NEWS

Reviving bid for reparations from Berlin, Tsipras douses rumors of early elections

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday sought to douse speculation about early elections sparked in part by his own insistence earlier in the day that his government will pursue wartime reparations from Germany, comments reminiscent of his fiery rhetoric last year before his government signed Greece’s third bailout.

“I hear about these scenarios and I read about them,” Tsipras told reporters who asked him about the prospects for snap polls. “Now that the country is coming back on track, that the economy is gradually recovering, that unemployment is de-escalating, whoever thinks of elections is foolish. Whoever asks for them is twice as foolish.”

His comments were echoed by government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili.

“We will continue our work unhindered and keep on implementing our program until 2019, which is what Greek citizens have voted for us to do,” she said.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to the village of Kommeno, near Arta in northwestern Greece, Tsipras revived his government’s bid to seek wartime reparations from Berlin.

“Greece will do whatever is necessary diplomatically first and then, if necessary, on the legal level, so that this historical debt is paid,” he said during a function in memory of the 317 Greeks slaughtered by Nazi troops in the village in 1943.

“It is time now for the German government to acknowledge, in a climate of cooperation and good faith, that the issue is unresolved, and to sit down at the table of negotiations.”

His speech came just days after a parliamentary committee concluded that Athens should seek 269 billion euros in damages from Berlin.

Tsipras’s revival of the subject, which sorely tested Greek-German ties last year, was interpreted by many as a bid to distract from Greece’s upcoming bailout negotiations in the fall and by some as a prelude to snap polls.

Just days before calling early elections last year, Tsipras had insisted that snap polls were not on the agenda, so analysts are not ruling out the same surprise move this year.

Tsipras is due back in the Maximos Mansion Wednesday for talks that are expected to focus on preparing his speech for the Thessaloniki International Fair, on social welfare measures to counter austerity, the issue of the war reparations and the looming talks with creditors in the fall.

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