Kyriakos Mitsotakis: The Prespa Agreement can’t change

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: The Prespa Agreement can’t change

The economic situation is not so rosy, the prime minister said at a press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), although he said he would repay the expensive IMF loans as the country is now borrowing at lower interest rates.

Mitsotakis confirmed that he intends to meet with Erdogan for a restart of Greek-Turkish relations, while he was also careful in his reference to the Prespa Agreement, which he said it cannot change. He noted that he did not link the revision of the Constitution to the change in the electoral law and said that it was not the time to raise the issue of the President of the Republic.

On the migrant issue he said he would step up returns to Turkey and called for greater solidarity from Europe. He insisted on the abolition of university asylum and argued that the opportunity for private universities was lost, but would not violate the constitution as no amendment to Article 16 was foreseen. He also assured that he plans to see his 4-year term through.

Mitsotakis also said he would see Kostas Gavras’ film, but insisted that the country was ridiculed from the negotiation in the first half of the year, to come after Mr Tsipras’s referendum failed. “I would like to see if Mr. Kammenos or Mr. Petsitis appear in the film”. He did not call Tsipras if he wanted to request an examination for the first semester.

He accused his predecessor of failing to calculate the cost of the hires he had announced, while at the same time did not confirm that he would make these appointments. He also said he would not return to the one-to-five rule in the recruitment-to-dismissal ratio.

My intention is to see the four-year mandate through

My intention is to see the four-year mandate through, the Prime Minister categorically stated, referring to voices from the opposition that he might hold elections earlier to overcome the obstacle of proportional representation, saying that “the opposition has completely lost it”. He noted, however, that unless the electoral law is changed, then the elections in 2023 will take place with a simple proportional representation, ie with a double ballot, since no government will be formed. We will go through the process of a double election.

The Prespa Agreement can’t change

The Prespa Agreement is a nationally damaging agreement, but it is ratified which means it does not change as we see fit, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, and recalled that “I made this statement when I spoke to the House of Representatives before the elections. The agreement does not provide for a process of changing it, it only provides for implementation control and we will be very strict on that. What Macedonia and Greece need is a development leap”. The Prime Minister spoke about the need to support Macedonian products and the Macedonian brand and to win the communication bet worldwide, so that when one hears Macedonia, he thinks of Greek Macedonia.

No meeting has been arranged with Zaev, but it will happen at some point, the prime minister said.

The situation in the economy was not rosy

The situation in which we found the economy was not so rosy, the prime minister said in response to a question and added that “we can implement our policy because we have had a surplus in revenue over the last two months. This shows that something is changing”.

He clarified that the government’s economic policy does not jeopardize fiscal discipline. It not only focuses on tax cuts, but emphasizes strong growth through a wave of foreign and domestic investment that will create jobs. This policy is different.

Greece can be a pleasant development surprise

Greece can be a pleasant surprise in a negative international economic environment, Mitsotakis argued. On the issue of the surplus negotiations, he said that the previous government with its negotiations led to high surpluses. But he said he would raise the issue of surpluses himself when the country regains credibility after 2020.

We do not link the revision of the Constitution with the electoral law

We do not give Greeks abroad any additional rights or enlarge the electorate, the prime minister clarified, explaining that “we are simply providing a convenience for anyone who is on the electoral roll to be able to vote from their place of residence”. We are also considering a letter vote. In order to do this, the government’s initiative should be voted by 200 votes.

The constitutional review will be completed by the end of the year, the prime minister said, adding that it is, without our responsibility, of limited scope. On the electoral law he said that “I will not associate electoral law issues with changes in the Constitution. They are two distinct issues”. He reiterated that simple proportional representation is catastrophic, so he will propose a law that ensures the formation of a government. “A party with 40% has the right to govern”, he said.

Meeting with Erdogan at the UN

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed his intention to meet with Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN conference and added that it would be an exploratory meeting. “If Mr Erdogan is ready for a meaningful re-launch in Greek-Turkish relations he will have to prove it in practice”. He went on to say that “my intention is to talk, because this the only way one can you find mutually acceptable solutions. We come to the negotiation with the arguments that international law gives us.

He added that he has raised the issue of Turkey’s actions in the Cyprus EEZ in all his international meetings that and is a European issue.

He said about immigration that it is also a European issue and that Turkey has received a lot of money, about EUR 6 billion for immigration.

PPC should not be used in for social policy

The plan to revamp PPC has been presented, the prime minister said, adding that “we have inherited PPC in tragic condition. It’s an issue that needs to be investigated because we have come to this despite that fact that some people had issued warnings”. The liquidity of the business needs to be restored, everyone will be asked to contribute. Some of its assets will be sold but I want PPC to move forward in a liberalized energy market that will make use of renewable energy. We will make it profitable again. We must not make social policy through PPC. PPC should be paid”.

From 2021 the reduction of the solidarity levy and the business fee

Reducing taxation increases everyone’s obligation to comply, the prime minister said, adding that with the introduction of the reduction of tax rate, freelancers have one more reason to declare their incomes.

“By 2021 we will have the fiscal space to reduce the solidarity levy and the business fee”, he said.

We will repay the expensive IMF loans

The lower interest rates facilitate our policy and allow us to borrow at a lower rate, the prime minister said, adding that “it is our intention to repay expensive IMF loans and the request will be lodged at the Eurogroup on Friday by the competent minister. We will save about 75 million a year from this intervention alone”.

No benefit will be abolished

No benefit will be abolished, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed, while referring specifically to people with disabilities he added that “we want a more structured approach to the issue of people with disabilities. I have taken this matter under my supervision and we will come up with innovative proposals”. He referred to his visit to the national association of blind people on Friday and expressed his admiration for these people and their mental strength. He also talked about the personal dimension of the matter because of his mother.

On labor, he said: “Our goal is to support the world of employment and full employment and we will be against any form of employer arbitrariness”. He reiterated that the reduction of insurance contributions will begin on 1 July 2020, and reiterated his belief in free collective negotiations.

We will respect the court decisions on the money the state owes to retirees, examine the finances and make returns over time.

What we have announced for 2020 has been accounted for and realistic and we do not surprise our partners, the prime minister said, adding that “I would not go ahead with the announcements unless the measures were fully costed.

Specifically, it would cost around USD 500 million to reduce corporate taxation, but he said that the fiscal cost will be less, due to tax compliance./ibna