Interior minister says ‘European rigidity’ preventing Greek debt relief


Interior Minister Panos Skourletis on Wednesday said the left-led government is in a state of “constant political defeat” and appeared pessimistic about the prospects of a significant restructuring of Greece’s debt.

Speaking at event of the ruling SYRIZA party in Piraeus, Skourletis said the left-led government is “constantly being forced to make compromises” by the country’s creditors. However, he added, “we do distinguish opportunities to salvage or gain certain things in our agreement with the institutions.”

“We may have suffered a political defeat,” Skourletis said of Greece’s failure to win over eurozone finance ministers at last month’s Eurogroup in its bid for debt relief. “But the biggest political defeat is adopting the proposals of your rivals and this is something we will never do,” he added.

“The people understand that the government is facing a tough situation, that we are not the ones who constitute an authentic expression of the policies being applied, and this is something they like,” Skourletis said.

On the issue of the upcoming Eurogroup meeting of June 15, where Athens hopes to clinch a debt deal and the disbursement of a new installment of bailout funding to meet debt maturing in July, Skourletis appeared pessimistic, blaming the failure to secure a debt restructuring on “European rigidity.”

“Greece is a guinea pig, not just for the application of extreme neoliberal policies, but also for efforts to establish a Europe of different speeds with broadened inequalities,” Skourletis said. “A Europe that is increasingly distancing itself from the fundamental principles that led to its establishment.”