SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in television interview with Paul Mason. Excerpts below
Tsipras has pledged to end the austerity programme imposed by the troika – and at the same time negotiate the write-off of 50 per cent of Greek debt. So the obvious question is: what does he do if they say no?
“I’ve answered that thousands of times since 2012,” he says. “Syriza is the alarm clock that will wake the EU leaders out of their slumber. What we demand is a European conference, to tackle this European problem together, and there cannot be a solution without writing off a large part of the debt, a moratorium on repayments and a growth clause.”
That amounts to saying no repayments until there’s growth enough to revive the Greek economy, which from the look of the streets surrounding the Syriza party HQ, is obviously depressed.
Though the polls put Tsipras in the lead – on 33 per cent in an opinion poll tonight – the newspapers still treat him as a political outsider: “Tsipras dons the veil,” says one headline – referring to his liberal immigration policy.
But the biggest fear of the centrist parties who oppose him is that, if Tsipras confronts Europe, Greece will be forced out of the eurozone – especially if he cancels the austerity programme but still needs access to IMF, EU and private market loans.
He answers: “In reality we are not asking to borrow any new money. We have no intention of asking for new lending to repay old loans. Of course we’re going to negotiate with all of our partners so that we can confront together the common European problem of unsustainable Greek debt.
“And this is not the first time something like a debt write-off this has been implemented. It happened in 1953 in Germany. And I am wondering on what ethical grounds does Germany refuse a solution to the European problem, which it benefited from many years ago, when coming out of world war two, and when Germany itself had many open wounds?
“I am saying to the people of Europe, especially the people of northern Europe: we don’t want any more of your money. The money you have been giving all these years wasn’t spent to keep the Greek people on their feet. Instead it was used to recapitalise bankrupt banks, so that the banks and the financial system not only in Greece but the whole of Europe would not collapse. You gave Greece toxic money. Now it’s time to find a solution for the common good.”
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