Greek PM set for crucial meeting with EU Commission President

Greek PM set for crucial meeting with EU Commission President

Athens, February 4, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Lefteris Yallouros

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met Tuesday with Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi in Rome before meetings with European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and French President Francois Hollande in Brussels Wednesday, as part of a drive to agree debt-relief for Greece.

“I believe the conditions exist to find an accord with the European institutions,” Matteo Renzi said at a joint press conference with Tsipras. The Italian PM assured his Greek counterpart that he could rely on “the greatest possible support, both in terms of bilateral cooperation and in availability for dialogue.”

On his part, Alexis Tsipras noted “there has to be a common struggle with the same values and responsibility so that the new generation can find its hope again.”

The Greek PM reiterated the need for time to form a new economic plan for Greece while adding that his government will not create new deficits. “Athens does not want to create rifts in Europe” the premier said.

“We want solidarity and social cohesion and a return to the founding values of Europe,” Tsipras said, adding that it is necessary for Europe to change while clarifying that the new government is open to alternative proposals.

Alexis Tsipras anf Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis are touring European capitals in a diplomatic offensive to secure debt – relief, a new growth-driven framework and the end of monitoring by the troika.

After just one week in government, Tsipras has quickly sought direct negotiations between Athens, the EU and IMF while stating in all possible ways that Greece is prepared to compromise with eurozone allies in order to find a way forward.

In response, Jean Claude Juncker said on Tuesday that the European Union was ready to “rearrange some of our policies,” but warned Tsipras he also had to be ready to compromise.

So far, Germany has turned down Greek demands for the troika to be dismantled while other EU member-states have joined their voices with the German government in ruling out a “haircut” on Greek debt.

“The German government sees no reason to scrap this mechanism of evaluation by the troika,” Finance Ministry spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said in Berlin earlier this week. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said after meeting Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, that Athens could not expect a straight debt write-off, but could instead be granted more time for repayment.

Meanwhile, Yanis Varoufakis is due to meet the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Wednesday. “We will use all the means at our disposal to reach our target, and that target is to reduce the debt… [regardless] of the name and euphemisms it is given to make it more digestible,” Varoufakis said after holding talks with Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, in Rome Tuesday.