Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday made an impassioned defence of his country’s position to the European Parliament (EP) even as Athens was set a Thursday deadline to come up with a new set of proposals for creditors.
Speaking for the first time at an EP plenary session in his role as prime minister, Tsipras said: “I think the debate we are having today in this chamber should have taken place much earlier. For five months, the negotiations on the future of Greece were held behind closed doors. The European Parliament, instrument par excellence of democracy, must play a more active role in this respect.”
In the wake of two emergency meetings in Brussels, following the “No” vote in Sunday’s referendum, the Greek prime minister offered a political dimension to the Greek question while also attempting to appease his government’s critics, Xinhuia news agency reported.
“Until now, we have been obliged to talk to three institutions whose positions were sometimes different and conflicting. Frankly, if the debate were taking place exclusively between the Greek government and the European Commission, we would not be here today,” he said during a long debate.
“I have no hidden agenda to take Greece out of the eurozone. My country became a field trial for austerity, but we must now look reality in the face: it failed! Europe must be democratic or it will be very difficult to survive the difficult times we are going through,” Tsipras insisted.
“The current Greek government took office five-and-a-half months ago; the bailouts started five years ago. The issues we face do not spring from just these past five months,” he stated.
“We filed a 47-page text, the result of a difficult process of negotiation. Yet an image has been created that Greece had not made any proposals. We submitted a request to the European Stability Mechanism and we will refine our proposals in the next two days. But these proposals must also lead to a commitment to find a lasting solution to the debt,” Tsipras said.
The prime minister emphasised in his speech several times about the need to “find a solution in the interests of Greece but also in the interests of Europe”.
He also raised the issue of German debt after the Second World War by stating that “the greatest moment of European solidarity was the London Conference in 1953 when European countries decided to cancel 60 percent of Germany’s debt”.
The eurozone gave Greece until Thursday to present new proposals to secure a deal with creditors, media reported on Wednesday.
In Brussels on Tuesday, Greece was given an ultimatum that either there would be a deal or Greece and its banks would face the prospect of going bust on Monday (July 13).
On Sunday, a meeting of all 28 members of the European Union EU) will be held — a day after the new Greek proposals are expected to be discussed by the eurozone finance ministers.
In Wednesday’s debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Council President Donald Tusk told members of the European Parliament that there were only “four days left” to reach a final agreement, BBC reported.
Meanwhile, another Xinhua report from Athens said Greece’s government pledged on Wednesday the immediate implementation of reforms as soon as next week in exchange for further support via the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to avoid default and Grexit, according to a formal request tabled, a finance ministry statement said.
“Greece seeks from the ESM a loan facility with an availability period of three years… The loan will be used to meet Greece’s debt obligations and ensure stability of the financial system,” read the letter Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos signed, according to the press release.
“Consistent with the principles of this medium- to long-term programme, the republic is committed to a comprehensive set of reforms and measures to be implemented in the areas of fiscal sustainability, financial stability and long-term economic growth,” added the Greek minister.
“Within the framework of the programme, we propose to immediately implement a set of measures as early as the beginning of next week including tax reform-related measures and pension-related measures,” he stressed.
The Greek minister reiterated the country’s commitment to honour its financial obligations to all creditors in a full and timely manner and to remain a member of the eurozone and respect the rules and obligations as a member state.