The head of Greece’s major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party Alexis Tsipras told European Central Bank President Mario Draghi the country can’t afford to pay back what it owes international lenders – including the bank.
Tsipras said Greece needs to walk away from much of the 240 billion euros ($327 billion) it owes the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB), not just restructure it.
In a meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, the ECB’s home, Tsipras and SYRIZA’s economic policy chief Yiannis Dragasakis said Greece can’t repay its debt, even though that could mean the country would be forced out of the Eurozone and the markets and have no money to run the government.
Tspiras, an opponent of austerity measures that were attached to the rescue packages from the Troika, hasn’t offered an alternative and has disputed Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ assertion that the country is on the road to recovery.
Tsipras and Draghi talked about SYRIZA’s opposition to austerity, debt relief and the party’s opposition to the appointment of outgoing Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras as the next Governor of the Bank of Greece because he backed big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, the newspaper Kathimerini said.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also said Greece needs its debt restructured and hasn’t ruled out the idea that SYRIZA espouses, giving the Troika a so-called “haircut” for a large chunk of what Greece owes, which means taxpayers in the other 17 Eurozone countries would pick up the bill for generations of wild overspending by Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and his coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists.
Two years ago, a previous government stiffed private investors with 74 percent losses, including bondholders in the Diaspora, some of whom were nearly wiped out by putting their trust and money in their homeland.
Dragasakis and Tsipras also underlined their belief in a New Deal driven by the ECB and the European Investment Bank to help revive growth in the Eurozone, the paper said.
They argued that the measures taken by Draghi last week, including the introduction of negative interest rates, would not have an effect in Greece due to deflation and the poor state of Greek banks.
Sources also made it clear that if Stournaras is made Bank of Greece governor, a SYRIZA government would likely replace him even though he would be appointed for a five-year term. SYRIZA has asked for the government to consult with the opposition over who will succeed current Governor Giorgos Provopoulos.