Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Parliament on Friday that the proposals of the country’s lenders are “unrealistic” but that he still believes the government is close to achieving an agreement with the institutions.
“The proposals submitted by lenders are unrealistic,” said the premier. “The Greek government cannot consent to absurd proposals,” he added in reference to the plan presented to him earlier this week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
“I would like to believe that this proposal was an unfortunate moment for Europe, or at least a bad negotiating trick, and will very soon be withdrawn by the same people who thought it up,” said the prime minister.
Tsipras insisted that plans for debt relief and economic stimulus had to be included in the agreement in order to provide a long-term answer to Greece’s economic problems.
“We don’t just need an agreement, we need a definitive solution, both for Greece and for Europe, that will finally end the talk of a Greek exit from the eurozone,” he told MPs.
The institutions’ proposal, Tsipras said, insisted on the austerity which has accompanied Greece’s bailout since it first began five years ago.
“The fiscal strangulation of a country is a moral issue that conflicts with Europe’s founding principles – which raises well-founded questions on Europe’s future,” he said.
At the same time as expressing confidence that Athens and its creditors could soon find common ground, leading to the gradual disbursement of 7.2 billion euros in bailout funds, Tsipras also indicated that he would not abide by the lenders’ demands to leave labor market regulations untouched.
Tsipras said that his government is determined to complete the drafting of a new framework for labor regulations with the assistance of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and to bring the ensuing legislation to Parliament for approval, even if this means running counter to the wishes of the institutions. The proposals put to Tsipras by Juncker earlier this week called for a freezing of the situation in the labor market, with lenders not making demands for further deregulation and Athens not rolling back any of the changes made over the past few years.
Tsipras called on the opposition parties to position themselves on the proposals made this week by the institutions, arguing that their objections would assist him in the ongoing negotiations.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras responded by telling the prime minister that he had “some nerve” asking for the conservatives to declare their opposition to the measures. He argued that as prime minister he resisted a number of painful reforms that were demanded by creditors.
Samaras also accused Tsipras of achieving little during his deliberations as the benefit of the lower primary surplus targets lenders have agreed to has been wiped out by the deterioration of the Greek economy over the past few months.