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It is inconceivable for creditors to write off Greek debt

09 June 2015 / 21:06:30  GRReporter
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Today the creditors rejected the third consecutive proposal for agreement that the Greek government had submitted to them. The Greek media report that Athens had sent a seven-page document, three pages of which contained its proposals for budgetary measures and the other four a separate proposal for how to cover its financing requirements in the coming months.

According to a European official cited by the Greek daily Kathimerini, the creditors had rejected the proposed measures in the past and they are not leading to "constructive progress".

To learn more about the course of negotiations GRReporter turned to correspondent for the Greek STAR TV and Real News newspaper in Brussels Thanos Athanasiou, who is closely following the course of events and who presented them to Anastasia Balezdrova.

Mr. Athanasiou, why has another proposal of the Greek government been rejected?

The specific proposal is yet another of the proposals that have been presented over the past hours. As European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said earlier, this proposal is under consideration. It is just a supplement to the main proposal of Athens, which consists of 47 pages.

First, let us clarify what we are talking about. What is happening between Athens and its creditors is the completion of the fifth monitoring of the bailout programme and Greece has to submit its proposals for voting by parliament as required by the programme to complete it. They are available to the public on the website of the Economic Department of the European Commission. We are talking about budgetary measures that will turn today's budget deficit into a surplus in the range of 1% of GDP. At present, what is separating us from that 1% of GDP is around 700 million euro. The reason for the creditors to be insistent is that they will not provide funding for other Greek deficits. After five years, during which the country received 240 billion euro from the bailout programme, the creditors are providing funds only to service its foreign debt.

I.e. they are adamant that they will not give more money to finance the salaries of civil servants or the requirements of the public sector. If the Greek government wants to spend money on them, it itself has to find it somewhere.

This situation is under consideration today. The Greek government wants not to cut costs but to increase taxes. The VAT increase is clearly a political decision on the part of Athens and it is not at all a requirement of the creditors. All they could ask Brussels to do is to reduce costs because it is the easiest solution. The creditors, however, do not require anything, because their goal is for budgetary measures to become the product of a political decision by the Greek government, i.e. for the government to demand that the measures be taken because only then will they produce results.

Taking just some measures is not enough. Brussels has called on the government to choose what it wants and it has chosen to increase VAT.

How would you comment on the different information on the same issues, which comes from the Greek government and the creditors?

This has happened over the past five years. Athens always disseminates meaningless things and the creditors announce things that have actually happened. It is not possible for 18 member states to agree on an issue and the Eurogroup President to express their common position, and for someone to state the opposite in Greece. It is not possible to say that Alexis Tsipras had not called Jean-Claude Juncker and for him to state that he had actually received a call to which he had not responded.

It is not possible to continue with this disinformation. It dates back to the first moment when Greece had to make budget cuts in 2009 and did not do so. The same happened with the government deficit, the data of the Greek Statistical Office, etc.

That is why I say that a lot of nonsense is talked in Athens. This propaganda started in 2009 with the beginning of the financial problems and it has continued ever since.

Greece did not implement the memorandum. It partially introduced some things in the wrong way, after strong pressure. Of course, this model was not successful. Unfortunately, Greece continually ignores its creditors. For example, Slovenia is a larger creditor to Greece per capita than Germany. Consequently, any of the Greek Prime Ministers should have called his Slovenian counterpart and thanked him for his support. Nobody has ever done something like that. No other Greek Prime Minister has spoken to the country's president Borut Pahor since George Papandreou talked with him for the last time.

Europe's population is 500 million people. In Greece, we are 10 million. Either we will understand, and adapt to, the wishes of the other 490 million or it will be over.

How do you think things will develop from now on?

Tags: PoliticsNegotiations with creditorsGreek debtBrusselsReformsGrexitAlexis TsiprasJean-Claude Juncker
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