“Our goal isn’t to blackmail or to terrorize, our goal is to shake them,” Mr. Tsipras said coolly of the foreign lenders whose austerity-for-loans deal he wants upended. “We want to convince them,” he said.
“They need to change the policies in Greece and change the policies in Europe, otherwise Europe will be at very large risk.” In Mr. Tsipras’s view — which neatly dovetails with the rising anti-austerity tide across Europe — Greece’s problem is a European problem that needs a European solution. He insisted that he wants Greece to stay in the euro, just not under the terms of its current bailout.
“The euro zone is a chain with 17 links,” he said, referring to its members. “Greece is one of these links. If one of these links breaks, the link is destroyed, but the chain falls apart, too.”
Mr. Tsipras insisted that it was really the financial markets driving much of the crisis, not him or Greece. “They don’t have any moral scruples, and if they push Greece out, they’ll just move on to the next country,” he said. The next countries in the firing line, he added, happen to be Italy and Spain — both too big to fail.
While other political parties in Greece are now also calling to renegotiate the loan deal, it is Mr. Tsipras, an untested leftist who could well become Greece’s next prime minister in elections on June 17, who has positioned himself in a showdown with Greece’s lenders.
In the interview, he said he would not veer from pledges to repudiate terms of Greece’s bailout that forced wrenching hardship on average Greeks, a stance that may lead Greece’s lenders to withhold further aid and set off a default.