As Mick has noted, at the weekend the under-pressure new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took undiplomatic aim at the governments of Spain and Portugal [But not Ireland! – Ed] in an attempt to explain the outcome of European negotiations to his Syriza
The European Commission has been quick to step in to act as a “mediator” after receiving complaints from the Spanish and Portuguese authorities, but not before those governments had responded in kind.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hit back at Mr Tsipras on Sunday, saying his country was not responsible for the “frustration generated by the radical Greek left that promised the Greeks something it couldn’t deliver on”.
Meanwhile Portugal’s Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, said on Monday his government was “a bit perplexed” by Mr Tsipras’s statements, adding that it was “natural” to demand that Greece should demonstrate its willingness to honour existing agreements.
Analysts described Friday’s bailout agreement as a climbdown for the Greek government, which rose to power on promises to have half of the country’s debt rewritten off.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has defended it, but some on the hard left have accused Syriza of going back on pre-election pledges.
And it looks as if the Spanish Government aren’t prepared to let it lie
Spain’s economy minister is happily wading in on the Greek debate again today after getting in to a bit of hot water earlier in the week.
Luis de Guindos is sticking to his guns, repeating his comment that Greece will need a third rescue in the region of €30-50bn.
De Guindos told a conference in Barcelona that Europe would use the four-month bailout extension secured by Greece to assess what progress has been made, and what the next move should be.
“We have given ourselves these four months to one, see what the real situation is, to see how Greece has met conditions and to try and establish what happens next … which is fundamentally a third rescue.”
That’s despite the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras having previously played down the prospect of a third bailout for Greece.
…in a televised speech to his cabinet [27 Feb], Mr Tsipras said Greece’s bailout agreements were “over both in form and in essence”.
“Some people are betting on a third bailout in July… but we will disappoint them,” he said.
It’s caused some renewed questions from the press
German chancellor Angela Merkel and EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker have been forced to bat away suggestions of another rescue at a press conference in Brussels.
I think we now have all our hands full to make this [second Greek bailout] succeed.
We are going to focus on implementing what was agreed in the eurogroup. It is premature to talk about a third programme. That is speculation that is best avoided.
[Time for some mediation, then? – Ed] Well… As the Guardian correspondent Helena Smith notes at the live-blog, the President of the European Commission has already spoken…
There are some long faces among officials in Syriza after EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Greece’s new prime minister should tell voters he will never be able to fulfil the promises he has made to them.
Juncker appears increasingly to be taking the carrot and stick approach to Greece. When he met the young Alexis Tsipras in Brussels last month, he took the new leader by the hand welcoming him profusively to the European family. But in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais today he took an altogether new line, speaking bluntly about the need for Tsipras to come clean with Greeks over his inability to stick with the anti-austerity programme he had pledged to them.
“He must explain that some of the promises upon which he was elected will not be honoured,” Juncker told the paper. “The elections don’t change the EU treaties. We could be more flexible, but Tsipras’ victory doesn’t give him the right to change everything.”
Syriza isn’t commenting on it – officially, yet – but insiders are clearly upset. Juncker, a self-declared philhellene who has frequently said Greece will never leave the eurozone under his stewardship, is widely seen as Athens’ greatest ally. “We are learning to take the criticism on the chin but it still hurts,” said one. [added emphasis]