17:41 GMT13 April 2021
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    The Greek government has invited leaders from five Southern EU countries to Athens in an attempt to form a European anti-austerity alliance. Alex Tsipras extended the invitation to Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, and Cyprus.

    Greece has said that the conference will look at the "common" economic, political and institutional levels of the EU and particularly at austerity policy. However, the Greek government have also said that migration will be discussed.

    The conference can be seen as part of a wider effort by the Greek government to bring together Southern European states that have a common anti-austerity agenda.

    Tsipras has already spoken to his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi about setting up an "Alliance of Europe's South" to push for a pro-growth over austerity agenda.

    Sputnik asked the Greek government's head of European Policy, Yiannis Beurnos, to what extent this alliance is a reaction to the way Greece had been treated by the EU bureaucracy.

    "Syriza as a party, long before becoming a governmental party, together with the European left has been insisting on the necessity to promote the idea for a progressive alliance in Europe that would shift the balance of power in order to change austerity policies," Yiannis Beurnos told Sputnik.

    ​"Last year, the Greek government proved to be alone in this fight, but today we are talking about a totally different situation in the EU. There is now a progressive government in Portugal and there is a shift in the attention of the Italian government to a more anti-austerity agenda which promotes growth." 

    The president of Portugal, Antonio Costa, takes a similar view, arguing with Tsipras that EU-austerity policies are "wrong." They took this further by issuing a joint statement that, "austerity policies are keeping economies depressed and societies divided."

    Although the Greek government takes a staunchly anti-austerity position, it argues that this should not be conflated with an anti-EU agenda.

    "We believe in changing the EU from within because we see the EU as the minimum geopolitical entity for a greater social transformation, that's why we support, for example, Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in Labour in favor of remaining with the EU in order to change it with common struggles between all peoples who are willing to contribute to progressive change in Europe,"  Beurnos told Sputnik.

    ​"We need coordinated struggles in multiple levels from social movements to the level of highest institutions in order to change the architecture that more or less has lead to the Greek crisis itself," Beurnos said. 

    The calls for the alliance come at a time when the European left and right stand eyeball-to-eyeball, especially over the influx of refugees from the Middle East and South Asia.

    In September, EU leaders said that they would relocate 160,000 people from Italy and Greece by September 2017. To date, just 3,056 people have been relocated. Although immigrations occupies a contentious ground, EU austerity policies continues to be the issue of the day, and whether or not this new alliance will be able to challenge them remains to be seen.


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    politics, alliance, conference, anti-austerity, European Union, Labour party, Syriza party, Antonio Costa, Jeremy Corbyn, Matteo Renzi, Alexis Tsipras, Brussels, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Europe, Greece
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