Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday confirmed that he asked former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to draft a contingency plan in case Greece was forced to leave the euro, claiming that it was the duty of the government to be prepared.
“Of course I personally gave the order to the finance minister to set up a team and draft a plan of defense in case of emergency,” Tsipras told Parliament, responding to a question by PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata. “I would have been politically naive and irresponsible if I hadn’t done so. We didn’t design or have an exit plan but we had an emergency plan as we were obliged to,” he said. “If our partners had a Grexit plan on the table, shouldn’t we have been prepared?,” Tsipras said.
If the SYRIZA-led government had plotted to take Greece out of the euro, why would they not have done so, with a 63 percent “no” vote in a recent referendum on an austerity proposal by creditors, he remarked.
Tsipras defended Varoufakis, saying the former minister may have made mistakes “but he never moved his money out of the country... and he never hid the names of Greek taxpayers in the drawer,” referring to a series of former finance ministers. “You can blame him as much as you like for his political plans, for his statements, for his taste in shirts... but you cannot call him a crook,” Tsipras said.
Conservative opposition New Democracy responded that it was more concerned than before. “What exactly did Mr Tsipras give an order for?” ND’s statement said, seeking details of what the “Plan B” entailed. “Did it include a raid on the mint, the issuing of IOUs? Did it involve a parallel payment system? And to what extent are these things constitutional?”
Varoufakis caused a stir earlier this week by admitting that he had planned to hack into Greece’s online tax database and set up a parallel banking system. A prosecutor has launched an investigation but the probe will not focus on Varoufakis who enjoys immunity as a former minister.
Tsipras is expected now to focus on securing a deal with Greece’s creditors after reasserting his hold over SYRIZA. A vote by the party’s central committee late on Thursday backed his proposal for a party congress in September rather than a congress now or a referendum on Greece’s agreement to launch talks with creditors, as some party radicals had wanted. Tsipras is to speak to several European peers by telephone over the coming days in a bid to push for a swift deal, sources close to him said.