VP Dragasakis: A solution providing debt relief for Greece is absolutely essential

A solution providing debt relief for Greece is absolutely essential and those claiming otherwise want the country to remain subjugated to other forces, government Vice President Yiannis Dragasakis said in an interview with the state broadcaster ERT on Sunday. He said the government will continue to strive for the measures envisaged under the May agreement, which said a discussion on the debt will begin as soon as the first review of Greece’s programme was formally concluded.

“The first review is completed, therefore we have entered the orbit of this decision,” he said, noting that this envisaged short-term measures to be taken immediately and that do not have to be ratified by national parliaments, as well as medium-term and long-term measures to be taken after 2018 “but which must be specified now, so that anyone wanting to invest in Greek bonds knows what is coming…”

“Anyone reacting to the settlement for Greek debt deep down wants Greece subjugated and at the mercy of other forces and other choices. Because there is no economic argument against a debt settlement,” Dragasakis said.
The government vice-president also ruled out the possibility of a fourth bailout agreement, noting that it was harmful to Greece’s interests for such a prospect to even be discussed.

Asked what will happen if a new debt settlement could not be achieved by the start of 2017, Dragasakis noted that this would be a crisis for Europe, which was entering a phase of less stability as a result of Britain’s EU exit and upcoming elections in several member-states.

“Greece is part of the problem and Greece can be part of the solution. In other words, a positive outcome for Greece will also help Europe,” he said.

Asked whether quantitative easing might offer a solution, Dragasakis said that entering QE without the right settlement for the debt “will not provide the sustainable solution we would like.”

“It will somewhat resemble what happened in 2014 with the Samaras government. If you remember, a bond was issued then and there was a view that we had tapped the markets but in reality we issued a bond under the protection of the Investments Bank. We say that this is not the goal. Greece must regulate its debt, enter the quantitative easing programme and gain access to the markets in a sustainable way, not because someone is holding a protective umbrella over us. And we must have a discussion on reducing primary surpluses after 2018,” he said.

According to Dragasakis, these three things were a guarantee that the exit from recession and return to economic recovery will be lasting and have prospects.

On austerity, the government vice president said that seven years of austerity measures imposed by memorandums had shown the fallacy of theories saying that lower wages would help boost exports and lead a way out of the crisis, or make the country’s debt sustainable.

Regarding the developments concerning television licences and the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV), Dragasakis noted that the problem dated back decades, with the sector existing in a perpetual state of lawlessness for 27 years, during which the NCRTV had never worked properly as an institution. Minister of State Nikos Pappas, he pointed out, had introduced the law because there had been no desire to form a fully functional NCRTV.

Successive governments had failed to obtain the required four-fifths majority needed to form a new NCRTV under the Constitution, he noted, stressing that the political parties will bear a huge share of responsibility if the effort fails once again.

Asked if the government will insist on its proposal for former ND minister Vyron Polydoras as the new head of the NCRTV, Dragasakis said that the SYRIZA-led coalition government had proposed Polydoras as a compromise that would facilitate the formation of the independent authority.

“To the degree that Mr. Polydoras’candidacy and his availability helps find a solution, so be it. If a solution cannot be found, then some other proposal must be sought,” he said, while urging all sides to respect the Council of State decision and assist in forming a new NCRTV, since its implementation did not depend on the government only.