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Greece economy: PM Tsipras seeks to placate creditors

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he is confident that agreement can be reached with creditors over repayment of Greece’s debts.

Mr Tsipras said in a statement issued to Bloomberg news agency that he had never intended to act unilaterally.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out debt cancellation, saying creditors had already made concessions.

Mr Tsipras’ Syriza party won last weekend’s election with a pledge to have half the debt written off.

Its new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has refused to work with the “troika” of global institutions overseeing Greek debt, which had agreed a €240bn (£179bn; $270bn) bailout with the previous Greek government.

The troika is made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Greece still has a debt of €315bn – about 175% of gross domestic product – despite some creditors writing down debts in a renegotiation in 2012.

‘Confident of deal';

Mr Tsipras said Greece would repay its debts to the ECB and IMF, and reach a deal with the eurozone nations that funded most of the bailout package.

“The deliberation with our European partners has just begun,” he said.

“Despite the fact that there are differences in perspective, I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole.” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the eurozone finance ministers’ group, said he welcomed Mr Tsipras’ comments.

“It is now up to the Greek government to determine its position on how to move forward,” he said.

“Further decisions will be taken jointly in the Eurogroup in the coming weeks.”

In interviews in the German media published on Saturday, Mrs Merkel said she still wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone but did not “envisage fresh debt cancellation”.

“There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors, banks have already slashed billions from Greece’s debt,” she told Hamburger Abendblatt.

Meanwhile, EU economic and financial affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici told the BBC’s Hardtalk programme that the Greek government had to respect previous commitments. But he added: “We believe that the place of Greece is in the eurozone, the euro needs Greece and that Greece needs and wants to be in the eurozone.

Greece’s current programme of loans ends on 28 February. A final bailout tranche of €7.2bn still has to be negotiated but the new government has already begun to roll back austerity measures.

Mr Tsipras will visit Cyprus, Italy and France next week but has no plans to visit Germany as yet.

The full interview with Mr Moscovici can be seen on BBC World News on Monday 2 February at 0430, 0930, 1630 and 2130 GMT. (BBC)