“Today is an important day. And it is an important day because after six years of successive cuts, bad news and hard austerity, we finally have good news,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday at a cabinet meeting on the outcome of Monday’s Eurogroup meeting.
He noted that the news is good not only for the country’s progress but mainly for Greek society, which has the right to once again look to the future with optimism.
“Greece is no longer alone and isolated,” Tsipras underlined, “but has the strong support of a number of political forces and governments that have finally understood that Greece has the right to turn the page. To escape from the vicious circle of recession and debt and get on the course to recovery.”
The Greek prime minister stressed that this was the result of the negotiating efforts, diplomatic initiatives and political interventions at all levels, at EU summits, the European Parliament and the negotiations on a political and staff level.
Greece has for the first time a roadmap with specific steps for debt reduction which will become more specific at a technical level at the Eurogroup meeting on May 24 and will lead to debt relief, he stated. “This will create the necessary fiscal conditions for the recovery of the economy and the increase of social protection.”
“Today we are realistically happy and optimistic,” he said, while warning that the coming period will be demanding.
“A plan is needed, as well as determination to break with established beliefs and interests and make changes with boldness and effectiveness, to finally get the economy on track,” Tsipras said.
This was not a time to celebrate, he added, but a time for hard and systematic work “because we know that the new phase the country is entering will also be a more demanding phase.”
“It is time to properly plan the productive and social reconstruction,” he noted and called on all his cabinet “to intensify our efforts to get out from under a guardianship regime. And at the same time to turn our attention to everyday life, free from the daily and intensive negotiations.”
Commenting on the ‘fiscal correction’ mechanism demanded by the creditors, Tsipras said that the government had deflected demands to legislate for an additional 3.6 billion euros in austerity measures and that the mechanism was neither a new set of measures nor a new memorandum. He also expressed his confidence that the mechanism will not need to be activated because Greece was able to meet its targets for the first time.
Monday’s Eurogroup meeting was a vindication of many months of effort and proof that Greece can succeed without constantly bowing to unreasonable demands, he said. The way was now opening for the disbursement of a large tranche of loans that will have a highly beneficial effect on Greece’s economy, since a large part will be used to pay off the state’s overdue debts to the private sector.
The decision had also sounded the “death knell” for the corrupt intertwined interests of the local economic, political and media elite, who had fought the government and tried to prevent a positive outcome to the negotiations every step of the way, he added.