April 4, 2019 / 3:42 PM / 3 months ago

Brexit? It's all Greek to me, says PM Tsipras in Athens

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends joint statements with his Danish counterpart Lars Loekke Rasmussen after their meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, April 4, 2019.REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s prime minister said on Thursday he was struggling to understand Britain’s Brexit machinations and was surprised its political system could not find a way out of the crisis.

Alexis Tsipras - who led Greece when it almost crashed out of the euro zone at the height of its financial travails in 2015 - said he had discussed Britain’s divorce from the European Union with his visiting Danish counterpart.

“Of course, Brexit could not be missing from our discussion. I tried to make the Danish PM wiser and he tried to make me wiser on what’s going on. I am not sure we managed to have the full picture,” Tsipras told reporters.

“The truth is we are a little bit, err... how should I put it, we feel a bit surprised at the inability of the British political systems to reach a common position.”

Nearly three years since the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting 52 percent to 48 in a referendum to leave the bloc, it is still unclear how, when or even whether it will set out on its own.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told journalists at the same event that Britain’s politicians needed to work together to find a solution. “We must pay the necessary attention to avoid a so-called hard Brexit,” he added, referring to Britain leaving without a deal.

Greece held a referendum of its own in July 2015 that overwhelmingly rejected the terms of an economic rescue package offered by international lenders. Opposition groups and activists widely accused Tsipras of ignoring the results of that plebiscite when he agreed to even harsher austerity measures a month later.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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