Tsipras tells Rehn debt relief is only solution

Leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn on Thursday that Greece must change its economic policy immediately if it is to emerge from its financial crisis and called for a restructuring of the country’s huge debt, a partial writeoff and a moratorium on the repayment of the rest.

In a meeting in Strasbourg with Rehn which lasted 30 minutes, and sources said was conducted in “a very good atmosphere,” Tsipras cited estimates by international organizations according to which Greece’s debt would remain at around 160 percent of gross domestic product, only slightly lower than the current level, unless there is some kind of writeoff.

Rehn countered that the economic program currently being implemented in Greece is designed to boost sustainable development and address deep-rooted structural problems that triggered the country’s debt crisis. The commissioner also questioned Tsipras on how the latter sees Greece’s position in Europe, sources said, adding that the leftist leader avoided answering directly, noting that SYRIZA’s stance on the issue is known.

Tsipras also took the opportunity to warn Rehn about the social repercussions of austerity in Greece, noting that Greek society is near breaking point.

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