July 8, 2015

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Tsipras addresses European Parliament - MEPs not very compassionate over Greece

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed the European Parliament on Wednesday morning, where he addressed the dramatic developments that have unfolded in Greece over the last few days. The PM said that the Greek people do not want a rupture with Europe and that his aim is only on reaching a fair and sustainable solution, by avoiding the mistakes of the past which in his opinion condemn the Greek economy and throw Greek society into a deeper depression. He then assumed personal responsibility for everything that has happened in Greece over the past five months, and for all the mistakes that have been made by his government.
     "I am here, a few days only after the referendum in Greece, a few days after their mandate to intensify our efforts towards a viable solution, said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in his address on Wednesday to the European parliament.
During his address, he said that Greek citizens have made many strides to adhere to this austerity, but are now exhausted. In his opinion, Greece has been turned into an experiment on austerity, which he noted has failed.
     “The Greek people's decision does not mean rift with Europe but the return to the European values. I assume full responsibility for what happened in the last five months and I want to reassure you that the Greeks in the last five years have done a tremendous effort that has worn them out. We want an agreement that will foresee credible reforms and with the least possible recessionary measures with a growth agenda. Our proposal also foresees the debt restructuring issue. We should not consider it a taboo. I want to be clear”, said Tsipras.
     “The proposals for the debt restructuring do not want to burden the European citizens. The money from the loans never came to the Greek citizens but went for the banks' rescue,” the Greek premier added.
Tsipras then said that Greece has not received any European funding since August 2014, when it was owed 7.2 billion euros and would have to make loan payments worth 17.5 billion euros to collect the outstanding aid. He stressed that previous Greek governments were also to blame for the situation, since no reforms were ever implemented.

When ending his speech, Tsipras stated that Europe is a critical crossroads and reminded Europeans that the Greek crisis is a European problem requiring a European solution.

Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis also appealed for a solution to the Greek debt crisis underlining that a Grexit "must be excluded once and for all from the European vocabulary".
Earlier, European Council President Donald Tusk admitted that a Grexit would affect all of Europe, "also in the geopolitical sense. If anyone has the solution that it will not be so is naive".
     “All sides of the negotiations share the responsibility for the status quo. Our inability to find agreements may lead to the bankruptcy of Greece and the insolvency of its banking system. I have no doubt that this will affect Europe, also in a geopolitical sense,” Tusk said.
     "Until now I have avoided talking about deadlines, but I say loud and clear the deadline ends this week. All of us as responsible for the crisis,” he added.
     “As Plutarch once said: “to find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult”... let us prove him wrong,” he concluded.
Nigel Farage, on the other hand did not agree, he literally told Tsipras to sack the EU and return Greece to the drachma. (Then again we did not expect much else from Mr. Farage since his country is home to the largest community of hedge fund gamblers in the world who would like nothing more than to increase their earnings through a Greek bankruptcy)
     "This is not just Greece we are talking about, the whole of the Mediterranean is in the wrong currency" says the Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
     "The continent is divided... there is a new Berlin wall and it's called the euro. Just listen to the way the German leader (Weber) has attacked Mr Tsipras" he said. Farage also told Tsipras that he should "have the courage to leave the Greek people out of the eurozone..." and give them "the leadership and hope" he wants.
The head of the European socialist grouping said socialists, Gianni Pittella (Italy), had a completely different view. In a stern voice he said that he and all the socialists across Europe would never accept a Grexit.
     "What is at stake is Europe's future, which includes Greece. We socialists will never accept Grexit," Pittella underlined.
The debate continued with the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, who warned that Europe “is sleepwalking towards a Grexit”. Outlining his plan for reform he said that it is now the end of the client list system in Greek politics (i.e. party cronyism and rewarding loyalists with jobs). He urged the downsizing of the public sector, the ending of privileges - (to the military, the orthodox Church, the Greek islands and the political parties).
     “There is never such a prime minister in Greece who has such a strong mandate as you, you need to come forward with your reform package, it is not a chicken or egg situation,” he said. He then told Tsipras that the "choice is very simple, either you want to be remembered as an accidental prime minister or a real revolutionary who modernised his country."
German MEP Manfred Weber, on the other hand, accused Tsipras of "destroying confidence in Europe."
     "You are not telling your people the truth. That is not dignified politics," Weber said. "The Slovakians are sick of paying for Greece" he added. Weber tells the Greek PM he has left the road of "compromise". "Mr Tsipras, the extremists of Europe are applauding you. You are surrounding yourself with the wrong friends," the German MEP noted.

Sources - ERT Tv, ANA-MPA, The Telegraph, The Guardian

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