The coalition government’s economic policies are threatening Greece with a fresh cycle of austerity, the leader of the country’s main opposition party told Deutsche Welle on Wednesday.
Speaking to the German broadcaster during a visit to Berlin, New Democracy’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the measures voted by ruling SYRIZA and junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) risk plunging the country back into crisis.
He also welcomed an agreement to lighten Greece’s debt load reached last week with the finance ministers of the eurozone, but expressed some reservations about the terms of the deal.
“I can’t help pointing out that this agreement, in contrast with the case of other countries exiting the memorandum cycle, is accompanied by extremely strict fiscal measures that have already been ratified by the Greek government, to the tune of 5.1 billion euros for 2019 and 2010,” he said.
“These are measures that will further reduce pensions, will reduce the tax-free threshold and will impose a new cycle of austerity on the already beleaguered Greek people. These measures would have been completely unnecessary if the country hadn’t been subjected to the adventures of misters [Alexis] Tsipras and [Panos] Kammenos,” he said, referring to the Greek prime minister and his coalition partner.
Mitsotakis added that strict supervision of Greece’s post-bailout progress imposed by international lenders is a sign that confidence in the country’s commitment to reforms is still lacking. “This is the gap that we have to bridge,” he said of his party, which has called on the government to accede to early elections.
“This is where New Democracy’s true added value lies; in rebuilding with our partners and with the international investment community from which we will have to borrow funds a bond of trust that will be based on a Greek-owned program of bold reforms that will make the economy competitive again and the public administration more effective,” Mitsotakis said.
The conservative leader was also critical of an agreement signed between Athens and Skopje settling a decades-old dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as going against Greece’s national interest.
“It is not a good deal because the Greek government has ceded to the neighboring country something that no previous government has agreed to: a ‘Macedonian’ ethnicity and a ‘Macedonian’ language. I have well-founded suspicions that under a different government in Skopje – not the present one, which appears to have a more moderate profile – a discussion could possibly re-emerge on the issue of a ‘Greater Macedonia,’ a discussion we know all to well in this region, which concerns an area stretching beyond the borders of present-day FYROM,” said Mitsotakis.
The conservative leader also reiterated claims made earlier this week, when he said that if he is elected prime minister before the deal is ratified by Greece’s Parliament, he would try to scrap it.
“The recognition of a ‘Macedonian’ ethnicity and language is an unacceptable national concession,” Mitsotakis said. “As a result, I have made it absolutely clear that we will not support or ratify this agreement in Greek Parliament. That said, it is an agreement that has legal repercussions and will be extremely hard to change if it is ratified by Parliament.”