European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the next Greek government must respect the terms of the country’s third international rescue or revive the risk of an exit from the euro area.
Juncker weighed into the political campaign in Greece before its Sept. 20 general elections that were prompted by the resignation of Alexis Tsipras as prime minister after his Syriza party split over the fiscal-austerity conditions tied to the 86 billion-euro ($96 billion) bailout.
“I would like this program to be respected by all Greek governments,” Juncker told the European Parliament on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France. “This time we all need to realize that we are serious and for real.”
Opinion polls in Greece point to a vote that is too close to call as Syriza, an acronym for Coalition of the Radical Left, is virtually tied with the main opposition New Democracy party. No party is projected to gain enough support for an outright parliamentary majority, signaling coalition talks will be needed.
Tsipras stepped down seven months into the premier’s job on Aug. 20 after relying on opposition votes to gain parliamentary backing for the latest rescue of Greece, whose first two bailouts involved a total of 240 billion euros in pledges from the euro area and the International Monetary Fund. His resignation was an attempt to recoup a majority with snap elections after deadlocked aid negotiations with creditors led to the introduction of capital controls and the closure of banks in Greece, disarray within Syriza where dissidents formed a splinter group, and the prospect of a Greek exit from the European single currency -- a scenario dubbed Grexit.
“Grexit was a possibility, but it was not an option which we were going to mention publicly,” Juncker, who heads the European Union’s executive arm, said on Wednesday. “We did what we had to do.”