January 25, 2017
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister on Wednesday marked two years in office, promising “not another euro” of new austerity measures by his left-wing government, as talks with bailout lenders over deeper cuts remain at an impasse.
Alexis Tsipras , 42, defeated established political parties in elections on Jan. 25, 2015 on a promise to scrap existing bailout agreements and austerity measures. But he eventually negotiated a third major international rescue deal after months of confrontation with lenders from eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
In a newspaper interview published Wednesday, Tsipras urged European Union leaders to help Greece’s economy recover from years of recession, arguing it would make the union stronger. “Under no circumstances will we have legislation for any further austerity measures — not another euro — beyond what has already been agreed upon,” Tsipras told the daily EfSyn newspaper.
The IMF is pressing for tougher cuts, arguing that fiscal goals set out for Greece, including an ambitious 2017 growth target, cannot be achieved under current budget plans unless the country is granted more generous debt relief.
On Tuesday, the government said it was willing to extend an automatic spending reduction mechanism for an additional year — beyond the current 2016-2018 bailout program. Eurozone finance ministers are likely to consider the proposal at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
Tsipras’ government is hoping to overcome delays in bailout talks to try to qualify the country to participate in a European Central Bank bond-buying stimulus program. That, it argues, is key to the economic recovery after years of decline and stagnation.
Near his office Wednesday, a small group of state hospital workers held a protest against ongoing health service cuts. Some briefly scuffled with riot police blocking the road. “It’s two years today since the government was formed … and we’ve had two years of false commitments on public health,” protest organizer Michalis Giannakos said.
“Patients are dying on folding beds and on gurneys because the health system is falling apart.”
Srdjan Nedeljkovic and Yorgos Karahalis contributed from Athens.