Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriacos Mitsotakis went head-to-head during a tense parliamentary debate on the economy on Thursday. The debate was requested by the main opposition party following the latest Eurogroup decisions on Greece. The discussion was conducted in what Greek media called a “pre-election mood,” as the two leaders exchanged barbs and strong accusations.
In his opening speech in the House, Alexis Tsipras thanked Mitsotakis for requesting the debate on the economy, a request he called a “gift” to the government, which provided an opportunity to present the significant recent achievements.
The Greek premier went over the record of previous governments in the handling of the economy, stressing the high unemployment rate and recession delivered to the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition in 2015. He also accused the previous governments of failing to address the country’s debt-pile and put an end to the bailout-era. “Greece was treated by investors as a failed State” Tsipras charged.
“Greece is safely exiting the memorandums in which you plunged the country into” he told Mitsotakis.
Tsipras also hailed the decision of the 21 June Eurogroup as “truly historic”, as it allows Greece to return to markets, get debt relief and create a path to growth for the next 15 years. The decision was positively met by debt markets, Tsipras added.
According to the PM, the arrangement for the surveillance of the Greek economy in the post-bailout era is by no means a 4th bailout, as New Democracy claims. In fact, Greece will be able to determine its own economic police again, the premier argued, adding that ND will find it difficult in opposition, having run out of arguments now that the bailout is over.
The PM personally accused Kyriacos Mitsotakis of pleading with German Chancellor Angela Merkel not to allow the Greek government to avoid implementing agreed pension cuts in 2019. “You should be ashamed of yourself” he told the ND leader, who, in turn, rejected the accusation, calling Tsipras a liar.
Finally, the PM called on the opposition leader to reveal his party’s views on the real problems the Greek people face and the future course of the country. Especially with regard to his position on the FYROM name-change deal, Tsipras said Mitsotakis is departing from the political center and shifting towards the far-right, thus aiding fascist forces in the country.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech, Mitsotakis said the Prime Minister cannot even show his face in public anymore as Greeks consider him to be a liar and political con-artist, adding that an election cannot be too far away.
He said the government is trying portray its devastating actions as a success, having U-turned on its ideologies and policy proposals since first coming to power in 2015. “Only an election will rid us of the troupe that is governing the country” Mitsotakis charged.
The ND leader argued that the end of the bailout in August will not mean the end of quarterly supervision of the economy, meaning Greece will not be guaranteed to access debt markets. He stressed that the high primary surplus targets agreed will “asphyxiate” the economy, while the fact that the targets will apply through to 2060 makes Greece a Eurozone exception.
Scenarios being leaked by the government that legislated measures – such as looming pension cuts – could be rescinded or put off are far from the truth, according to Mitsotakis. “The truth is that pension cuts will be unavoidable if you continue in power,” he charged.
Focusing on the FYROM name-change dispute, Mitsotakis said a proper Prime Minister would have sacked Defense Minister Panos Kammenos following his disapproval of the agreement the government struck with Skopje. “I wonder if you will go to the NATO Summit together with Mr. Kammenos”, he asked the PM. “The only thing you have achieved with the agreement with Skopje is to unite the Greek people against you […] and the only thing you have to say is that everyone opposing you is a far-right nationalist”./IBNA