Far left Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, threw down the gauntlet regarding foreign creditors by rejecting austerity measures; this move caused Greek markets to drop dramatically, as reported by Reuters. Tsipras refused to accept privatization measures in the bailout deal Greece accepted from Europe to forestall a financial crisis. Tsipras’ defiance puts him head to head with Germany’s Angela Merkel who said she won’t give Greece another change to re-negotiate the bailout terms. Interest rates on Greek bonds rose to 16.69% while Athens General Index fell 9% to its lowest point since 2012, as Greek banks quickly lost their value. How Tsipras can affect reforms while his economy collapsing may be a Herculean task.
Speaking on behalf of his Syriza party, Tsipras said that while he would strenuously avoid a “catastrophic clash” with European creditors, he “would not be forgiven” if he reneged on campaign promises to push back privatization, which includes selling the Port of Piraeus. The Syriza party has also questioned sanctions against Russia, and there are fears that if Greece refuses to accept the terms of the previously agreed-upon bailout, it may have to leave the European Union. Syriza’s platform was as ambitious as it was radical, and promised writing down Greek debt, an increase in wages, a halt to spending cuts and remaining in the euro. However, this may seem like a tall order and one that will ruffle the feathers of other European members, who favored austerity measures for the Mediterranean country in crisis.