In a wide-ranging radio interview on Wednesday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused dissenters within SYRIZA of seeking to manipulate the result of a referendum earlier this month, noting that snap elections might be unavoidable due to the internal strife.
“I am the last person who would want elections if we had guaranteed majority in Parliament,” Tsipras told Sto Kokkino FM. “If I don’t have it though, we will have to go to elections.”
As he braces for a meeting of SYRIZA’S central committee today, Tsipras threw down the gauntlet to party radicals who have broken ranks with the government in votes on austerity measures.
“Collective decisions must be honored,” he said. “Anyone who does not want to honor them should hand over their seat.”
Tsipras accused dissenters of trying to twist the result of a referendum on creditors’ proposals by suggesting it was a green light for a Greek eurozone exit.
“The Greek people voted ‘no’ to a bad deal, they did not vote for an exit from the euro,” he said.
Asked about rifts within SYRIZA, Tsipras admitted it “never became a unified party.” As the Left Platform and other radical factions push for a party congress, and for an internal referendum on Greece’s bailout deal, Tsipras said his priority is sealing an agreement with lenders. A congress can then be held in September, he said.
The premier said he has “no regrets” over the stance held in negotiations with lenders and claimed that the damage wreaked by the closure of banks and imposition of capital controls “is reversible.”
He also said SYRIZA never promised that “memorandums could be annulled with one piece of legislation.”
“We said we would try to emerge from an asphyxiating situation. We didn’t promise Greek people a walk in the park.”
As representatives of Greece’s creditors assemble in Athens for talks, Tsipras said he was keen to finalize a deal but rebuffed suggestions that Greek officials would need to approve a third set of so-called prior actions in order to secure further loans.
“I’m well aware of the framework of the deal we signed at the eurozone summit on July 12,” he said. “We’ll implement these commitments, irrespective of whether we agree with them or not. Nothing beyond that.”
Technical talks continued in Athens on Wednesday with officials focusing on the areas of energy, licensing, fiscal issues and taxation, a Finance Ministry official said.
It remained unclear when negotiations would shift to the level of mission chiefs but the International Monetary Fund representative was expected to join her European peers in Athens on Thursday.
Tsipras made only a passing reference to revelations regarding plans by former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis for a parallel banking system that could be switched to the drachma. He slammed the “systemic media” and political opposition parties for “whipping up an unbelievable storm over whether Varoufakis had a Plan B.”
Varoufakis, for his part, kept the media busy again on Wednesday.
A statement from his office condemned a judicial investigation launched into “non-political” figures implicated in his claims as an attempt to criminalize the government’s negotiating strategy.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Germany’s Stern, Varoufakis was quoted as saying that his mother was a member of a right-wing terrorist organization.