New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that a letter addressed to international creditors by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos intended to mend a rift between Athens and Brussels was “contemptible” and that the leftist-led government is “condemning the country to prolonged austerity.”
Mitsotakis made his comments in an interview with Alpha radio but also on his personal Twitter account, accuding the administration of “putting on a show of force domestically and then apologizing abroad.”
“It’s a performance that just won’t wash,” Mitsotakis said.
The conservative leader’s comments referred to a decision by the government to grant a one-off Christmas bonus to low-income pensioners and to freeze a VAT hike on the islands worst affected by the migrant crisis. The decision caused a rift with creditors, and particularly Germany, as the Athens had not consulted with European authorities prior to announcing the measures.
In his subsequent letter of explanation to Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem and the head of the European Stability Mechanism, Klaus Regling, following threats to scrap short-term debt-relief measures, the Greek finance minister vowed that the bonus was a one-off that would not be repeated and that tax freeze would only apply for 2017.
Tsakalotos also reaffirmed Greece’s commitment to all of its bailout pledges.
“I hope that these clarifications reassure the Eurogroup on our full commitment to remain compliant with our obligations under the MoU, both as regards the substance as well as the process of cooperation with our partners,” he said.