ATHENS – A key economic adviser for the poll-leading major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) said the party won’t renege outright or seek an immediate debt cut with international lenders but wants a review of the terms.
Yiannis Dragasakis, who’s in line to be Greece’s Finance Minister if SYRIZA wins the Jan. 25 elections and is able to form a government sounded a radically different tune than party leader Alexis Tsipras.
The SYRIZA leader is moderating his tone and backtracking on his vow to do away with austerity and the memorandum Greece signed with the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for 240 billion euros ($306 billion in two bailouts.)
“We recognize that the country is bound by loan agreements but we want to review them,” Dragasakis said at an Economist conference in Athens in an apparent bid to quell fear among the Troika and investors that SYRIZA wouldn’t pay the country’s debt as Tsipras had indicated.
Dragasakis argued that his party wants to contribute “to change within Europe, not its destruction,” an apparent reference to claims by critics that the party would take Greece out of the Eurozone and into economic collapse.
“We acknowledge Greece’s debt but we want to discover how it was created and we are interested in entering negotiations over it,” he said in a tone far less strident as SYRIZA nears an apparent win in the elections.
Earlier, SYRIZA was forced to clarify that it would not seek an extension to the current bailout, as would-be MP Nadia Valavani had suggested in an interview.
“We will ask for a technical extension so we can have an opportunity to renegotiate Greece’s debt and submit our own program of true reforms,” she said in an interview with Athina 984 FM.
Valavani issued a statement later saying that her comments had been misinterpreted although she said them. She said that SYRIZA would simply ask for more time to negotiate with European institutions, rather than extending austerity measures.