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Greek opposition leader: Debt haircut a must

February 23, 2014

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s main opposition leader is certain a left-wing government will be in power by early 2015 and its top priority will be to negotiate a lightening of the country’s “unsustainable debt,” according to an interview published in a Sunday newspaper.

The present coalition government of conservatives and socialists could collapse this year if the Radical Left Coalition wins the May European election by a big margin, party leader Alexis Tsipras told To Vima.

Tsipras, the European Left’s candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, pledges to keep Greece in the eurozone and says he doesn’t seek special treatment for Greece. He adds, though, that if Greece’s eurozone partners don’t agree on further cutting the country’s debt, he will unilaterally stop servicing it.

The debt cutting negotiations will be the subject of an emergency EU summit that Tsipras will demand if SYRIZA, the acronym his party is known by, forms a government.

“This summit will not be the end of the crisis. But it will be the start of a well-planned, level-headed but also tough negotiation in which we will make the demands,” he said.

Asked what would be his trump card in the negotiations, Tsipras replied: “Europe knows Greece is the powerful energy partner of the year 2020,” referring to prospects for significant gas and oil finds in the Eastern Mediterranean, still at a stage of early exploration.

On the domestic front, Tsipras said he expects his party to have a majority in parliament, but said his government would include technocrats from outside the party. He said his would be a left-leaning government but added that his party would also represent a more conservative part of the electorate that has been disappointed in the governing conservatives and socialists.

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