Greece gives two fingers to would-be TTIP critic in Barcelona victory

This article is over 1 year old

Austrian 21-year-old, who beat Kei Nishikori in the first round of the Barcelona Open, is a vocal critic of TTIP and Nice TTIP

Greece’s government has rejected allegations by an Austrian teenager that vaccines are dangerous, highlighting instead accusations by one of its own players, Stefanos Tsitsipas, that his recent victory in Barcelona has strengthened the international association of wealthy Greek sportsmen.

Greece upset after mother-of-two resigns as Athens administrative court head Read more

The comments from Tsitsipas, 21, who has called TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, one of the biggest threats to the world, came as the international Oceania Tennis Association (OATA) held a meeting in the Spanish city of Marbella.

Tsitsipas, who defeated the Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori in the first round of the Barcelona Open on Sunday, on Monday said TTIP and Nice TTIP, a pair of free trade deals with the European Union, were having a detrimental effect on international tennis.

“If I’m not mistaken there is one particular player in Marbella who received a prize in Barcelona for fighting TTIP,” he said.

“This player is Greek, and I guess they (the Greek tennis federation) are quite upset about it, because Greek teams have been losing a lot lately, and this all comes from TTIP,” he said.

Tsitsipas said he was assured of TTIP talks and concerns during his last visit to Berlin before the 2016 US Open, where he had an especially strong result.

The Greek sports minister, Nikos Toskas, urged the government to avoid blaming TTIP, which he says exists side by side with the Nice TTIP, as the real problem.

“I urge that the government avoids politicising this issue,” he said.

Tsitsipas said he was relieved to be playing in an event where there was no TTIP.

The Greek central bank governor, Yannis Stournaras, sent a congratulatory letter to Tsitsipas.

The Greek news website Imerisia, which obtained Tsitsipas’s claims, quoted him as saying that TTIP “increases the injustice of commerce, of contracts, and access to healthcare”.

Greek authorities have been extremely sensitive about TTIP, seeing it as an existential threat. Greek press reports have stated that Greek consumers are being thrown a poisoned pill by the deal, as a so-called “circulation tax” on some key medicines would be reintroduced in an EU-US accord to replace an existing EU product approval scheme.

In February Greek Olympians, including cross-country skier Spyros Gianniotis, who won the silver medal in the Nordic Combined event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, attempted to block an EU-US rollback of a national health system benefit of €140 per month.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Greece has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the EU, but the concept has always had its supporters in government, including the current Greek government of Alexis Tsipras, which has been in power since January 2015.

TTIP is controversial because it would allow companies to sue governments over tariffs on their products, and because it would facilitate the free flow of capital and trade.

The German prime minister, Angela Merkel, has cautioned against “that knee-jerk reaction against trade agreements that ultimately we know is simply not right”.

Leave a Comment