‘Humanitarian crisis’ brought on by austerity must be eased, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras warns eurozone

Greece’s new Prime Minister sent a defiant message to his country’s eurozone creditors tonight, ahead of a crucial week of meetings with the rest of the single currency bloc.

Alexis Tsipras told parliament in Athens that his coalition’s priority was to ease the country’s “humanitarian crisis” resulting from four years of austerity policies demanded by the eurozone. “It is our duty and commitment to fulfil all our pre-election pledges” he said.

However, he also signalled that some anti-austerity measures would be phased in over four years, in what could be interpreted as a signal to other European governments that his administration will not reverse all of the economic reforms implemented in recent years.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss Greece’s demands for an overhaul of the terms of its bailout. A full meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, attended by Mr Tsipras, is due on Thursday.

Greece’s existing bailout agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund is due to end on 28 February. Mr Tsipras repeated yesterday that he did not want it to be extended, or to receive the final €7bn payment. Instead, Greece is proposing a “bridging loan” to enable the country to meet its liabilities while a new settlement can be brokered that would reduce its huge external debt.

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