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22 Feb, 2015 20:06

​‘Bailout deal won’t stop Syriza from cutting austerity trend’ – Greek econ minister

​‘Bailout deal won’t stop Syriza from cutting austerity trend’ – Greek econ minister

Syriza is still determined to fulfill its campaign promises to cut austerity regardless of the new agreement between Athens and Eurozone ministers, a Greek economic minister told RT.

In accordance with a deal agreed to on Friday, Greece must submit a list of reforms for review to a group of bailout monitors on Monday. If the reforms are approved, Athens will secure a four month extension to Eurozone funding.

The extension provides Greece with a temporary economic lifeline, without offering permanent solutions to the debt-ridden nation.

But Syriza leaders insist that the agreement gives them the maneuvering space needed to work out a solution.

READ MORE: ‘End of austerity’? Greece claims bailout battle victory, warns hard time not over

The deal forces Greece to continue to cooperate with the domestically unpopular troika of creditors (the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank), and to continue implementing “cost-cutting” measures that were the conditions of the enormous 2010 loan doled out by the troika.

RT spoke with Greece’s Alternate Minister of Economics Dimitri Mardas about what the conditional extension means for the country.

RT:As we know the deadline is looming, by Monday Greece needs to submit a list of reforms for approval by its creditors. How much room does Athens have for actual change when the measures must be within the existing program?

Dimitri Mardas: We have time to do that. We have now a transition period and during this period we can give all the precise information that they need for the future and in the meantime we can show that there is an alternative way in order to implement a new economic policy so we have this period of time generally in order to point out that the policy that has been applied it is not the appropriate one.

RT:You said you have time, but this agreement is only a temporary solution and the talks will begin again in just a few months. Does this mean that Athens has some sort of cards up its sleeve for the future negotiations?

DM: There is no need for any cards because everything must be clear and we have very clear proposals. We think that all of these proposals are compatible to the point of view of the European Union and of the other creditors in case we have to submit a precise plan for development; a precise plan for distribution of revenues. All these are almost ready. We have started applying some measures on that.

READ MORE: Greece, eurozone officials agree to extend bailout by 4 months

RT:What will happen if the EU doesn’t agree to your proposals?

DM: There was no disagreement on the proposals. There was a disagreement on the process that we have suggested but this disagreement was during the first step of the negotiations. I can say that it was an expected result and during the third phase of these negotiations we found a common way to communicate.

RT:There have been calls, for example from the Maltese Finance Minister, to just have Greece leave the single currency club. What do you make of that?

DM: I have supported the fact that euro is the only currency in Europe. There is no other alternative, which means that the drachma or any other currency are just virtual currencies and they have nothing to do with the real case — the real economy. So Europe must find any kind of solution in the context of the euro or else the European monetary system will show that its value is very low. I cannot imagine any other solution.

RT:Speaking of the Syriza party—it was swept to power with promises to cut austerity and to give money to the poor, but money can’t be created from thin air. What if the party won’t be able to deliver on its promises?

DM: There are some promises which seem easy [and] others which seem relatively difficult. The problem is that we have our plan. We have our goals. We also know that we face some constraints. So simply in the near future we have to find the solution which can permit us to apply a part of our goals.

As you know we have four-period governance in Greece, so in this case we can have some solutions in the near future, some other solutions during the next year or the third year or the fourth year.

Finally I think that we can keep our promises. Simply the time of the implementation of all these promises can vary, because as I told you, we face constraints and we have to take into account these constraints, because by following this point of view, we can have a more efficient economic policy.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.