MEPs criticise German 'interference' in Greek elections

Written by James O'Brien on 5 January 2015 in News
News

MEPs have strongly condemned remarks attributed to the German chancellor Angela Merkel suggesting the eurozone could withstand a Greek exit from the single currency.

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that should the main opposition party Syriza win, Berlin views a 'Grexit' as "inevitable and manageable".

Opinion polls suggest that Alexis Tsipras' left wing Syriza is on course to emerge from the elections, to be held on 25 January, in poll position. Tsipras has pledged to end "German-led austerity" and reverse "unreasonable and catastrophic" policies implemented in the course of Greece's austerity programme.   

Gianni Pittella, president of the S&D group in the European parliament condemned the reported
remarks.

Pittella said, "German right-wing forces trying to act like a sheriff in Greece or any other member states is not only unacceptable but above all wrong."

He warned that the remarks would fuel "anger and repulsion towards the European Union among European citizens".

Pittella added that any "hypothetical Greek exit from the eurozone is just not an option. Greece's membership of the euro is irreversible. Moreover, it could create a very dangerous domino effect."

The S&D group president committed to "support all progressive forces in order to open up a new era where fiscal discipline is fully combined with flexibility, investment and growth, as well as measures to promote social justice and employment".

"German right-wing forces trying to act like a sheriff in Greece or any other member states are not only unacceptable but above all wrong" - Gianni Pittella

ALDE Leader Guy Verhofstadt was equally critical, describing any potential Greek exit from the eurozone as "nonsense".

Verhofstadt noted that "74 per cent of Greeks do not want to leave the eurozone, […] the treaties do not allow Greece to leave the Eurozone [and] it would cost the European taxpayers billions of euros if Greece were to reintroduce the drachma".

He warned against creating "a self-fulfilling prophecy" by talking of a 'Grexit' and said the focus should shift towards "solving the investment problem Greece and other countries are facing".

Greens/EFA co-president Philippe Lamberts called for EU institutions to respects Greece's democratic process.

Lamberts said, "Instead of meddling and threatening, EU leaders and the European commission should commit to fully respect the outcome of the Greek elections and work with any democratically elected government to ensure Greece remains a member of the eurozone."

Lamberts colleague and co-president Rebecca Harms noted that "reforms remain necessary in Greece", but added that "the one-sided and heavy-handed approach of the adjustment programme has compounded problems and accentuated social hardship".

Harms concluded, "European governments and the EU institutions must support Greece, its government and citizens to ensure they can deliver this and finally give Greece a perspective for exiting the economic crisis and making its debt burden sustainable".

The snap election in Greece follows the failure of prime minister Antonis Samaris to gain sufficient parliamentary votes for his presidential nominee, former EU commissioner Stavros Dimas.

 

About the author

James O'Brien is an editorial assistant and journalist at the Parliament Magazine

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