PM presses home points

Tsipras un­der­lines need for debt re­lief and refugee help in UN speech, meets Kerry

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras re­peated his main mes­sages of the last few days at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly yesterday as he stressed the need for Greece’s debt to be re­duced and for the coun­try to be given as­sis­tance in deal­ing with the refugee cri­sis.

Speak­ing in English, Tsipras fo­cused on these two key is­sues, as he has done since his visit to New York be­gan over the week­end.

Tsipras high­lighted the “dev­as­tat­ing so­cial cost” of the mea­sures Greece has im­ple­mented since it signed its first bailout in 2010, as well as the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the coun­try’s econ­omy. He ar­gued that many of the aus­ter­ity mea­sures, such as cuts to wages and pen­sions, should not have been im­ple­mented.

Tsipras also re­peated calls for debt re­lief, which has been a com­mon theme of his ap­pear­ances in the US, where the gov­ern­ment is much more sym­pa­thetic to Athens’s de­mand on this is­sue than some of its Euro­pean coun­ter­parts.

The Greek leader also touched on the refugee cri­sis, telling the au­di­ence at the UN that Greece was “taken aback” by “un­prece­dented mi­gra­tion flows,” which have brought more than 300,000 peo­ple, most of them flee­ing vi­o­lence in Syria, Afghanistan and Libya, to Greece’s shores.

Tsipras praised Greeks for show­ing “sol­i­dar­ity” with mi­grants and refugees and giv­ing them food and shel­ter. In veiled crit­i­cism of some of Greece’s north­ern neigh­bors, Tsipras also sug­gested that for­ti­fy­ing borders is not the way to deal with the cur­rent cri­sis.

Ear­lier, Tsipras met with US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and the mi­grant sit­u­a­tion fea­tured high on the list of top­ics they dis­cussed. Sources said that the Greek leader asked for Washington to urge Tur­key to be more co­op­er­a­tive re­gard­ing the flow of refugees from its shores to eastern Aegean is­lands.

Af­ter these talks, Tsipras ad­dressed a group of Greek-Amer­i­can busi­ness­men, mem­bers of the Hel­lenic Ini­tia­tive. He im­plored them to in­vest their money in Greece.

“I am here to ask you to in­vest in Greece,” he said. “Now is the time to do it. By in­vest­ing in Greece, you be­come our part­ners in growth and pros­per­ity.”

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