The summer of 2017 will be calmer but this was not a time for complacence, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday in an televised interview with Greece’s Alpha channel, one day after Greece’s successfully ventured forth to tap the markets.
“We took an important step, which marks the beginning of the end of a bad adventure,” the prime minister commented. He also emphasised the difference between this and Greece’s previous attempt to tap the markets under the Samaras government in 2014, which he said had been mainly for “spin” purposes to support the “success story” narrative before the European elections and had no continuity.
Tsipras also pointed out that he had no reason to beat his own drum, since the international press was brimming with positive comments about Greece for the first time after many years.
“The trial return must be repeated with success, so we can have a permanent return to the markets in the summer of 2018,” he added.
Though Greece’s citizens would not see the results immediately and the road for the labour market remained long, “we have covered one third of the destruction,” he said.
“We know that the hardest part is now behind us,” Tsipras noted. “A window of opportunity was found for an interest rate of around 5 pct… There is no cause to celebrate. What we are saying is that we have made a start…”
Tsipras also pointed to the growth clause for the debt that the government was able to extract from the Eurogroup agreement, while noting that the measures for the relieving Greece’s debt will be quantified after the German elections.
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) insists on further debt reduction…the process is not over but the foundations have been laid,” the prime minister said. Greece was still in uncharted waters, however, he pointed out.
Among others, Tsipras said that the government had previously forecast that the interest rates achieved on Tuesday would require Greece’s inclusion in the quantitative easing programme. “As it turned out, we were able to achieve these interest rates without QE,” he added, though inclusion in QE remained Greece’s goal and this had now come closer, following the “suprise” interest rate achieved on Tuesday.
He also pledged that all the money raised will be given in various forms of tax relief, in the context of positive measures agreed with the lenders, even though the government was obliged to lower the tax-free allowance. Replying to the opposition’s criticism, meanwhile, he noted that if SYRIZA were not in power “they would swallow all the measures demanded by the creditors whole, without positive measures.”
Growth rates in 2017 were forecast to be close to 2 pct and above that in 2018, meaning that the contingency measures will not be activated but only the positive measures, Tsipras said. On the increased social insurance contributions, the prime minister insisted that 80 pct were paying less, though certain higher incomes that were previously “slacking off” were now under more pressure.
He also emphasised the political will to crack down on tax evasion and end the rampant corruption that had existed in previous years. Referring to his interview in the Guardian and the first SYRIZA-ANEL government of 2015, Tsipras noted that he had “fought the battle with all my strength to justify the people’s mandate to negotiate. The opposition accuses us of being liars; if we were liars we would not have taken it right to the end.”
On the recent confrontation involving members of the government and the judiciary, Tsipras denied that there was a clash between the government and justice.
“There are problems in justice that I have discussed with the judiciary,” he said, while noting that he was not making a blanket accusation against judges, politicians or journalists.
“The separation of powers is not disputed by anyone but independent justice is one thing and uncontrolled justice is another,” Tsipras said. He accused main opposition New Democracy of “hypocrisy” concerning the appointment of former Supreme Court president Vassiliki Thanou as an unpaid adviser to the prime minister, pointing out that other judges had served in similar roles in the past.
On law and order issues, the prime minister noted that Greece was a “pillar of safety” and had the safest capital city in Europe.
He described the Exarchia district in Athens as a “special neighbourhood” and said it was not a more important problem than Liosia, Menidi and Acharnes, where police had recently conducted sweeping drug raids, while expressing doubts about whether repression will yield results.
Regarding foreign policy and Turkish provocations, meanwhile, he noted that “we must be ready to defend the national interests of the country.” – amna.gr
PS what could “we have covered one third of the destruction” possibly mean?