PM Tsipras: Greece will seek reimbursement from Novartis for damages to the state

The government will propose to Parliament the formation of a special preliminary committee to examine the Novartis bribery case, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told a meeting of SYRIZA’s parliamentary committee on Monday.

The premier and SYRIZA party leader also attacked previous governments for wasting and misusing public funds, and for establishing “an extensive political culture of tolerance towards the corruption that had taken hold of the country for years.”

Speaking of Novartis, Tsipras said that the government will not relinquish the right to reimbursement for damage caused to the state by Novartis, as the coalition government of former premier Antonis Samaras and vice president Evangelos Venizelos had done in the case of the Siemens kickback case. “According to preliminary estimates, the Greek state lost 23 billion euros because of the overpricing of drugs from 2000 to 2010,” Tsipras said.

The premier attacked main opposition New Democracy’s (ND) stance and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis for “moving in the gray zone between legality and illegality to achieve through violence what they cannot achieve through democratic means.” The present ND bears no relation to the popular rightist party its founder envisioned, he said, accusing Mitsotakis of becoming a “hostage to a ruthless extreme right faction” in his party.

In terms of exiting the adjustment programme, the premier said Greece “will exit the (loan) memoranda without the need of a credit line, and without unbearable conditions for the Greek people and the Greek economy.”

Acknowledging the large rally held in Athens over the FYROM name issue, Tsipras said that the government “does not ignore any Greek citizen who expresses his or her opinion freely,” as the opposition charged. He added that rejection of the use of the name “Macedonia” in the resolution between Greece and FYROM, as the protesters demanded, “is not part of current reality.” Charging previous governments after 1992 with not resolving the issue sooner, he noted that, effectively, “Greece has accepted the name ‘Macedonia’, for better or for worse, for many years now.”

What Greece is negotiating for instead, he said, is to convince its neighbours “to stop using the term ‘Macedonia’ without a (geographic) qualifier, in order to establish clearly that it bears no geographic or historic relation to Greek Macedonia, and to convince them not to appropriate historic symbols and names.” He said FYROM must “put an end to irredentist references,” and reiterated the Greek position for a composite name for all uses.