Juncker says rival for EC spot Tsipras not fit to lead Greece

Jean-Claude Juncker, the center-right candidate for European Commission president and former Eurogroup chairman declared on Friday that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, his leftist rival for the top EC post, would not make a good Greek Prime Minister as he would not cooperate effectively with the commission.

In an interview with published a few hours after a televised debate between Juncker, Tsipras and the other two candidates for the EC president post, Juncker said he thought the young leftist did not have what it takes to take a leading role in Greece or the EU. "I would be willing to cooperate with him but I don't think he would be willing to do so if he became prime minster of Greece," Juncker said, adding that this would pose "a major risk for the country." The former Eurogroup leader said he believed Tsipras "has not adequately understood what the problems are in Greece and [what the problems] are in Europe relating to Greece."

Juncker noted that Greece has come very far in implementing reforms but that the crisis is not over and fiscal adjustment must continue.

Referring to revelations in the Financial Times about behind-the-scenes developments at the crucial G20 summit in Cannes in 2011 where eurozone finance ministers were asked to work on a euro exit plan for Greece, as PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos admitted on Thursday, Juncker insisted that he had never threatened Greece or the then Greek premier George Papandreou with the prospect of a euro exit. However, if a referendum had been held on Greece's euro membership and Greeks had voted "no" the result would have been an exit, he remarked.