Venizelos warns voters about risk of euro exit

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos warned Greek voters on Wednesday that they should not take the country’s eurozone membership for granted and should avoid voting for parties that might put Greece’s future at risk.

Speaking during a live televised news conference that all party leaders are granted, Venizelos warned that some parties were creating a front that could lead Greece back to the drachma. “This works in favor of corruption and all those who took their money out of the country and are waiting to buy up everything if we return to the drachma,” he said.

Venizelos went on to say that it was a “lie” to suggest that Greece could simply reject the terms of its bailout after the May 6 elections without suffering any consequences. He said it was also a “lie” to suggest there was no danger of Greece being forced out of the eurozone. The PASOK leader referred for the first time to the possibility of an internal bankruptcy, saying that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund could choose to provide Greece with money only to cover the servicing of its loans and forcing it to pay its public expenditure costs.

He also hit out at Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), who referred to Venizelos and New Democracy president Antonis Samaras as “political conmen.” Tsipras said Venizelos’s claims that Greece would exit the confines of the EU-IMF memorandum by 2015 could not stand up given that it was based on a plan to make the Greek debt sustainable by 2030.

Venizelos also had a couple of uncomfortable developments within PASOK to deal with yesterday. In an interview with Time magazine, former Prime Minister George Papandreou claimed that the crisis and the EU-IMF bailouts had led to Greece becoming a “lab rat.” This caused some concern in the Venizelos camp, given that he has spent the last few weeks trying to defend PASOK’s decision to agree to the two bailouts.

The PASOK leader also came under attack from former minister Yiannis Ragousis for apologizing to voters for the difficulties they have faced since the crisis began. Ragousis said that PASOK took a decision to keep the “country standing” and should have no regrets. “Those who should be apologizing are the ones who governed Greece until 2009,” he said. 

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