Austrian Chancellor supports Tsipras in Greece bailout row | News | DW | 17.06.2015
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Austrian Chancellor supports Tsipras in Greece bailout row

Ahead of critical bailout talks on Thursday, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has shown solidarity with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He said there were a number of creditor proposals he didn't "find in order."

Speaking to Austrian state broadcaster ORF on Wednesday, Faymann, a Social Democrat who has taken a relatively lenient line with Greece, said Athens needsto live up to commitments under its current bailout plan, but at the same time needed support to prevent an exit from the euro zone.

Prior to meeting Tsipras in Athens on Wednesday, the Austrian Chancellor also highlighted a number of proposals from EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors which he found unreasonable.

"High unemployment, 30 to 40 percent [with], no health insurance, and then raising VAT on medicines. People in this difficult situation cannot understand that," Faymann said.

'On the side of the Greek people'

The Chancellor also responded to comments made by EU commission chief Jean-Claude Junckeron Tuesday, which accused Tsipras of misinforming his people over what reforms the EU wants from Athens in order to unlock the remaining 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) of the 240-billion-euro international rescue package.

"The debate in Greece and outside Greece would be easier if the Greek government would tell exactly what the commission is really proposing," Juncker said in Brussels on Tuesday.

Faymann denounced Juncker's comments, however, saying it was never helpful when insults fly.

"I stand on the side of the Greek people who in this difficult position are being proposed more things detrimental to society," Faymann said.

The Austrian Chancellor, added, however that he was confident he could support Juncker's efforts to forge an agreement between Greece and Brussels by using Austria as an example of a country where workers and pensioners get affordable health care.

Imminent deadline

In light of the five-month standoff between Athens and its bailout creditors, Faymann said he acknowledged nerves were frayed but said the task at hand was to "avoid a catastrophe."

Asked by ORF whether Greece's leaders including Prime Minister Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis could be brought on board, however, Faymann said: "I assume that someone who is elected lives up to his responsibility."

With the deal deadline looming, Tsipras is desperately struggling to avoid a debt default in two weeks' time when the country's current European bailout expires. Athens also faces a huge 1.6 billion euro payment to the IMF and a further 3.4 billion euros to the European Central Bank (ECB).

If Athens fails to make the payments, the troubled EU member could potentially see the introduction of capital controls, closure of banks, and the government issuing IOUs to keep the public sector financially viable. The drastic measures would also pave the way for Greece's from the euro.

ksb/ng (Reuters, AFP)

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