Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Against the backdrop of terrorist attacks in Europe, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared on Thursday, during his visit to Jerusalem, that only by working together can the free and democratic countries of the world conquer violence, extremism and hatred of the other.
Tsipras made the statement, recalling the suffering of Greeks under the Nazis and their resistance to Nazi rule and ideology, in the course of a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence.
He said that he was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss important issues with the Israeli leadership.
Rivlin said that as a neighbors in a region that requires immediate attention for the sake of safeguarding freedom and democracy, Greece and Israel must join forces in fighting extremism at every level. What’s happening in Syria and Iraq is not just a local Islamic State phenomenon, he said. Islamic State has become a global phenomenon Rivlin continued, adding that its physical presence in the Sinai Peninsula, poses a threat to both Israel and Egypt, and its actions are felt not only in the region but in the entire world.
Even Russia, which is supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, is fighting Islamic State, because it knows that if it doesn’t Islamic State will also reach Moscow, Rivlin said.
The president reiterated again and again that a free and democratic world cannot tolerate fundamentalism and must unite to eradicate it. Although he has strenuously denied on many occasions that Israel is embroiled in a religious war, this time he seemed to suggest something to the contrary, stating that “it’s not just the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but religion against religion – something that endangers the whole free world.”
Rivlin praised Greece as the cradle of democracy saying that every child in Israel knows that it originated in Greece. Nonetheless, today it’s flawed, he conceded, due to the conflict between what the people want and what their leaders think they need.
Tsipras said that he agreed that modern democracy has certain deficiencies, but there is nothing better to replace it. The main problem in the approach to democracy, he said, is that it is very subjective as to what is good for the people.
“If we want to develop and advance the democratic system, we must rely more on the will of the people,” he said. “When you give the people responsibility, you make them responsible and they act responsibly.”
What has happened in Greece in two consecutive elections proved that all the public opinion polls and media forecasts were wrong, he said, adding that it is a mistake on the part of politicians to place so much reliance on public opinion polls instead of the will of the people.