Opposition parties reacted with alarm on Tuesday to comments by SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Nikos Xydakis that MPs should hold a debate about Greece’s membership of the euro.
Speaking on Skai TV in the morning, Xydakis argued that “there should be no taboos when we are talking about people’s fate.”
“We have reached a point where the population does not have the stamina anymore,” he said. “I believe there has to be a political and national discussion the likes of which has not taken place during the last seven years. Naturally, this discussion has to start from Parliament.”
His comments prompted an immediate and strong reaction from the opposition parties. New Democracy spokesman Vassilis Kikilias suggested that the government’s true intentions are gradually being revealed. PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos argued that the comments were deeply damaging for the Greek economy and the country’s international standing. PASOK’s press office called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was visiting Belgrade, to clarify his position.
There was no official response from the prime minister’s office but SYRIZA MP Dimitris Vettas expressed his opposition to any discussion about the possibility of Greece leaving the euro. “A return to a national currency would mean national isolation,” he said. “Opinions about referendums, the drachma or anything else anyone wants to think of cannot be considered tools that help the government.”
SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou took a more equivocal stance, arguing that Athens should have a plan ready for the possibility of the eurozone breaking up but that for Greece to begin this process would be “suicidal.”
After his original comments, Xydakis made two further statements attempting to clarify his position. He admitted that the way he presented the issue may have been unfortunate and that he has always supported Greece’s membership of the eurozone.
However, the matter is not likely to end there as New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to attack the government in Parliament on Wednesday over its delay in concluding the review, which has sparked fresh uncertainty, including about Greece’s future in the eurozone.