Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the additional austerity measures 2019-2020 will not be implemented if there is no measures for debt relief. In an interview to private ANT1 TV on Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister clarified that the government will legislate for the additional pension cuts and higher taxes [for the poor]. However, he will not implement these two measures if creditors will not agree on debt relief measures. He expressed confidence that there will be an overall agreement both on second review and debt relief measures at the Eurogroup meeting on May 22.
Noting that the additional measures were the means for exiting the program Tsipras said:
“Obviously we will vote for the measures in order to get the matter of the debt. The measures will not be implemented unless the debt issue is solved. These measures are discharging the project. We are a sovereign government, you think I cannot revoke the measures we have legislated?”
The additional measures 2019-2020 were not part of the third bailout but became part of the debate after pressure by the International Monetary Fund.
“A sovereign government can take back measures.”
“The sacrifices of the Greek people must lead to a result and we have proved that they can yield a result,” he said.
He also said that his government is aiming to return to international bond markets this year after the current round of bailout negotiations is concluded. He wants to use the market return as a way to establish a “credible presence” in markets before the current bailout program expires in summer 2018.
“The aim is for the (bailout) review to end and to immediately go to the markets,” Tsipras said, adding “The aim is to make this not an opportunistic action, but a sustainable one … that will give us the ability to end the (international) monitoring when this (bailout) program ends.
To delay the closing of the evaluation, Mr. Tsipras commented that “it is a reasonable question that would be difficult to answer a few weeks ago.” A few days ago, the result of the primary surplus came to us, asking for 42 times more. The pressure we have been through all this time. I believe there is not a citizen who has not understood what game is being played …
Thanks to the fact that I did not end the evaluation, it was the first time we had a deal. This is the most critical assessment because we have an overall agreement. ”
He added: “We have entered into a negotiation that is not only about the program but also the debt … The counter-measures are 2% of GDP and they are measures that have to do with the non-existence of a social state, reduction of tax rates …”.
Countermeasures against the absence of a welfare state
The prime minister defended countermeasures by underlining that “these are measures that cover the absence of the welfare state that should exist”. He added that among the measures is 600 million a year for rent allowance, free day nurseries, reduction of the property tax ENFIA.
Alexis Tsipras pointed out that “the 3.5% surplus is not a pipe dream,” he said, “The country must go out of guardianship.”
He referred to his relief at the large primary surplus achieved in 2016 since, in the opposite case, Greece would have found itself “bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball” between IMF chief Christine Lagarde and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Asked about Germany’s stance toward Greece, the prime minister described the German finance minister as a “formidable opponent” and said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been forced to back down from the policy that she had imposed on Europe but had shown her awareness and that she was “open-minded” during the refugee crisis.
Tsipras also said “I was misguided to think that Europe could change”
“A major discussion in now underway about the future of Europe. I have said that we were the guinea pig and I am not saying that Greek governments were not to blame, but it is not the fault of the Greek people,” he said. It was now imperative for the political forces to put an end to the country’s misadventure following 2010, Tsipras added. (ANT1, AP, ANA and others)
Creditors’ representatives are currently in Athens and negotiate with the Greek side in an effort to reach a staff level agreement before the Eurogroup meeting.