Greek MEP: ‘Merkel lacks a good pair of glasses’

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel must realise that Europe needs two stable legs to be able to run – fiscal discipline and growth – says Greek Socialist MEP Sylvana Rapti.

 

Sylvana Rapti is a member of the European Parliament from Greece and the Socialist and Democrats group. She spoke to EURACTIV Germany's Daniel Tost on 21 June.

Euro finance ministers said that international monitors would return to Greece as soon as a new government is formed and exchange views on the way forward. What does this way forward have to look like?

When the Troika representatives return to Greece, they will come across a totally different political scenery. A coalition government has just been formed by three parties: the conservative New Democracy party, the socialist PASOK party and the left-oriented Democratic Left party.

This in reality means that the three parties have agreed on a minimum common basis for a mutually accepted programme focusing on ending austerity measures and fostering growth policies instead. Since the Troika has presumably followed the recent developments, I suppose that, besides the discussions on the progress of the programme agreed so far, they will equally come up with new, growth-oriented proposals.

Angela Merkel stated that she still expects the new Greek government to stick to early austerity commitments previously made by Athens. Do you think that there will be any concessions? What signals are you receiving from the rest of Europe on this issue?

PASOK and President Evangelos Venizelos have repeatedly underlined that Greece must stick to the commitments it has made with regard to its obligations and to maintain all positive aspects coming out of the negotiations so far. The leaders of the two other parties of the coalition government agreed on this view. A new proposal under discussion is to seek extended deadlines to implement the country’s pledges for more austerity coupled with growth initiatives. Signs coming from Europe, and especially from France, point indeed towards the direction of more growth and less austerity.

"Anybody who would say that we need not, and cannot renegotiate the [memorandum] is delusional," a eurozone official is quoted as saying. Why is Merkel resisting changes to the Greek bailout?

Chancellor Merkel resists and reacts as she lacks … a pair of good glasses to help her see Europe clearly. She wears at the moment glasses that only allow her to barely see very close, to only see Germany. The point is to be able to see the whole picture, not just Greece of course, but equally Spain, Portugal and Italy. She must realise that Europe needs two stable legs to be able to run, these being: fiscal discipline alongside with growth.

There are concerns that Syriza [the leftist party] will continue with their aggressive opposition politics. Alexis Tsipras said: "Greece needs courageous and decisive leaders who can use the rage of our people… as a weapon to negotiate for the benefit of the country." Are there fears of more violent protests?

There is no lucidity where anger prevails. The ones who seek for votes counting on peoples' fury, [help] neither Greece nor themselves because the way fury might burst out is rather unpredictable… The party of Syriza did not want to be part of the coalition government· – it rather chose the role of the opposition. I hope that they will, at least, act responsibly.

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