Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, today (3 May) said that the only remaining problem for Greece is that its prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, is a communist.
This statement triggered a reaction from influential Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, who told EURACTIV.com that Weber would be forced to accept that Tsipras will be Greece’s leader “for many years”.
In addition, Greek government sources explained that accusing Tsipras of being a communist, especially at this point in time, is the “last resort” of those who never wanted a deal between Athens and its lenders for the second bailout.
Athens and its lenders yesterday (2 May) concluded a much-anticipated technical deal regarding the second assessment of the country’s third bailout.
“The negotiations for a technical deal were concluded on all issues… the way has now been paved for debt relief talks,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos commented.
However, the IMF insisted that “credible” debt relief is still needed.
“Now, this will have to go hand in hand with a credible strategy for how to restore debt sustainability,” said Paul Thomsen, head of the IMF’s European Department.
Berlin and Athens had toned down their rhetoric lately amid tough negotiations on the country’s review. But during a visit to the US yesterday, Weber again picked up the gauntlet and accused Greek premier Alexis Tsipras of being a communist.
He said he had the opportunity to discuss on Greece with International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde but added: “As an EPP politician I have to say that the problem of Greece is that they now have a communist in the office of PM. […] That was the fundamental problem there.”
Tsipras is always invited to the summits of the European Social-Democrats, something that puts the Greek Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party (Pasok) in a difficult position.
In addition, Greek Minister for Digital Policy, Media and Telecommunications Nikos Pappas recently spoke in favour of an EU progressive federalist model, stressing that taking a pro-EU stance without supporting federalism is “meaningless”.
Weber dreams of Tsipras
Contacted by EURACTIV.com, Papadimoulis, who is a vice-president of the European Parliament and head of the Syriza party delegation, went on the attack.
“Weber is again completely out of step with the majority of the European Parliament as well as Jean-Claude Juncker and Valdis Dombrovskis, who also belong to the EPP, but view positively the deal between Greece and its creditors,” he said, adding that this statement is also against the German government itself, which made efforts toward this agreement.
Weber is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s CDU. According to Papadimoulis, the German politician has proved to be far more right -wing than either Merkel or Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
“Mr Weber may be dreaming about Alexis Tsipras, but I need to inform him that he will be forced to see him in reality as a Prime Minister of Greece for many years,” the leftist politician said.
“I look forward to centre-right New Democracy’s [Greece’s main opposition party] comments on this unprecedented statement, which is a ‘monument’ of fanaticism and anachronism,” Papadimoulis concluded.
The Greek government has accused New Democracy of attempting to block a successful evaluation of the country’s bailout.
On the other hand, the main opposition blamed the leftist government for indirectly signing another bailout which prevents growth.