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Alexis Tsipras: Greece seeks bridge loan rather than bailout extension

Greece is seeking a bridge loan rather than an extension of its bailout, PM Alexis Tsipras has said.

In an address to parliament, Alexis Tsipras also promised measures to cut bureaucratic spending and said his government would stick to all its pre-election pledges.

Alexis Tsipras’s far-left Syriza party won elections last month on a promise to end austerity measures.

EU officials have rejected his efforts to renegotiate Greece’s bailout terms.

“The bailout failed,” Alexis Tsipras said told parliament on February 8.

“The new government is not justified in asking for an extension … because it cannot ask for an extension of mistakes.”

The prime minister said that Greece wanted to service its debt.

“If our peers want so too, they are invited to come to the table of dialogue so we can discuss how to make it viable,” he added.

Greece’s current program of loans ends on February 28. A final €7.2 billion is still to be negotiated, but the new government does not want to extend the program and has already begun to roll back austerity measures.

Greek debt stands at more than €320 billion, or about 174% of the country’s economic output.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

In last month’s elections Syriza fell just short of an outright majority and formed a coalition government with the centre-right Independent Greeks.

In his speech, Alexis Tsipras said the government’s “irreversible decision is to implement in full our pre-elections pledges”.

The first priority, he said, was “tackling the big wounds of the bailout, tackling the humanitarian crisis”.

That includes giving free food and electricity to those worst affected by the economic crisis, and ending an unpopular annual levy on private property.

Among other commitments outlined by the prime minister on February 8 were:

  • a gradual rise in the minimum wage to €751 by 2016
  • reinstatement of public sector employees “fired illegally”
  • creation of a new national broadcaster.

A number of measures aimed at cutting costs or raising revenue were also announced, including:

  • a new tax on large properties
  • a special portfolio to oversee fight against corruption and tax evasion
  • a pension fund using revenues from natural resources
  • cutting ministry cars and government planes.

Alexis Tsipras also repeated demands that Germany pay reparations for World War Two and repay a loan that the Nazis forced the Bank of Greece to pay when they occupied Greece.

Greece had “a moral obligation to our people, to history, to all European peoples who fought and gave their blood against Nazism”, Alexis Tsipras said.

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