• Syriza-Economist Costas Lapavitsas: "An exit from the Eurozone would not necessarily be chaotic"

Syriza-Economist Costas Lapavitsas : "An exit from the Eurozone would not necessarily be chaotic"

"The lenders are effectively asking Greece to sign its own suicide note": Syriza-Economist Coastas Lapavitsas warns greek PM Alexis Tsipras of accepting the demands of international creditors - and proposes to leave the euro.

Foto: dpa

Yesterday Tsipras discussed with Juncker in Brussels, both sides had proposals, the next payment deadline is close: it seems the endgame with these negotiations have begun. How do you evaluate the creditors’ proposal?


I think what happened in Brussels shows the enormous gap between the Greek side and the lenders’ side which will be hard to bridge. The Greek economy will not grow a lot this year and next, and thus achieving a primary surplus - even if it is very small - will be very difficult. It will require tax increases and spending cuts probably including pensions. These steps would be very difficult for the SYRIZA government to accept, because they go right against everything we promised to the Greek people. We have a major problem here.


What to do about it?


Syriza was voted on the basis of its programme to lift austerity, which is both desirable and necessary for Greece. But the Eurozone insists on austerity. If Greece wants to stay in the Eurozone, it has to comply with austerity policies, it is clear. So SYRIZA has to decide which way to go. It is time for Plan B.


The Plan B you promoted in contrary to the Syriza-leadership has been very clear from the beginning: leaving the euro.


If we will go back to austerity measures similar to those we have had during the last five years, this will be the end of Greece as an economy, as a society, as a country. There is no doubt about it. The lenders are effectively asking Greece to sign its own suicide note. We have to consider the other options.


So you ask Tsipras not to accept a deal with the lenders under these circumstances.

Costas Lapavitsas, Abgeordneter der Syriza-Partei und Ökonomieprofessor an der University of London
Costas Lapavitsas, Abgeordneter der Syriza-Partei und Ökonomieprofessor an der University of LondonFoto: imago


I want to trust the Syriza leadership, I believe that they have genuine left wing instincts. I also think that take very seriously the mandate they have received from the Greek people. I don't think they will accept this proposal which is against our programme. That will be the end of SYRIZA as a left-wing party. Also, signing such a Memorandum finished the career of a centre-left politician, like George Papandreou, and a conservative politician, like Antonis Samaras. I think that Alexis Tsipras is wiser than that.


But if they do bring a compromise to the parliament, will you vote against your own leadership?


I see the issue like many SYRIZA MPs: we have a democratic mandate to implement our programme. Not to keep Greece in the Eurozone under all circumstances, that is not what the people voted for. We said, we have a programme, we want to implement it, and - but secondarily - we hope to do so within the Eurozone. If the deal doesn't allow us to implement our programme, than we have no mandate. For me, the question of voting in Parliament is a question of the obligation I have to my voters. I didn’t take part in the election for fun.


Syriza could go for a new mandate with snap elections...


But this would mean we have to be really honest with the people. We have to tell them what the real options are. Until now the official position has been: we will achieve a good compromise, a mutually beneficial agreement. But the lenders are giving us nothing. It is time to prepare the Greek people for drastic action even without a deal with the lenders. An exit from the Eurozone would not necessarily be chaotic – there are people in Greece who know how to handle it. And there is reason to believe that it would open up a promising path for the country, certainly compared to the terrible deal that the lenders are offering. But the choice really belongs with the people. I am in favour of a fresh mandate, either a referendum or new elections, it could be done very fast if necessary.

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