‘I Did Not Lie’: Tsipras on the Ropes Championing New, More Austere Debt Deal

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

Following a referendum in which the Greek people largely rejected a debt deal with the EU and IMF requiring further austerity measures, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been cornered into selling the Greek Parliament an agreement even stricter than the one the referendum rejected. In doing so, he faces the herculean challenge of proving his new demand is not a complete about-face for him or his leftist party.

“I did not lie,” Greek newspaper Ta Nea reports that Tsipras said in his latest statements to the Greek Parliament, urging them to accept an agreement that requires significant cuts to government spending and a large increase in taxes. Many observers note the new agreement demands much more of Greece than the one rejected in the July 5 referendum, and members of Congress seemed to have noticed. To them, Tsipras says, he asserts that he signed “a document I do not believe in, but I will not escape my responsibilities.” He assured Syriza members that, during negotiations with Greece’s creditors, “my side exhausted all the negotiating possibilities and all the solutions.”

The Greek Parliament will vote on the debt deal Wednesday night.

Intrigue continued to develop in the hours before the vote as the International Monetary Fund released a document urging creditors to enact vast debt relief to give Greece a chance to be solvent in the near future. The report, a study of the nation’s economic status, notes that it is currently “highly unsustainable” and implies the IMF may not participate in a new rescue package without relief of some of the debt. Spokesmen for the German government have categorically rejected any possibility of a “haircut,” or debt reduction, as part of the deal. Germany has also demanded, however, the presence of the IMF in any negotiations.

The tenor of the negotiations that led to the agreement Tsipras is currently shopping around the Greek legislature has been alternatively described as “violent” and “creepy,” with one participant telling the Financial Times that Tsipras was “crucified in there.”

Domestically, the fear has resurfaced that, just as the failures of the center-right New Democracy Party led young Greeks to vote for the radical Syriza and have practically eradicated the center-left party Pasok; so, too, may Syriza’s failures swing the pendulum deep into the far right, where Golden Dawn, a Greek National Socialist Party, resides. This, at least, is what former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed in recent interviews. “If our party Syriza […] cultivated so much hope in Greece – to the extent that we managed to score 61.5% in the recent referendum – if we betray this hope […] then I cannot see any other possible outcome than the further strengthening of Golden Dawn,” Varoufakis said this week, claiming that, if Syriza is no longer the “anti-austerity” party, only Golden Dawn will have the distinction of a clean record on accepting austerity deals (largely because they have yet to control the country, unlike the other parties).

Unlike Syriza, however, most of Golden Dawn’s leadership, including party head Nikolaos Michaloliakos, are in prison, having been arrested and awaiting trial for fomenting violence and promoting a Nazi agenda.


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