerity measures of 65 billion were implemented. Violence and repression became part of everyday life. Democracy was ridiculed. Bankers became prime ministers and ministers became bankers. Fascist gangs came out of their hiding places after 60 years.
A country in a lasting state of emergency. And a people, however, who never accepted the fate that the powerful were planning for them. And they wrote new pages of resistance.
These people, three and a half years ago, made a historic decision. Getting the country’s steering wheel from those who led it to the rocks. And gave it to new captains. We assumed this heavy responsibility. With determination and respect for the sacrifices of our people. We did not move with certainties. Only one. The one that the Greeks defined to us: To take the country out of the tightness of the memoranda and the endless austerity.
We passed many waves to get to our destination today. The crew changed. Others were afraid of the waves, others preferred to tame them. We’ve heard the Sirens of futility many times. That things in Greece are not going to change. And the memoranda will be forever here. That there is no point in resisting when the Laestrygones and Cyclops stand against you. The beasts that the small and weak Greece could not win.
None of these, however, bent our effort. That’s because the people who fought to get to the destination were no longer on the sidelines. They were no longer locked in the hold, with no voice, with no hope. But they were behind the wheel. With us. And in hard times it was them who held it firmly.
Greeks, today is a day of redemption. But it is also the beginning of a new era. And at this point of departure, we will not commit the hubris to ignore the lessons learned of Greece of the memoranda. We will not let oblivion drift us. We will not be the Lotus-eaters.
– We will never forget the causes and the people who led the country to the memoranda.
Tax relief of the wealthy, generalized corruption, the impunity of a number of business and publishing groups that for years considered their country to be their property, the cynicism and contempt of a political elite who thought Greece was a feud and the Greeks its persuaded citizens.
– We will never forget those who have ravaged and devalued Greece and the Greeks because they dared not consent to the realization of a neo-liberal experiment that would hold for decades.
But we will also not forget those who stood by the side of the Greeks and Greece in the difficult. People and political forces from all European countries. Strongly resisting the plans for Greece to exit and be punished. Because they know that Greece for Europe means much more than budgets.
We will not forget anything that we have experienced because it is not just references for the historians of the future. But it is the supplies of a country that writes the new page of its history, in the present time.
We arrived at our destination, we came out of the memoranda, but we are fully aware that we have not finished here. New battles are now ahead of us. Modern suitors are here and still stand opposite of us. It is those who want to see the boat again beaten by the sea waves and the people back to the hold. Those who made in their image and likeness the Greece of corruption, interdependence and the power of the few. Those who want to evade taxes undisturbed, lining at the expense of the public interest, having their offshores and their bank accounts abroad. Those who consider themselves above any rule of law. And they tremble at the idea of an independent justice.
We are not going to leave Ithaka in their hands. Now that we have reached our coveted destination, we have the strength to make our land as it should be. The resourceful Greeks, we wrote with struggles and sacrifices the end of the memoranda. From today, we start with vision and determination, for the new era of our country. With caution and responsibility, never to return to Greece of deficits and bankruptcy. But also with boldness for the rebirth of Greece. For a homeland of equality, democracy and social justice.
Because Ithaka is just the beginning.