German Ambassador to Greece Jens Ploetner has vehemently rejected speculations that Berlin traded with Athens to accept migrants’ returns in exchange of suspension of VAT hikes on islands hit by the Refugee crisis. In an interview with Kathimerini, Ploetner vehemently denied speculation that the name deal signed between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the agreement on migrant returns and the economy were the result of an exchange between Athens and Berlin, describing it as “baseless.”
Q: How do you deal with the criticism that lenders and especially Germany were very lenient with the government in terms of the program, in exchange for the fact that the government has dealt with issues such as refugees and the FYROM name issue?
A: The assumptions about any kind of exchange are absolutely repulsive. They are unfounded and ignore that each of the issues you mentioned remains serious enough in order to be as negotiating card. I see no “leniency” in relation to the implementation of the program. On the contrary. The Eurogroup as a whole monitored the implementation of the agreed prerequisites. For the simple reason that it is common belief that their implementation is a prerequisite for sustainable development in Greece.
He said that the Eurogroup agreement was good for Greece and Europe and showed that European solidarity works.
Greece, he said, will be able to finance its needs without outside help. That was the aim of the bailout program and that is what was achieved, he said, adding the deal is a “strong package.” However, he insisted that Greeks will only reap the benefits of the efforts if the country stays the course on reforms.
Right after the EU Summit on Migration on Friday, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, announced that the European Commission President had given the green light for the suspension of increasing hikes in Value Added Tax on the five islands most hit by the refugees crisis. The hikes were due on 1. July.
Speculation was close that Greece had traded with Merkel to accept migrants’ returns from Germany.
PS it is the job of ambassadors and officials to dismiss speculations, and the job of “speculants” to speculate. So far, neither Juncker nor any other of Greece’s European creditors nor the Greek government bothered to explain with fiscal numbers the reason decision was taken to suspend the VAT hikes and its impact to the country’s financial progress lenders monitor with Argus eyes and turn twice each and every euro cents. Τhe revenue loss is estimated at around 16 million euros until the end of 2018.
Anyway we have to see if more German ‘gifts’ are on the way because trading “Macedonia issue” and migrants’ returns for 16million is not much.