Economic policy coordinator of the Greek cabinet Yiannis Dragasakis surrounded by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Minister of Interior and Administrative Reform Nikos Vroutsis, photo: skai.gr
Deputy Minister of Finance of Greece Nadia Valavani appealed to the Greeks to pay their taxes, stating during her speech within the debate on the policy statement of the new government that this is the patriotic duty of every Greek citizen.
With a dramatic tone, Valavani urged all Greeks who have obligations to the tax authorities to join as soon as possible the programme for instalment payment with 100 monthly instalments. According to her, state revenues have dramatically decreased in recent months which is why those who have delayed the payment of VAT and the last instalment of the property tax (ENFIA) must appear at the cash desks in tax offices.
The statements of the Deputy Minister had provoked hundreds of reactions on social networks because their spirit was in total contradiction with the election rhetoric and with the actions of SYRIZA from the time when it was in opposition. It is noteworthy that one of the main election promises of both the radical left and its government partner, Independent Greeks, was the abolition of the property tax. Social network users were quick in searching in their archives and in publishing a photo of a group of SYRIZA members and supporters protesting and holding a poster reading, "ENFIA. I have no money – I do not pay ".
The ironic comments about the double language of the government were supported with videos from TV appearances of today’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his coalition partner Panos Kammenos in which they condemned the imposition of the tax, unequivocally declaring that they would not pay it.
At the same time, despite the promises of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister that they were preparing a major reform programme, Minister of Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis said in parliament that he would reconsider "the scandalous sale of the old Athens airport in the suburb of Elliniko" and the ultimate goal would be to cancel it.
His words provoked a reaction from the company Lamda Development, which is its buyer. "The statements of the Minister and especially the expression "scandalous sale" ignore a perfectly legal procedure that was followed in compliance with the law as well as the fact that the contract was signed after the approval of the plenum of the Supreme Administrative Court", reads the statement of the company. According to Lamda Development, the statements of Lafazanis "are sending a discouraging message to international investors which Greece greatly needs at this time."
The denials continued at the international level too. In an official statement, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Hua Chunin said that Beijing is not aware of the statements of Greek Deputy Minister for European Affairs Nikos Houndis in which he said that the Asian country had proposed economic aid to Greece.
According to the Greek media that refer to Reuters, Houndis had said in an interview with a Greek radio station, "We had proposals, I would call them offers, for economic aid from both Russia, immediately after the elections, and from China, in connection with investment opportunities."
The spokeswoman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry commented, "I read the statements but I do not know anything about the issue." Later, sources from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that in his statement Nikos Houndis had just referred to the Greek-Chinese relations in the field of investment "on the basis of cooperation, mutual respect and the interest of both sides."
Meanwhile, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias was in Moscow, where he opposed the European embargo on Russia because of its policy in Ukraine. During a joint press conference, his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov expressed his respect for this position of Greece and said that they had discussed the economic situation in the country. Lavrov said that if Athens sent Moscow a request for financial support, the Russian government would consider it.
Earlier today, Austrian Minister of Finance Hans Jörg Schelling said that it would be possible to find a solution for Greece by the end of February, warning Athens at the same time that its European partners have no "plan B", and that it must comply with all commitments related to the bailout.