Spanish PM hits back at Greece's Tsipras in austerity row

1st March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Sunday called on his Greek counterpart to get "serious" about his country's debt-wracked economy, after Alexis Tsipras accused other eurozone partners of undermining its negotiations with Brussels.

Rajoy was reacting to comments by Tsipras on Saturday, who said that during talks that landed Greece a four-month extension to its bailout, pressure from certain other European countries "had the character of blackmail" -- pointing especially to Spain and Portugal.

"Conservative forces (in Europe) tried to set a trap for us, to drive us into financial asphyxia," the 40-year-old Greek premier had said.

Speaking Sunday to a meeting of his conservative party, Rajoy fired back in the first out-in-the-open clash between Tsipras and another European leader.

"We are not responsible for the frustration created by the radical Greek left, which promised the Greek people things it knew it couldn't hold to," Rajoy said.

He noted that Tsipras's hard-left Syriza party had tried to put the blame for Greece's problems on Spain and neighbouring Portugal.

"Looking for an external enemy is a way we've already seen many times in history... That doesn't solve problems, it aggravates them," Rajoy said.

"The only solution is to get serious," he advised the new Greek leader.

Both Madrid and Lisbon have filed official protests against Tsipras's comments with Brussels.

According to Tsipras, Greece came up against "an axis of powers led by Spain and Portugal" that tried to scupper the negotiations to "avoid internal political risks."

His remarks were seen as a reference to the rise of anti-austerity parties in Spain and Portugal, which have been buoyed by Syriza's arrival to power.

In Spain -- which unlike Portugal did not receive a full bailout, but whose banks got emergency support in 2012 -- Podemos, a close Syriza ally, is leading polls ahead of general elections expected later this year.


© 2015 AFP

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