As the iron-resolve of European leaders appears to be relaxing towards a compromise deal with Greece, an open letter from 32 of Portugal’s leading political figures gave prime minister Passos Coelho are short-sharp shock yesterday (Thursday).
President of Lisbon Municipal Assembly Helena Roseta – one of the signatories – confirmed that Passos Coelho’s dismissal of the Greek position as “children’s fairytale” in no way faced up to the issue.
In a statement released as the open letter was delivered to the Portuguese PM in meetings in Brussels, Roseta stated: “The essential matter in Portugal’s interest is to collaborate in the negotiation between Greece and the European Union.
“The main issue that Greece has on the table is that the story that there is no alternative (to austerity) has come to an end.
“There has to be an alternative”, she continued, and “it is in Portugal’s interest to contribute” towards finding it.
Today, international media is full of the possibility of a compromise deal, although no firm details yet have emerged.
Angela Merkel has stated: “Compromises are made when the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and Germany is prepared to compromise”. But there is also confusion as EU bosses scramble to get their stories right.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has been criticised for patronising Greece’s energetic young PM Alexis Tsipras – saying he is behaving like a medical student who wants to be allowed to perform brain surgery.
But as the letter delivered to Passos Coelho yesterday – from figures as diverse as former PSD parliamentary leader José Pacheco Pereira to one-time Left Bloc coordinator Francisco Louçã – shows, there is a huge groundswell of support for what Tsipras stands for, not just in southern Europe.
Even Passos Coelho’s former finance minister Vítor Gaspar – now working for the IMF in Washington – is said to be in favour of debt renegotiation.
This latest addition to Tsipras’ list of fans was revealed by union boss Carlos Silva, in interview with Diário Económico.
Silva told the news portal that he had met with Gaspar this week and “took advantage of the situation to defend the idea that Portugal should get the same treatment as Greece” – even “use the situation” to engineer renegotiation of its own bailout repayment terms.
By NATASHA DONN
Gaspar “seemed to agree”, Silva told DE.