Greece must ‘respect’ deal after vote: EU’s Juncker

European-Commission-President-Jean-Claude-JunckerEU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday said whoever wins the Greek elections on September 20 must respect the terms of the huge bailout deal and implement the tough reforms agreed.

“I expect them to stand by their word and deliver on the agreement — whoever governs,” Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Greeks go to the polls for their fifth time in six years this month, as former premier Alexis Tsipras seeks a fresh mandate to push through commitments made under the new 86-billion-euro ($96-billion) bailout.

In a televised debate to be held later on Wednesday, leftist leader Tsipras is looking to break away from a neck-and-neck race with conservative challenger Vangelis Meimarakis of the New Democracy party.

Addressing the parliament, Juncker also defended his role during the six-month battle to secure a third bailout for Greece.

“The commission has a weighted duty and one of them is to be the custodian of the general interest,” Juncker said, hitting back at criticism that he played too central a role in the row.

“I felt it was important I was engaged in this debate” and not leave the fate of the eurozone in the hands of technocrats, he said.

Throughout the fraught negotiations, a catastrophic exit by Greece from the euro was very much on the table, he said.

Grexit “was not something that was absolutely excluded as a last resort,” said the former Luxembourg premier who emerged during the talks as Tsipras’s strongest EU supporter.

“It was important that (Greece) understood that. (My help) didn’t mean that they could be rescued at any cost,” he said.

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