Tsipras: People don’t want Grexit – but it is still on the table!

Tsipras likens Greece’s creditors to a gunman saying: “Your money or your life?”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed the view that there needs to be a calm evaluation of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) government’s course of government without being self-deprecating.

He said Europe has not been the same since July 12. As he said in Greek Parliament, Tsipras believes that what he gained was a “Pyrrhic victory.” He quoted Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin when speaking of compromise and said that compromise, too, is a method of revolutionary tactics. At one point, Lenin had said – according to Tsipras – that if a gunman calls for you to give your life or your money – then what are you, as a revolutionary, supposed to do?

At the Eurosummit meeting on July 13 he said he was under a great deal of pressure for 17 hours. He faced a dilemma but feels he made the right decision to cave into creditors demands. “We are proud of our battle,” he said.

Why was there a referendum?

The prime minister said he had no choice. “Firstly, we need to bear in mind what I had in my hands on June 25 and what that was. I have to admit that it was a high-risk decision bearing in mind that it was a government decision that was contrary to the creditors’ wishes, the international system and the local media system. The chance of us losing the referendum were huge as our partners closed the banks. It was a one-way street as they gave us an agreement with extremely harsh terms, like the ones we have now, and even a little harsher as there were no other means of livelihood,” he said.

Was it worth it?

It was worth it for Greece to become a cover story in positive terms, he said, pointing that thousands of people rallied for solidarity towards the Greek people.

Was it a defeat?

It was a defeat only for small-minded people, says Tsipras. He pointed to the domino effect that his negotiations would have throughout Europe. He noted damage caused by capital controls but added that these problems are reversable.

He said that Greece was saved around 15 bn euros with measures such as the lowering of primary surplus targets.

“We never promised a walk in the woods!”

What has changed?

We are battling in a specific framework. “We are working to break this asphyxiating monitoring gradually,” he said. He likened Greece as the prisoner who was near escaping from austerity but was captured and put in a tighter jail sell. He said jumping in the moat with the crocodile is not a solution. “We can only escape through solidarity,” said Tsipras.

The difference between the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and previous governments is that ownership does not belong to the left but to those who had lead the country down this path. “A government of the left that is obliged to apply a program which it signed, but it will simultaneously find a way to offset the negative impact and will, at the same time, battle with workers,” he said, pointing to a battle of long duration.

What about leaks for worsened measures?

“I’m afraid that these rumors are born in Greece and then go abroad and boomerang back to us,” he said, adding that all that will be applied are the measures signed on July 13.

What would have been a good agreement after the referendum?

A good deal would have been one that would have given us the chance to secure Greece’s livelihood but added measures for an honorable compromise with viable reforms. “I believe that VAT increase is wrong,” he said. “It has no result. What we need is to increase gathering of VAT.” A 3% increase in actual payment of VAT would be more successful than these measures. He does not want taxation to job sectors in crisis, such as farmers.