‘This road of austerity is spiral of death’ – Greek minister

Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis
Today Greece represents a friction of opposition between two different visions of Europe – a Europe of austerity and a Europe looking back to its old social model, Greek Minister of Administrative Reform George Katrougalos, told RT.

Greek Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras is visiting Russia to attend the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, where he's scheduled to meet with Vladimir Putin. It will be their second meeting in just over two months and the battered Greek economy is expected to be high on the agenda.

RT:After hours of talks, there's no agreement between Greece and its creditors. The Eurogroup said it's inviting the country for more dialogue. Do you think there's any point in more talks?

George Katrougalos: We are ready to negotiate. It’s us who have made all the concessions till now. Now it’s the time for our partners to make some steps towards a viable compromise because we want an agreement, but a fair agreement. This means we don’t want further austerity and we don’t want all the burden to lay on the weakest and the poorest. We want measures with some kind of social justice because that’s why we have been elected by the Greek people.

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RT:Why are the creditors want Greece to come up with a more realistic plan of action then?

GK: This is not a problem just of Greece. Greece is not an isolated case. It just represents a more general friction of opposition between two different visions of Europe – a Europe of austerity and a Europe looking back to its old social model. We don’t want to continue this road of austerity because it’s a spiral of death: Recession, new austerity measures, new unemployment, again new measures. We have seen that the last five years. This doesn’t work, we want to change it. We are ready to negotiate with our partners, but not to continue on a road that clearly leads to nothing good for the Greek people.

RT:Prime Minister Tsipras is in St. Petersburg to meet President Putin. What kind signal does that send to the international community?

GK: This meeting with President Putin has been scheduled long ago, so it’s not a kind of counter move to the negotiations we have with our partners, as our good relationship with Russia is not an alternative to our participation with the EU. We want to have good relations with Russia not just commercial ones. We have traditional bonds of friendship and we want to work further on this.

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RT:Do you think a Grexit could set a precedent in Europe?

GK: Nobody wants a Grexit because a failure to reach a viable agreement, compromise could destabilize the eurozone. That’s why you see even the Americans are interested in the progress or our negotiations. That’s why I’m still optimistic about the final possibility of a fair agreement. But as I said before now it’s up to our partners to make the necessary steps to a viable compromise.

RT:But do we think this could happen?

GK: There is always a danger of an accident and until now I must say, regrettably, that our partners have used the factor of time and the lack of liquidity in our economy as leverage in their side in order to push us during the negotiations. But we have clearly shown that we don’t want to blackmail anybody, but on the other hand we are not ready to be blackmailed by anybody else. So I hope that now when the time is really ending both sides are going to be responsible especially our partners who are also our lenders are going to show more good will in the negotiations.


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