Tsipras criticizes tax havens, calls for fiscal justice at European Council

The issue of the two Greek soldiers who have been detained in Turkey after they inadvertently crossed into the neighbouring country will be raised in a meeting of EU top officials with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Varna on March 26, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, after the second day of the EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels.

“I asked for guarantees from our partners for the two Greek soldiers and that the issue will be discussed in Varna. We made every effort to resolve the issue bilaterally with the support of our partners, but this was not possible,” he told journalists.

“We will continue our efforts through bilateral relations but we now rely on the official, open intention of our partners and allies on the issue,” he added.

Commenting on the recent Turkish provocations in the Aegean, Tsipras said Greece is determined to defend its sovereign rights against any threats and to defend its borders, which are also the EU’s borders.

“It should be made clear to Turkey that it has to abandon its continuous provocations as it has nothing to gain from them,” he said.

Asked on Turkish press reports claiming that military maps were found in the mobile phone of one of the Greek soldiers, Tsipras dismissed them saying: “Whoever tries to use what is clearly an accidental incident against two countries, they will be making a huge mistake, hurting their credibility and relations of trust we have tried to build these past few years.”

Commenting on the other issues discussed in the EU summit, Tsipras called for more transparency in taxation, saying the union should not turn a blind eye to tax havens.

“For us, reform means balance and equality among the Eurozone countries. We cannot prepare ourselves for the best possible response to crises using materials from the past,” he said.

Greece also supports the idea of a strong EU budget and a European fund. “I supported the need to turn the ESM into a monetary fund, but it should not operate as an independent technocratic organization – there should be accountability.”

Opening his remarks to journalists, he expressed his “unequivocal condemnation” of the attacks in southern France earlier today and “the Greek people’s solidarity and condolences towards the French people.”