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Tsipras hides behind the refugee crisis so as not to apply the measures

04 November 2015 / 18:11:30  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

In the presence of two senior European officials in Athens, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras directly associated the implementation of commitments under the third rescue programme with the refugee crisis. During the joint statements with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Tsipras raised the most serious outstanding issues in negotiations with creditors, namely the non-performing bank loans and VAT on the Greek islands, demonstrating his attempts to reach a political solution for them.

"From the moment that we have been forced to provide even temporary shelter to refugees, it is not possible that it be required to remove the restriction on the confiscation and auctioning of the main housing of Greeks. At a time when the islanders are sharing their food with refugees, the government is forced to raise VAT on the islands. These conditions are unacceptable and the Greek government will not relent. To the contrary, we will require from Europeans the same solidarity that we are providing," said Tsipras.

He added that his government "does not respond to its duty, wishing to request some relief as a beggar. We do not want relief but compliance with arrangements. We do not want other people to bring new and different requirements from what have been agreed."

For his part, Martin Schulz defined as "grounded" the demands of the Greek Prime Minister and said that he would present them to his interlocutors in Brussels. "Yesterday I spoke with Moscovici. I will speak with him again. The extraordinary EU summit in Malta on 12 November is lying ahead," he said.

Both attended the ceremony to see off the first 30 refugees from Greece who will be accommodated in other European countries. The six families in question set off to Luxembourg by plane, previously taking pictures at Athens airport with the Greek Prime Minister, the President of the European Parliament and EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.


Meanwhile, another refugee tragedy has occurred near Skala Sikaminias on Lesbos. Five people have drowned having fallen into the sea from a plastic boat, carrying 70 refugees.

A Norwegian Frontex boat has rescued the 62 refugees who were in the boat and launched an operation to find and rescue the remaining eight people. Three of them have been found alive and the other five dead. Two of the victims are children again.

During his statements at the airport, Alexis Tsipras called for efforts to be made to stop tragedies at sea, "from which dead bodies are springing up, disgracing the European civilization." They were made against the background of the photo of the touching grandmothers from Lesbos who have become a symbol of humane treatment of refugees. The fact that the photo was used in this way provoked a series of negative comments on the Greek social networks. Tomorrow Alexis Tsipras and Martin Schulz will visit Lesbos together in order for the President of the European Parliament to be able to see the refugee situation closely.

While Alexis Tsipras and Martin Schulz were making statements, European Commissioner for Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici gave a press conference at the European Commission Representation in Athens. Commenting on the refugee crisis, he was firm that nothing should interfere with the strict implementation of reforms, which essentially represent the conditions of the Stability Pact in Europe. "What we lack is stability and confidence. Greece should show responsibility and we solidarity."

Pierre Moscovici expressed hope that the first official monitoring of the third rescue programme would be implemented by the end of the year, after all the reforms had been completed and the stability of the state budget ensured. He drew particular attention to the pension reform, pointing out that the changes that would occur should be finalized by the end of November. "Difficult decisions should be taken by the end of the week," said the Commissioner.
According to the Commissioner, the sovereign debt restructuring required by the Greek government could only occur after the preliminary measures provided in the first and second package and the recapitalization of Greek banks had been completed. Moscovici said that the 10 billion euro provided for this purpose would be allocated following the implementation of all banking sector related reforms that had been voted on last Saturday. With respect to sovereign debt, his only remark was that the decision that would be taken should be favourable to all parties and should allow the IMF to continue to participate in the rescue programme.

On the issue of loans in the red, the Commissioner said that the negotiations with the Greek government aimed to ensure protection for vulnerable debtors but not for those who would go bankrupt to escape responsibility. In his words, the negotiations between the Greek government and creditors were progressing well, the goal being to reach an agreement during the Eurogroup meeting this coming Monday.

According to Pierre Moscovici, the European partners of Greece wanted to keep it in the euro zone and he even predicted that the Greek economy would mark positive growth in the second half of 2016.

Tags: PoliticsAlexis TsiprasMartin SchulzPierre MoscoviciReformsPreliminary budgetary measuresThird rescue programmeRefugee crisis
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