Prime Minister Antonis Samaras accused SYRIZA on Friday of preparing to make unilateral moves that would spark a Greek default if it comes to power, as the opposition party tried to distance itself from suggestions by one of its own MPs that it might stop repaying the country’s debt.
“We will win [the January 25 elections] and that will be the end of populism in Greece,” he told party officials at a gathering at New Democracy’s headquarters on Syngrou Avenue in Athens. “Our weapon is the truth, our banner is responsibility. They [SYRIZA] have a secret agenda.”
Samaras pointed to recent comments from SYRIZA MP Yiannis Tolios in which he said that if the leftists come to power they could stop paying Greece’s debt.
“SYRIZA will take unilateral action that will cause a default,” said the prime minister. “At their conference, they said they would not pay interest or principal – that is the definition of a default.”
Tolios repeated the comments in a radio interview on Friday but SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis insisted that a leftist government would not make any moves that would lead to a so-called credit event.
“A SYRIZA government has no intention of suspending payments or taking unilateral action on debt issues,” Skourletis told Skai TV. The SYRIZA representative explained that if his party came to power it would ask Greece’s lenders for debt repayment to be put on hold while the two sides negotiate new terms to the country’s loan agreement.
Skourletis also attacked New Democracy’s so-called Truth Team, responsible for compiling web-based promotional material, for releasing an edited version of an older interview with Tsipras in which he appears to say that SYRIZA’s policies might lead to an exit from the euro. “If they had allowed the whole quote to be heard, it would have been clear that the answer says there is only a danger of euro exit if Germany decides to adopt a policy to bankrupt the eurozone,” said the opposition spokesman.
Samaras is due to begin campaigning nationwide on Saturday with a visit to Thessaly in central Greece. Deputy Prime Minister and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is scheduled to speak in the Peloponnese over the weekend. SYRIZA plans to hold a meeting of its central committee in Athens on Saturday to decide the party’s campaign strategy.