‘We’re going to succeed in implementing our economic policies’ – Greek minister
The Greek Prime Minister lexis Tsipras met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March, 23 in Berlin to discuss the progress Greece is making to pay back the bailout money it owes.
RT:Nothing solid came out of the meeting, did you put a lot of hope into it?
George Katrougalos: Of course this is not a formal meeting that is going to make some final decisions. What we hope to achieve is a better understanding between the two sides, and an improvement of the climate because we already had an agreement with our partners on February 20 but we have problems in implementing it.
RT:Brussels doesn't look like giving in on writing off any debt, but your Government seems unable to pay up. Do you have a credible reform plan? An alternative?
GK: The writing off of the debt is not now on the table. We are now in the kind of limbo between the formal program, the austerity program – the Memorandum – and what we hope to achieve in June that is a new contract for growth for Greece. At the end of this four month transitory period we are going to put on the table the writing off of the debt. For now there are negotiations around the cash flow that we hope to achieve from the European Central Bank and the shaping of the reforms. So yes, we have a very concrete plan of the reforms we think we are implementing on our side of the deal and we hope that our partners are going to do the same.
RT:The negotiations seem to be very complex; can you be sure that we are not in a deadlock here?
GK: It’s exactly this kind of stand-off that we are trying to avoid because as I said before we have reached an agreement. The agreement is based on the idea that we are not anymore implementing the reforms of the memorandum which have been as you know a clearly neoliberal program. We are trying now to persuade our partners that our program of reforms - which is completely different - is necessary for the recovery of the Greek economy. So what we must do now is to make more concrete our list of reforms and have the agreement Okayed from their side.
RT:Your party swept to power pledging that it wouldn't deal with the much-hated international Troika of lenders, but last month a loan extension on the bailout was agreed. Is Syriza able to keep its election promises?
GK: Exactly, it’s all about it. We manage to have an extension of the bailout without the extension of the austerity rules that are going together with the old program. So what we are trying to achieve is to have time and political space in order to implement our social program of reform of immediate relief to the victims of the humanitarian crisis, to the poor and disabled. Till now we have tried to persuade the Greek electorate that gave us a huge victory at the last elections, but moreover we enjoy the support of the much broader strata of the population. The last polls show still a support to our policies of over 65 percent. So I’m very optimistic that we are going to be successful in implementing our economic mix of policies.
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