On fringes of G7 summit, European commission president says Greek PM failed to deliver promised proposals and lied to his own parliament about negotiations
European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has made a blistering attack on Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, accusing him of undermining negotiations over new terms for a bailout and of effectively lying to the Greek parliament.
A visibly angry Juncker, speaking on the fringes of the G7 summit in Bavaria, said he had told Tsipras during a meeting on Wednesday evening that there was “room to negotiate” but insisted the Greeks had been unwilling to take part in in-depth discussions. Instead, Tsipras had promised to send him his proposals the following day, but Juncker was still waiting for them on Sunday.
“Alexis Tsipras promised that by Thursday evening he would present a second proposal. Then he said he would present it on Friday. And then he said he would call on Saturday. But I have never received that proposal, so I hope I will receive it soon. I would like to have that Greek proposal,” he said.
He told reporters he had said to Tsipras that he continued to exclude the idea of a Grexit – “because I don’t want to see it” – but he had told the Greek prime minister he could not “pull a rabbit out of a hat”.
Athens has been trying to secure an agreement from Europe and the International Monetary Fund for months over access to more than €7bn (£5m) in bailout funds. Greece’s creditors have put strict conditions on any deal, that the Greek government has so far refused to accept. But with Greece running out of money, and needing to secure funds by the end of June if it is to avoid defaulting on its debts, tensions are high.
Juncker, perceived until now as the “honest broker” in the crisis – taking a softer approach than the Germans, who are viewed in Greece as the architects of austerity – has rarely been seen so irate, sources close to the EU in Garmisch-Partenkirchen said. They said Greece may have lost its closest ally in its long fight to secure a better deal.
Juncker said he had been disappointed by the speech Tsipras had subsequently given to the Athens parliament on Friday. “He was presenting the offer of the three institutions as a leave-or-take offer. That was not the case … He knows perfectly well that is not the case”.
Juncker said Tsipras had also failed to mention to parliament Juncker’s willingness to negotiate over Greek pensions.
He added: “I do not have a personal problem with Alexis Tsipras. He was my friend. He is my friend … But frankly, in order to maintain [the friendship], he has to observe some minimum rules.”
Mr Junker has some experience with lies…..
Mr Junker, has repeatedly denied he has a drink problem, and insists he knew nothing about Luxemburg turning into an EU tax haven for multinational corporations dodging national taxes during his 18 years in office, or the spying scandal that drove him from office.
Mr Juncker was head of the Eurogroup during the eurozone bailouts and was accused on several occasions of being less than frank about what was doing on. For example, he denied European finance ministers were holding a meeting to discuss Greece’s membership of the euro, despite organising the gathering, and once memorably said: “When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”