Βy Maria Zougra
Undoubtedly, this year’s elections exude a more feminine scent, with sufficiently dynamic candidates, with many arrows in their quiver, which are directed directly at the goal, which is their election. A female voice, which we singled out among them, is the New Democracy MP candidate in the Cyclades, Ms. Despina Prinia, PhD in Political Communication and Strategic Media Management.
– First of all, I would like to ask you, why are you running as a candidate with the ND in the prefecture of Cyclades and not with another political party?
“From the moment I decided to become a citizen, the Cyclades were my obvious choice because of my origin. When you go to run a marathon, you ought to have a very strong motivation and for me my origin from the Cyclades and strong emotional DNA worked as a catalyst to fight for my country and represent it. It is a great honor for me to be chosen by Kyriakos Mitsotakis for this ballot. I believe in his vision for a Greece interlocutor with Europe, which looks to the future with optimism and takes bold and steady steps forward. A country that can practically stand by every citizen, even amidst great challenges and crises in a changing world and be a hub of stability in the region. It was an experiment in democracy that succeeded, of course, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
– You advocate in your pre-election brochure that “on May 21, the citizens will make the big change in their place”. What is this change, that you think, our country needs?
“The reforms carried out in the last four years have proven that Greece can be a modern country, which is able to confront the past and defeat even its bad self and decades-old pathologies. I think that both the political system and the citizens experienced a “coming of age” in the last four years and learned to distinguish a modern state, which stands by them no matter what happens. After years of economic crisis, insecurity and discrediting the country, we have the highest growth rate in the Eurozone and the country’s position in the international community is now respected at every level. However, in order to complete this transition, a basic condition is, in addition to economic and “social development”, long-term sustainability. More specialized policies for the most vulnerable, effective cultural enterprise, education linked to work, health even for the smallest parts of the country using telemedicine and new technologies, policies for the environment, but which are in balance with the human environment. As an islander, these are the things I would like to see in order to feel that we have fully “grown up” and are equipped for the complex challenges of a changing world. Many steps have been taken in four years but the country needs another chance to complete its development”.
– You also state that you are running for office “so that all citizens can have their own voice in Parliament”. Are women’s voices enough to be heard – do you think – in the Greek Parliament?
“I often say that I am not a professional politician, but a professional citizen. I feel that way and I think we need both technocrats and people from society in the political mix. I’ve been working since I was 17, I’ve racked up miles in the professional arena, and I think my academic experience has failed to make me theoretical. I am a technocrat and see things in realistic terms. In my professional life I think I have been treated equally; I have no complaints. But it is a great truth, that there are not enough women in the political arena, the representation has been symbolic until now. But we are talking about the government that proposed a female for President of the Hellenic Republic, proposed also women first on the regional ballot and put 50-50 on the Cyclades ballot for the first time, proving that women are not just a matter of quotas. Yes, I would like to see more female portfolios in the next government. Not for reasons of political correctness, but because we deserve it and we earned it.”
– You are the academic manager of the “International Relations & European Lobbying” program at the University of Strasbourg – SCG. Why do you leave the… desks for the seats of parliament?
“I never left the desks. Even now that I am on leave, my research activity is uninterrupted. This is my point of reference, my academic work. But that’s something I don’t find incompatible with public service. In both the goal is common. The difference is that at the desks, as you say, I am among the citizens of tomorrow and in the political arena you are among all the citizens representing them. It’s hard work, but I feel like I can offer multipliers.”
– You have worked as a trainee at the United Nations Organization in New York and the UN High Commission for refugees, while you also served at the Ministry of Immigration & Asylum. However, the New Democracy policy regarding refugees is not characterized by SYRIZA as friendly. The condemnation of Greece for inhuman conditions of refugee detention by the European Court – and not only – is also a fact. If elected, what will you do in this direction?
“First of all, to be clear, you are talking about complaints to the European Parliament that were made on the part of Turkey and on the part of SYRIZA and which were dropped. Let me remind you that recently the head of the Eurogroup of SYRIZA, within the same ideological framework, also supported a proposal for not financing the fence on the Evros with European tools. The conclusions have been drawn by the citizens and the European institutions. It is true that Greece in the last four years is far from the nationally irresponsible “the sea has no borders”, which created an unprecedented and unmanageable immigration wave for the country. Greece has now internationalized its issues, our national issues are no longer bilateral, they are European and our borders are also the borders of Europe. Greece is a country that always follows international law, with respect for human rights and human life, rescuing thousands of migrants from the sea every year. The difference is that we have borders as we always have and they are not inviolable by anyone, as they are not in any civilized country. Let the rightists of SYRIZA think about this, who do not seem to support human rights with the same fervor, when it comes to e.g., on violence against women. Far be it from me to be populist, but when we discuss human rights, it is a very serious discussion and it should not be done in these terms. Moreover, in our time, as B. Obama had characteristically said, discrimination in human rights is no longer racial, class or national. It is discrimination between those who believe in Democracy and those who claim to believe in Democracy”.
Photo source: Despina Prinia
– Recently, the terms “the mafia of Mykonos”, “the parastatal of arbitrary construction” etc. adorn hundreds of articles and posts. How will you prevail against the “organized crime” that brings in millions every summer?
“In order not to put the righteous and the unjust in the same basket, let’s first say that Mykonos is the jewel in the crown for the tourism product, providing a large part of the Greek GDP. Something for which we are grateful to the right entrepreneurs of luxury tourism, which is a healthy part of productive Greece. However, Mykonos may be a case by itself in our tourism, but it is not a separate state. Lawlessness and delinquency have no place and no tolerance in this government and the quick reflexes in the recent sad incidents proved it. The Mykonos police department has been reinforced and the authorities are vigilant to ensure that there are no different rules to the rest of Greece. You know, all this has an impact not only on the inhabitants of the island but on the tourism product of the island itself, which is valuable. The issue of safety is very high in the criteria of a new generation of visitors, those we call responsible visitors and especially the demanding visitors of luxury tourism. However, I cannot adopt the terms mafia of Mykonos and organized crime and neither is it useful to demonize an island as a whole, which is a showcase of the country abroad. It also does an injustice to the businessmen, the vast majority of whom invest in the island and luxury tourism, strictly adhering to the criteria, and the local community of the island, which made and continues to make an island of the Cyclades a global destination. It’s a big discussion that I’m sure we’ll have the day after the elections, and for better or for worse, it doesn’t have easy answers.”