In Frankfurt, SYRIZA leader stresses austerity’s impact on workers, social cohesion

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras flew to Frankfurt Thursday to warn German voters ahead of Sunday’s federal elections that Greece’s economic plight, the continuing austerity program and the rise of right-wing extremism should serve as lessons for the rest of Europe.

Speaking at a campaign event organized by Die Linke, Germany’s left-wing party, Tsipras said that social stability and cohesion were at risk in Greece and insisted that the fates of the Greeks and Germans were intertwined.

“If a German worker lives with dignity, there is hope for the Greek workers,” he said as he backed Die Linke’s proposal for a minimum wage of 10 euros per hour. “If, however, a Greek worker lives without dignity, then the German worker could be next.”

Tsipras said that only 1.5 percent of the bailout money Greece received went toward the real economy. “The supposed rescue of the Greek people is in fact a rescue for banks,” he said.

The SYRIZA leader also labeled the bailout and the austerity measures prescribed by Greece’s lenders a failure. “Austerity has failed three times and we are heading for a fourth time,” he said. “Austerity recycles the crisis.”

Tsipras made similar comments earlier in the day when he met European Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen. “Greece’s debt is not sustainable,” said the Greek politician. “Instead of shrinking, it increases,” added Tsipras, stressing the social consequences of Greece’s dire economic situation.

“We are not blind to the social situation in Greece,” said Asmussen. “Six out of 10 young people are out of work and that is unacceptable. We take that into consideration when we make suggestions on how the program could be designed.”

Asmussen, however, was adamant that Greece is heading in the right direction. “In our view the program is working, we see progress.”

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