Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Visit to Germany: Tsipras Says Berlin Must Back Down on Austerity

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: Charismatic, eloquent and defiant, the leader of Greece's Radical Left party, Alexis Tsipras, visited Berlin on Tuesday to ram home the message that he will scrap austerity if he wins the June election, and that no one, not even mighty Germany, has the right to evict Greece from the currency.

Alexis Tsipras, the leftist leader who could hold the whole of Europe to ransom if he wins the Greek election on June 17, breezed into Berlin on Tuesday to tell Germans they don't own the euro zone, and that they will endanger the whole currency block if they insist on stringent austerity for his recession-hit country.

The 37-year-old leader of the Radical Left party (Syriza), which came second in the May 6 election and is expected to emerge as the strongest political force in the repeat vote, reiterated his determination to abandon the radical budget cuts that were imposed on Greece in return for international aid -- a move EU leaders and German politicians in particular have warned could force Greece out of the euro.

The charismatic leader had visited Paris on Monday as part of a tour to convince a skeptical European public that he is not bent on wrecking the euro. In Berlin, he was hosted by Germany's opposition Left Party, which agreed a six-point program with Syriza calling for an end to austerity, taxes on banks and the rich and economic stimulus measures.

He didn't get an audience with Chancellor Angela Merkel. But his message to her, conveyed via more than 200 journalists packed into a building just a few hundred meters from her chancellery building, was loud and clear. He had no intention of "blackmailing" the German people, he said. But then he appeared to do just that, saying the bailout terms would have to be renegotiated, or else. » | David Crossland | Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Related »

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Angela Merkel 'astonished' by austerity debate as Germany left increasingly isolated on Eurobonds: The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she finds it “astonishing” that her pro-austerity stance is the cause of controversy, as Germany found itself increasingly isolated on the issue of eurobonds ahead of Wednesday’s European Union leaders summit. ¶ The German Chancellor said that the current debate in Europe and beyond “gives the impression that, for us, saving, as such, is pleasurable”. ¶ “It’s just about not spending more than you collect. It’s astonishing that this simple fact leads to such debates,” she said in a speech in Berlin. » | Angela Monaghan, and Philip Aldrick | Tuesday, May 22, 2012