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Thursday 29 September 2016

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras: bailout deal must be implemented, even if 'one-way street'

Michele Kambas and Karolina Tagaris

Published 14/07/2015 | 22:04

Greek premier Alexis Tsipras: faces opposition within Syriza
Greek premier Alexis Tsipras: faces opposition within Syriza
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at his office in Athens just after flying in from Brussels
A man walks by a mural in Athens, Greece July 14, 2015, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces a showdown with rebels in his own party furious at his capitulation to German demands for one of the most sweeping austerity packages ever demanded of a euro zone government. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
Pensioners are given priority tickets by a National Bank branch manager (R), as they wait to receive part of their pensions in Athens, Greece July 13, 2015. Euro zone leaders clinched a deal with Greece on Monday to negotiate a third bailout to keep the near-bankrupt country in the euro zone after a whole night of haggling at an emergency summit. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Youths hold a placard that reads 'Do we stay in Euro?' during an anti-austerity protest in central Athens, Greece, July 12, 2015. Euro zone leaders told near-bankrupt Greece at an emergency summit on Sunday that it must restore trust by enacting key reforms before they will open talks on a new financial rescue to keep it in the European currency area. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
A security worker leaves a National Bank branch after bringing money in central Athens, Greece, July 13, 2015. Euro zone leaders clinched a deal with Greece on Monday to negotiate a third bailout to keep the near-bankrupt country in the euro zone after a whole night of haggling at an emergency summit. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Sunlight reflects off solar water heaters in Athens, Greece, July 12, 2015. Euro zone leaders told near-bankrupt Greece at an emergency summit on Sunday that it must restore trust by enacting key reforms before they will open talks on a new financial rescue to keep it in the European currency area. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in her car at a euro zone leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2015. Euro zone leaders will fight to the finish to keep near-bankrupt Greece in the euro zone on Sunday after the European Union's chairman cancelled a planned summit of all 28 EU leaders that would have been needed in case of a "Grexit". REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A one Euro coin is seen in this file photo illustration taken in Rome, Italy July 9, 2015. Greece's 18 euro zone partners want Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to push legislation through parliament before releasing funds to avert a state bankruptcy and starting negotiations on a third bailout programme. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/Files GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD PACKAGE - SEARCH "BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD JULY 13" FOR ALL IMAGES
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French President Francois Hollande at a euro zone leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2015. Euro zone leaders will fight to the finish to keep near-bankrupt Greece in the euro zone on Sunday after the European Union's chairman cancelled a planned summit of all 28 EU leaders that would have been needed in case of a "Grexit". REUTERS/Stringer/Pool
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and Finance Minister Michael Noonan and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin at the meeting in Brussels
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for the meeting in Brussels yesterday
Pro-EU protesters take part in a rally in front of the Greek parliament in Athens last week. Photo: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
Greece still has a chance to access €1.2bn allocated to banks
A worker at the Athens Stock Exchange stands in the reception hall as an electronic board displays stock prices. Getty Images
A Greek national flag flies near the Parthenon temple on Acropolis Hill in Athens, Greece, on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg
People withdraw cash from ATMs in central Athens on June 19, 2015, as a beggar lays on the pavement. The European Central Bank's decision-making governing council will hold an emergency session on June 19 to discuss a request from the Bank of Greece for an
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (L) and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis talk during a parliamentary session in Athens
Traders talk in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis leaves the Prime Minister's office where a governmental council takes place in Athens June 15, 2015. Greece's government on Monday played down the prospect of submitting a new counter-proposal as sought by lenders in
Visitors look at the view across the city from beneath the Parthenon temple on Acropolis Hill in Athens, Greece
Passersby walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo July 13, 2015. Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Monday as yet another strong rebound in Chinese shares soothed investor sentiment and as oil's fall boosted airliners and other energy users, though uncertainty on Greece's fate in the euro zone capped gains. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Enda Kenny leaves a meeting of eurozone heads at the EU Council building in Brussels
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos arrives at the presidential palace in Athens yesterday

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the bailout deal struck at Sunday's euro zone summit and ruled out resigning, saying that the "bad deal" was the best available under the circumstances.

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"I am fully assuming my responsibilities, for mistakes and for oversights, and for the responsibility of signing a text that I do not believe in, but that I am obliged to implement," Tsipras told Greek public television on Tuesday.

In an hour-long interview that mixed a defence of his abrupt change of course over the bailout deal with barbs aimed at Greece's European partners, Tsipras said he had fought a battle not to cut wages and pensions.

He added that the fiscal adjustment agreed in the deal was milder than adjustments agreed to in the past and said Greece must stick to the fiscal adjustment the deal foresees, he said.

He also said that even though some countries had resisted giving Greece 'fresh money' - Finland and the Netherlands in particular - they relented in the end.

"To be frank, here, they are not only forced to give fresh money, but to give 82 billion, and are accepting the restructure of debt."

The 40-year-old prime minister faces strong discontent within his Syriza party over the deal. But he said he intends to serve a full four-year term, ruling out early elections.

Read more: Greece crisis: secret IMF report says more debt relief, Tsipras struggles

"The worst thing a captain can do while he is steering a ship during a storm, as difficult as it is, is to abandon the helm," he said.

Asked when Greece's banks would re-open, after closing more than two weeks ago when capital controls were imposed, he said: "When banks open depends on when we have the final ratification of the agreement.

The European Central Bank, which has set a cap on emergency liquidity to Greek banks, would "move to gradually increase it", allowing a gradual relaxation of capital controls, he said.

"It won't be from one day to the next. There will be a gradual return to normality, starting with an increase in the withdrawals."

One of the provisions of the agreement with creditors is setting aside 25 billion euros for the recapitalisation of the country's banks.

Tsipras said he did not believe the banks required the entire amount. "Twenty five billion is more than enough. I believe banks will need 10-15 billion euros."

Having staved off financial meltdown, Tsipras has until Wednesday night to pass through parliament measures that are tougher than those Greek voters rejected in a referendum days ago. With mutiny among hard-liners in his own ranks, Tsipras will probably need the support of pro-European opposition parties to carry the vote.

"The hard truth is this one-way street for Greece was imposed on us," Tsipras said. The lenders had sent the message that in a country under a bailout there was no point in holding elections, he said.

Read more: Greece crisis: Cracks appear in Government partners over bailout terms as vote looms

But he insisted that things would have been worse had there been no deal.

"A disorderly default would not only have led to a collapse of the banking system and a disappearance of all deposits, but it would force you to print a currency which would be drastically devalued because there is no reserve to support it," he said. "A pensioner who got 800 euros would get 800 drachmas and it would only last him three days and not a month."

He said that he would do all he could to maintain the unity of his Syriza party, but his priority was to secure a deal and the stability of the economy and banking system, before dealing with party matters.

Asked if he would expel rebel party lawmakers if they vote against the bailout deal, he said expulsions not part of his party's culture.

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