NEWS

Tsipras courts G20 ambassadors [UPDATE]

Leftist leader assures ambassadors that SYRIZA will keep Greece in euro

With 10 days to go until crucial general elections that could determine Greece's fate in the eurozone, the leader of leftist SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras presented his party's key policies to an audience of ambassadors representing the G20 countries in an apparent bid to give them a taste of the approach he would take if called on to form the next Greek government.

"We want to try and reach a solution with our partners but such a solution must definitely put a stop to an ongoing catastrophic situation,» Tsipras told the diplomats.

The leftist leader repeated his conviction that the memorandum -- Greece's debt deal with international creditors -- is disastrous for the country but emphasized that his party does not want Greece to leave the eurozone. On the contrary, he said, SYRIZA's program «is the only way for Greece to exit the crisis and become an equal and worthy member state of the European Union and the eurozone."

Noting that his party's surprisingly strong showing in the May 6 elections had attracted strong international interest, he reassured diplomats that SYRIZA represents «the left of the 21st century» which wants to establish a socialism based on democracy and freedom.

The 37-year-old leftist said his party would aim to increase tax reveneues by 1 percent of gross domestic product per year with the aim of bringing Greece closer to the European Union average in four years time. He also pledged to crack down on tax evasion and increase levies on the wealthy.

On foreign policy, Tsipras said that his party -- if called on to lead a government -- would pursue a «multifaceted and pacificist» policy but would strongly defend the country's rights within the EU and strive to contribute to regional alliances in the Balkans and Mediterranean. He added that SYRIZA was in favor of the Middle East becoming a denuclearized zone.

On the issue of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Tsipras said it was Greece's inalienable right to create one in order to exploit undersea mineral reserves, adding that he would seek to forge pacts with neighboring countries.

Last week, Tsipras had turned down a meeting with the ambassadors of EU member states. SYRIZA sources said that as Samaras had already met with them, Tsipras did not want to be seen to be copying the conservative leader. The SYRIZA leader met individually with some of the EU ambassadors last week.

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