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Alexis Tsipras comes under fire from Spanish prime minister



Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras at Saturday's meeting of the Syriza central committee in Athens. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Greece's anti-austerity government has denied that it sees Europe through the prism of "hostile and friendly countries" as the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy hit back at accusations that Spain and Portugal had deliberately tried to topple the new leftist-led administration.

The war of words erupted when Greek premier Alexis Tsipras attacked the sabotage tactics that had, he said, been employed by Lisbon and Madrid in an effort to scupper the chances of a successful end to the negotiations over the eurozone's extension of the Greek bailout programme.

We are not responsible for the frustration generated by the radical Greek left

Mariano Rajoy

He accused the Iberian partners of deliberately taking a hard line in the talks because they feared the rise of radical forces 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 told party members on Saturday.

"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... And mainly before the elections in Spain."

Mariano Rajoy

Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy at a party meeting in Seville on Sunday.

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Rajoy responded angrily on Sunday, saying that Spain had stood by Greece in solidarity by contributing to the debt-stricken country's EUR240bn (£180bn) bailout.

"We are not responsible for the frustration generated by the radical Greek left that promised the Greeks something it couldn't deliver on," he said.

Aides close to Tsipras insisted that Athens had little desire to "seek enemies abroad" but the leftist leader had a duty to disclose the details of last month's dramatic negotiations with creditors to keep the bankrupt country afloat.

"Prime minister Alexis Tsipras was obliged to relate in detail to the Greek people the hard negotiations at the crucial eurogroup that led to the agreement," said the insiders. "The attitude [shown by] governments towards the deal isn't a secret - after all such views had become publicly known from the first moment, which is only right."

With the interim deal being seen as the starting point for in-depth negotiations between Athens and its creditors in the months ahead, the war of words is unlikely to abate soon.

Tsipras is a close friend and political ally of Pablo Iglesias, the former political science lecturer who founded Spain's anti-establishment Podemos movement , which is seen as posing a serious threat to the Spanish prime minister's conservative People's party when elections are held late this year.

Tsipras has pledged to bring a number of draft laws to parliament this week aimed at alleviating the humanitarian crisis which he says has resulted from years of recession and internationally mandated austerity, the price of aid. Eurozone officials have expressed concerns that the measures will further destabilise an economy already rocked by capital flight of more than EUR23bn since December.

Rajoy urged Greece to keep its promises by implementing reforms.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/01/alexis-tsipras-comes-under-fire-from-spanish-prime-minister

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