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Greeks back Syriza's tough debt stance as talks break down


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Greeks back Syriza's tough debt stance as talks break down

Greeks appear to back their prime minister’s tough stance in the EU debt talks.

A recent GPO poll showed 78 percent backed how Alexis Tsipras has handled events.

Those findings were echoed on the streets of Athens.

“We should support all the government. It goes very well. We don’t have anything else to lose. We have to take back our dignity and they will find the solution,” said one man in the Greek capital.

“It has been proven that the EU doesn’t change. It is hostile towards the people and the people who work have to go out to the streets and demand their right,” said another man.”

The governing Syriza party insists that it won’t back down in the face of stiff opposition from its fellow eurozone members.

Dimitrios Papadimoulis, a Syriza MEP, said the party is “seeking for a solution which will be good for Greece but also for the whole eurozone. We don’t blackmail but also we don’t accept any blackmail.”

The Greek government says it wants to roll back some of the reforms passed since 2010 and the start of the country’s debt crisis.

Euronews’ Olaf Bruns spoke to one Brussels-based expert about what will happen next in the ongoing talks.

Olaf Bruns, euronews: Seen from the outside, one could see the Greek government as a reckless poker player, unaware he is pushing his country to the abyss.

On the other hand, you could have the impression that the eurozone is a merciless bureaucratic monster which is prepared to sacrifice a whole country for its principles.

Grégory Claeys, Bruegel: We could have the impression that the Greek government is somewhat inexperienced, but at the end of the day, on the substance, it has been elected on a clear mandate, which is put an end to the programme put in place by the troika. Their demands are clear and in a way justified.

It’s true that the Eurogroup and Greece’s European partners have introduced policies since 2010 that in the end have been quite counter-productive. They under-estimated the negative impact of austerity.

euronews: Is it possible that Greece and the eurozone have overplayed this battle in order to strike a compromise more easily.

Grégory Claeys, Bruegel: It is true that we could think that they’ve overplayed it. One has the impression that both sides clashed over this issue and it finished in a negative way. But if we look really at the details, at the substance, they are in fact quite close.

euronews: The message from Greece, in short, is that they don’t want to extend the bailout programme. From the Eurogroup, the message was no discussion before an agreement to extend the programme. So is there any leeway here?

Grégory Claeys, Bruegel: One side wants a temporary loan, the other wants to extend the programme. But in reality, they are not as far apart as that. It’s rather that the Greeks cannot go home and tell their voters that they have agreed to a programme, which is despised in Greece. So it’s really a problem of semantics.

euronews: We’re a situation with a short-term deadline. Wednesday. Suppose there is no deal? Where does that leave Greece?

Grégory Claeys, Bruegel: Next month, Greece has to pay back some of its loans, so it’s true that we have a real timing problem here. Nevertheless, these past years have shown that they always manage to find an agreement even if it’s at the last minute.

euronews: What do you think the outlines of an eventual agreement will look like?

Grégory Claeys, Bruegel: I think they should be able to agree on several points. The first would be to not cut the debt. The second would be the issue of reform, which would be focused on fighting corruption and tax evasion. On that point, I think it wasn’t a priority for previous governments. It is today for Syriza, so I think that they should really stress that as it is something quite important. The third element would on the repayment conditions of this debt. I think it would be possible to extend the repayment period, cut the interest rate so that it is less painful for Greece in the short term.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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