Greece’s economic crisis was worsened when the then newly-elected Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition in 2015 dragged its feet on reforms and austerity that a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($99.44 billion) was needed, European Union finance chief Pierre Moscovici said.
He has both backed and criticized Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for imposing more brutal conditions as a condition of the bailout and contradicted himself by saying a recovery is coming but that it was slowed by the Premier trying to carry out campaign promises to oppose austerity before imposing more.
In an article he wrote for German daily Die Welt, Moscovici repeated that Greece’s only way out is to keep hammering workers, pensioners and the poor with more harsh measures although other EU officials have said it was unfair to target the country’s most vulnerable after Tsipras backed away from promises to hunt down tax cheats, tax the shipping industry and “crush the oligarchy” before he was crushed instead and forced to back down.
In the article, entitled Lessons from Greece, Moscovici said the bailouts had to be given to keep Greece in the Eurozone and defended the decision to extend economic assistance to Greece, saying it was the right choice for the Eurozone.
He said there were problems with the first bailout of 110 billion euros ($127.19 billion) in April 2010, especially by the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was joined by the European Union and European Central Bank to make up the EU-ECB-IMF Troika of lenders.
“Looking back we must acknowledge that mistakes were made by Athens, Brussels, Berlin and Washington (the IMF), which extended the crisis,” he said, with the IMF later admitting the austerity measures were too harsh – before demanding more.
But he said the third bailout of 86 billion euros ($99.44 billion) in August, 2015, eight months after Tsipras took office and retreated from a combative stance with the lenders wouldn’t have happened had the government cooperated and kept up with previous reforms.
He cited constant clashes between then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a hardliner on austerity, who battled openly with then Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who later quit when Tsipras surrendered.
“A great deal of patience was needed to resume dialogue in the summer of 2015, and to find an exit from the impasse, with the assistance of the third program, which was not necessary if we had avoided these political clashes,” wrote Moscovici.
He also referred to what he called the responsibilities of Greek governments in dealing with the crisis, pointing to delays and procrastination.