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EU call for unity as Spain and Portugal enter war of words with Greece


EU call for unity as Spain and Portugal enter war of words with Greece

The European Commission is pushing for unity after Greece’s
new prime minister accused Spain and Portugal of leading a conservative conspiracy to topple his anti-austerity government.

More used to clashing with Berlin over years of austerity imposed by
international creditors, Alexis Tsipras turned on Madrid and Lisbon as he addressed his radical left Syriza party at the weekend.

Tsipras accused the Spanish and Portuguese of trying to sabotage recent euro zone talks on extending Greece’s bailout programme, prompted by fears over the rise of the left in their own countries.

“We found opposing us an axis of powers … led by the governments of Spain and Portugal which for obvious political reasons attempted to lead the entire negotiations to the brink,” Tsipras said.

“Their plan was and is to wear down, topple or bring our government to unconditional surrender before our work begins to bear fruit and before the Greek example affects other countries,” he said.

That claim is flatly rejected by Mariano Rajoy, the centre-right prime minister of Spain which, alongside Portugal, has complained to the EU executive about the accusations from Athens.

Campaigning ahead of regional elections, Rajoy said his country, struggling with its own financial problems, had lent billions of euros to help Greece.

Spain he said was not responsible “for the frustration generated by the radical Greek left that promised the Greek people something it couldn’t deliver on”.

Tsipras rejects claims he had to climb down to get an extension of the financial lifeline, even though it meant extending the bailout programme he had promised voters he would scrap.

The Greek government on Sunday sought to play down the row, saying that the comments by Tsipras had been misinterpreted.