ND leader calls for ejection of Orban from EPP, takes aim at Tsipras

ND leader calls for ejection of Orban from EPP, takes aim at Tsipras

Conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that he will ask for the populist Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to be ejected from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), to which they both belong, during comments at the Delphi Economic Forum, where he described Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as an Orban equivalent. 

Addressing the audience on the second day of the forum, Mitsotakis said he would send a letter to the EPP on Monday, requesting the suspension of Fidesz until it drops its far-right rhetoric and complies with European principles and values.

The ND leader compared Tsipras’s behavior to that of Orban, referring to interventions in the justice system and the media. “Greece is not only facing a challenge to its economy, it’s also facing a challenge to its democracy,” he added.

During a conversation with Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times about “inclusive growth,” Mitsotakis said that, if elected to government, he would propose a “new grand bargain” of reforms in exchange for lower primary surplus targets after 2020. The high targets of recent years intensified the crisis for the middle class and other social groups, he said, blaming this “vicious cycle” on the leftist government’s failure to implement reforms.

High growth is crucial if the Greek economy is to recover, he said, noting that a 2 percent rate is not enough and that an ND government would seek a 3-4 percent rate, chiefly by introducing tax breaks. “It’s a colossal pity that we lost three excellent global macroeconomic years at a time that all our competitors were growing,” Mitsotakis said.

The ND leader said he has studied the mistakes of a series of premiers in recent years, noting that socialist premier George Papandreou “spent six months supposedly not getting it” and offered handouts while the country was heading toward bankruptcy.

As for current leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Mitsotakis remarked that he said “yes” when six previous premiers had said “no,” referring to the Prespes deal with what is now North Macedonia that ND opposes.

In a speech at the forum later in the day, Tsipras described the contentious accord as a “diplomatic masterpiece,” saying that the desire for dialogue and peaceful coexistence prevailed on both sides.

The premier also sought to strike a positive note about the country’s prospects, noting that, “after eight difficult years, Greece has changed socially, economically, politically.” 

The focus now should be on Greece being autonomous, he said, “so it can move forward without anyone leading it along paths chosen without consulting the Greek people.”

Tsipras hailed the recent discovery of a large natural gas deposit in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, saying it upgraded the country’s role on the international stage, “which is an extremely positive development for Hellenism.”

He also reiterated Greece’s support for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

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