Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos warned on Tuesday that if European Union leaders do not take a political decision about the country’s debt by the end of the year, then there will be dire repercussions for his government and Greece.
“If [Greece’s EU partners] kick the can two years down the road, then investors will remain far away,” he said, addressing a parliamentary sub-committee dealing with the debt. “It will be bad for the government and the country,” he added.
Tsakalotos insisted a decision on the matter must be taken sooner rather than later, for two reasons.
On the one hand, he said, it will create a “clear corridor for investors to come to Greece” since it will be clear that it has overcome its credit problems. On the other, he added, it will allow the IMF to discuss its participation in the Greek bailout program.
At the same time he appeared optimistic, stressing that “we are on the right path regarding the Greek debt,” adding that the government has good reason to believe the issue will be resolved by the end of the year.
Nonetheless, he added that even if a long-term solution to the Greek debt is put in motion by year-end, it will not solve the EU’s wider problem with regard to the deep division between the bloc’s heavily indebted south and the more affluent north, which will bode more trouble for Athens.
Referring to this widening chasm, Tsakalotos raised some eyebrows with his suggestion that there should be a discussion about Greece’s place within the eurozone, as Europe, he said, is faced with a “deep problem.”
“This issue has not been discussed in Parliament,” he said, before asking what the opposition conservatives had to say on the matter.
“What are your views about where the eurozone is heading and how it can be improved, and whether Greece can survive within such a eurozone, and if it can’t, what must be done?” he said, adding that so far he had heard nothing from New Democracy, nor from Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras.
“I thinks it’s high time this discussion took place.”
Earlier in the day, members of the anarchist group Rouvikonas (Greek for Rubicon) gate-crashed an event at a central Athens hotel where Tsakolotos and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis were keynote speakers, showering the auditorium with flyers admonishing the country’s political and financial establishment.