Meimarakis announced his intention to set up a “national team” of negotiators drawn from all the political parties

Speaking at the 80th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Sunday, New Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis signalled his party’s willingness to collaborate with the other political forces after the September 20 elections.

“Clearly I will both be prime minister and clearly I will address other forces if [SYRIZA leader Alexis] Tsipras does not want to,” he told reporters during the party leaders’ customary TIF press conference.

Meimarakis announced his intention to set up a “national team” of negotiators drawn from all the political parties, as well as a “national team” for governance created along the same lines. Predicting that ND will win elections and likely open the next TIF, he nevertheless insisted that SYRIZA should join this ‘national team’ since Tsipras himself signed this memorandum.

He slammed a litany of mistakes made by the SYRIZA-ANEL government during its seven months in power, saying that Tsipras had to reply to criticism made by his erstwhile coalition partner, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, about his decision to appoint Yanis Varoufakis as finance minister.

Meimarakis said that Tsipras found himself in a “strategic vacuum” as a result of the positions adopted by himself and senior SYRIZA cadres. When asked to explain his insistence that Tsipras join a post-election coalition, Meimarakis said the question was why Tsipras refused and whether “he wants to stay outside and start stone-throwing.”

“If Mr. Tsipras wants to participate in the government as vice-president, I will discuss this with my staff,” he added. In the case of cooperation with SYRIZA on a government level, Meimarakis clarified that Tsipras must supply cabinet members that agree with the implementation of a specific programme.

Referring to the programme he unveiled on Saturday, Meimarakis stressed that everything within it was realistic and feasible. He emphasised that his government’s first priority will be to bring investments and create jobs. He also promised to implement the minimum guaranteed income, support the health system, activate NSRF funds and change the laws on ministerial accountability.

“Do we want to go forward or back? With cooperation or arrogance? With truths or lies,” he asked, indicating that these were the real dilemmas in the upcoming elections.