ATHENS – With Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ office saying progress is being made in talks with international lenders, his Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis said it won’t buckle.
Dragasakis said despite demands from the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that the government has red lines it won’t cross.
Those were said to include more pension and salary cuts and other austerity measures that Tsipras opposed when he took office, only to relent on some, and now to reverse his previous reversal and take a hard line at the same time he said he’s willing to negotiate.
The confusion and delays are costly as Greece is running out of money and time with the troika holding back a 7.2-billion euro installment and as a four-month bailout extension runs out in late June.
Tsipras has seen a number of his statements either undermined or defied outright by some of his own ministers, none of whom have been called on it.
That includes his second-in-command Dragasakis who told the newspaper To Vima that, “There is no way we would cross red lines that we have set.”
Dragasakis also refused to rule out the possibility of new elections or a referendum if talks with its creditors remained deadlocked. “Those options exist “in the backs of our minds… in the event of an impasse,” he said.
Both sides are seeking to do a deal before Eurozone finance ministers meet on April 24 but ECB chief Mario Draghi and IMF head Christine Lagarde said Greece is continuing to send so many confused and mixed messages that no one really knows where it stands.
“More work, much more work is needed now, and it’s urgent,” said Draghi, as he and other critics have said before with nothing happening about it.