Greece is dedicated to finding “an honourable agreement with its partners” but they must also acknowledge that the fiscal programme imposed on the country so far has proved a failure and the debt has been unsustainable since 2010, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said at Brookings Institution on Thursday.
In an address focused on Greece’s stance on negotiations with its loan partners – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission – Varoufakis said that the government’s objection was not to signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU), it was to extending a reform programme imposed on the country that was “badly designed and administered by those who had to reform and refused to be reformed.”
This government “is keener than anyone to bring these negotiations to a successful and quick conclusion,” he said, but not by extending the MoU it inherited that led to massive internal devaluation “that was bound to shrink violently the incomes from which the old and the new loan whould have to be repaid.”
Varoufakis said the government planned to start reforms with privatisations and pensions, and would proceed to other chronic problems such as procurements, bureaucracy and the political system’s relations with the oligarchy and the media.
Among other things he said that despite Greece’s known issues, the EU needed to proceed to real consolidation and “a proper banking union,” and he pointed out that Greece was “never really bailed out, as only 9 percent of the very large loans went to the Greek state – the rest were used to prop up irresponsible financial institutions, mostly in northern Europe.
In the question and answer period that followed, Varoufakis reaffirmed the government’s commitment to its membership in the EU and commented about a possible Grexit, “We are refusing to discuss a Grexit or toy with it – anyone who does so is profoundly anti-European.”