LONDON: Greece’s radical new leaders pushed for support from European governments and investors in their bid to renegotiate a massive 240-billion-euro ($270 billion) bailout on Monday.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Cyprus in his first foreign trip since his Syriza party swept to victory in a momentous January 25 election, while Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis went to London in a flurry of diplomatic efforts.
A casually dressed Varoufakis, wearing an untucked shirt and long leather jacket, met his sharply-suited British counterpart George Osborne for talks in London.
“It’s clear that the standoff between Greece and the euro zone is fast becoming the biggest risk to the global economy,” Osborne said after the talks.
Varoufakis told the Financial Times that he would not ask for Greek debt to be written off, but rather for a series of debt swaps he described as “smart debt engineering”, while cracking down on wealthy tax evaders.
“The only thing we shall not retreat from is our view that the current unenforceable programme needs to be rethought from scratch,” he told the newspaper.
An academic and popular blogger, Varoufakis also held talks with City of London bankers hosted by US giant Merrill Lynch, with a Greek government source saying he wanted to encourage investment and reassure bondholders
The New Greek administration, which has hired investment bank Lazard to advise it on how to manage its debt, was boosted by comments from US President Barack Obama on Sunday, who warned against “squeezing” Greece.
The new Prime Minister Tsipras has vowed to find a debt agreement for “all the peoples of Europe” ahead of meetings in Italy on Tuesday and on Wednesday in Brussels with European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker.