ATHENS — As pressure grows on Greece to reach a deal with its international creditors and avert fears that it will default on its huge debt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Sunday that his government would not seek an extension of a stringent bailout program and would carry out its campaign pledges to roll back austerity, but gradually.
In laying out his program in a speech to Parliament, Mr. Tsipras sought to satisfy coalition lawmakers and supporters that his government would honor the anti-austerity pledges that brought it to power last month while reassuring creditors that it is prepared to move toward a compromise that keeps the economy afloat without further burdening European taxpayers.
Greece’s creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — want the new government to seek an extension beyond Feb. 28 of the European portion of the country’s bailout of 240 billion euros, or $270 billion. The government, however, has said that despite dwindling cash reserves, it is not interested in the latest portion of the bailout, a loan of 7 billion, because of what it sees as onerous conditions. Instead, it has said it wants a program between now and the end of May to bridge the gap and permission to raise short-term funding by issuing treasury bills.
希腊的债权人——欧盟委员会(European Commission)、欧洲央行(European Central Bank)和国际货币基金组织（International Monetary Fund，简称IMF）——希望新政府将该国2400亿欧元（约合1.7万亿元人民币）的救援计划中的欧洲部分在2月28日到期之后继续延长。然而，希腊政府已经表示，尽管现金储备不断减少，但它对救援计划的最新内容——也就是一笔70亿欧元的贷款——没有兴趣，因为它认为贷款的条件十分苛刻。相反，希腊政府表示，它寻求达成一个从现在到5月底的项目来填补空当，并希望获得许可得以通过发行国债进行短期融资。
Mr. Tsipras said extending the bailout would be tantamount to continuing the “mistakes and disaster” of the past, and he said his government needed “fiscal space” for discussion on restructuring of debt.
“We only have one commitment: to serve the interests of our people, the good of society,” he said, noting that it was an “irreversible decision” of his government to fulfill its promises “in their entirety.”
Mr. Tsipras also pledged to replace a hated unified property tax, which combines several levies, with a new tax on large property and to increase the tax-free threshold on annual income to 12,000 from the current 5,000. Cracking down on tax evasion and corruption were also underlined as priorities.
Immediate action will be taken, he said, to restore collective wage bargaining, bringing unions back into negotiations on workers’ salaries and working conditions. He also pledged to gradually restore the minimum wage to 751 a month from 586.
As a jab at Germany, which has been leading the austerity drive in Europe, Mr. Tsipras said it was Greece’s historical duty to seek war reparations and the repayment of a loan it was forced to make to Germany in World War II.
The Greek authorities have already met with resistance, even in France and Italy, whose governments have pushed back against austerity measures. A tour of European capitals last week by Mr. Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis failed to win firm support for Greek ambitions to write down a 320 billion debt burden and to revoke some of the most severe cutbacks. And approval for issuing treasury bills must come from the European Central Bank, which has said it will no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral for liquidity, increasing the pressure on the country’s banks.
This week promises to be even tougher for Mr. Tsipras. His radical leftist coalition, with 162 lawmakers in the 300-seat Parliament, is expected to secure a confidence vote on Tuesday. But his foreign audience will be harder to win over. A day before Mr. Tsipras faces his European Union peers at a summit meeting on Thursday, Mr. Varoufakis will meet eurozone counterparts in Brussels and is certain to be pressed to seek an extension to Greece’s bailout. The International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, and the European Central Bank’s president, Mario Draghi, will also attend, increasing the pressure.
本周对于齐普拉斯来说将更加难熬。他的激进左翼联盟，在议会的300个席位中占据了162席，预计周二将赢得一场信任表决。不过，更加难以说服的将是外国的听众。齐普拉斯计划在周四的峰会上与欧盟国家的领导人会面，而此前一天，瓦鲁法基斯将在布鲁塞尔与欧元区国家领导人会面，毫无疑问会面临延长希腊救援计划期限的压力。IMF的总裁克里斯蒂娜·拉加德(Christine Lagarde)和欧洲央行行长马里奥·德拉吉(Mario Draghi)也将出席，进一步对希腊施压。
The Greek debt issue is also expected to figure on the Group of 20 finance ministers agenda on Monday and Tuesday amid growing concern about the implications for the global economy.
“We don’t intend to threaten stability in Europe,” Mr. Tsipras told Parliament. “Greece remains a focus of international interest,” he said, but this time “as a protagonist, not as second fiddle.”
“The problem is not just Greek. It never was,” he said. “The crisis is not just Greek; it is European.”
After the speech, the opposition party New Democracy expressed concern about whether the negotiations would be successful “after all that was heard today,” an apparent reference to the government’s insistence on revoking some austerity measures and not seeking a bailout extension.
在演讲之后，反对党新民主党(New Democracy Party)表示，在“今天听到了这些东西之后”，他们对谈判是否能成功颇为担忧。这明显指的是政府坚持取消一些紧缩措施，而且不打算延长救援计划。
Already Athens is being squeezed. After last week’s decision by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds, Standard & Poor’s cut its credit rating on Greece further into junk status, to B-, and warned of a possible default or an exit from the eurozone in “the worst case scenario.” Moody’s followed suit, saying it was placing Greece “on review” for a downgrade.
雅典已然举步维艰。欧洲央行上周对希腊债券做出决定之后，标准普尔(Standard & Poor)将已属垃圾级的希腊信用评级进一步下调至B-，并警告，在“最糟糕的情景下”，希腊可能会违约或退出欧元区；穆迪(Moody’s)也采取了同样的做法，宣布将把希腊放入可能下调评级的负面“观察”名单。
Greece is expected to return to growth this year after a six-year recession that has pushed unemployment above 25 percent and slashed household incomes by a third. Last week, however, the European Commission lowered its growth forecast for Greece to 2.5 percent, from an estimate of 2.9 percent in November.