Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras laid out plans on Sunday to dismantle Greece’s “cruel” austerity programme, ruling out any extension of its international bailout and setting himself on a collision course with his European partners. In his first major speech to parliament since storming to power last month, Tsipras rattled off a list of moves to reverse reforms imposed by European and International Monetary Fund lenders: from reinstating pension bonuses and cancelling a property tax to ending mass layoffs and raising the mininum wage back to pre-crisis levels.
Showing little intent to heed warnings from EU partners to stick to commitments in the 240-billion-euro ($272 billion) bailout, Tsipras said he intended to fully respect campaign pledges to heal the “wounds” of the austerity that was a condition of the money. Greece would achieve balanced budgets but would no longer produce unrealistic primary budget surpluses, he said, a reference to requirements to be in the black excluding debt repayments.
“The bailout failed,” the 40-year-old leader told parliament to applause. “We want to make clear in every direction what we are not negotiating. We are not negotiating our national sovereignty.” In a symbolic move that appeared to take direct aim at Greece’s biggest creditor, Tsipras finished off his speech with a pledge to seek World War Two reparations from Germany.
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