Greek Syriza leader Tsipras attacks EU and Merkel


Left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras: "If the austerity policies continue then the eurozone will be destroyed"

Greek left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras has accused the EU and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of "playing poker with European people's lives" by insisting on austerity measures.

Mr Tsipras' Syriza bloc is predicted to come first in new elections called for 17 June. Syriza wants to renegotiate Greece's international bailout.

At least 700m euros (£560m; $890m) was withdrawn from Greek banks in the week until Monday, the Greek president said.

But there are no signs of a bank run.

'Poverty and hardship'

In a BBC interview, Mr Tsipras said if the "disease of austerity destroys Greece, it will spread to the rest of Europe".

Banks were profiting at the expense of thousands of Europeans - in Spain and Italy, as well as Greece - left in poverty and hardship, he said.

"Therefore the European leadership and especially Mrs Merkel need to stop playing poker with the lives of people," Mr Tsipras said.

Syriza came second in inconclusive elections on 6 May, in which no party won a majority or was able to form a coalition.

Syriza refused to join any government which would continue with the austerity measures demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for a bailout of 130bn euros ($170bn; £105bn).

Panagiotis Pikrammenos

Panagiotis Pikrammenos (16 May)
  • President of the Hellenic Supreme Administrative Court
  • Born in Athens in 1945
  • Studied law in Athens and Paris
  • Legal adviser to the Greek prime minister 1991-93
  • Also served as director of national school of judges

Source: Greek Council of State

Final talks to form a government failed on Tuesday, raising new concerns over Greece's eurozone future.

Council of State president and judge Panagiotis Pikrammenos has been sworn in as interim prime minister to head a government until the elections next month.

Early Thursday, he appointed a senior finance ministry official, George Zanias, as the country's new finance minister and a former conservative minister, Petros Moliviatis, as foreign minister.

"It is clear to all that our homeland is going through difficult times," Mr Pikrammenos said after accepting the mandate from President Papoulias.

"We must safeguard its prestige and assure a smooth transition."

He joked that he had read in the press that the English translation of his name was "embittered" - making him suited to be the last prime minister of a political era.

The rest of the government will be sworn in on Thursday.

"[Greek central bank chief George] Provopoulos told me there was no panic, but there was great fear that could develop into a panic," President Karolos Papoulias was quoted as saying in minutes of talks on Tuesday with the political parties.

The Financial Times newspaper quotes Athens-based bankers as saying withdrawals exceeded 1.2bn euros on Monday and Tuesday - 0.75% of deposits.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission: "Don't abandon the eurozone"

However, there were no signs of panic or queues outside banks in Athens on Wednesday.

European Central Bank (ECB) Governor Mario Draghi and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy both said on Wednesday they wanted Greece to remain in the euro.

"I want to state that the governing council's strong preference is that Greece will continue to stay in the euro area," Mr Draghi said.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, warned that the eurozone was "tearing itself apart" and the UK economy would not escape "unscathed".

He told a news conference that the euro area posed the greatest threat to the UK recovery, and there was a "risk of a storm heading our way from the continent".

The interim government will be sworn in on Thursday.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The Eurozone needs growth to get itself out of the rut of austerity the bankers landed it in. If you try to pay off your mortgage faster by eating nothing but air you'll make yourself sick and unable to work.
    Why should the Greek people vote for more of the same if austerity has produced nothing? Governments need to invest to get growth or they'll stay for ever in the deep freeze.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Greece leaving the Euro would be a humanitarian disaster for the country, so it should receive support, within reasonable limits and on reasonable terms. However they shouldn't taint their standing as POB of democracy by claiming that voters are not responsible for the actions of elected Greek politicians. Finally, let's not forget that Merkozy were key in > 100 bn EUR of debt being forgiven!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I am Greek and you shouldn't talk like this for my country. After all we are the center of democracy. We want EU and of cource the currency.. So just be patience because we are going to surprise you positively.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Greece has lived in a financial fantasyland for decades. Now when it comes time to pay the piper, the country is doing everything it can to avoid its responsibilities. The EU has no obligation to continue to support a country that plays such obvious political games in response to a financial crisis. Let them go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Of course, if you´re against the banks, don´t ask them for loans. Greece may well be on the drachma by September but if it leaves the EU it will probably apply to rejoin and be told it doesn´t satisfy any of the conditions. It´s always someone else´s fault


Comments 5 of 6


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