Tsipras broaches issue of debt at UN

Tsipras broaches issue of debt at UN

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday underlined the necessity of debt restructuring during a speech at the seat of the United Nations in New York, echoing an appeal at an event organized by former US president Bill Clinton on Sunday night when the Greek leader also sought to drum up investor interest in Greece.

In his speech before the UN Monday, Tsipras declared that the world cannot talk about global development without addressing debt restructuring, describing debt as a challenge “at the center of our global financial system.” He noted that Greece’s debt crisis has slashed the country’s economy by a quarter and said that debt relief should be linked to growth.

Tsipras’s speech at the UN is part of a broader goal by his administration to internationalize Greece’s debt problem with the aim of securing the backing of non-European countries that might help pressure nations such as Germany which have championed the economic reform drive in Greece and are reluctant to make any concessions on debt.

The Greek premier said much can be learned from the experience of Greece, which finds itself at the hub of three crises: an economic crisis perpetuated by austerity policies, a security crisis prompted by the country’s geographical location in an increasingly volatile region, and a refugee crisis which has seen thousands of desperate people fleeing toward Europe, often via Greece.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York on Sunday, Tsipras focused more specifically on the challenges faced by Greece’s ailing economy. Speaking just a few days before representatives of Greece’s international creditors are due back in Athens for their next inspection, he said his government will implement the required reforms to make Greece more attractive to investors.

“It is necessary to make reforms in taxation, in the public administration and to create a friendly environment for investments,” Tsipras told Clinton as an audience of entrepreneurs looked on. “The message to investors is that they are welcome in Greece,” Tsipras said, adding that “this awful discussion about Grexit is over.”

On the sidelines of Monday’s UN summit, Tsipras spoke by telephone with the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurria, who is offering Greece technical advice on economic reforms.

He also received a telephone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed the Syrian refugee crisis as well as Greece’s economic problems, according to Tsipras’s press office.

The Greek premier met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and with Cuban President Raul Castro. Late last night, he was to meet with Chinese and Egyptian leaders.

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