ATHENS – The elections are over but the sniping continues between the losing New Democracy Conservatives and the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.
New Democracy said SYRIZA leader and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has brought ridicule on the country in his dealings with international lenders as he tries to get a better deal and reverse the austerity imposed by the previous government.
New Democracy said Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis were “defaming” the country as they went on a whirlwind tour of Europe to gain support for their plan to restructure Greece’s debt.
“In Rome, Mr. Tsipras called Greece a corrupt country and … Mr. Varoufakis called it a bankrupt [country],” ND spokesman Costas Karagounis said.
He said the two had followed the example of former PASOK Socialist Prime minister George Papandreou in “defaming our nation.”
Karagounis added: “(Their actions) will be judged by the people,” as New Democracy hopes SYRIZA will fail and new elections will be held again.
He didn’t mention that New Democracy leader and former Premier Antonis Samaras brought PASOK into his government in a coalition.
In an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper, Varoufakis branded himself “the Finance Minister of a bankrupt country.”
During a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome on Feb. 3, Tsipras blamed widespread corruption and entangled interests for the fact that the economic crisis had mostly affected Greece’s lower and middle classes while politicians, the rich and tax cheats escaped.
With Greece ranked the most corrupt country in Europe under Samaras’ watch, and with international lenders saying he had failed to go after tax evaders hard enough, SYRIZA had ammunition to fire back.
SYRIZA spokesman Gavriil Sakelaridis said that criticism from New Democracy was a “provocation” for the Greek people.
“Those who rendered Greece a world leader in corruption and tax evasion should stay silent… Those who are responsible for the bankruptcy of Greek society should not be provocative,” he said.