Portugal’s PM claims he helped “unblock” Greek crisis negotiations, “curiously”

Portugal’s prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho has described how his input in Brussels’ 11th-hour negotiations marathon helped clinch the agreement that may have pulled Greece back from the brink of a catastrophic exit from the Eurozone.

Talking in a press conference on Monday morning, Passos Coelho said: “I should say, curiously, that the solution that resulted in solving the final problem on the table … came from an idea that I myself proposed”.

But as the Greek people and the world in general react to the last-minute agreement – with Britain saying categorically that it will not finance any kind of third bailout deal – Greece’s tough-talking former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has given his first interview since stepping down, sparing no criticism for Portugal’s attitude towards its southern European cousin.

Talking to New Statesman magazine, Varoufakis said the governments of Europe’s indebted countries – like Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland – were Greece’s “most energetic enemies” throughout negotiations, as if a better deal had been won “that would obliterate them politically: they would have to answer to their own people why they didn’t negotiate like we were doing”.

With Greeks reacting with dismay at the terms of Tsipras’ ‘deal’, Passos Coelho stressed it could not be seen as a humiliation.

“Greece will have received and seen forgiven more than €400 billion,” he told the conference, suggesting the deal could only be seen as a “responsible and supportive action”.
“Now it is important to know if we can count or not on someone who really wants to comply and stick to an agreement, or if we will simply find another protest in the political game,” he told reporters.

But as we wrote this story “Greek rage” over the terms for the new bailout indicates there is still a long way to go before the future is secured.

Tsipras’ government was due to pass key legislation on Wednesday with many coalition MPs against the deal. The UK’s BBC was suggesting Tsipras would require the support of opposition parties to win through, and even then there is the further problem of new arrears in repayments to the IMF.

Meantime, Greek people interviewed by Sky News talk of a “war” in which Germany “wants to destroy Europe and European people”. Greek banks are still closed and “almost out of cash” and Europe’s “trust” according to Angela Merkel has to be rebuilt.

As for Passos’ Coelho’s winning idea, it referred to the use of the €50 billion privatisation fund.

Portugal suggested that half the amount be used to privatise banks that are due to be recapitalised, so that the money would effectively go towards tackling public debt at the same time as “financing growth”.

“It was precisely this idea I suggested,” Passos Coelho told the conference “and which I saw used by negotiators with the Greek prime minister”.

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