ATHENS – Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the country’s coalition government must make a deal with international lenders and avoid new snap elections.
Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, fell out of power when the Radical Left SYRIZA party won snap elections on Jan. 25 on the back of its anti-austerity pledges.
Speaking on Mega TV, Samaras said “the administration must clash with itself. The country is isolated. If the government does not pay, Grexit returns. There must be a deal.”
He was referring to the stalled talks with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is withholding a 7.2-billion euro payment until more reforms are implemented.
That has left Greece on the verge of bankruptcy and looming default on the 240 billion euros ($260 billion) it owes the lenders, and fears it could be forced out of the Eurozone.
Despite the crushing defeat New Democracy suffered he said he would remain as party leader because no one’s challenging him.
Samaras, who said he had the country on the edge of recovery before his backing of his party’s own Vice-President for Greek President led to his downfall, said that he feels he has been vindicated by the way events have unfolded since the elections.
“Every day I feel that the people are saying that the current government cannot solve the problems, while, on the contrary, with the previous administration we were on our way out of the tunnel,” he said, adding that if he were to give up the leadership now he would face the people’s “contempt.”
But Samaras said for the good of the country he doesn’t want early elections again.
He also took a shot at SYRIZA’s plans to release terrorists and criminals from jail if they have disabilities, even at their own hands, such as November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros who had a bomb he was building blow up in his face before he could use it to kill people.
Samaras said that the government had “placed the interests of an assassin above the interests of the country.”