In his keynote address to the nation's parliament, Greece's Alexis Tsipras rejected an extension to the European Union bailout but insisted that his country needed a "bridge program" by June, by which time Athens was expected to negotiate a new deal with the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"The bailout failed…The new government is not justified in asking for an extension of the bailout," Tsipras said, adding that the Greek people had given his party a mandate to cancel "the disastrous austerity program."
"We want a new deal, a bridge program, which would give us the fiscal space that a sincere negotiation requires," Tsipras told fellow parliamentarians, adding that his country would honor its debts.
'Undoing' previous suffering
The 40-year-old premier also announced the reopening of state television channel ERT, which was shut down in 2013 in a bid to save money. The reopening would "repair a crime against the Greek people and democracy," Tsipras said, adding that the first priority of his government would be to tackle "the humanitarian crisis" created by the economic deal with the EU.
He also said his government would stick to their electoral campaign promises and provide free food and electricity for those who had suffered from the previous government's austerity program and also battle against corruption and tax evasion on a priority basis.
The country received 240 billion euros ($275 billion) in 2010 as part of its economic assistance package from the EU and the IMF. It was entitled to another 7.2 billion euros, but Tsipras insisted that the bailout package took a heavy toll on the country's economy.
Greece's current bailout expires at the end of this month. The EU wants Athens to apply for an extension and commit to reforms, but Greece has refused to do so.
mg/jlw (Reuters, AFP)