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At least 700m euros (£560m; $890m) was withdrawn from Greek banks in the week until Monday, the Greek president said.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 110.

    @ 109. Mykonos Vondopolis, nice trolling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I am glad we have austerity measures as it means that my friends and family who live in Greece will come to the UK and live with me. The jobs are better and we can get them easily because we work for less money. Also the austerity measure means they cannot claim as much benefit as before but in England claiming benefit is very easy and you get a lot of money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    #104. jenunig

    If you think this kind of argument is going to persuade the average German taxpayer to hand over huge amounts of dosh to Greece, I rather suspect you (and the Greeks) are going to be disappointed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    @90.The cookie monster
    Greece leaving the Euro would be a humanitarian disaster for the country

    As things stand so will staying in it
    The Greeks are very keen to keep the Euro because they have bad memories of the drachma & in truth if they leave they will have bad memories of the new Drachma too but without a better plan than destruction of their economy they will have bad Euro memories too

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    this is what happens when you try to repair the part that isn't broken. The part that is broken and still causes the trouble remains so no progress can ever be made. Austerity measures address a problem that was caused by something else therefore they have no effect as you can all see. Sadly the UK is taking this same approach with the same results, economic collapse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    The Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, warned that the eurozone was "tearing itself apart"

    No correct

    The Banks and EU Politicians are tearing Europe apart

    Get it right please Mervyn

    Ordinary people don't want what the EU elite are forcing on their own populations

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Cofi in Exile, if the unemployment rate in Greece is 21% whilst certain sectors retire at 57, what would the rate be if they retired at 67? Secondly, there are many self-employed people here in Crete, especially in Tourism, who work right into their 70's. Cost of the National Insurance they must pay? About 3000 euros a year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    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

    Yes, but don't you want the tourists back?

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    There's more mainstream political variety in Greece than here, the people are not phobic about giving a POV as in the UK so often, and therefore it's only natural we'll hear comments like these quite often.

    The BBC might as well report that it's quite hot in Jakarta just now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    The Greeks sociaists, like socialists everywhere, don't live in the real world.
    If the EU is going to give the Greeks billions of Euros of course the EU is going to insist that Greece changes its ways and starts spending prudently.

    Its time the EU took back its billions and let Greece sink or swim on its own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Firstly as much as we would like to you cant lay the blame on the bankers for the Greek problem. Secondly you have to get your house in order before you look to grow. If the foundations aren't up to it you would hardly put an attic conversions in. For who will stump up the cash for many will see this is throwing good after bad. Forget austerity and think live within your means.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    @90 Nothing was forgiven. Greece performed a haircut of its private sector debt, then borrowed even more money to compensate the said sector and shore up its banking system. Basically, the Greek debt was transferred from the private sector to the other Eurozone countries and the ECB.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    The problem stems from the Eurozone principles and the entry terms Greece originally agreed. The Greeks realise their government made a catastrophic mistake, and the rest of the Eurozone's laughing all the way to the bank.

    The current position is that Greece has been drained of money and is in trouble but the Eurozone has run out of countries to fleece.

    The Euro Ponzi scheme has hit the buffers!

  • 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 96.

    Hmm, - let's see.

    Germany is the largest and most successful economy in the Eurozone. It's been careful with it's money and levels of benefits. German workers retire at 67.

    Greece has been spending money like it's going out of fashion for 12 years. Greeks retire at 57.

    Now they don't want austerity and expect the German taxpayer to bail them out.

    And they're suprised Germans are unwilling?

  • Comment number 95.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    We really need to get this into perspective. The Greek people did not live anymore beyond their means than anyone of us in the rest of Europe. It is the fault of the politicians fiddling figures to cover disaster ridden decisions made by greedy bankers, all to maintain a political and economic ideology that has patently failed and caused so much pain to people simply trying to support our families

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    He's right, of course, but then, governments of all shapes and colours play poker with people's lives. Correction: with the lives of people who are not rich or powerful. The rich and powerful are different because those in government need them to protect /further their political careers and project, so protect /allow them a free hand in return. Glance at the UK and Italian governments for a start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    @85 Mike SolomonsYes but see you would drop the euro if you wanted to recover your economy on your own. And the Greek people don't want that. They want the Eurozone to pay them out of this without imposing any sacrifices on their part. Look at the election issue polls in Greece - most of the people don't agree with austerity but even more want to stay in the euro, because it is their meal ticket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Panic panic!

    If Greece left the Eurozone and didn't pay its alleged debts, we're told it would prove catastrophic.


    If the Eurozone had to pick up all of the alleged Greek debts, it would probably cost the Eurozone countries, divided between them, enough to devalue the Euro by up to 10%.

    The Euro fell 10% against the pound last year - a further 10% would not be a catastrophe


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