Tsipras to wear a tie if debt talks succeed

29 May 2017
1043 Views

A possible EU-IMF deal on 15 June over debt relief designed to boost Greece’s recovery is also set to leave a mark – albeit temporary – on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s chest.

Tsipras will not shave his hair or slap on an IMF tattoo, but he has promised to wear a tie for the first time since entering politics.

Tsipras’s aversion to ties has been well noted by friends and adversaries, and has even led to ribbing by fellow leaders over the years, according to EURACTIV.

Government lore has it that Tsipras, a former Communist youth leader, last wore a tie while on military service in 2004.

“He was a young leader of the left. Ties do not fit that profile. And from a certain point onward, it became a political statement,” a government source told AFP.

“He does, however, know how to tie a tie,” the source added.

In 2015, shortly before he became prime minister, reporters asked Tsipras whether the responsibilities of his new post would lead him to adopt a more formal dress etiquette.

Tsipras – who until then wore casual shirts and roll necks – replied that he would put on a tie “only when (Greece’s) debt is cut”.

After Tsipras became premier when he was 40, making him Greece’s youngest leader in over a century, many of his new ministers also untied the knot.

About half the cabinet’s men emulated the new PM in not wearing ties at their investiture ceremony, a first for Greece.

“Not only we will not wear a tie but we will prompt others to remove theirs,” one of Tsipras’s rowdier backers, deputy health minister Pavlos Polakis, recently wrote on Twitter.

When Tsipras first began meeting his counterparts, then Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan evidently took note.

So when Tsipras visited their respective countries in February and November 2015, they each presented him with a tie.

“When the moment arrives for Greece to exit the crisis… we want Alexis to be able to wear an Italian tie,” a playful Renzi said in Rome during their official statements.

Erdogan was less amused when Tsipras visited Istanbul in May 2016 and neglected to put on the Turkish president’s gift.

“Where is (the) kravat?,” a stony-faced Erdoğan asked in a show of offence, using the Turkish word for tie, as they shook hands in front of the cameras.

“Kravat… yes, but next time,” replied Tsipras, flashing his winning smile.
When Tsipras visited Brussels in May 2015, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker decided to take matters in his own hands.

As Tsipras walked up for their official photograph, Juncker cheekily stretched his own tie over the Greek leader’s shirt, to the delight of gathered journalists.
“Looks like I will have to wear a tie,” he told reporters in parliament.

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