With his speech on Saturday at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will seek to strike a delicate balance between convincing a frustrated electorate that Greece has indeed entered a new era and assuring international markets that it will remain on the path of reforms.
His keynote address, which will include announcements of handouts and relief measures, is expected to come under the close scrutiny of international markets and the country’s creditors as it will set the tone in the post-bailout era.
However, claims by government officials and SYRIZA lawmakers that the government will have the luxury in the post-bailout era to make policy changes and to reverse several agreed reforms has raised alarm among those that insist Athens must tread carefully – especially at a time when market interest rates have shown an upward rather than a downward tendency.
Government ministers told Reuters yesterday that while Athens wants to pursue a more growth-friendly strategy, it is determined to meet goals it has agreed with official lenders.
“None of the measures [which will be announced by Tsipras] will jeopardize the 3.5 percent primary surplus target,” one official said.
Given the stakes, the government needs all the support it can get, not least from the US, which is the honored country at TIF this year.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who met with Tsipras yesterday, said his country wants to support Greece and its economy as it attempts to get back on its feet after its eight-year economic crisis.
“It’s good to see things are starting to turn around. The economy seems to be getting better and there’s a real feel of momentum coming in. It’s very rewarding to see that,” he told Tsipras in brief comments before the cameras.
“We would like to support you, to support TIF… and of course we want to support the Greek economy,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency.
Tsipras said Greece is leaving the crisis behind and looking forward to a future with more economic development and security in the region.
“The participation of the United States in the Fair… underlines the great importance of the historic relations between the two countries. I believe this sends a very serious message of a symbolic and economic nature,” he said.