Tsipras demands debt relief

Any agreement between Greece and its lenders will have to include several elements, including debt relief, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday as he aimed more criticism at the country’s creditors.

Speaking in Parliament at a meeting of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group, Tsipras said that there have to be three conditions for his government to sign up to an agreement: Pensioners and workers must not be burdened further, any discussion about Grexit must be put to bed, and binding terms must be adopted for tackling Greece’s funding problem.

The prime minister focused on the issue of debt relief, accusing the country’s European lenders of adopting the International Monetary Fund’s recommendations for fiscal measures but ignoring its call for Greece to have its debt reduced.

“Right now, what dominates is the IMF’s harsh views on tough measures, and Europe’s insistence on denying any discussion over debt sustainability,” Tsipras told his MPs.

He also claimed that the IMF bore “criminal responsibility” for the impact of the austerity measures implemented in Greece over the last few years.

Earlier, Tsipras met with PASOK’s new leader Fofi Gennimata and Potami chief Stavros Theodorakis. Both publicly encouraged him to reach an agreement with lenders and avoid the pitfalls that would accompany a bankruptcy. Tsipras is reported to have told the two opposition leaders the government would not pay the IMF the 1.6 billion euros it owes unless a deal is reached with lenders. The government denied that the prime minister said this during the meetings.

Tsipras’s strong words were matched by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “I don’t care about the Greek government, I do care about the Greek people,” he said. “The debate in Greece and outside Greece would be easier if the Greek government would tell exactly what the Commission… is really proposing,” added the Commission chief, who denied that Brussels was in favor of raising value-added tax on medicines and electricity.