Less than two weeks before the elections, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker openly threatened Greek voters saying that “Greece’s new government after the September 20 election must respect the bailout agreement struck with the eurozone, or the EU’s resolve to keep Greece in the single currency bloc could change.”
It is not the first time Juncker or some other EU official blatantly intervene in Greece’s domestic politics before the elections. And while in Greece, there political pre-elections debate is rather free from the usual scaremongering of the last five years, the esteemed European union apparently decided to stir the things a bit.
Jean Claude Juncker made his intervention on Wednesday morning during g a speech in the European Parliament. In Juncker’s speech chapter about Greece, the EC President recalled among others the long way of negotiations :
“I said I want to talk about the big issues today. This is why this State of the Union speech needs to address the situation in Greece, as well as the broader lessons from the fifth year of Greek crisis the impact of which continues to be felt in the Eurozone and in the European economy and society as a whole.
Since the start of the year, the talks on Greece have tested all our patience. A lot of time and a lot of trust was lost. Bridges were burnt. Words were said that cannot easily be taken back.
We saw political posturing, bickering and insults carelessly bandied about.
Too often, we saw people thinking they can impose their views without a wayward thought for another’s point of view.
We saw democracies in the Eurozone being played against each other. The recovery and creation of jobs witnessed last year in Greece vanished during these months.
Collectively, we looked into the abyss.
And it was once more only when we were at the brink that we were able to see the bigger picture and to live up to our responsibilities.” (full speech here)
He stressed that “If we hadn’t said that loudly and clearly [that Grexit was not an option], Grexit could have happened.”And added:
Jean-Claude Juncker via Reuters
“We have agreed on a programme and I would like this programme to be respected by all future Greek governments. This time we all need to realise that we are serious and for real and we require respect of the arrangements and agreements that have been reached.
“If this time rules agreed will not be respected, the reaction of the European Union and the eurozone will be different.”
JC also revealed an interesting detail during the negotiations in July:
“I had the leaders of all the mainstream Greek political groups in my office before the final agreement was concluded. They all promised to support this agreement, and they gave first proof of their commitment when they voted for the new programme and for the first three waves of reforms in the Hellenic Parliament.”
As Juncker was speaking to MEPs and not to non-mainstream journalists, nobody asked the EC president the obvious question:
“According to which criteria do you decide which political party is mainstream or not. The rates in elections or the EU loyalty?”
While Junker was delivering his speech, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) wearing a mask with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s face interrupted Jean-Claude Juncker’s speech.
Italian MEP Gianluca Buonanno rose from his seat, a printed Merkel mask covering his face, approached Juncker and shook his hand.
Buonanno from the far-right Liga North was most apparently not criticizing Juncker of his political intervention to Greek elections, but to Refugees quotas and distribution among the EU members.
During the speech, Juncker called on EU countries to agree by next week to share 160,000 refugees, warning that Greece, Italy and Hungary can no longer cope alone.
“The refugee crisis will not simply go away,” Juncker told EU lawmakers, noting that some 500,000 migrants have entered Europe this year, many from conflict-torn Syria and Libya. “It is high time to act.”
Juncker unveiled a new plan for 22 of the EU’s 28 states to share 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary, on top of a proposal the EU’s executive made in May to share 40,000 refugees from just Greece and Italy. Britain, Ireland and Denmark are not legally bound to take part. Greece, Italy and Hungary of course are not included.