Greece is now on the final stretch to achieving the goal that brought the government to power; an exit from strict surveillance and the end of the memoranda, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday during his opening speech at the cabinet meeting.
He stressed the need for the government to not lose focus of the target and not become complacent, noting that the “last few metres of the course” will be the most difficult.
“Do not forget that this government was formed by parties with different ideological starting points but with a common central political objective: a safe and final exit from the memorandums and suffocating surveillance, the recovery of our economic sovereignty,” the prime minister stressed. He noted that the government’s target is to hold elections in autumn 2019, at the end of the government’s four-year term.
“No one in Europe is currently discussing the possibility of a precautionary credit line for Greece. What we are discussing with the institutions is the details of a clean exit, an exit that will not be accompanied by new commitments, from a new memorandum,” Tsipras said. “The debate on a precautionary credit line that some have tried to keep alive is a discussion that is already over. Some people may be making desperate attempts, even now, to resurrect it for their own political purposes, but the reality proves them wrong.” He added that the government is currently discussing a post-programme strategic development plan for Greece with the institutions, from which the key criteria for the surveillance of the Greek economy will arise, as well as the issue of easing Greek debt.
Turning to foreign policy issues, the prime minister said the country had to find a way to resolve differences with neighbouring Albania and FYROM without retreating from national positions, as well as managing Turkish aggressiveness. “The biggest national failure at this time would be to show ourselves unable to manage Turkish provocation and the heightened tension that we see from our neighbours with unity, sobriety and calmness,” Tsipras said.
At the same time, he assured the Greek people that “Greece is a strong and secure country with strong international alliances and foundations.” “We are not threatening anyone, but we are not afraid of anyone, and we call on our neighbors to leave aside the escalating rhetoric that leads to an impasse,” he said.
Tsipras urged Turkey to stop the attacks and act as quickly as possible, as a gesture of good will, to speed up the return of the two Greek soldiers being held in Turkey. “Given that Turkey is in a state of tension, we have yet another reason to seek to close as many fronts as possible in our foreign policy, so that we do not waste diplomatic and political capital,” Tsipras said. To this end, Greece should carry on in the same direction, trying to resolve issues on its northern borders with Albania and FYROM, ” but without retreating from our national positions and with a sense of national responsibility.”
“Greece, as a force of stability and democracy in the region, should play a leading role in this endeavor that ensures an environment of good neighbourliness, cooperation and mutual respect,” he added. “It would be desirable if, at least in foreign affairs, there was a climate of understanding and unity among the political forces,” while noting that this did not appear to exist at present. “I’m sorry, but I do not see it. I wish to be proven wrong,” he added.