Greece Crisis Threatens To 'Open Door To Hell'
Greece's former finance minister has told Sky News that if Greece reneges on its bailout deal with the EU and the IMF it will "open the door to hell".
Sky News last interviewed George Papaconstantinou two-and-a-half years ago.
In December 2009 he told how Greece could survive independently and Greece's creditors had nothing to fear - they would get back every euro they were owed.
A lot has changed since then.
Greece is in the process of borrowing 240bn euros of emergency loans from the EU and the IMF (in return for pledges to raise taxes, cut spending and balance the books) and investors holding Greek debt have been forced write off up to 50% of their money.
Even now Greece remains heavily in debt, deep in recession (now in its fifth year) and without a functioning elected government.
Mr Papaconstantinou lost his position as finance minister last summer, shortly after the second bailout package was agreed.
In the general election, two weeks ago, he also lost his seat as an MP. He was not alone as support for his Pasok party collapsed.
The result of the election was inconclusive and, ultimately, no party was able to form a coalition government. In four weeks' time Greece will vote again.
The opinion polls suggest that were an election to be held tomorrow the result would, once again be inconclusive, but the Syriza party, which is promising to "tear up" the bailout agreement with the EU and the IMF, continues to attract support.
Mr Papaconstantinou is the man who negotiated Greece's participation in the bailout deal and he says understands that the people of Greece are angry.
"People have had wage cuts, pension cuts, tax rises... and unemployment has gone through the roof - we need to respond to this," he told Sky News.
Interestingly, he admits there are elements of the bailout deal that he would seek to renegotiate but he says if Greece were to do what Syriza's leader, Alexis Tsipras, is proposing and fail to honour the promises the country has made in return for emergency funding then the results would be disastrous.
"The extremist parties are lying to the Greek people because they are not telling them that reneging on the agreement means that you have opened the door to hell," he said.
Syriza is promising voters it will not only reject the austerity measures it says are keeping Greece in recession but will also keep Greece in the eurozone.
Mr Papaconstantinou is clear that Syriza cannot deliver on both.
"The first thing that happens is the money (from the EU and IMF) stops flowing to Greece, the second thing that happens is people start worrying about their deposits in the banks, the third thing that happens is the banking system is in danger of collapsing and then you have to defend it even by sending in the army and the police on to the streets to avoid a bank run," he said.
"There are no easy solutions. Either we stay within the framework we have all agreed or we tear it up, in which case we have a complete and utter catastrophe."
In the general election in 2009 Syriza attracted barely 5% of the vote. Two weeks ago it managed 17%.
Some of the most recent opinion polls suggest Syriza is now Greece's most popular party and that 25% of the population say they will vote for the party on June 17.
That is not quite enough support for Syriza to form a government but it does suggest that the party's aggressive, defiant message is increasingly capturing the public mood.
It is also more than enough support to unsettle the financial markets and give the leaders of other eurozone countries a few sleepless nights.