Greek politician accuses creditors of ‘fiscal waterboarding’

Anti-austerity leader Alexis Tsipras says Athens cannot repay its debt

Anti-austerity leader Alexis Tsipras said Greece cannot repay its debt as long as its creditors enforce "fiscal waterboarding" and signaled he will boost government spending if his Syriza alliance wins power.

In an op-ed article in Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper today, Mr Tsipras said the notion that Greece’s economy has stabilised is an “arbitrary distortion of the facts.” He said that while the economy grew 0.7 per cent in the third quarter, the recession isn’t over because inflation was a negative 1.8 per cent.

“We’re facing a shameful embellishment of the statistics to justify the effectiveness of troika policies,” said Mr Tsipras, whose alliance leads prime minister Antonis Samaras’s party in polls for parliamentary elections on January 25th.

The troika is Greece's international creditors - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.


Mr Tsipras's comments addressed audiences in Germany, where chancellor Angela Merkel has led Europe's austerity-first response to the debt crisis that spread from Greece in 2010.

The German finance ministry declined to comment yesterday on the possibility of a Greek debt cut, one of Mr Tsipras’s demands. “German taxpayers have nothing to fear from a Syriza government,” Mr Tsipras said. “Our goal is not to seek confrontation with our partners, more credits or a blank check for new deficits.” Instead, Syriza would seek a “new deal within the framework of the euro zone” that allows the Greek government to finance growth and restore the nation’s debt sustainability,’’ Mr Tsipras said.

Greece’s election hinges on whether voters are willing to accept an extension of the conditions attached to the country’s international bailouts. Greek bond yields declined yesterday by the most since October as concern eased that a Syriza election victory would result in Greece leaving the euro. “The truth is that Greece’s debt cannot be repaid as long as our economy is subjected to constant fiscal waterboarding,” Mr Tsipras said in Handelsblatt.