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Greek Community Clinic of Elliniko rejects the European Citizen’s prize awarded by the European Parliament
The centre representatives describe the prize offered by the European institutions as “hypocritical”
by Fátima Martín
20 October 2015

The self-managed Metropolitan Community clinic of Elliniko rejected the European Citizen’s Prize 2015 awarded by the European Parliament. The same Parliament whose president, the German Social Democrat Martin Schulz, threatened the Greeks with exclusion from the euro zone if they voted ’no’ in the referendum, gave recognition to the centre, which supports patients who have lost free health care coverage, a prize that its members rejected, saying that “For us it would be utterly hypocritical, to receive such a prize when Europe pretends not to see the undernourished babies, the uninsured cancer patients that end up dead, the stories of famished families, the people that live without food, water, electricity and food for another year.”

Members of the clinic said they would spend their visit to Brussels trying to campaign against the memorandum and the austerity policies imposed on Greece. But after being informed, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Sylvie Guillaume, of the French Socialist Party, cancelled plane tickets and accommodation for the representatives of the centre to the ceremony, scheduled for 14-15 October in Brussels, saying she did not find their participation appropriate. “The event and the ceremony is a special occasion to recognize all winners and should not be used for other purposes, and it has nothing to do with the quality of your action,” she said.

Members of the group said the prize symbolized the recognition of “a four year struggle for a fairer society for the unemployed – uninsured people that have been neglected by the Greek state during the Greek crisis” but they recalled that “this fight is for the three million people in Greece without social security, without employment and in utter poverty, as a result of the politics of austerity being imposed by the IMF together with the European Central Bank and the European Union”.

In a statement after learning that they would receive the price, they said: “For us and for the most of the Greek people, Europe is our home. A home full of people of understanding and solidarity. This is the Europe that we believe in and wish for. Much to our regret, we come across a Europe lost in bureaucratic cogwheels and banking interests. Much to our dismay, we see that Europe’s top priority is to find billions of Euro for private banking while, at the same time, a fifty per cent budget cut is being imposed on Greek Health Care System, in relation to the year 2009.”

In the text, the self-managed clinic of Elliniko cites data from the Prolepsis Institution on the impoverishment of Greek society: six out of ten students in Athens (of 64 analysed schools) have urgent nutritional needs, 11% of students have no health insurance, in 2014 7% of them lived without electricity for a week, 1053 schools received the food aid program to meet the basic needs of 152,937 students. The statement is also an echo of the study of the Office of the Greek Parliament’s budget, that 3.8 million Greeks live close to the poverty threshold (432 euros per person) and 2.5 million live below this threshold (233 euros per person per month). “This means that 6.3 million Greeks, 58% of the population lives near or below the poverty line,” as they underlined.

For all these reasons, the group says it does not reject Europe or its people, but they feel compelled to “turn our back to all the institutions and their politicians, who treat people as numbers in accounting files, the European Parliament included.” an attitude, they say, which “is a shame on European civilization.”

Translated by Jenny Bright

Fátima Martín

est journaliste, membre du CADTM en Espagne. Elle est l’auteure, avec Jérôme Duval, du livre Construcción europea al servicio de los mercados financieros, Icaria editorial 2016. Elle développe le journal en ligne