Alexis Tsipras slams austerity in EU speech

July 8, 2015

Members of the European Parliament show support for Greece against its creditors.

"This debate is not exclusively about one country," said the Greece's left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a speech to the European Parliament on July 8. "It is about the future of our common construction."

Tsipras called for the eurozone to reach a deal with sustainable solutions to the Greek crisis, saying the “austerity laboratory” that Greece has become has been a failure for the country’s people.

“The simple fact is that we have to face and accept that the majority of the Greek people feels that they have no other choice other than to demand that they be given a way out of this impasse and this dead end,” said Tsipras, adding that poverty and public debt have soared with the austerity “experiment” imposed on Greece.

Tsipras, who maintains that the Greek peoples' rejection of creditors' bailout terms in a recent referendum does not mean an exit from the euro, stressed that solving the Greek debt crisis concerns the whole eurozone.

“I want your support to help change Greece,” he said. “We all understand that this debate is not exclusively about one country. It is about the future of our common construction, the EU and Europe.”

Acknowledging Greece's chronic economic issues such as tax evasion, Tsipras also said that the “fiscal stranglehold” enveloping Greece has meant the Syriza-led government has been forced to spend most of its time negotiating and “thinking about how to keep the economy alive” since its election five months ago.

The Greek leader said new and specific proposals from Greece would be delivered on July 9, including measures to combat unemployment and cover the country’s financial needs without burdening European taxpayers.

The parliamentary chamber, hearing speeches from Tsipras and his EU counterparts, was filled with a mix of support and cold-shoulders for Greece. Some held Greek “OXI” (No) signs in support of the Greek people's “no” referendum vote against more austerity.

Tsipras received strong support from Spain’s Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, who slammed European and German “arrogance” and blamed it for tearing apart the EU. Iglesias also gave Tsipras a standing ovation following the Greek leader’s speech.

Meanwhile, Greece's new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos submitted a new bailout request, asking for a three-year aid package with immediate reforms in Greece in exchange for debt relief.

Tsakalotos promised to provide complete proposals, noting Greece is prepared to implement reforms immediately.

Despite facing huge international pressure, Tsipras remained confident about reaching a deal and urged his EU counterparts to compromise political differences to come out of the crisis. “We have ideological differences, we are divided on issues,” he said, “but this is a crucial time to be able to pool our forces.”

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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