Greek leaders trade blows over Spain bank bailout
ATHENS — Greek party leaders Sunday traded blows over the rights and wrongs of a Spanish bank bailout, with the right insisting it showed the importance of talking with Europe on the country’s own problems.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, campaigning ahead of key June 17 elections, said Greece must not isolate itself in Europe, thereby losing its ability to influence its partners after two EU-IMF massive bailouts.
“Think. While a country like Spain negotiates, there are some people here who argue that we must break things with Europe and isolate Greece,” Samaras said, referring to the radical leftist party Syriza headed by Alexis Tsipras.
“But fortunately, apart from the path of irresponsibility, there is the road of responsibility,” he added.
“The conclusion that is drawn from the developments in Spain is the complete opposite from what Mr. Samaras perceives,” Syriza responded in a statement.
“The only route of dignity and prosperity for the European people is to reject the (bailout accord) policies of austerity and recession and not that of accepting as whole the memorandum commitments, as Mr. Samaras does,” it added.
The June 17 election is turning into a straight vote over the austerity measures Greece agreed to in return for its rescue deals.
New Democracy and the Socialist Pasok party, which both supported the rescues, claim that to reject their terms could see Greece forced out of the eurozone.
Tsipras says he wants to retain the euro — like the vast majority of Greeks — but cannot accept the austerity measures which have helped to plunge the country into a fifth year of recession.
“Developments in Spain confirm the position that we have maintained from the start,” Tsipras told the Avgi daily in an interview on Sunday.
“Namely, that the crisis is a pan-European problem and that the way it has been dealt with until now has been completely ineffective and socially disastrous,” Tsipras said.
Pasok Leader Evangelos Venizelos said that “what happened in Spain has great impact on Greece … (the accord) shows that a safety net for the eurozone is being prepared.”
On Saturday, Spain’s European peers agreed to give a lifeline of up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) to save its stricken banks, with Madrid hailing the accord as a victory for the country and the euro.