31st Mar 2020

Slovakia takes hard look at Greek talks

  • Fico: 'Let no one ask Slovaks who earn €550 to €600 ... to put money together and send out a €1bn' (Photo: formulaphoto)

As negotiations on Greece’s bailout drag on, some politicians in Slovakia say it proves the small euro state was right to stay out of the first eurozone rescue to Athens.

“[Greek PM] Alexis Tsipras is swindling the whole world and this cannot go on forever,” Jozef Kollar, the vice-chairman of the Slovak parliamentary committee on finance, told EUobserver on Thursday (11 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Kollar is one of Slovakia’s staunchest critics of the Greek bailout, arguing that the eurozone is wasting time and money on an attempt “to save what is not saveable”.

“Politics should not be limited to political correctness – it should be based on economic reality. And in reality, the drachma would be a rescue for Greece,” he said, referring to Greece’s former currency.

He said Greece is proving to be different to Ireland and Portugal – two other bailed-out euro states – because it’s not competitive, has a higher level of debt to GDP, and doesn’t stick to agreements.

Back in 2010, Kollar was vice-chairman of the liberal SaS. The party was in the centre-right coalition of Iveta Radicova, which refused to give a bilateral loan to Greece in the first eurozone bailout.

The decision drew strong criticism from Brussels and Berlin, including threats of “political consequences” for lack of solidarity.

A year later, the SaS also refused to increase the EU’s temporary bailout fund (EFSF). But the other coalition parties joined forces with the Social-democrat opposition Smer and approved the plan.

As a result, Radicova’s government fell and Smer won by a landslide in 2012.

Cost of solidarity

Smer’s chief and current PM, Robert Fico, had argued Slovakia must support eurozone decisions and stay in its “political core”. But he recently made clear he won’t agree to change Greek bailout terms if it means Bratislava must pay more.

“If there is a way to restructure the Greek debt without any direct implications for our public finances, we will be very constructive and co-operative,” he said on TV.

“Let no one ask Slovaks who earn €550 to €600 [a month] and get pensions of €250 to €300 to put money together and send out a €1 billion”.

Slovakia’s guarantees under the Greek bailout are around €1.1 billion, according to government officials.

If the guarantee is called in, Fico would have to borrow on the financial markets and increase public debt.

Back in February, Fico also said that he would call a referendum “if we are forced into a Greek debt restructuring”.

For his part, Ivan Miklos, who was finance minister in 2011, has noted that while the eurozone strengthened its capacity to respond to crises, there is “still no provision for a eurozone exit or exclusion of a member state for not meeting the existing rules”.

"We cannot prevent people of these states and their elected representatives to refuse those rules. It is their right, but it should also be clear that such a refusal would be followed by their exit from the club,” he wrote in a recent op-ed for the HN daily.

Chemnitz neo-Nazis pose questions for Germany

UN human rights commissioner urged EU leaders to condemn violence that recalled the 1930s, but the local situation in former East Germany does not apply to the whole country.

Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Simon Busuttil spent 10 years as an MEP before returning to Malta to lead the opposition. He now fears for his life amid probes into high-level corruption in Malta's government.

Puigdemont reclaims Catalonia's leadership

Back in Belgium after Spain lifted a European Arrest Warrant against him, the separatist former leader wants to be the real power behind the region's government and a new push for independence.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission: no 'indefinite' emergency measures
  2. Denmark plans 'gradual' return to normal after Easter
  3. Globally over 780,000 cases of coronavirus, 37,000 deaths
  4. EU states losing 3% of GDP a month, IMF says
  5. Fruit pickers need to cross borders too, EU says
  6. Former Slovak minister to become EU envoy on Kosovo-Serbia
  7. Hungary's Orban wins rule-by-decree vote in parliament
  8. Bars and restaurants remain open in Sweden

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us