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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 15-03-17

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gov't VP Dragasakis in FT: 'All we ask is that Europe give Greece a chance'
  • [02] Parliament President Constantopoulou presents audit committee of public debt

  • [01] Gov't VP Dragasakis in FT: 'All we ask is that Europe give Greece a chance'

    ANA - MPA -- The Government Vice-President, Yiannis Dragasakis, argued in an article in the Financial Times published on Tuesday that Greece is not asking to be treated differently but to be treated equally.

    "It is a common belief that the Greek government is seeking special treatment relative to other stressed eurozone members. We are not; we are seeking equal treatment," Dragasakis says in the article titled "All we ask is that Europe give Greece a chance."

    The government VP goes on to describe how the Greek crisis has deteriorated the economy and thrown in into the vicious cicrle of recession, unemployment and lack of growth. "Since the onset of the crisis, our economy has shrunk 26 per cent; unemployment has risen from 8 to 26 per cent; and wages have declined 33 per cent. These outcomes are worse than those experienced by any country during the 1930s and far worse than those projected under the two Greek adjustment programmes. This is why the Greek government has criticised these programmes."

    He argues that the euro's progenitors envisaged a monetary union resembling the classical gold standard, under which adjustment between countries with external surpluses and those with external deficits was symmetric. "Under the euro, the burden of adjustment rests on deficit countries. Between 2008 and 2014, the external balances of the stressed countries have swung from huge deficits to surpluses. The external surpluses of the core are unchanged."

    As a result, the country is in a position like that of Sisyphus, Dragasakis says, a man condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll down again. "Greeks have implemented austerity and have suffered much more than expected. Many of the 60 per cent of young people out of work will one day be reclassified as long-term unemployed. We risk condemning an entire generation to a future without hope. To avoid that, what we ask from our eurozone partners is to treat Greece as an equal and help us escape from this Sisyphean trap."

    The article was co-written by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, and Minister for international economic affairs Euclid Tsakalotos.

    [02] Parliament President Constantopoulou presents audit committee of public debt

    ANA - MPA -- Parliament President Zoi Constantopoulou announced the establishment of an Audit Committee of Public Debt in a joint press conference on Tuesday, with ruling SYRIZA MEP Sofia Sakorafa and Belgian expert on odious debt Eric Toussaint, in charge of the committee team of experts.

    Constantopoulou underlined that setting up a committee is the least that can be done for the Greek people and the European community to ensure justice and truth. She explained that the committee will investigate which part of the loans Greece received was wasted on bribery and corruption practices, which part is legal and which is odious and illegitimate and therefore, not owed. The committee will convene on April 7 or 8 and its initial conclusions will be presented in an international conference on public debt in June.

    SYRIZA MEP Sakorafa, who will coordinate the international team, underlined that the Greek people will learn the truth about everything that led to the memorandums.

    On his part, Toussaint said that the committee will show which part of the debt is legal and which is odious and non sustainable, the repayment of which does not allow people to enjoy their fundamental rights.

    He wondered why the previous government did not activate such a procedure, noting that the committee will give answers to all questions raised and, in cooperation with the Greek Parliament, it will also examine the period before 2010 focusing on armaments, Olympic Games, transport, Siemens and the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE S.A.) contracts.

    The Parliament president's move was criticised by opposition parties, however, with main opposition New Democracy accusing Constantopoulou in an announcement of "systematically violating all notions of cross-party dialogue and consultation" and "having become a major problem for the national Parliament".

    Opposition Potami also accused Constantopoulou of overstepping her authority by launching the process at a time when neither the prime minister or finance minister were talking of a debt haircut and "adopting Panos Kammenos' agenda." The party urged the prime minister to step in and clarify the Greek position.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also criticised the move as "unilateral" and as seeking to "legitimise" the debt while opposition PASOK dismissed it as a "new television show by the Parliament president," conducted in violation of Parliamentary rules.

    Far-right Golden Dawn said that a debt audit and write-off of odious debt was a standing position for the party, "as well as resistance to the loan-shark policy of the creditors, to which SYRIZA has completely submitted."

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