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Greece’s Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras appealed to German taxpayers to help Greece grapple with economic and fiscal crisis.
“Until when should German taxpayers pay into a bottomless pit?” Tsipras said to reporters in Berlin today after he held talks with leaders of Germany’s anti-capitalist Left Party. “It apparently flows to the Greek economy, but in reality only the banks and bankers are being financed.”
Tsipras, whose Syriza party was leading in a poll released three days ago of voting intentions for June 17 elections, has pledged to rip up the terms of Greece’s rescue and call a halt to the austerity measures agreed with international creditors and championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Tsipras said that he is in Germany to press for a common solution to Greece, now in its fifth year of a deep economic recession. It is in Germany’s interest to change the policy of austerity, he said.
“The euro zone doesn’t have an owner, or a landlord,” he said. “We are not tenants; we are equal partners, and none of us should feel like tenants.”
The exit of one euro member state would foreshadow the departure of others as “the market will begin to seek out other countries to be next,” Tsipras said, citing states such as Italy with “much bigger debts.”
“No political leadership would want to take responsibility for this,” he said.
For Greeks, voting for Syriza “doesn’t mean that we’ll be kicked out of the euro,” he said. “It will mean a great opportunity for us to save the euro.”
A victory for Syriza would mean stability for Greece, whereas insisting on a continuation of the “catastrophic” austerity measures means a return to the drachma, Tsipras said.
“It’s not a matter of needing more money,” he said. “What we need is that the money that has been committed is properly invested.”
Tsipras said that he sought talks with Merkel as part of contacts “with all sides of the political spectrum.” No German ministers were planning to meet with Tsipras during his visit to Berlin, government spokesman Georg Streiter said yesterday.
“Maybe those who are afraid of dialog have a bad conscience,” he said.
Air Berlin Plc, Europe’s third-biggest discount carrier, said today that its Greek business has declined by almost a third as Germans shun the Mediterranean nation as a tourist destination.
Tsipras urged Germans to spend their vacation in Greece to help the economy.
“I ask Germans to choose Greece for their summer holidays,” he said, adding that Greeks are renowned for their hospitality.
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