One day after the head of the European Parliament delegation inspecting the troika's role in Greece's international bailout criticized SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, an MEP of the same seven-member delegation has contradicted the controversial comments.
Addressing a Greek Parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Ottmar Karas, the conservative Austrian European Parliament vice-president leading the inquiry, said that Tsipras had failed to come up with any meaningful proposals when the two men met in Strasbourg in December.
“The only thing [Tsipras] said was the he supported the European Parliament and wishes to grant it more powers in negotiations with the troika. He made no other criticism. He said only that he will support our report,” Karas, who belongs to the European People's Party, said through an interpreter.
Karas's comments sparked a strong response from Greece's leftist opposition. SYRIZA press spokesman Panos Skourletis slammed the allegations as “false and defamatory.”
During a press briefing Thursday, MEP Liem Hoang Ngoc denied Karas's claim, saying that Tsipras had come up with “detailed economic, social analysis and policy proposals.” Hoang Ngoc, an economist from France, belongs to the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
On Thursday, Karas also appeared to backtrack on his earlier remarks. “I'm not investigating Tsipras, I'm investigating troika,” he said.
The MEPs are in Athens to collect more information about the troika as part of their investigation. They met Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday, as well as labor and civil society representatives.
"The time of the troika is over," said Hoang Ngoc. "The troika must be dismantled and replaced by mechanism that is democratically controlled."