PM points to light at end of road

With no more pos­i­tive state­ments on debt forth­com­ing, Tsipras says bailout re­view on track to com­ple­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With no fol­low-up state­ment in fa­vor of Greek debt re­lief by out­go­ing US Pres­i­dent Obama in Ber­lin yes­ter­day, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras sought to strike a note of hope, declar­ing that the end of a re­view by Greece’s cred­i­tors, and eco­nomic re­cov­ery, are in sight.

Athens had been hop­ing for a state­ment by Obama akin to the com­ments he made while in Athens, un­der­lin­ing the need for debt re­lief to ac­com­pany re­forms if the Greek econ­omy is to grow. How­ever, in view of Ber­lin’s re­peated op­po­si­tion to a Greek debt re­struc­tur­ing, Obama did not broach the sub­ject in his pub­lic state­ments with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel. Greek govern­ment sources ac­knowl­edged yes­ter­day that it would be dif­fi­cult for him to make such a state­ment for Greek debt re­lief while in Ber­lin.

Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolfgang Schaeu­ble, who has been the most pas­sion­ate pro­po­nent of the need for aus­ter­ity and strin­gent eco­nomic re­form be­fore debt re­lief can be con­sid­ered for Greece, re­it­er­ated his con­vic­tion yes­ter­day. “Who­ever talks about light­en­ing the debt for Greece is not help­ing those who are in fa­vor of re­forms in the coun­try,” he said in com­ments from Vi­enna just a day af­ter declar­ing that re­struc­tur­ing Greece’s debt bur­den would be do­ing the coun­try “a dis­ser­vice.”

In his com­ments in Par­lia­ment, Tsipras did not dwell on the issue of debt re­lief, but tried to ap­pear up­beat about Greece’s prospects, say­ing that the bailout re­view would soon be com­pleted, paving the way for debt talks and Greece’s in­clu­sion in the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank’s quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing pro­gram.

“We have achieved a lot but we still have a long way to go,” Tsipras said. “It will be a hard road but at the same time the end is in sight,” he said, adding that “we will keep striv­ing un­til this coun­try returns to con­di­tions of sta­bil­ity and nor­mal­ity.”

His govern­ment is de­ter­mined, he said, to “put the econ­omy and so­ci­ety back on their feet and re­turn to our peo­ple the rights, the so­cial pro­tec­tion and the con­di­tions of life and work that the harsh aus­ter­ity of pre­vi­ous years has de­prived them.”

Tsipras is still aim­ing for a de­ci­sion on Greek debt re­lief on De­cem­ber 5, when Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos is to meet with eu­ro­zone coun­ter­parts for talks on Greece’s progress in im­ple­ment­ing its bailout pro­gram.

Athens is hop­ing for spe­cific com­mit­ments as re­gards short-term mea­sures for debt re­lief and less concrete guide­lines on medi­u­mand short-term re­lief.

Greek of­fi­cials are also press­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Greece’s cred­i­tors to agree to less strict bud­get targets af­ter 2019.

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