Looks like Tsipras is standing firm

June 4, 2015

This is the official statement from the website of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after his meeting with the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker. Note the comment about the Greek government rejecting the Troika demands to end Social Solidarity Benefit for low-income pensioners and increasing VAT by 10 points on electricity. I think the Greeks are quite right to reject such punitive and pointless measures which would merely torment the poor whilst depressing the economy further and delay, yet again, any chance for the Greek economy to return to growth.

“We had a friendly and constructive discussion with President Juncker, and later with his staff as well. Jeroen Dijsselbloem also joined us later on in the evening.

Our conclusion regarding the discussion is that the proposal submitted by the Greek side remains the only realistic and constructive proposal on the table. However, I would like to highlight the lower surplus numbers—which are lower than those associated with the previous programs—that are part of the proposals submitted by the three institutions, as a basis for further discussion. And, of course, there are many other instances of commonalities. However, there are also points of contention—suggestions that cannot be pursued, especially in light of the tremendous economic destruction Greece has suffered in the last five years: 25% of GDP has been during this time as a result of tough austerity.

Therefore, proposals that call for ending the Social Solidarity Benefit for low-income pensioners or for increasing VAT by 10 points on electricity cannot be a basis for discussion. Nevertheless, the European Commission side exhibited a constructive attitude for reaching common ground.

The proposals submitted by the Greek Government constitute the common ground that has been covered to date. Discussions will continue; we consider it a very positive sign that, at least from side of the European Commission – from our counterparts – the will is there to reach a realistic agreement very soon. And here, I must stress once more, the only realistic basis for discussion remains the proposal made by the Greek side.

The discussions will continue in the coming days. The more we discuss matters honestly, the closer we are to reaching a mutually acceptable solution.”

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