Greece’s Tsipras seeks ‘happy ending’ with EU

Tsipras (centre) has accused unnamed European countries of trying to force Greece out of the eurozone by failing to agree to the loans. — AFP pic
Tsipras (centre) has accused unnamed European countries of trying to force Greece out of the eurozone by failing to agree to the loans. — AFP pic

ATHENS, March 29 — Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in remarks published today he hoped key talks with the debt-crippled country’s creditors would yield new financing and a “happy ending” in the standoff.

Athens is set to present a list of economic reform proposals to international creditors tomorrow in a bid to unblock a new €7.2 billion (RM29 billion) tranche of EU-IMF loans and avoid a debt default.

“I am confident there will be a happy ending soon to this first phase of the negotiations, and to normalising the situation,” said Tsipras, whose anti-austerity Syriza party took power two months ago.

But Germany’s Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said Friday he opposed giving the troubled country more emergency loans, accusing Athens of frittering away trust.

European paymaster Germany has been leading the push for austerity in Europe, with Greece complaining that the punishing budget cuts demanded were damaging its economy.

Ratings agency Fitch cut Greece’s credit rating Friday to “CCC” — meaning debt default was a “real possibility” — but said nevertheless it expected Athens would survive its cash squeeze.

Tsipras accused unnamed European countries of trying to force Greece out of the eurozone by failing to agree to the loans.

Seeking ‘sincere compromise’

“There are powers (in Europe) which have specific interests and which want a rupture,” Tsipras said in the interview published by weekly newspaper Realnews.

“But there are also powers — which will prevail — seeking a sincere and honest compromise,” he added, appealing for a decision not to be made “by economists and technocrats alone”.

“I can’t believe democratic Europe would choose the path (of a Greek eurozone exit),” he said.

Experts from Greece, the EU and the IMF on Saturday began scrutinising a list of proposed reforms that Athens says would bring in an extra €3 billion without resorting to wage and pension cuts.

A government document said the measures would also see the Greek economy grow 1.4 percent this year, after it exited a six-year recession last year.

The marathon talks were set to continue today.

“There is still a lot of work to do (to reach a deal),” the official ANA news agency said yesterday.

Reducing Greece’s debt — which in 2014 reached 176 per cent of national output — is among Syriza’s main priorities.

Tsipras’ government has proposed higher taxes for the rich, as well as measures to tackle capital flight and illegal fuel and cigarette smuggling.

Since 2010, Athens has received two successive loans from the EU and the IMF totalling €240 billion in exchange for draconian austerity measures.

Greece is also looking to China to boost its finances. Beijing is set to buy 67 per cent of the Greek state’s shares in Piraeus Port, one of Europe’s biggest container ports. — AFP