Friday, 20 April 2018
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PM: We are at the moment of truth

Prime minister Antonis Samaras expressed conviction that Greece is going through the final rough patch, in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper appearing on Sunday, adding that "we changed the image of Greece, and this is acknowledged by everyone", calling German chancellor Angela Merkel's recent visit to Greece as the "culmination of this great effort".

Samaras sent a clear-cut message that there will be no 'discounts" on the structural changes, including the civil servants' placement on 'availability'.

On the next tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan, he said "it is realistic that we will receive it", but warned that a "piecemeal" disbursement of the loan installment would be "exceptionally hazardous", whereas "if we don't get it, the consequences will be dramatic".

Noting that the agreement with the Troika on the fiscal measures needs to be completed by October 18 and also that the EU-IMF disagreement on the sustainability of the Greek debt will also have to be overcome by that date, he said that "after that it is only a matter of days for the new agreement to be passed by parliament".

He said that it is realistic that the tranche will be disbursed, as Greece is doing everything necessary, and this has been full acknowledged, but warned that a fragmented disbursement of the 31.5 billion euros trance would be exceptionally dangerous.

Asked what he will do to overcome the obstacle of government members who reject the structural changes, Samaras replied: "We are at the moment of truth. Everything that needs to be done is being done. And everyone is doing his share. I make no 'discounts' on this. As for the structural changes, there is no justification for any delay. From anyone. And for no reason whatsoever."

He said that he will make no discounts on the structural changes, not even on the 'availability' (suspension) of civil servants, noting that they will receive half a salary for a period of one year. "We cannot over-indebt ourselves, we cannot keep cutting salaries and pensions, while holding on to supernumerary and unfit employees in the public sector at a time when unemployment in the private sector has skyrocketed. This 'pimple' must be 'burst', and we will do it in the mildest way, but we will do it".

Samaras reiterated the need for liquidity, warning that "without liquidity there is no modern economy. In the last year there has been no liquidity due to the blow suffered by the Greek banks from the 'haircut' of the Greek debt".

"This lack of liquidity must be overcome very soon," he said.

He also said that existing proposals for investments must be exploited and that the major investment opportunities in Greece need to be showcased.

"Already, there are proposals for significant investment programmes in infrastructures, ports and airports, in natural resources such as gold, and in modern tourism, in hotel complexes and marinas," he said, noting that with the elimination of uncertainty and with the recapitalisation of the banks "I believe that the spark will be lit for a major inflow of real investments in Greece, perhaps for the first time in hears.

"New investments mean an exit from the recession, and employment. This will put us on an upward course. It will fully stabilize the country and pave the way to long-term growth," the premier said.

Replying to criticism that he was now applying that which in the past he had condemned, Samaras said that the time has come to correct the mistakes of the past, not only those of the recent years but the mistakes made in Greece for decades.

"That is what we are doing...only now we are no longer on our own, Greece's effort is now acknowledged by everyone, the country's credibility is being regained at a rapid pace and very soon the light will appear at the end of the tunnel. Today, we are not pointing out mistakes, but we are correcting all the mistakes of the past and building the future," Samaras said.

He added that the country needs to acquire credibility that is founded on consistency between words and deeds, and said his government is waging the battle in that direction, and that the first results have appeared, with Merkel's recent visit to Athens the "culmination" of the effort made in the recent period, "which is continuing".

"Change of image and regaining confidence is what we all credibility. And this, believe me, demanded much work both inside and outside Greece. the culmination of this great effort was the Merkel visit," he said.


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