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Statement by Alternate Foreign Minister Mr. E. Tsakalotos at the Side Event “Foreign Debt and Human Rights”, delivered by the Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador A. Alexandris

Friday, 06 March 2015

Statement by Alternate Foreign Minister Mr. E. Tsakalotos at the Side Event “Foreign Debt and Human Rights”, delivered by the Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador A. Alexandris

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, allow me to thank you on behalf of the Greek Government for inviting us to participate actively in this very interesting and timely side-event pertaining to the relationship between foreign debt and human rights. Developments in Greece and the emergence of a new government, in conjunction with the continuous negotiation with our partners, unfortunately did not permit my physical presence at today's meeting. In fact, the reason for which I am not attending this meeting is directly linked to the subject matter.


Statement by Alternate Foreign Minister Mr. E. Tsakalotos at the Side Event “Foreign Debt and Human Rights”, delivered by the Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador A. Alexandris

The management of Greece's foreign debt problem in 2010, when the country agreed to an Economic Adjustment Programme, proved to be both ineffective from a financial point of view and particularly painful as regards its effects on Greek society, despite the solidarity and funds which were provided by our partners. Concerning financial indicators, one need only to point out that the Greek economy receded by 25% and youth unemployment sky-rocketed to above 50%; a development which has resulted in mass migration of young Greeks to third countries. The management of the Greek crisis had negative consequences also at the level of society, in some cases negatively affecting human rights and in particular, economic and social rights. Many households do not have access to electricity, medical care, sufficient nutrition and shelter, thus contributing to the appearance of a humanitarian crisis. More specifically, 30% of the population is confronted with the danger of poverty and social exclusion.

It is the situation described above which the newly elected  Greek government seeks to address, cognizant however of the international climate in which all governments are called upon to function. The wing of the political spectrum from which the new government comes from has for years expressed its concern with regard to the power imbalance between financial markets and national economies. The main problem amounts to the fact that investment of the former are usually short-term, aiming at accruing direct profits from steep price fluctuations, while also ignoring the needs of the real economy. It is for this reason that we have supported the introduction of a tax on foreign exchange transactions, which as its inspirer and Nobel Laureate James Tobin once said, will 'throw some sand in the wheels' of the international financial system. Moreover, we are fully aware that states are confronted with a wide range of supranational problems, which are in need of supranational solutions. For this reason, the new Greek government is prepared to launch initiatives and cooperate with all interested parties in the context of the international organizations for the resolutions of problems, which both nation-states and the international community as a whole are collectively facing.

With these brief remarks, I would like to wish you every success in today's event, with our commitment to a closer cooperation in the future.

Efklidis Tsakalotos                                                     
Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations

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