ATHENS – Firing away at international lenders, Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told Parliament the country can not make it without debt relief and that he won’t accede to demands for more austerity measures, especially pension cuts.
He also was reported to have told opposition leaders in private that the country will not make bundled payments totaling 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due June 30, as a four-month bailout extension ends, which would trigger a technical debt default and could lead to the country being forced out of the Eurozone.
Greece has been surviving for the last five years on two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($270.34 billion) from the troika of the European Union-IMF-European Central Bank which insisted on big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, implemented by two previous governments, bringing them down.
Tsipras campaigned on a platform to reverse austerity and not even negotiate with the troika but has done so because Greece is essentially broke, locked out of the markets by interest rates of almost 30 percent, seeing tax revenues plummet and the withdrawal of 40 billion euros ($45 billion) from banks by nervous depositors in the last eight months.
Tsipras, who had initially shown signs of relenting on his campaign promises, now has dug in his heels and gotten more defiant as Greece said it won’t revise its latest in a long line of outlined reforms it gave the troika.
The finance chiefs of the Eurozone are meeting June 18 in Luxembourg and warned him to come up with a credible list by then or face a cut-off of aid, including emergency liquidity from the ECB that is propping up Greek banks on the edge of insolvency, triggering anxiety that capital controls could be imposed.
Tsipras said that there have to be three conditions for his government to sign up to an agreement: exempting pensioners and workers from more austerity, ending talk of a Eurozone exit, and Greece getting money to stay alive, with few conditions.
The troika, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose country has put up the bulk of the loans – has rejected the idea of debt relief many times even though Greece’s load of 335.46 billion euros ($378.7) billion can never be repaid in full, Tsipras said.
“Right now, what dominates is the IMF’s harsh views on tough measures, and Europe’s insistence on denying any discussion over debt sustainability,” Tsipras told his MPs.
He also said that the IMF bore “criminal responsibility” for the impact of the austerity measures implemented in Greece over the last few years.
Previous IMF reports have indicated the agency far underestimated the devastating effect, which has included record unemployment, deep poverty, climbing suicide and homeless rates.
Earlier, Tsipras met with PASOK’s new leader Fofi Gennimata and To Potami chief Stavros Theodorakis who told him to make a deal despite the onerous conditions as the alternative is chaos. Tsipras, however, denied he told them the IMF wouldn’t get paid unless the troika releases a long-delayed 7.2-billion euro ($8.1 billion) installment.
His fire-and-brimstone tactic didn’t go down well with the creditors. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has been among the lenient in dealing with Greece and publicly befriended Tsipras, went right back at him, upset that private talks had been made public by the Greek leaders.
“I don’t care about the Greek government, I do care about the Greek people,” he said. “The debate in Greece and outside Greece would be easier if the Greek government would tell exactly what the Commission… is really proposing,” he said.
Juncker denied what Tsipras had told Parliament and said the EU is not asking for higher taxes on medicines and electricity.
The post Tsipras Demands Debt Relief, Says IMF Has “Criminal” Liability appeared first on The National Herald.Source: The National Herald