Donning a red tie, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday hailed the Eurogroup debt deal clinched on Thursday as “historic,” insisting that Greece is finally turning a page after eight years of bailouts.
Speaking at Zappeion Hall in Athens to SYRIZA and the Independent Greeks (ANEL) lawmakers of the ruling coalition, Tsipras said the deal was a ticket for Greece’s future and a very significant development for the country.
After the Eurogroup’s decision on Greece’s debt, the debt is finally becoming sustainable, he said.
Meanwhile, New Democracy decried the deal and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the conservatives will table a proposal on Monday for a debate on the economy in Parliament at the level of party leaders.
During his address on Friday evening, Tsipras said that wearing a tie – which he had promised to do only if Greece was granted debt relief – will be difficult but he will “get used to it” as promises must be honored. He went on to remove it.
Tsipras also touted the deal struck in Luxembourg with the country’s creditors as something that will ensure the smooth and stable refinancing of Greek debt, “minimizing or even eliminating the risks of potential turmoil.”
“Greece is again a normal country. It is regaining its political and economic sovereignty. It is back on the world map and is back on its feet again,” he said while stressing that “all this does not mean we are going to return to the Greece of the past.”
Referring to the hardships of the Greeks over the last decade, Tsipras said the “day belongs to those who were brutally struck by the crisis, who saw the efforts of a lifetime destroyed and who shouldered the country’s burden” and that the government has 15 more months until the elections to fulfill its second aim – to fight corruption.
For its part, New Democracy said earlier in the day that Greece did not get a reduction of its debt from the Eurogroup – instead it is getting increased surveillance while the markets have no confidence in the local economy.
It added that new pension cuts and tax hikes are due to come into effect six months from now, that Greece must achieve primary surpluses of 3.5 percent until 2022 and 2.2 percent from then until 2060, and that Athens would be subject to quarterly inspections by foreign auditors.
However, Tsipras, who also met with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said the agreement exceeded the expectations of the markets.
“June 21, 2018 will go down in history as a significant day in the history of the eurozone,” he said.
“That does not mean we are abandoning the sensible course of the reforms which the country needs,” he said.
Pavlopoulos referred to the sacrifices made by the Greek people during eight years of austerity, noting that this was partly due to incorrect calculations by creditors who have since acknowledged their errors.