ATHENS – Newly-elected to Parliament, MeRA25 leader Yanis Varoufakis ridiculed the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA he served as finance minister, saying former Premier Alexis Tsipras had signed the country’s worst bailout deal.
With Tsipras reportedly now thinking about taking to the streets again to protest the new New Democracy administration, Varoufakis said it would be “comical” if that happened because he said few would follow or take part.
“What will they ask for exactly? To bring back the EKAS benefit they abolished? To return the airports and ports they gave away? Who would even follow them out into the streets? Maybe they’ll gather five or 10 people who would probably be a bit comical,” Varoufakis said on SKAI.
That was in reference to Tsipras reneging on anti-austerity promises to slash benefits for pensioners and privatizing regional airports while surrendering to the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM.)
The lenders in the summer of 2015 put up a third bailout for Greece, this one for 86 billion euros ($95.56 billion) that Tsipras sought and accepted after swearing he wouldn’t because it came with more brutal measures hurting workers, pensioners and the poor.
He had mocked previous governments for signing memoranda for two first bailouts totaling 240 billion euros ($266.68 billion) before doing exactly the same but with Varoufakis saying the conditions were even tougher.
Varoufakis didn’t mention that critics said it was his fault for digging in his heels and resisting the Troika and Eurozone, seeing him blamed for the entire cost, which he disputed as he defended his anti-austerity stance.
He and Tsipras ran into each other at an event marking the 45th anniversary of the restoration of democracy and it was frosty encounter as Varoufakis has sniped relentlessly at Tsipras, accusing him of betraying Leftist philosophies.
He also said Tsipras got cold feet when the ECB threatened to stop liquidity for teetering Greek banks unless the Premier caved in, which he did, as Varoufakis said the Premier backed away froj a plan to challenge the Troika for more lenient bailout terms.
He said his three greatest mistakes as finance minister in the first half of 2015 were not taking a tougher stance against the troika of creditors, trusting Alexis Tsipras and not being more forthcoming to the Greek people with regard to what a rift with lenders would entail.
Asked whether he would support SYRIZA in opposing New Democracy policies, he snickered that that any attempt by the leftist opposition to organize street protests would be laughable.
In the four years that “the SYRIZA comrades” were in power, he added, “They implemented the harshest memorandum in way that was even praised by (former German finance minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble and that no one else would have gotten away with passing in such a bloodless manner.”
He said New Democracy, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised to cut taxes while protecting social programs while luring back foreign investors scared off by a 29 percent corporate rate Tsipras set is in for a tough task.
He said the Conservatives are “trapped in a prison of debt and bailout populism,” adding that he believes Mitsotakis will not honor his promises and will defy voters’ expectations, not because he wants to but because the creditors will force him to.