Greek PM’s speech accusing Portugal and Spain of trying to derail Greece “badly interpreted”

In an attempt to minimise the toxic fallout generated by the speech in which Greek PM Alexis Tsipras accused the governments of Portugal and Spain leading a conservative conspiracy to topple his country, the Greek government has issued a statement referring to “bad interpretation”.

“The new Greek government does not categorise countries and people as friends or enemies,” a source told Reuters on Sunday evening. “Any bad interpretation of the speech of the prime minister does not help dialogue.”

It was as near to an apology as the Greeks were prepared to venture after a stormy Sunday in which the governments of both Portugal and Spain were reported to be in uproar.

All day long “messages, emails and telephone calls” flew backwards and forwards between the Iberian Peninsula and Brussels, reports Público.

At issue was the much-publicised allegation by the head of Greece’s anti-austerity party Syriza that Portugal and Spain have formed an “axis against Athens” as they feared their own radical forces before elections this year.

As the Resident reported last week (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/government-refutes-criticisms-that-it-behaved-%E2%80%9Cmore-german-than-germany%E2%80%9D-over-greek-debt-extension), this is not a new position from the Greek side, but it was the first time it had been put quite so belligerently.

Reuters reports that Tspiras said the joint Portuguese/Spanish plan was to “wear down, topple or bring our government to unconditional surrender before our work begins to bear fruit, and before the Greek example affects other countries … mainly before the elections in Spain”.

But as Reuters goes on to explain, “the Greek example” shows little sign of affecting Portugal.

Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos is indeed leading opinion polls ahead of the upcoming elections – and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy is concerned – but in Portugal there is “no anti-austerity force as potent as Syriza or Podemos”.

Thus Portugal’s position – even in the thick of toxic post-Tsipras’ speech fallout – has been presented as one of “perplexity”.

PSD spokesman Marco António Costa said that Syriza’s internal difficulties “did not justify the invention of stories, or the blaming of third parties”, while CDS MEP Nuno Melo dismissed Tsipras’ words as “entering the domain of hallucination”.

Elsewhere, international media has focused on the need for Tsipras to save face as he tries to sell the bailout extension to his party, and the rest of the country, as a victory.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]

Photo: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a meeting of SYRIZA’s party central committee in Athens, Greece, on February 28

Photo by: EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI