Tsipras starts talks in Davos as farmers step up protests at home

Tsipras starts talks in Davos as farmers step up protests at home

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held his first talks with world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday as protests against his government’s proposed pension and tax measures continued to grow at home.

Tsipras met with US Vice President Joe Biden, Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici at the Swiss resort.

He held wide-ranging talks with Biden, which touched on issues such as energy, Cyprus and foreign investments. Greece’s bailout was also part of the discussions and was referenced in a brief statement issued by the White House.

“The leaders agreed on the importance of moving forward as quickly as possible on Greece’s economic reforms, including serious discussions with creditors on debt relief,” the White House said in a statement.

The pending first review of the bailout was also a key topic in Tsipras’s talks with Gabriel and Moscovici, particularly of the proposed pension reforms that are being discussed by the government and the institutions. According to the prime minister’s office, the Greek leader stressed the need for the review to be completed as soon as possible.

“Constructive talk with @tsipras_eu ahead of 1st programme review in #Greece. Let’s maintain the reform momentum!” tweeted the commissioner.

Back in Greece, though, Tsipras’s government continues to be buffeted by objections to the pension reforms in particular. The country’s farmers are the latest group to join the protests. Dozens of tractors lined up on the Athens-Thessaloniki national road in central Greece yesterday. Some 1,000 tractors have been driven to the Promachonas border crossing in northern Greece.

Also, Agricultural Development Minister Vangelis Apostolou was trapped in a regional authority building in Komotini, northern Greece, by dozens of farmers who wanted to force their way in. The protesters were kept out by riot police.

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