Friday 9 December 2016

Finance minister Varoufakis says action towards Greece is 'terrorism'

Paul Day

Published 04/07/2015 | 11:06

A pensioner is helped by a bank manager after collapsing while waiting along with dozens of other pensioners outside a National Bank in Athens, Greece, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
A pensioner is helped by a bank manager after collapsing while waiting along with dozens of other pensioners outside a National Bank in Athens, Greece, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
Pensioners sit on the steps outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2015.REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A Greek flag flies atop the parliament building as people watch as demonstrators from the Greek Communist party gather during a rally supporting the no vote for the upcoming referendum in Athens, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A demonstrator walks along a road with leaflets reading 'no' scattered on the ground, following a demonstration supporting the no vote on the upcoming referendum, outside of the European Union office in central Athens, on Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A demonstrator, left, waves a flag reading "YES" as a supporter of the no vote reacts in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Demonstrators from the Greek Communist party gather during a rally supporting the no vote for the upcoming referendum in front of the parliament in Athens, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Demonstrators wave European Unions flag in support of the yes vote for the upcoming referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A security guard carries a box with cash into a branch of the National Bank of Greece Athens, Greece, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
Demonstrators gather during a rally supporting the yes vote for the upcoming referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
An elderly man finds old clothes as he searches in a garbage bin in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Demonstrators burn a European Union flag during a rally supporting the no vote for the upcoming referendum outside European Union office in Athens, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said European action towards the country was "terrorism" in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo and said a trillion euros would be lost if Greece was allowed to crash.

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"What they're doing with Greece has a name: terrorism," Varoufakis said in the interview, published on Saturday.

"Why have they forced us to close the banks? To frighten people. And when it's about spreading terror, that is known as terrorism."

Asked why he was sure an agreement would be reached, even if Greeks vote 'No' in a referendum on Sunday on the terms of a possible new bailout deal, he said failing to agree would be too costly for both sides. The vote could decide Greece's future as a member of Europe's single currency.

"Because there's too much at stake, as much for Greece as for Europe, I'm sure. If Greece crashes, a trillion euros (the equivalent of Spain's GDP) will be lost. It's too much money and I don't believe Europe could allow it," Varoufakis said.

Meanwhile, one of Greece's leading opposition politicians has warned the country is at peril of serious violence if an agreement is not reached.

Theodore Fortsakis, the former rector of Athens University and Greek MP hit out at claims made by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, saying he and his party had "lost the last signs of seriousness".

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Fortsakis launched a stinging attack on Mr Varoufakis and Syriza calling it a party "addicted to lies". He also warned that the country was at peril of serious violence, insisting the banks would be unable to reopen on Tuesday without a deal with Europe.

"I feel that my country is going through a real nightmare and I cannot understand how it was possible for the Government to take so many bad decisions in such a short time. In the space of five months we lost most of our friends and allies in Europe and we destroyed our economy and now we're in a situation where you really have to struggle to avoid the worst scenarios in Greece," he said.

Read more: Athens brought to a standstill by Yes and No rallies

Responding to comments by the minister that the banks would re-open on Tuesday, Mr Fortsakis (below) said: "I'm afraid Mr Varoufakis has lost the last signs of seriousness. You know we cannot ask the economy to behave as we would like. It has it's own reactions.

"We have no hope of seeing our banks open again without an agreement with our European friends," he added.

He also dismissed the ruling party's claims that private negotiations have been ongoing with Europe.

"I think he is lying. He is somebody who has always declared contradictory things and unfortunately this government is addicted to lies and is a government that lies constantly for the past five months," he alleged.

Mr Fortsakis urged all Greek parties, including Syriza, to vote Yes. However, he also urged Europe to show more awareness of what life was now like for ordinary Greeks.

"Our European friends have to understand that Greece has lost more than 30pc of its GDP. And salaries were reduced almost 40pc, my salary also. The pension of my mother was divided by three. She was receiving €2,400 and now she receives €700. Such a reduction means people find themselves in a situation which is not any more under control.

Read more: Greeks face tough referendum choice

"If you lose 10-15pc of your salary that means you reduce some expenses and you're going to survive. If you lose 40pc or two thirds of your pension, that means you have to change your way of life. And this is something extremely important. I have seen no European country making such sacrifices," he added.

He also pointed out that a significant amount of Greek expenditure went on products which its European partners had urged it to buy, including a significant military spend.

Mr Fortsakis said he believed the situation was now so serious that violence could break out.

"I think that we have an extreme situation. Extremely violent things could happen in Greece. We have a tradition of violence. I feel that it could escalate to a very, very dangerous level, we have a profound division of the civil society," he told the Irish Independent.

However, despite his concerns about Syriza he also stressed that the party must stay in power for the four-year term. "The government is a legal government that must stay for the four-year period provided, but it must take into consideration the will of the people. If he [Tsipras] wants to remain he has to take into consideration the answer to be given on Sunday," he added.

Even if the people vote No tomorrow, Syriza must find a solution within 48 hours, he added.

Reuters

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