Sunday 25 September 2016

Head of EU parliament questions Tsipras about far-right coalition partners

John Irish

Published 21/09/2015 | 10:46

Left-wing Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras (L) embraces leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos after his general election victory Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis (AP)
Left-wing Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras (L) embraces leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos after his general election victory Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis (AP)

The head of the European Parliament can "not understand" the decision by Greek leftist Alexis Tsipras to renew a coalition with the small right-wing Independent Greeks party.

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Speaking to France Inter radio,  Martin Schulz said he lamented Mr Tsipras' decision to bring the Independent Greeks, who polled less than 4 pc of the vote, back into government.

The Greek prime minister stormed back into office with an unexpectedly decisive election victory on Sunday, claiming a clear mandate to steer Greece's battered economy to recovery.

Read More: Weary Greeks vote Tsipras back in to head new coalition

The vote ensured Europe's most outspoken leftist leader would remain Greece's dominant political figure, despite having been abandoned by party radicals last month after he caved in to demands for austerity to win a bailout from the euro zone.

"I called him (Tsipras) a second time to ask him why he was continuing a coalition with this strange, far-right party," Mr Schulz said.

"He pretty much didn't answer. He is very clever, especially by telephone. He told me things that seemed convincing, but which ultimately in my eyes are a little bizarre."

Read More: Alex Tsipras given second chance to lead Greece

Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos says the bailout by the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund has reduced Greece to the status of a debt colony.

The party differs from Syriza on many traditionally conservative issues, pledging to crack down on illegal immigration and defend the close links between the Orthodox Church and the state.

Mr Schulz said he admired Tsipras for the way he had navigated through the last year to get himself re-elected, but said Mr Kammenos was a loose canon who always needed to be controlled.

Read More: Greek voters return Tsipras to power with strong win

"It's politically and strategically something that you have to admire," he said.

"But after ... this renewed mandate with this far-right, populist party, that I don't understand."

Reuters

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