By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 31 May 2015
The Greek prime minister has accused Europe's leaders of 'issuing absurd demands'
Greek premier Alexis Tsipras has accused Europe's creditor powers of issuing "absurd demands" and come close to warning that his far-Left government will detonate a pan-European political and strategic crisis if pushed any further.
Writing for Le Monde in a tone of furious defiance after the latest set of talks reached an impasse, Mr Tsipras said the Eurozone's dominant players were by degrees bringing about the "complete abolition of democracy in Europe" and were ushering in a technocratic monstrosity with powers to subjugate states that refuse to accept the "doctrines of extreme neoliberalism".
"For those countries that refuse to bow to the new authority, the solution will be simple: Harsh punishment. Judging from the present circumstances, it appears that this new European power is being constructed, with Greece being the first victim," he said.
The Greek leader, head of the radical-Left Syriza government, issued a stark warning that his country will not submit to these demands and will instead take action "to entirely transform the economic and political balances throughout the West."
Alexis Tsipras made his thoughts known in a piece for Le Monde, the French newspaper
"If some, however, think or want to believe that this decision concerns only Greece, they are making a grave mistake. I would suggest that they re-read Hemingway’s masterpiece, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”," he said.
The words originally come from John Donne's Meditation XVII, with its poignant reminder that the arrogant can be blind to their own demise. "Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him," it reads.
Mr Tsipras's article is a thinly-disguised warning that Greece may choose to default on roughly €330bn of debt in the biggest sovereign default ever, and pull out of the euro, rather than breech its key red lines.
The debts are mostly to European official creditors and the European Central Bank. The situation has become critical after depositors withdrew €800m from Greek banks in two days at the end of last week, heightening fears that capital controls may be imminent.
Mr Tsipras's choice of words also implies that Greece may turn its back on the Western security system, presumably by shifting into the orbit of Russia and China.
The article comes as Panagiotis Lafanzanis, the energy minister and head of Syriza's powerful Left Platform, returns from Moscow after securing a provisional deal with Gazprom to build part of the "Turkish Stream" gas pipeline through Greece.
The Russian energy minister, Alexander Novak, said over the weekend that the project has been agreed in principle. " We are now discussing technical details," he said.
Greek officials have told The Telegraph that Russia is offering up to €2bn in up-front credit to sweeten the arrangement, though it will not be a state-to-state transaction.
Mr Tsipras visited the Kremlin in April, where he met with Vladimir Putin
Mr Lafanzanis said Greece is taking further steps to join the so-called BRICS bank, a multilateral lender created by Russia, Brazil, China, and South Africa. He hinted that this may unlock some form of "financial support" for Greece very quickly.
It is unclear whether the tough language from Athens is yet more brinkmanship as the Greek crisis comes to a head in June, or whether the Syriza movement is no longer counting on any substantive shift by the creditor bloc, and has resolved to go down fighting whatever the consequences.
It follows days of impassioned debates with the party, with a growing number of MPs berating Mr Tsipras for drawing out the agony by raiding local government and pension funds. The policy is leaving Greece even more vulnerable if it is forced out of EMU in the end.
The Left Platform has called for a full "counter-attack" against the EU powers, laying out its inflexible terms in a new document. It demands a default on the debt and the "immediate nationalization of the banks with all necessary accompanying measures".
"What the ruling circles of the EU, the ECB and the IMF are ruthlessly and consistently aiming for in the last four months, is to strangle the economy, to milk the last euro from the country´s reserves and to push a vulnerable government into full submission and exemplary humiliation," it said.
Mr Tsipras was more diplomatic, but only slightly so. He said the creditor bloc was determined to "make an example out of Greece" so that no other country would be tempted to defy the austerity regime.
The Greek prime minister disputed claims by the EU-IMF 'institutions" that Syriza had failed to deliver on reforms, accusing that the inspectors of turning a "blind eye" to corrupt practices under the previous government when it served their interests.
The clash on labour rights is pivotal to the confrontation. Syriza has agreed to work with the International Labour Organisation on flexible work practices but says it will not abandon its core demands for full collective bargaining protection.
The arguments are likely exasperate EU and IMF officials, who deny adamantly that they are pushing an ideological line or attempting to erode progressive labour laws.
Mr Tsipras appeared to acknowledge that there is little or no chance of reaching a deal with the official negotiators and technocrats. The matter has moved to a higher level and is at this point entirely political.
"The decision is now not in the hands of the institutions, which in any case are not elected and are not accountable to the people, but rather in the hands of Europe’ks leaders," he said.
Defiant Tsipras threatens to detonate European crisis rather than yield to creditor "monstrosity" - Telegraph