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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 15-06-15

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Austria's Faymann calls for an end to austerity in Greece, warns against doom-mongering
  • [02] Tsakalotos to ANA-MPA: 'No rift in Brussels'

  • [01] Austria's Faymann calls for an end to austerity in Greece, warns against doom-mongering

    ANA/MPA---Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Monday called for an end to the doom-mongering about Greece, in an exclusive interview with the ANA-MPA shortly before his visit to Athens, while saying that extreme austerity should stop in order to build a medium-term prospect that restored hope to the Greeks.

    According to the German Chancellor, who is due in Athens on Tuesday, Greece's exit from the eurozone would be the worst of all possible solutions and he warned of the dangers of "speculating" on a so-called 'Grexit'.

    The Austrian Chancellor said he was absolutely convinced that there should be a stop to what was happening at present and the tendency for the discussion on Greece to gravitate more and more frequently to possible disasters when what was needed were medium-term solutions. He said such a solution might be a five-year plan, on which Faymann appeared convinced there could be an agreement on fundamentals, the most important being to give people hope once more.

    He also noted that extreme austerity policies cannot continue and Greece must be given a chance to pay off its debts, adding that he supports the Greek government's plans to bring money into state coffers by fight corruption.

    In his view, a reasonable level of austerity was useful but extreme austerity destroyed the growth that was essential and the right stimulus was now needed, with investment in jobs and the economy. Given that real wages in Greece had fallen by 25 pct since 2010 and child mortality had increased 40 pct since 2008, the Greek government's desire to change course was completely understandable, he added.

    "Greece has now become a reason to examine extreme austerity policy in great detail and in Greece we have an example that acts as a warning about what will happen when someone imposes only austerity. In other words, there are always more unemployed, debt increases, as does the risk of poverty," he said.

    Faymann stressed that the effort to increase solidarity and social welfare in Europe can only be achieved through joint action, highlighting initiatives such as a tax on financial transactions in which Austria has played a leading role.

    "If we start putting our individual interests before the interests of the whole, then Europe will not work," he underlined.

    While in Athens, Faymann is expected to have talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, as well as visiting welfare facilities in the country to witness the situation at first hand.

    [02] Tsakalotos to ANA-MPA: 'No rift in Brussels'

    ANA-MPA -- The creditors' insistence on pensions cuts and their refusal to allow Greece a say in the composition of its fiscal package "does not do them credit," Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos said in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Monday. He also denied that there was a rift during the weekend negotiations in Brussels, if only because, as he said, "we weren't faced with a team that had the authorisation to negotiate and discuss seriously." Outlining the key differences between the Greek side and the creditors that blocked an agreement, he suggested that the main sticking point were a divergence in their estimates of the fiscal gap in 2016 amounting to 0.5 pct of GDP and the type of measures needed to cover this. In essence, he said, the difference amounted to 800 million euros, out of a total of 2.5 billion euros in measures proposed by Greece, and this indicated an unwillingness on the side of the creditors to negotiate on Greece's proposals. "We claim...[that the gap] is estimated to 2 pct of GDP. They estimate it at 2.6 pct of GDP. To cover the 2 pct we could take certain additional parametric measures (in other words measures with a certain yield). But the other side must also accept that the additional 0.5 pct of GDP must be covered by some non-parametric measures, such as measures against corruption, tax evasion and others. Let us not forget that our government was elected on a promise to fight tax evasion," Tsakalotos said. "We explained to them that we have people that are authorised to negotiate and that we are ready for serious discussion. Obviously, we must find some other composition, some other forum for this discussion to take place," he said. Asked whether Greece will be able to pay the 1.7 billion euros to the IMF that becomes due on June 30, as well as pensions and salaries, Tsakalotos underlined that pensions and salaries will be paid. "We always guarantee salaries and pensions," he said, while calling on the Greek people to stand at the Greek government's side during this difficult battle for Greece. He stressed that the government was not fighting this battle for reasons of symbolism but of substance, for the realities that will dawn on the "day after" June 30. "We have a plan on how Greece can make the transition from memorandums to a new era. On how the climate must change, so we have a solution for both the debt and for financing and for the major reforms that are needed and which we see as a big package. It is time for the other side to understand these things, that this is the package that the Greek people need and that the Greek people support this package," he said. Asked to comment on the intrasigency shown by some of Greece's partners, Tsakalotos noted: "Europe has to resolve, not only political, not only economic, but also issues of democracy. Can this Europe cope with pluralism? Can it deal with the fact that not all countries must have precisely the same policies in the same direction? This is a very great moment for Europe, this moment that we are speaking." The full audio interview with the minister is available on the ANA-MPA website.
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