Syriza was called upon to handle "very difficult and big issues and achieved its main purpose: to lead the country out of the memoranda," Prime Minister and party leader Alexis Tsipras said at an interview on Skai TV on Tuesday evening, speaking of his party's defeat at the recent European elections.
But, he admitted, a "big portion of Greeks expected to see this achieved sooner and less painfully."
Referring to Syriza's 2015 electoral win and the compromise with the country's lenders, Tsipras said the government of Antonis Samaras left the country with unemployment at 28 pct and no funds. "I told the Greek people the truth, that I would go clash (with the country's creditors)," Tsipras said, and Greeks voted for him "in full awareness of the situation."
The goverment "negotiated hard until the very end," added Tsipras, responding to persistent questions about his 2015 compromise, "and what we signed was, in all aspects, a better policy than the one (then German FinMin) Wolfgang Schaeuble wanted to impose on Greece."
When asked about what the six-month negotiations cost Greece, Tsipras said that in 2008 Greece's GDP stood at 238 billion euros and in 2014 at 178 billion euros, "yet today it stands at 186 billion euros," although he said that deciding to stay in the eurozone had cost him politically.
On taxation, the premier said that "83 pct of taxes were imposed under the first and second loan memoranda" signed by his predecessor, "when the Greek statistical service's data showed the middle class lost 5,300 euros annually in income from 2010 to 2015, while from 2015 to the end of 2017, there has been an annual return of 680 euros to the average income."
"Greece in 2015 was on the verge of a humanitarian crisis," he said and added that the International Monetary Fund - one of Greece's creditors - "wanted Greece to implement a model of impoverishment, which we averted."
Tsipras was also asked to comment on the new Penal Code, which could lead to the release of convicted terrorists of the November 17 group. He referred to two of its members, each convicted to multiple life sentences, saying, "There's a false idea being perpetuated that we want to release Alexandros Giotopoulos or Dimitris Koufodinas. The Penal Code was not drafted at (the government's offices at) Maximos Mansion or at Syriza's offices, it was drafted by a law-making committee of reputable lawyers.
Criticizing the journalists asking him, he said, "You raise the issue a few days before the election, confirming my view that your criticism is both unfair and intentional."
The prime minister asserted Greece's progress in the four years of his party's term in office and said "today we have positive growth rates, businesses are not closing down, we have 6.3 billion euros in direct foreign investment," while companies are reopening and tourism growth has new hotels opening everywhere.
Wrapping up, Tsipras said he is "prepared for the fight to win" Sunday's general elections, and warned opponents not to preclude the outcome. "The Greek people have not yet made their final decision," he said, adding that he doesn't live up in the clouds, he knows what's going on in people's lives.