Greece plans alliance of southern EU states, Malta included

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras plans an alliance of southern EU countries to counter austerity-focused agenda of northern member states 

Greek Prime minister Alexis Tsipras speaking in Athens | Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greek Prime minister Alexis Tsipras speaking in Athens | Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has invited the leaders of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta to a conference aimed at forging an alliance of southern EU countries.

The Athens News Agency reported that the conference is set to be held in Athens on 9 September and is intended to form an alliance to counter the austerity-driven agenda of the EU’s northern member states.

Kathimerini quoted sources close to Tsipras as saying that the time has come to create a strong southern “axis” to act as a counter-balance to the influence of northern European countries.

The Greek paper reported that the government is trying to find European supporters of debt restructuring and lower deficit targets set by creditors. Tsipras also wants southern EU countries to form a united front on migration, amid fears that Greece could see a sharp influx of asylum seekers should a shaky deal between the EU and Turkey collapse.

Tsipras is set to hold preliminary talks about the prospects of such an alliance at a meeting of European Socialists heads of states, scheduled in Paris on 25 August, particularly with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande.

Tsipras and Renzi had agreed at their last meeting on June 28 on the need for southern states to create their own growth-focused agenda, in contrast to the austerity policies prescribed by northern countries.

Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party had first mooted the idea of a united front of southern European countries prior to the January 2015 elections that brought it to power. Back then, Tsipras wrongly believed that southern European countries would show solidarity with Syriza’s anti-austerity rhetoric and that they would stand by Greece in its negotiations with international creditors.  

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