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Tsipras escapes from the debate of the candidates for President of the European Commission

29 April 2014 / 11:04:07  GRReporter
2697 reads

Less than a month before the European elections that will take place between 22 May and 25 May in different countries, the first televised debate in the history of the European Union involving four of the five contenders to head the European Commission was held in Maastricht.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the candidate of the European People's Party, Martin Schulz of the Party of European Socialists, Guy Ferhofstadt, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and Ska Keller of the European Green Party stood before an audience of 700 young European citizens. In 90 minutes, they presented their positions on the following issues: youth unemployment, immigration, debt crisis, the events in Ukraine, energy policy and other pressing issues for the European Union. The debate was broadcast live in all Member States. Two journalists followed the strict observance of the regulated response time and had mercy on no one. Then subsequently, the four politicians answered questions asked by participants in the audience.

The debate, however, took place in the absence of the great hope of the European Left, namely Alexis Tsipras. The party tried to excuse him with a rather unconvincing explanation, arguing that when he was informed of the debate he had already had "scheduled events in other European countries."

In fact, Tsipras will not attend the next two debates, the first of which will be held today at the office of the European Parliament in Brussels and the second on 9 May at the University of Florence. The candidate of the European Left will deign to appear before voters only at the last televised debate that will take place on 15 May in Brussels.

For days, the majority of the Greek media have negatively commented on Tsipras’ decision to avoid this first debate of the candidates for President of the European Commission, who will be selected for the first time by European voters instead of by the European Union bodies. After the debate, however, the criticism is relentless.

In her article for the online edition Protagon.gr, after commenting on the performance of the candidates and the "huge gap that separates Greece from other member states in Central and Western Europe in terms of the level of political debate," communications adviser Vivian Efthimiopoulou writes the following: "Commenting on the absence of Alexis Tsipras makes no sense because those who advised him to avoid the debate were right. I do not see how he would respond to the level and course of the discussion, even for a minute."

"Four in Maastricht, one "on business" is the title of the commentary article by journalist Christina Poulidou in the same edition. She writes, "No, the fifth member of this company, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, was absent yesterday. The explanation for this was that he had urgent obligations under his European tour. It was quite insufficient. Once the other four took time to take part in the debate, the argument of the fifth that he had other obligations cannot be accepted. All have the same "obligations", this is all about priorities, and the coordinators of the discussion mentioned Mr. Tsipras’ absence and the excuse for it in a very plausible manner, inviting the audience to applaud those who had preferred to be absent... Mr. Tsipras will not participate in three debates, he will take part in the fourth one. During the first three, he will ... "have other obligations". Is this due to poor organization or to self-awareness?"

It is worth noting that the date of the debate was announced as early as 29 January. SYRIZA however claims that it received the invitation on 19 March when "it was too late," as stated by it.

In all cases, despite Tsipras’ absence, the debate was very lively and full of direct confrontation between the candidates who presented their positions on all the "hot" topics of the European Union.

Those who did not manage to follow it live can watch it here:

Tags: PoliticsEuropean electionsDebateCandidates for President of the European CommissionAlexis TsiprasEuropean Left
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