New Greek gov’t blinks, vows to pay debts
ATHENS, Greece — A day after Greece appeared on a collision course with its creditors, new radical left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has tamped down the rhetoric by vowing to pay off debts and not act unilaterally.
Tsipras sought to calm tensions saying his hard-left government was not seeking conflict but just needed “time to breathe”.
The Syriza-led government, which came to office last week promising to renegotiate Greece’s huge bailout, clashed with the head of the eurozone finance ministers in their first meeting on Friday.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who had a tense meeting with Eurogroup leader Jeroen Dijsselbloem in Athens on Friday, has brought forward a trip to Paris, London and Rome to meet his counterparts.
Tsipras says he never intended to act unilaterally and expressed his certainty that Greece and the creditors will reach an agreement.
He added: “Our common interest is the economic stability and recovery for our common home, Europe.”
He also pledged to pay back Greece’s debt to the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which, along with the European Commission, form the “troika” of Greece’s creditors.
Tsipras made the assurance as a top ECB official said the institution cannot keep lending money to Greece unless the heavily indebted nation extends its bailout program before a February deadline.
The remarks from Bank of Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen — who sits on the ECB’s governing council — come one month before the bailout program agreed upon by Greece with Europe and the IMF is set to expire.
“Greece’s program extension will expire at the end of February so some kind of solution must be found, otherwise we can’t continue lending,” Liikanen told Finnish public broadcaster Yle.