Bailout monitors expected to return to Athens despite tensions

Bailout monitors expected to return to Athens despite tensions

Representatives of the country’s international creditors are expected to return to Athens this week for a resumption of bailout talks despite continuing tensions between Greece and its lenders, highlighted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over the weekend.

In a speech before SYRIZA’s central committee on Saturday, Tsipras lashed out at Greece’s creditors, calling on them to revise their “irrational demands” of Greece.

“We will not agree to demands that are not backed up by logic and numbers,” he said.

He called on the International Monetary Fund in particular to revise its recent assessments of Greece’s economic prospects so that stalled bailout negotiations can resume at the technical level. 

Tsipras also called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to rein in Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his “constant hostility” towards Greeks, accusing him of trying to create a “two-speed eurozone” and comparing him to a “pyromaniac… playing with matches in a warehouse full of explosives.”

A pre-election period in one country cannot affect developments in another country, Tsipras remarked, suggesting that Schaeuble’s tough rhetoric on Greece could be aimed at stopping votes leaking towards the far-right Alternative for Germany party ahead of German elections in September.

Despite his strong words, the Greek prime minister expressed his conviction that the bailout review will be concluded successfully, noting that the Greek economy was already showing distinct signs of recovery. His comments come as some 4 million taxpayers owe a total of 95 billion euros to the state, while debts to social security funds are in the region of 25 to 28 billion euros and nonperforming bank loans stand at around 107 billion euros or 45 percent of all loans.

It is time for a post-memorandum period after “seven years of darkness,” Tsipras declared.

Responding in a statement, conservative New Democracy accused Tsipras of “preparing another about-turn,” while targeting the “bad lenders” and political opposition in his speeches in a bid to convince his MPs to back the austerity being demanded by lenders.

“Mr Tsipras has a unique talent of exercising opposition against himself,” ND remarked.

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