Tuesday

2nd Mar 2021

Greek opposition leader 'vindicated' by IMF

  • Tsipras at a leftist party gathering in Berlin receiving €40,000 for a children's hospital in Greece (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras feels "vindicated" by the International Monetary Fund's recent change of tone on austerity, he told this website ahead of a meeting with German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Monday (14 January).

The meeting is a first and suggests a change of sentiment in the German government towards the leftist leader who has fiercely criticised Chancellor Angela Merkel for her "austerity diktat", claims he repeated on Sunday during a speech to the leftist German party Die Linke.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Schaeuble's spokeswoman on Friday said the meeting had been requested by Tsipras and the German finance minister accepted to see him because "we think it's important for the [bailout] programme to have a broad political support."

But Tsipras said he has no intention of changing his mind about the austerity demanded by the troika of international lenders.

"I don't believe Mr Schaeuble believes after this meeting they will convince me to support the troika programme. It's a good chance for me and Mr Schaeuble to exchange views," he told this website.

"The first step to exchange views in normal circumstances is to have an agreement about the current situation. And the current situation is that the IMF-EU programme is an unsuccessful programme. After three years of implementation, we are in a deeper recession and the public debt of Greece has gone up to very high levels," he added.

He wants to "reform" the current programme well beyond the changes agreed late last year that gave Greece two extra years to reach its deficit goals and the possibility to buy back some of its debt. Tsipras wants all of Greece's debt to be slashed, a no-go area for the German government.

"Austerity is like a bad medicine for the patient. We have to stop austerity," he said, noting that the IMF itself lately has recognised that it miscalculated the impact of budget cuts.

"That's the reason why we feel vindicated after three years of accusing this programme," Tsipras said.

Greece is in its sixth year of recession, with more than a quarter of working adults and half of the country's young people out of a job. Syriza is accusing the troika of overseeing a "criminal" policy of cutbacks in healthcare, education and burdening the middle class and poor people with ever more taxes while the country's oligarchs continue to dodge taxes.

Over the weekend, Syriza voted against new legislation introducing new annual income thresholds and scrapping tax breaks for the self-employed. The bill passed with a clear majority, however, as it is a precondition for the next bailout tranche in March.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the worst of the crisis - the prospect of Greece exiting the euro - had been overcome. But he warned that "there can be no letup in our effort because there is the risk of a relapse."

His party New Democracy has now overtaken Syriza in the polls by 0.5-1.5 percentage points - the first time since last year's elections. Samaras has also gained in popularity over Tsipras after a €43.7 billion bailout tranche was finally approved in December, after months of wrangling.

But Samaras' majority is being dented by several political defections in recent weeks due to the continued austerity drive. The three-party coalition still holds 163 of the 300-seat parliament, however.

Merkel hints at future 'haircut' on Greek debt

German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated Sunday that governments may have to take a loss on the Greek debt they own, breaking what was considered a taboo in German politics.

News in Brief

  1. EU lacks resources to fight foreign propaganda
  2. Financial exodus from UK to EU tapering off
  3. Report: EU looks to vaccine production in India
  4. European MPs seek US help to halt Israeli annexation
  5. Czech Republic has world's highest-infection rate
  6. Poland asks for Chinese vaccine as third wave mounts
  7. Over 60 percent of Russians don't want Sputnik vaccine
  8. Belgium changes strategy on AstraZeneca vaccine

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz
  2. 12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns
  3. EU to propose Covid-free 'travel pass' ahead of summer
  4. What Estonia and Slovakia did to beat AstraZeneca 'hesitancy'
  5. EU ambassador in hot water over Cuba letter
  6. 'Big Five' tech giants spent €19m lobbying EU in 2020
  7. Women fighting Covid-19 in focus This WEEK
  8. Ethiopia right of reply

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us