Barroso Says Greek Political Infighting, Rivalries Hinder Economic Recovery

Jose Manuel Barroso. (AP Photo, File)

ATHENS – Former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Greece’s political culture of internecine warfare between parties has kept the country from getting out of a seven-year-long economic and austerity crisis.

Barroso, who backed harsh measures for Greece from its international and European lenders, told the Sunday Kathimerini that the country’s political parties would essentially rather kill each other than help their country.

He also said he doesn’t expect that talk of debt relief will come until after the September elections in Germany, the biggest contributor to 326 billion euros ($365 billion) in three bailouts, including a third for 86 billion euros ($96.28 billion) that Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras sought and accepted in July, 2015 after saying he would do neither.

Tsipras, being sniped at constantly by the major opposition New Democracy, agreed to keep reneging on anti-austerity promises to get the release of more monies from the third package and also said it would lead to debt relief, but that’s been blocked by Eurozone finance chiefs so far.

The tension and political instability has seen New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis demand early elections and other parties battling with SYRIZA and each other, undermining any hope of recovery in the near future.

In periods of crisis, political parties should work together as part of a national plan, Barroso said, adding that constantly blaming the creditors for everything does not solve the problem and noting that other countries with financial problems such as Ireland and his native Portugal managed to emerge from their respective crises relatively quickly as they avoided the “political mistakes” made in Greece.

He also said the threat of Greece being forced out of the Eurozone or leaving on its own hasn’t entirely been eliminated although mitigated by additional safety measures the bloc has put in place during the ongoing crisis.

Despite the political obstacles, he said he still believes the situation will improve despite no evidence that it will and as Tsipras continues to spiral downward in polls for its his constant surrenders to the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) as well as the International Monetary Fund.