Spiegel Interviews Tsipras: "If Greece Is Destroyed, It Would Be Merkel's Fault"

Tyler Durden's picture

The person who has caused global stock markets so much consternation by daring to play chicken with Germany until the bitter end conducts a  no holds barred interview with Germany's Spiegel. There is little love lost between the Syriza leader and the Germans, who were quite surprised to find a political leader who is willing to play blink with Germany, with the ECB, and the developed world until the very end, or June 17, whichever comes sooner. Tsipras' bottom line: "We're trying to convince our European partners that it's also in their interest to finally lift the austerity diktat." Alas, the European "partners", as evidenced by Lagarde's Guardian interview this weekend, have an image of Greece as a bunch of lazy tax evaders, who only seek to mooch on the German teat, resulting in 60% of Germans now pushing for Greece to be kicked out of the Euro, consequences be damned. Nothing new there. What is curious is Tsipras' answer to the question everyone wants to ask: "If Greece ultimately exits the euro, you will also bear some of the blame. You promised your voters the impossible: retaining the euro while breaking Greece's agreements with the rest of Europe. How can such a plan find success?" His response: " I don't see any contradiction in that. We simply don't want the money of European citizens to vanish into a bottomless pit...we think these resources should also be put to sensible use: for investments that can also generate prosperity. Only then will we in fact be able to pay back our debts." Presumably this means that Greece infrastructure projects will not be commanded from the same location in the Athens ministry of finance which houses the now legendary following data room.

Yet the line that will draw the most ire out of the already exhausted German taxpaying public is the following:

"if our economic foundation is completely destroyed and the decisions of an elected Greek government are not responsible for it but, rather, certain political forces in Europe. Then they too will be guilty, for example Angela Merkel."

Well, in the US, it is all Bush's fault; in Greece, it appears to be Merkel.

Anyway, here is the full Spiegel interview, full of so much confusion, chaos, contradictions on all sides, that we urge a Blood alcohol level of at least 0.1 before commencing reading.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Tsipras, is Berlin really as bad as you always say back home in Athens whenever you rail against theevil Germans?

Alexis Tsipras: Berlin is my favorite capital city in Europe. It's too bad that I'm always here only briefly. I'd like to have more time.

SPIEGEL: You might be Greece's prime minister the next time you come to Berlin. If that happens, will Greece still be a member of the euro zone?

Tsipras: Of course. We'll do everything we can so that Greece can retain the euro. We're trying to convince our European partners that it's also in their interest to finally lift the austerity diktat. We need policies that don't destroy the Greek economy but, rather, allow for renewed growth. If the austerity course isn't changed, it will result in the complete destruction of the Greek economy. That would indeed be a danger to the euro.

SPIEGEL: But even some parts of Syriza, the leftist alliance you lead and which came in second place in the May 6 election, have been calling openly for a return to the drachma.

Tsipras: That's only a minority. In each party, no matter whether big or small, there are different orientations, different opinions. Then there will be a vote, and the majority decides. What's more, this minority among us isn't in favor of an exit from the euro, for example; it just wants to ensure that Greece can also survive, with the help of another currency, for example, if others have completely ruined our national economy.

SPIEGEL: Which "others" do you mean? The Greek economy is already in a shambles.

Tsipras: What I mean by that is if our economic foundation is completely destroyed and the decisions of an elected Greek government are not responsible for it but, rather, certain political forces in Europe. Then they too will be guilty, for example Angela Merkel.

SPIEGEL: Are you seriously claiming that the reforms which Europe is demanding as a precondition for loan assistance are the reason for Greece's miserable situation?

Tsipras: If we are once again pushed and blackmailed into an austerity program that has so obviously failed, then it won't be long before Greece is in fact no longer capable of paying its creditors. The result will be a halt in payments, one into which we were practically forced. This would not only be dangerous for Greece, but for the entire European economy. These days, the financial systems of all countries are so closely intertwined with each other that one can't limit the crisis geographically. It's a problem of all countries and of all national economies.

SPIEGEL: If Greece ultimately exits the euro, you will also bear some of the blame. You promised your voters the impossible: retaining the euro while breaking Greece's agreements with the rest of Europe. How can such a plan find success?

Tsipras: I don't see any contradiction in that. We simply don't want the money of European citizens to vanish into a bottomless pit. The fact that there is financial assistance is the principle of European solidarity and a mark of being part of a community. That's good. But we think these resources should also be put to sensible use: for investments that can also generate prosperity. Only then will we in fact be able to pay back our debts.

SPIEGEL: For you, other people are always the scapegoat. It's other people's fault that the economy is languishing, so other people also have to rescue it …

Tsipras: That's not correct; we naturally also take a critical look at ourselves. We bear significant responsibility for our situation. We've accepted politicians who have destroyed our country's manufacturing base and created a corrupt state. We have elected the very people who have stashed their money away abroad and not only allowed tax evasion to occur, but also fostered it. Of course we are responsible for that; we allowed it all to happen. But we also have the responsibility to change exactly that right now.

SPIEGEL: Given your dependence on financial support and your rejection of vital structural reforms -- such as that of the public administration -- already agreed on, how do you propose doing so?

Tsipras: We're not opposed to reforms. We're only saying what so many economists, what many German newspapers and what even former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt are saying -- and what the OECD has now reconfirmed in a study: The austerity policies we've been implementing for two years -- the policy of solely relying on drastic belt-tightening -- have failed. We now find ourselves in the fifth year of the recession. This year too, our economy will once again contract by at least 6 percent.

SPIEGEL: Is that the complete truth? Even Alekos Alavanos, your old mentor and the former Syriza floor leader in parliament, has called on you to finally be honest with your fellow Greeks.

Tsipras: Alavanos left the party some years ago because he didn't share our conviction about remaining within the euro zone. It's fairly odd that I now have to justify myself for the fact that we -- like the vast majority of the population, incidentally -- want to stay within the euro association.

The political reality is simple: The austerity programs, as constructed thus far, have failed, partly because they've been based on a false model, namely, that of domestic devaluation. But we're not an exporting country. It is much more the case that most of what we produce, we consume. Our ability to compete doesn't only depend on labor costs, as so many people say; they also depend on other parameters, such as the infrastructure and the mind-set of people and politicians. We really do long for a bit more meritocracy …

SPIEGEL: The concept of merit-based remuneration hasn't made it all that far in Greece. Instead, there's widespread corruption, cronyism and clientelism -- not exactly an advantage when it comes to competitiveness.

Tsipras: I am aware of the problems the Greek state has. It was systematically run down by the politicians of ours who were in power. And many Greeks share in the blame: They've supported this system; they've sustained it by continually electing the same politicians. But this can't be the cause of the crisis but, rather, at most it is a symptom. The financial and debt crisis isn't purely a Greek problem -- otherwise, there wouldn't be high government deficits in other countries, as well, such as in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. So there must be other causes. That's why we have to analyze the structure of the community, its architecture. Also that of our common currency, the euro.

SPIEGEL: Do you see in François Hollande, France's newly elected Socialist president, a new ally in the battle against the austerity diktat coming out of Germany?

Tsipras: Hollande is clearly a great white hope for us. Now, ideas and arguments that haven't been listened to will once again be heard and discussed, such as a stronger role for the European Central Bank or the introduction of euro bonds. We can't just treat symptoms, or we really will stumble over Greece. That doesn't help anyone. If our country exits the euro zone, all of Europe is in danger. We mustn't fool ourselves about that.

SPIEGEL: The most recent talks in Athens aimed at forming a government failed because you refused to join in any coalition. At the moment, opinion polls indicate that your Syriza alliance is running neck and neck with the conservative Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy) party. Who would you like to partner with after the new elections on June 17?

Tsipras: We would, of course, like to have a left-wing coalition. And we'll do everything we can to make things add up in our favor this time.

Interview conducted by Julia Amalia Heyer and Manfred Ertel

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Manthong's picture

Is this Tsipras guy related to Krugman?

Ahmeexnal's picture

Only a matter of days until Merkel's charred remains are found near the entrance to her bunker.

Colombian Gringo's picture

Yes, covered in Tziki sauce.....

Matt's picture

Everyone knows that living within your means is a failure and is punitive. Everyone should be allowed to borrow as much as they want, and pay back their debts with more debts. No one should ever have to pay over 3 percent interest. Greedy savers should be happy to get a 1 percent real return on their money, after the targeted 2 percent inflation rate. 

Goldilocks's picture

Courtesy of  Cathartes Aura,


The Story of Your Enslavement (13:10)

wisefool's picture

Stefan is brilliant. my favorite quote of his is "what ever the question, freedom is the answer!"

He_Who Carried The Sun's picture

God, for how long must I listen

to these lunatics, read their BS

and deal with its fallout in the markets?

Please, have mercy...

prains's picture

it's hard to floss your teeth with nipples that big but worth a try

Arnold Ziffel's picture

Do mean the 0.001% "High Yield" Savings account?


AnAnonymous's picture

Everyone knows that living within your means is a failure and is punitive.


Debt free expansion schemes exist. They bring the same fatality as usual.

Putting the emphasis on debt is misleading.

tobus's picture

I just love the way that in those pictures, the shopping carts with all the "data" in them still have their chains attached and were clearly stolen by an enterprising bureaucrat from some poor unknowing supermarket.

Paul Bogdanich's picture

Merkel is the highest ranking EU political figure that is insisting that any rationalization of the debts of the debtor countries be centered around bank bailouts and in that regard she does bear responsibility.  All these politicians and bankers are enforcing a regime where only the debtor suffers and the lenders who loaned them the money for eons after it was clear the debtors could never repay should be held harmless and repaid in full.  That is wrong and that is the fundamental source of the tension.      

noses's picture

In other words: You're trying to tell us that there is no difference between a credit and a donation. Care to explain that to the people who lent^H^H^H^Hdonated money to my just cause of buying a box of chocolate?

Lebensphilosoph's picture

Obviously you missed the Greek defaul... I mean haircuts.

bank guy in Brussels's picture

Does not seem like 'madness' when Tsipras says:

« ... We've accepted politicians who have destroyed our country's manufacturing base and created a corrupt state. ... »

Seems like a number of Western countries could use politicians who speak that honestly and critically.

Harlequin001's picture

yes but what does he then follow it with?

Honesty and critique? I don't think so. How can you claim that and then blame it all on the Germans.

The man's just another lying cheating arsehole of a politician.

Nobody is going to accept any blame for this, it is the reason why we'll go to war...

Cult_of_Reason's picture

Re: "Is this Tsipras guy related to Krugman?"

Similar thought about Krugman crossed my mind when I was reading the interview.

Tsipras definitely exhibits very similar to Krugman -- self-contradictory, detached from reality wishful thinking, unrealistically childish -- Marxist communism thinking pattern.

Ghordius's picture

ufff, I'm not trying to pick on you, but where exactly is Tsipras self-contradictory?

He represents state and private "small workers" - as a group, they have political preferences. it's called the political left.

ideology apart, for them austerity translates with "getting most of the shaft". in multiparty systems, it's quite common.

Zero Govt's picture

Tsipras thinks it's Merkals fault

Christine Lagarde thinks it's Greek taxpayers fault ...Greek taxpayers think the batty French bitch should take a long walk off a short pier

Count Draghi thinks he's not printing enough ..the village idiots at Davos think so too

the Norwegian Wealth fund has legged it for the hills and the British are hiding in the long grass quivering while the Bank of Englands Mervyn 'retard' King is completely fucking clueless what to do next

...and the Germans think it's a fiscal debt-spending orgy problem nation by nation 

with all the spoilt brats of the public sector throwing their dummies out the pram in every direction it's nice to agree with someone (ie. the Germans) as i was losing all hope for a sound/sane political response 

Ghordius's picture

well, Tsipras is in a campaign, he just had nice talks with sympathizers in the German Bundestag and it looks good for him to bash Merkel.

the IMF is behaving (not defending, just stating my opinion) in the same manner since inception, though this is the first time a first world country is under it's thumb. the IMF is still the most colonialist institution of the world.

Draghi is holding well, up to now. I have no issue with him up to now (except his squiddy origin I don't hold against him). talk is cheap, thoughts too. and Davos is there for ego-strokes, mostly...

the Germans are Germans. of course they prefer principles to expediencies, otherwise you might not be able to tell them apart from the Brits. for the long run, the Germans are right. in the short run... let it be Merkel's fault. and perhaps some face-saving gestures, soon.


Zero Govt's picture

so political expediency (posturing to 'look good' in front of voters) even though the policies are crap and the politicians you're dissing are actually on the right track is ok?

here we scratch the surface of why politics is a vacuum and no way to run anything in either society or the economy

Ghordius's picture

what am I doing here defending a leftist Greek? scratch, scratch...

ok, you might have a wonderful American Hire&Fire mentality, but the european left doesn't. where you see an apple-tree growing, they see only an apple-pie to be shared.

again, he represents workers who don't want to bear the full cost of the restructuring of the Greek economic and financial situation.

to say it in the worst, stupidest way: in multi-party europe, we have less lobbying and much more political partying, so mentally, just imagine him as a general lobbyist for worker's interests.

or, better, what they want to say is: yes, austerity, but please not all of it at the same time

Missiondweller's picture

You are 100% correct.


But that is also why they fail to reform.

Ghordius's picture

I thought the same about the whole political left of europe until this union-boss and socialist Schroeder became Germany's Bundeskanzler and implemented the Agenda 2010 - a huge generational restructuration of the labour market that is one of the real reasons why Germany's head is above the water at the moment.

Anyway, the news here is that he is not talking the way some opinion makers are squawking about since a while.

Harlequin001's picture

How can failure be anyone else's fault for refusing to lend you more money, and especially when you didn't pay the last lot back?

'Ok so our political leaders were corrupt but you should still lend us more money or it will all be your fault.

Which bit of 'Fuck right off' don't they understand?

Marco's picture

Mervyn King knows exactly what he has to do ... keep soft defaulting and stoking price inflation (aka income deflation aka austerity). He's just running out of excuses to pretend it's something else.

Harlequin001's picture

He could apologise again, I'm sure that would help...

Lebensphilosoph's picture

Greek taxpayers? All five of them?

Harlequin001's picture

Three now, apparently a small minority have become Turks...

By all accounts it's cheaper.

ElvisDog's picture

I'm not a leftist by any means, but Tsipras appears to me to be the most thoughtful and well-spoken European leader I've heard in a long time. And he seems to be the only one who is at least trying to deal with reality.

Harlequin001's picture

What, by denying it?

The reason Greece is in a mess is down to Greece. They joined the euro, they elected their corrupt leaders and they gorged themselves on the nations assets.

It's a bit much to try and now blame this inevitable failure on the Germans...

and I say inevitable because it is not the corruption that is the cause, but the fractional reserve fiat money system which will bring this problem to all nations. The corruption just brings the problem home sooner than it otherwise would.

AnAnonymous's picture

self-contradictory, detached from reality wishful thinking, unrealistically childish -- Marxist communism thinking pattern.


No. US citizen thinking pattern.

No matter who comes after US citizenism, they are just copy cats and will never match the master.

See for example US of A, mecca of US citizenism.

Started as slaver when declaring freedom unalienable right to human being.

Started large wealth transfer program based on land grabbing due to generous Indian sponsoring, so mesmerized by 'American' project.

Started the US land ponzi backing their future on the idea there would always be more Indian lands to be transfered even though the US superficy was measured way before the shortage happened.

Kicked the can all down the way as a kid.

Ended in maturing in the GD, several wars, including two WWs, spread of communism to Russia and SE Asia etc

Self contradictory, detached from reality, wishful thinking, unrealistic childish.

And it is just limiting to start events. Along the way, along the short history of US, one can find the very same pattern of thinking.

Due to chronology, one must attribute the behaviour to the original source. And that is US citizen.

Obviously, in a manner of avoiding realization, US citizens will kick the can on human nature. But it is not.

US citizenism.

StychoKiller's picture

Tsipras:  "I wouldn't drink so much if you'd quit pissing me off every day!"  Sorry, but these alki's are gonna have to learn to brew their own hooch, and get their bank accounts seized!

Nothing is gonna change until Greece hits rock-bottom.

lolmao500's picture

If Greece is destroyed, it's the fault of many people :

- Goldman Sachs (for cooking the books)

- The politicians in Greece (for allowing Goldman Sachs/hire them to do so and go along with it, not to mention joining the euro-EU tyranny)

- The army in Greece (for not overthrowing these traitors)

- The people of Greece (for going along with this crap and still liking the EU/Euro)

- Merkel and Junker (for being totalitarian assholes)

THX 1178's picture

Most people tend to focus on one or two of these... and thus expose their bias.

narapoiddyslexia's picture

"You look at the financial crisis in Europe, and the fingerprints of American investment bankers are everywhere. The financial collapse encouraged the worst sort of behavior. At the same time they were making bad loans in the United States, they were encouraging the same sort of behavior at the government level in Europe. The basic problem was, historically the role of the financier was to vet risk and make sure risk was evaluated. That got perverted in recent times, and instead the financier helped disguise risk."

Quote from Michael Lewis at this link.


MS7's picture

True. But, for me at least, the point of focusing on the forces at the top who do not have Greece's interests at heart, such as Merkel and the IMF, is to say-- Hey, people in Greece, get angry at the right targets. The Greek people are responsible for electing politicians who were no good. But then they get mad at them, and might come up with conspiracy theories, such as that Papandreou was working for the US to destroy the euro, and forget about the Europeans who are pulling the strings. This is just a guess on my part, as an observer outside Greece.

GernB's picture

How about the Greek people for thinking that voting themselves other peoples money would lead to prosperity.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Are you saying socialism does not work?

Lemme work at the Genius Bar at an Apple Store.

Joe The Plumber's picture

Socialism is the greatest system ever invented. Too bad it stops working once they run out of other peoPles money

the tower's picture

In a fiat system all money is other people's money, it's the banks' money.

Thatcher was smart, She knew very well how to play the socialists to spend all her buddies' central banks money. After all, that's how you create wealth for a few...

malek's picture

Your first line was smart, your second one not so much...

the tower's picture

Not trying to be smart, trying to keep it real.


OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Yeah all those crappy socialist countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Finland, all kicking the capitalist countries asses in quality of life, standard of living, health care, retirement, education, productivity per capita...can I stop now?

Modern McCarthyism. Oohh, BAD Socialism! Good 'Merka! Bomb those darkies! Let's have some more war! Kill the poor!

F-ing idiots.

Joe The Plumber's picture

You must be mistaking the antisocialist ZH section for socialism's evil central planning cousins, mcarthyism, crony capitalism, and neocon empire building.

Libertarians have no love for those either

AnAnonymous's picture

Crony capitalists are socialists?

Well, hopefully, the day is saved when one realizes that what matter is to know whether they are US citizen or not.

Because djeee, with the classification as performed by US citizens, you consume a lot and a lot but hey, without ever getting a grasp on reality other than consuming and consuming more and even more.

Poor Grogman's picture

Socialist countries function edit-(ONLY ) to the extent that they allow private enterprise, and private wealth accumulation to continue within the system.

Once those two engines stop working, the whole machine just grinds to a halt.

Socialism on this scale would not be possible without fiat currency and debts that "never have to be paid"

Without those to cunning devices of slavery the whole machine just grinds to a halt.


Should I go on.????

ElvisDog's picture

You don't spend much time in Canada, do you? It exists in a permanent state of low-level depression (economic and psychological). The Canadian system is only kept afloat by high oil prices and an influx of hot money from Chinese oligarchs looking to buy some escape property in case they have to bug out of China.