The Greek government is determined to defend the rights of its people and not bow to pressure to adopt measures that perpetuate austerity, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told lawmakers at the 5th conference of the Party of the European Left in Berlin on Saturday.
“We are determined to promote the rights of the Greek people. We’re determined not to abandon our people to ‘yes-men’ who support continuing austerity for many years,” he said on his second day of his visit to the German capital where he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top German officials and lawmakers.
Tsipras defended the government’s decision to announce bonuses for low-income pensioners and a suspension of VAT increases for islands affected by the refugee crisis, saying they did not run counter to the country’s commitments.
“We took the political decision to counter the sacrifices of the pensioners. We strengthened poor neighbourhoods with schools and reduced VAT on the islands which are bearing the brunt of migration without jeopardizing our European commitments,” he said.
“Our creditors must keep in mind that the Greek people have made many sacrifices and now it is their turn to fulfill their obligations. They should implement the short-term measures for the debt and open talks about lower surpluses,” he continued, saying that creditors and the International Monetary Fund cannot exclude Greece from the labour laws applied in the EU.
He then urged the European Left to take action and propose an alternative to nationalism and the extreme-right.
“European social democracy must see and assume the historical responsibility to put an end to the neoliberal consensus. We need cooperation of democratic and progressive forces. Greece is struggling to end with austerity and the injustice of memorandums and recession,” he said.
“We have to cooperate to block the emergence of populist xenophobic forces. First step is to establish a forum. Europe is not only at a fundamental crossroads, but is ready to cross the Rubicon. The old forces of the past are claiming the present and are doing so in a ground that has been paved by the neoliberalism’s failure to tackle the crisis. The absence of solidarity leads to a narrow nationalistic logic and this strengthens nationalism and euroscepticism,” he added.