Europe attacking SYRIZA to block Spain’s Podemos, says Greek minister


European leaders want to "sink" Greece's ruling SYRIZA party to block the rise of other far-left anti-austerity parties like its ally Podemos in Spain, Greece's Labor Minister Panos Skourletis said Tuesday.

European leaders "fear the rise of forces like Podemos and they want to take the wind out of their sails through any means possible," he said in an interview published in Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

"And the way to do it is to sink us, so that SYRIZA in Greece can't be an example for other European nations in a similar situation," he added.

Skourletis said European Commission head Jean Claude Juncker's call for Greeks to vote "yes" in a referendum on bailout proposals next Sunday was a "provocation". The Greek government backs a "no" vote.

"Today they interfere in the interior affairs of Greece, tomorrow they will do it in Spain and Italy," said Skourletis, a heavyweight in Greece's SYRIZA government which has been in office since January.

Podemos, which came in third in regional elections last month, has called Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras "exemplary" for having rejected the "blackmail" of the country's international creditors.