Greece’s new leftist prime minister has said that his government’s top priorities are negotiating with creditors to resolve the country’s debt problems and that it would no longer blindly submit to the EU.
Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday that he wanted a “viable, mutually beneficial solution” to what he called a humanitarian disaster his country has suffered as a result of the austerity imposed by its creditors.
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Tsipras, who leads the Syriza party, told the cabinet meeting that he would renegotiate the country’s bailout terms and restore the dignity and prestige of the Greek people.
He said Greece would not meet a bailout requirement to produce “unfeasible and destructive” surpluses and that the country was ready for a four-year fiscal plan that would balance the budget.
The 40-year-old insisted Greece’s new leaders were no longer willing to bow to the “politics of submission”, in a clear swipe at Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.
“Our people are suffering and demand respect … We must bleed to defend their dignity,” Tsipras said.
The new government’s radical anti-austerity agenda has alarmed financial markets, reviving fears that Greece could crash out of the eurozone.
Greece’s partners in the eurozone have loaned it a total of nearly 200bn euros ($227bn) at various stages, via the European Financial
Stability Facility (EFSF) and bilateral loans.
Germany urges ‘fairness’
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged the new government in Greece to show “fairness” to fellow citizens in Germany and Europe who have helped bail out the crisis-ridden country.
Athens “should show some fairness to the people in Germany and the eurozone who have demonstrated solidarity” towards Greece, Gabriel told reporters.
“Our aim must be to keep Greece in the eurozone,” Gabriel said.
“But there must be fairness towards our own population,” he said. “Greece cannot simply pick and choose what it does and does not want to do and expect its neighbours to step into the breach,” Gabriel insisted.
Meanwhile, the country’s new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he wants to see a pan-European deal to encourage growth.
The new government wants “a pan-European ‘New Deal’ that will lead Europe to a reboot”, Varoufakis told reporters as he took over the post.