If negotiations with Greece’s lenders reach a deadlock the government will hold a referendum, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said during an interview at TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel.
Asked if he intends to cause a rift with the country’s lenders or to compromise if he’s faced with the choice, he said: “If I find myself in a difficult position, with a deal which pushes me outside the boundaries [the government has set], the people will decide; obviously not through elections.”
Tsipras noted however that this is a highly hypothetical scenario, because he believes an agreement will be reached.
The Greek government is at a difficult point of the negotiations with its lenders but it has nothing to hide and it’s not bluffing, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that if no agreement is achieved between Greece and its lenders, it will be regarded as a failure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“A failure, a non-desirable development, or a bankruptcy would be a failure for Merkel, for Europe,” Tsipras said during an interview at TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel, adding that the German leader has failed to accept that the policies followed in the past five years have failed.
He also said Merkel is handling simultaneously two serious issues; the Minsk agreement and the agreement with Greece.
“We’ll tell the truth here. They are still demanding the return of the troika,” he said, adding that the government managed to stop the “humiliating” visits of troika officials to ministries.
“We no longer have this pillage and interrogation of ministers by the troika,” he noted.
Tsipras says Varoufakis is an ‘asset’ for the country
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is an “asset” for the country, but that negotiations don’t belong to one person.
Asked during an interview at TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel about the apparent sidelining of the finance minister following a mini reshuffle of the Greek negotiating team, Tsipras said:
“Varoufakis is an asset for the country. He has annoyed them because he speaks their language better than they do. He insists on his opinion. But the negotiations do not belong to one person, the prime minister has the overall rersponsibility.”
He also said the negative climate against the finance minister is part of the negotiating practice.
ECB’s decision to cap funding to Greek banks in Feb. was ‘unorthodox’
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the European Central Bank’s decision to lower the funding available to Greek banks on February 18 was “politically unorthodox”.
“On February 18, the ECB took a decision which was politically and ethically unorthodox,” he told journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou on TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel.
Tsipras also said the government was “blackmailed” through economic asphyxiation.
Draghi changed his stance towards Greece to secure QE agreement
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said ECB head Mario Draghi has changed his initial supportive stance towards Greece to achieve agreement with EU heavyweights on his quantitative easing (QE) programme.
“Draghi either identifies with the policies of impoverishment, or he has changed his stance in the last few months,” Tsipars said during an interview at TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel, adding that he believed the central banker changed his stance to secure the approval of key countries for his QE programme.
Gas deal with Russia could turn Greece into energy hub
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the gas deal discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a pipeline which would cross Greece was a “great success” which could turn Greece into an energy hub and provide revenues.
“We achieved a great success in Russia…If the deal to construct the gas pipeline goes through, it could turn Greece into an energy hub which would provide gas to all of Europe,” he noted during the interview at TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel.
“If the pipeline project becomes reality, it will provide cheap energy…this project will be funded by the EU and Russia and will be built by Greek companies.”
He also said that if the pipeline is conctructed, it could potentially pump 47 million cubic metres of gas through Greece.
My vision is not Greece outside EU
“My vision is not Greece outside the European Union, I want to ensure Greece as an equal partner in Europe”, he said.
The Greek prime minister sounded optimistic on the negotiations with the lenders. He said that an agreement could be reached in the next few days.
Priority to pay wages, pensions instead of IMF
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the government’s priority in May will be to pay wages and pensions instead of repaying the IMF as the country’s cash reserves run low, adding however that he will not have to choose because an agreement will be achieved by May 9.
Asked by journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou during the interview at TV news programme ‘Ston Eniko’ on Star channel how the government will prioritise its debt repayments towards the IMF versus the payment of salaries in May, he said: “There’s an issue of liquidity which we are handling….Out priority will be to pay wages and pensions.”
He continued to say that it will not come to this, as “by May 9 we will have agreed with our lenders.”