It was supposed to be a 70-minute briefing to the 300-seat legislature. It turned out to be a 4 hour slug fest featuring Tsipras, Samaras, Golden Dawn and Venizelos…all taking turns ratcheting up the rhetoric.
Greek PM Tsipras:
- We will stop Greece from “bleeding” and seek an “honest compromise” with Greece’s partners.
- Opposition needs to get with the program and adopt SYRIZA’s “red lines” in the framework of a national effort for a solution to Greece’s debt problems.
- SYRIZA’s pledge to the Greek people still stands.
- The majority of citizens support the government’s negotiations.
- Greeks are calling on the government to “not take a step back.”
- A “mine field” has been set up by previous Greek governments.
- Despite this “mine field”, SYRIZA’s strategy is bearing fruit.
- No surplus from the previous government as had been proudly reported.
- The law for repayment of debts in 100 instalments was so deficient that it only brought in 70 million euros.
- “It’s time for the privileged to start paying for the looting of the middle class and salaried workers.”
- “In just one week we brought in 100 million euros from the 100-installments (plan).”
- Greece is not the only country that pays off its debts from its budget.
- “Our negotiating strategy led to the extension of negotiations.”
- Rather than rely on methods such as that of former finance minister Gikas Hardouvelis’ e-mail to Greece’s creditors, SYRIZA is looking at real economic reform.
- The February 20 agreement with the Eurogroup recognises the need for Greek debt reform
- Negotiation is the “only road to the end of austerity within the Eurozone.”
- NO THIRD BAILOUT, when the bridge program ends in June.
- Greece’s creditors have pledged to start debt relief talks when the current program ends.
Communist Party (KKE), KKE leader Koutsoumpas:
- SYRIZA didn’t cancel memorandums as promised, but extended the current one.
Golden Dawn leader Mihaloliakos:
- SYRIZA must honor its pre-election pledge and cancel the memoranda, “because only then will national sovereignty return” to Greece.
New Democracy president and former PM Samaras:
- The current government failed to deliver credible reforms.
- The government of committed to conditions without getting any financing in return.
- “We [ND] inherited chaos and handed over a country.”
- “You [SYRIZA] took over a country and are preparing to throw it into chaos.”
- Not paying the IMF next week would be a “credit event” and could lead to disastrous consequences
- Greece could be leaving the euro.
- ND would support the government but SYRIZA’s internal dissent could be the biggest problem.
- “The situation can still be saved. We will support you to stop the country hitting the rocks, but you are the government.”
- “Can you handle the responsibility of keeping Greece on its feet?”
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos:
- Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou is rude.
- PASOK would back the government but only if it had “a national strategy, not opportunism.”
As representatives of the Greek government and the country’s international creditors continued tough talks on a proposed list of Greek reforms in Brussels, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed Parliament in a speech that attacked the political opposition and failed to yield much detail about the suggested package of measures.
Although Tsipras ostensibly called the emergency session in Parliament on Monday night to shed some light on the progress of negotiations, or at least on Greece’s intentions vis-a-vis its creditors as cash reserves run dangerously low, little new emerged. The premier said Athens wanted a deal with its lenders but not at any cost. “It is true that we are seeking an honest compromise with our lenders, but don’t expect an unconditional surrender,” he said. He added that Greece had submitted its list of “short-term measures” to creditors, noting that these included curbing fuel and tobacco smuggling, conducting checks on foreign bank tranfers and curbing VAT fraud. “It’s time for the privileged to start paying and for the looting of the middle class and salaried workers to stop,” he said.
The premier took stock of the government’s legislative work to date, notably the passing of a humanitarian aid bill and a payment plan for tax debtors; the latter, which allows debtors to repay their dues in up to 100 installments, has raised 100 million euros in a week, he said. But Tsipras emphasized that, notwithstanding efforts to raise much-needed revenue, Greece requires a debt restructuring if it is to be able to repay its debt burden.
The premier sought to put opposition leaders on the spot, calling on them to support the government’s “national negotiation strategy to put an end to austerity” and not to simply be “mouthpieces for the powers of the memorandum.” He lashed out in particular at the parties of the former coalition, which he accused of destroying Greece. “We inherited a country not on the edge of the abyss, but deep in the abyss already,” Tsipras said.
Former Premier and the leader of New Democracy Antonis Samaras hit back at his successor in his own speech. “We inherited chaos and handed over a country,” he said. “You took over a country and are preparing to throw it into chaos,” he said. Commenting on suggestions by some government officials that Greece might not be able to meet a payment to the International Monetary Fund due next week, Samaras said such a development would be a “credit event” and could lead to disastrous consequences and Greece leaving the euro. Samaras said ND would support the government but suggested that SYRIZA’s own internal dissent could be the biggest problem. “The situation can still be saved. We will support you to stop the country hitting the rocks, but you are the government. Can you handle the responsibility of keeping Greece on its feet?”