Greek main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing a press conference earlier today, dismissed suggestions that Greece will have to complete its international bailout program review by the end of February, saying that a SYRIZA-led government would have until July to negotiate with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to Tsipras, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) plan to stimulate growth and address the threat of deflation, announced yesterday by its President Mario Draghi, set the de facto timeframe for the negotiations with Greece’s creditors. It should be noted that, as it was unveiled, Greece will not be eligible for the ECB purchase of government bonds program until July. “Yesterday’s announcement sets the timeframe for the negotiations and this timeframe is by July – the same timeframe we have set – and not February 28. I am certain we will find a viable, mutually acceptable solution by then,” Tsipras highlighted.
SYRIZA officials have already publicly admitted that the leftist party was already planning to ask for additional time beyond February in order to complete the negotiations with the country’s lenders, but at the same time they have resisted asking for an extension to the bailout, which they strongly oppose.
The current Greek coalition government of New Democracy and PASOK has been trying to wrap up the final review under the 240-billion-euro bailout program, although the inspection froze due to the snap general elections to be held in 48 hours. According to the schedule, though, the bailout agreement with the country’s partners is expiring on February 28 and Eurozone officials have already suggested that Greece might need to ask for a program extension.
Regarding his first contacts with foreign leaders, if elected, Tsipras said he is planning to make an official visit to Cyprus first, while when asked if the first meeting will be with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he replied “I do not see Mrs. Merkel as someone very different from the rest of the 28 EU leaders. The negotiation will be on a European level, where we have supporters.”
Finally, Tsipras promised that the Greek people’s savings will be safe if SYRIZA takes power.
It should be noted that all opinion polls conducted since the announcement of the snap elections have given SYRIZA a steady lead over New Democracy. This lead has also widened during the last days, bringing the anti-austerity SYRIZA party closer to forming a self-reliance government.