ATHENS – While saying he wants a compromise with international lenders as Greece is going broke, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he won’t renege anymore on campaign promises, especially on pensions and labor reforms.
Tsipras’ coalition government, which includes the Independent Greeks (ANEL), is locked in talks with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is holding back a 7.2-billion euro installment until he imposes more austerity measures he vowed to reject ahead of the Jan. 25 snap elections.
Responding to questions in Parliament on May 8 Tsipras stressed that Greece will stick to its “red lines” in negotiations with creditors, and won’t further cut pensions already devastated by previous governments, and won’t back down on bringing back collective bargaining for workers that also had been stripped.
On the issue of negotiations, Tsipras said the government has done all it can to reach an “honorable agreement” over the past few days.
He rejected a request by centrist To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis for a meeting of all parties with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos from the opposition New Democracy Conservatives – a party Tsipras said he won’t talk to.
Tsipras said he would only meet with political leaders who agree with him and support the red lines he has drawn with the troika.
“You are referring to a meeting with the other two that are pro-memorandum,” Tsipras said, referring to New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos who signed a deal with the troika calling for big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.
“There is no need to bother the President. There are other ways to do it.” “I invite you to [adopt] the red lines defending the pension system which was destroyed by the haircut,” Tsipras said, “and the right of workers to negotiate collective wage contracts.”
Theodorakis said there was a need for a “large alliance to take the country forward,” but Tsipras said he wouldn’t deal with a “hard core that is resisting” his hard line stance with the troika.
“I invite you to cut yourselves off from them, they will drag you down,” he told Theodorakis. “Despite the tough negotiations we have not shied from putting our cards on the table,” Tsipras added, noting that he has visited Parliament more times in his three months as premier than his predecessor Samaras did in two-and-a-half years running the country.
Tsipras also took a shot at Potami lawmaker Haris Theoharis, the previous government’s General Secretary for Revenues, claiming that he had appointed tax officers based on instructions sent by email from Greece’s creditors.
Ironically, Theoharis was forced out of that job by New Democracy leader and then-Premier Antonis Samaras. Theoharis said he was pushed out because he wanted to go after high level gax cheats being protected by the government.