Tsipras warned Merkel of ‘impossible’ debt obligation

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel that it will be “impossible” for his country to service debt obligations due in coming weeks if the European Union does not give his country any short-term financial assistance, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The warning was sent to Merkel in a letter dated March 15 and came just before she agreed to meet Tsipras on the sidelines of an EU summit last Thursday, the newspaper said.

In the letter, Tsipras warned that his government would be forced to choose between paying off loans, owed primarily to the International Monetary Fund, or to continue social spending. He blamed European Central Bank limits on Greece’s ability to issue short-term debt as well as eurozone bailout authorities’ refusal to disburse any aid before Athens adopts a new round of economic reforms, the paper said.

Representatives at Tsipras’s and Merkel’s office were not immediately available for comment.

“It ought to be clear that the ECB’s special restrictions when combined with disbursement delays would make it impossible for any government to service its debt,” Tsipras wrote.

The Greek PM said his country was committed to fulfilling its obligations in good faith and to close co-operation with its partners. But he also warned Merkel that failure to find short-term funding could lead to much bigger problems, the newspaper said.

Tsipras said servicing the debts would lead to a sharp deterioration in Greece’s already depressed social economy, “a prospect that I will not countenance.”

Merkel and Tsipras have sought to play down the drama of the Greek leader’s first official visit to Berlin on Monday, but open skepticism among the chancellor’s allies has spawned media portrayals of a Western-style showdown.

Although Merkel acknowledged last week that she and Tsipras would talk “and perhaps also argue,” she said it would not be a defining moment in the standoff between Athens and its euro zone creditors over the terms of its 240 billion-euro bailout deals.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told ARD television Sunday he hoped for a “new beginning” in relations.

[Reuters, AP]

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.