As Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos resumed bailout negotiations in Athens with representatives of the country’s creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared on Tuesday that his government will legislate new tough measures in mid-May but will not enforce them if Greece does not get debt relief.
“We entered a negotiation that does not relate strictly to the program itself but also has to do with the debt,” Tsipras told ANT1 channel.
He said his government would approve a new raft of measures in Parliament in good faith, anticipating that creditors will follow suit by honoring pledges to offer medium-term debt relief, but will change course if those promises are not met.
“A sovereign government can take back something it has voted if an agreement is not honored,” he said, noting that the only reason coalition MPs will approve a new agreement is to secure debt relief.
Tsipras defended his government’s performance in negotiations despite vehement criticism by the opposition, which, he insisted, has offered no viable alternative.
“We won some things, we lost some things, but overall the negotiation ended with a positive score as the government secured the countermeasures and labor rights,” he said, referring to reforms that Athens has said will lighten the load of austerity.
Noting that a “political agreement” is already in place, Tsipras said he was sure the technical details of the detail will be hammered out by a May 22 Eurogroup summit.
He insisted that the new package of measures would be a “ticket out of the program,” referring to the austerity measures underpinning Greece’s bailout.
Greek officials gave little detail about negotiations in Athens on Tuesday apart from saying they were “on a good course.”
The premier admitted to having “delusions” when his leftist SYRIZA was in opposition, hoping that a major change in Europe could be brought about by an uprising of the Greek people. “I didn’t hesitate to say that I had illusions,” he said. “We hit a wall,” he said, noting however, that “this battle was not in vain.”
As for his one-time battle cry, “Go back Madame Merkel,” Tsipras said he still believed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel should not have championed such tough austerity across Europe but remarked that she showed herself to be a responsible politician in her response to the refugee crisis.