Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday it was time for both Greece and Europe to “turn the page” on austerity, telling members of his hard-left SYRIZA party that “fear is over.”
“The time has come to turn the page, not just for Greece but for Europe too,” Tsipras told SYRIZA lawmakers, as parliament convened for the first time since January 25 elections that swept his hard-left party to power.
In a speech punctuated by enthusiastic applause from the floor, the 40-year-old premier insisted that his government would not back down from its electoral pledge to renegotiate Greece’s huge EU-IMF bailout.
“We are a sovereign country, we have democracy, we have a contract with our people, we will honor this agreement,” Tsipras said.
He added: “Fear is over in Greece. Terror and blackmail are over.”
Tsipras had just completed a three-day tour of meetings with the leaders of Cyprus, Italy and France where he sought to drum up support for his efforts to redraft the bailout.
Germany strongly opposes such a move, and earlier Thursday its veteran Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was “skeptical” about many of Greece’s proposals.
Adding urgency to the talks, the European Central Bank said it would no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral for loans, effectively shutting off a key channel of financing for Greek banks.