NEWS

Tsipras debt comments hint at shift in position

TAGS: Politics, Economy, Diplomacy

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday broached the contentious issue of the country’s debt in a post on Facebook that prompted widespread criticism from the political opposition as it appeared to hark back to leftist SYRIZA’s position on Greek debt before Tsipras’s administration capitulated and signed Greece’s third bailout.

In the post on Facebook, Tsipras called on European leaders to “rise to the occasion” and show “the greatest display of solidarity.”

The timing of the message was clearly symbolic, marking the anniversary of the signing of the so-called London Debt Agreement in 1953 which secured West Germany a write-down of more than 50 percent of the debts it accumulated during two world wars.

The move by Tsipras also came amid reports that he aims to forge an alliance with the leaders of other countries in Southeastern Europe in a bid to bolster Greece’s bid for a debt restructuring and lower the primary surplus targets set by creditors.

Tsipras is expected to explore the prospects for such an alliance at a meeting of European socialist heads of state scheduled to take place in Paris on August 25, particularly with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande.

According to sources, Tsipras aims to arrange a subsequent meeting in Athens, probably on September 9, to explore the prospects for Greek debt relief in more detail.

EU officials did not react publicly to Tsipras’s call for debt relief, which the International Monetary Fund has underlined as a condition before it joins the country’s third bailout.

But Greek opposition politicians were scathing. Former PASOK leader and ex-finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said Tsipras gave the impression of returning to SYRIZA’S pre-election positions prior to the signing of the third bailout and said the message made it clear that the SYRIZA government was “working on a scenario of snap elections.”

The Communist Party accused Tsipras of “making references that show an ignorance of history” while To Potami said the premier was spouting “generalities lacking in substance.”

Online