Straight on the heels of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ exuberant projection of the end of the bailout memorandum, with the picturesque island of Kastellorizo as a backdrop, his former education minister lambasted the PM, saying there is nothing to celebrate in the post-bailout social disaster.
Nikos Filis has in a sense posited himself as the left-wing conscience of Syriza, and is considered a leader of Tsipras’ intra-party opposition, though the term may be a bit exaggerated for the dutiful MP.
He placed second in votes in the party’s convention – Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos placed first by a few votes – and he has been outspoken in promoting the need for a viable social welfare agenda for Syriza.
“What can we possibly be celebrating in Kastelorizo? I am not among those celebrating because the memorandum is ending, because it is leaving rubble behind it. Why should we be dancing?” Filis told Greek Skai television, decrying the dramatic social impact of eight years of extreme austerity.
As he has before, regarding the issue of protecting debtors’ primary residence from seizure and paring back steep pension cuts planned for 2019, Filis called for a post-bailout social welfare policy plan.
The objective, he said, is to pursue Greece’s convergence with the average EU social and economic indices, and to reduce the huge 3.5 percent of GDP primary surplus to which the government has committed itself.
“We have a rough road ahead. We are at a cusp. The loan agreement is ending and I do not want to cultivate unfounded expectations,” Filis said.
“Can the Greek economy – or any economy – endure 3.5 percent primary surpluses for five years? How do we heal the wounds and inequalities brought about by the memorandums? It cannot be done right away, but it requires planning,” he added.
Filis also criticised Tsakalotos over the fact that he has submitted the finance ministry’s growth plan to creditors without briefing either his party or parliament.
Filis said the plan must be tabled and debated with the other parties in parliament.