WARSAW, Poland July 9 – President Barack Obama met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Warsaw on Saturday, the White House said.
“The president commended Greece’s cooperation with Turkey to reduce irregular migration and encouraged longer-term U.S.-Greece defense cooperation,” a White House official said, Reuters wrote .
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Neither Greece, nor the International Monetary Fund (IMF) want to delay the completion of the country’s first program review, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Fund’s head Christine Lagarde agreed during a meeting in Davos on Thursday.
According to the prime minister’s office, Tsipras and Lagarde agreed that the government and the IMF should have direct communication so that each side has a clear understanding of each other’s position.
The prime minister also briefed Lagarde on the audits conducted by Greek authorities for possible tax evaders who have bank counts abroad, noting it is the first time that there is political will to investigate those cases and not cover them up. Finally, he said the government is hoping to collect a significant part of this money by introducing a legislation of “self-reporting”.
Following the meeting, the IMF issued a press release saying that it stands ready to continue to support Greece in achieving robust economic growth and sustainable public finances through a credible and comprehensive medium-term economic programme, but only if it was granted “significant” debt relief by its European partners.
Earlier, Tsipras said during a panel discussion that solving Europe’s problems required “more Europe”.
“We are doing what we can in order to progress quickly and smoothly with the implementation of the agreement,” he said, and expressed hope that the disagreements and different views that occasionally arose between the three institutions representing the country’s creditors would not be the cause of further delays.
“This is not the time for various ‘exits’, whether these concern ‘Grexit’ or ‘Brexit’, or for divisions, or walls, or differentiations,” the Greek premier continued. “It is a time for more Europe: Common rules, deepening democracy, strengthening solidarity, an increased European budget in order to restrict inequalities, banking union with a European system for guaranteeing deposits,” he added.
According to Tsipras, it was time for Europe to return to its founding principles, which were those of democracy, solidarity and social cohesion.
Addressing issues raised by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said the International Monetary Fund’s presence in the Greek programme was essential and compared asking German lawmakers to sanction its removal to “going into a room full of dynamite with a lit candle”, Tsipras made the following comment:
“I too am no supporter of the view that one should attempt to light a candle in a room full of dynamite. Neither, however, do I have the view that on this account one must constantly be in the dark. The best solution is to remove the dynamite from the room and then light the candle.”
Euro zone countries tried in vain to stop the IMF publishing a gloomy analysis of Greece’s debt burden which the leftist government says vindicates its call to voters to reject bailout terms, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday to Reuters, as its exclusive report wrote
The Europeans were also concerned, the Reuters exclusive artcle further reveals, that
the report could distract attention from a view they share with the IMF that the Tsipras government, in the five months since it was elected, has wrecked a fragile economy that was just starting to recover.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” an IMF source involved in the debate over publication said. “We are not living in an ivory tower here. But the EU has to understand that not everything can be decided based on their own imperatives.”
The board had considered all arguments, including the risk that the document would be politicized, but the prevailing view was that
all the evidence and figures should be laid out transparently before the referendum.
“Facts are stubborn. You can’t hide the facts because they may be exploited,” the IMF source said.
The document released in Washington on Thursday said Greece’s public finances will not be sustainable without substantial debt relief, possibly including write-offs by European partners of loans guaranteed by taxpayers.
It also said Greece will need at least 50 billion euros in additional aid over the next three years to keep itself afloat.
Publication of the draft Debt Sustainability Analysis laid bare a dispute between Brussels and the Washington-based global lender that has been simmering behind closed doors for months.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cited the report in a televised appeal to voters on Friday to say ‘No’ to the proposed austerity terms, which have anyway expired since talks broke down and Athens defaulted on an IMF loan this week.
It was not clear whether an arcane IMF document would influence a cliffhanger poll in which Greece’s future in the euro zone is at stake with banks closed, cash withdrawals rationed and commerce seizing up.
“Yesterday an event of major political importance happened,” Tsipras said. “The IMF published a report on Greece’s economy which is a great vindication for the Greek government as it confirms the obvious – that Greek debt is not sustainable.”
At a meeting on the International Monetary Fund’s board on Wednesday, European members questioned the timing of the report which IMF management proposed at short notice releasing three days before Sunday’s crucial referendum that may determine the country’s future in the euro zone, the sources said.
There was no vote but the Europeans were heavily outnumbered and the United States, the strongest voice in the IMF, was in favor of publication, the sources said.
In Brussels, the way the IMF communicated the findings was seen as confusing, misleading and politically unhelpful.
The European Commission had produced its own debt sustainability analysis, based partially on IMF data, which is less pessimistic in its scenarios and is one of the documents mentioned on the Greek referendum ballot paper.
Diplomats said the IMF’s publication of the study was a way of making clear it would only be part of any future loan pact with Greece if the Europeans included debt relief in the mix.
Germany and its north European allies have said the IMF’s presence is indispensable both to win parliamentary backing for aid for any euro zone partner, and to keep the European institutions honest. Berlin suspects the European Commission of being too soft on Greek efforts to wriggle out of reforms of pensions, taxation, public sector wages and labor law.
The European Central Bank, ( which has made Banks close in Greece as soon as the referendum was announced , we note) the third partner in what used to be called the “troika” of bailout enforcers, is also keen to keep the IMF involved, the Reuters article writes.
“I have to admit” said Alexis Tsipras briefing the Parliament on Friday 5, evening, “that the suggestion I recieved in Brussels from Jean Claude Juncker surprised me disobligingly. I could not have imagined, I confess, that after three months of step by step negotiations we would finally deliver a proposal that would have not taken into account the Brussels Group negotiations.
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Alexis Tsipras is showing the example to the European leaders by his paradigm of remaining stable on his “red lines” strategic, and by resisting to the “irrational strategic of the loop” the creditors have applied to Greece, wrote today the editor of economic newspaper « La Tribune »Romarik Gkonten, commenting on the Greek PM’s article on Le Monde and stating openly that Alexis has turned successfully the the game upsidedown
Creditors had hoped, says Gkoten, that “that the more the noose would be tightenend, and ecnomic aspuxiation of Greece would be growing, the more Greek resistance would be reduced. But the opposite happened!
In his article Alexis Tsipras shows decisive, the author of La Tribune notes. He starts his article on Le Monde by denouncing the stalemate policies of the previous governments imposed by the troika, he remonded then the retreats accepted by his governmenet and concludes by saying clearly he retains “red lines”. “By this attitude, Gkoten underlines, Alexis Tsipras’ has completely reversed the situation “It is now that Greece should not ‘beg’ for an agreement (…) but its the creditors that should realize the reality of the Greek decline and its economy that has” been bled from their own block. “
(…) This tactical move of Alexis Tsipras is particularly smart. From here on, it is the one who puts the rules of the game …. , the author goes on .
Greece’s solution and Europe’s future lies in the leaders’ hands, said Alexis Tsipras on his article on Le Monde :
“The lack of an agreement so far is not due to the supposed intransigent, uncompromising and incomprehensible Greek stance,” Alexis Tsipras wrote on May 31 on his article on Le Monde . “It is due to the insistence of certain institutional actors on submitting absurd proposals and displaying a total indifference to the recent democratic choice of the Greek people.”
“Greeks voted for a change by a courageous decision “
On 25th of last January, the Greek people made a courageous decision. They dared to challenge the one-way street of the Memorandum’s tough austerity, and to seek a new agreement. A new agreement that will keep the country in the Euro, with a viable economic program, without the mistakes of the past.
The Greek people paid a high price for these mistakes; over the past five years
- the unemployment rate climbed to 28% (60% for young people),
- average income decreased by 40%, while according to Eurostat’s data,
- Greece became the EU country with the highest index of social inequality.
- Public debt soared from 124% to 180% of GDP, and despite the heavy sacrifices of the people, the Greek economy remains trapped in continuous uncertainty caused by unattainable fiscal balance targets that further the vicious cycle of austerity and recession.
The new Greek government’s main goal during these last four months has been to put an end to this vicious cycle, an end to this uncertainty.
“Let me present the truth, on what Greece has done “
Many, however, claim that the Greek side is not cooperating to reach an agreement because it comes to the negotiations intransigent and without proposals.
Is this really the case?
Because these times are critical, perhaps historic–not only for the future of Greece but also for the future of Europe–I would like to take this opportunity to present the truth, and to responsibly inform the world’s public opinion about the real intentions and positions of Greece.
“These are Greece’s real intentions”
One of the key aspects of our proposals is the commitment to lower – and hence make feasible – primary surpluses for 2015 and 2016, and to allow for higher primary surpluses for the following years, as we expect a proportional increase in the growth rates of the Greek economy.
Another equally fundamental aspect of our proposals is the commitment to increase public revenues through a redistribution of the burden from lower and middle classes to the higher ones that have effectively avoided paying their fair share to help tackle the crisis, since they were for all accounts protected by both the political elite and the Troika who turned “a blind eye”.
From the very start, our government has clearly demonstrated its intention and determination to address these matters by legislating a specific bill to deal with fraud caused by triangular transactions, and by intensifying customs and tax controls to reduce smuggling and tax evasion.
While, for the first time in years, we charged media owners for their outstanding debts owed to the Greek public sector.
In other words, the oligarchs who were used to being protected by the political system now have many reasons to lose sleep.
“So, let’s be clear:…”
The lack of an agreement so far is not due to the supposed intransigent, uncompromising and incomprehensible Greek stance, but due to to the insistence of certain institutional actors on submitting absurd proposals and displaying a total indifference to the recent democratic choice of the Greek people, despite the public admission of the three Institutions that necessary flexibility will be provided in order to respect the popular verdict.
Speaking at the London School of Economics last week, Jack Lew fueled speculation with his “greater flexibility” comment that the U.S. was hintingthat the three financial institutions should renegotiate the terms under which they rescued Greece from debt and forced exit from the euro currency.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained at the regular Wsked by the instithite house Press Conference one day before Alexis Tsipras article was pubished on Le Monde, that “That’s not in anybody’s interests. And he’s hopeful that all the parties will be able to sit down in good faith and broker an agreement that satisfies their concerns.”
“Obviously the IMF has been a part of the conversations here,” replied President Barack Obama’s top spokesman, “These kinds of multilateral institutions such as the IMF have a role to play. The IMF has provided significant assistance to Greece and what Secretary Lew was urging was for all the parties to come to an agreement that doesn’t cause undue turmoil in the financial markets.”
“The problem with the IMF renegotiating is that there are many players involved,” Desmond Lachman, American Enterprise Institute scholar and onetime deputy policy director of the IMF, told Newsmax, “A lot of its shareholders would have to go along with any refinancing and already, a lot of them aren’t happy campers over the way the Greek bailout has gone.”
Tsipras: “Two oposite strategies for Europe’s Present and Future”
Greece is the very epicenter of conflict between two diametrically opposing strategies concerning European unity and its future, the Greek PM in his article concludes; The first, that aims to deepen European unification , and the second that works for the beginning of the creation of a technocratic monstrosity that will lead to a Europe entirely alien to its founding principles.
The first step to accomplishing this( second strategy version) is to create a two-spewo ed Eurozone where the “core” will set tough rules regarding austerity and adaptation and will appoint a “super” Finance Minister of the EZ with unlimited power, and with the ability to even reject budgets of sovereign states that are not aligned with the doctrines of extreme neoliberalism.
For those countries that refuse to bow to the new authority, the solution will be simple: Harsh punishment. Mandatory austerity. And even worse, more restrictions on the movement of capital, disciplinary sanctions, fines and even a parallel currency.
Solution in the Leaders’ hands: “For whom the bell tolls” (…Mr. Schauble-?-)
For those who want to believe that this decision concerns only Greece, they are making a grave mistake. I would suggest that they re-read Hemingway’s masterpiece, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
For the editor of «La Tribune», Alexis Tsipras’ article is a direct call to Angela Merkel:
“The criticism of the intransigence of creditors expressed by the Greek PM, is actually a criticism towards Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who never hid his preference for Grexit”, La Tribune on June 1 wrote
Thanos Catsambas, the Greek representative to International Monetary Fund and one of the Fund’s alternate executive directors, resigned, unxpecedly on Wednesday. Greek media speculate whether Catsambas’ resignation is related by any means with the visit of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to IMF last Sunday.
Effectively Thanos Catsambas will step down from his position on 1. June 2015. No official statement, press release or announcement has been made for the reasons for his departure yet.
Mr Catsambas was a former IMF official from 1979-2010, and was appointed as Greece’s IMF representative in January 2012 when Lukas Papadimos was Prime Minister.
Sources from the Greek Finance Ministry commented on Catsambas’ resignation that “it was his own personal decision” implying that he was not asked to do so.