Source: jm/sms (Reuters, dpa)
As Greece continues to negotiate with its creditors over the latest of three bailouts, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Berlin on Friday for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Tsipras said Greece was set for strong economic growth, which would help to “heal the wounds of crisis.”
“The projections for the Greek economy are extremely positive for next year,” Tsipras said, adding that authorities were expecting 2.7 percent growth in 2017 and 3.1 percent in 2018. He also reported on what he called his government’s “spectacular overachievement” on revenue targets, although he did not give precise examples.
Tsipras said he wanted the anticipated growth to do more than simply adjust the country’s financial statement.
“We want it to heal the wounds of crisis and to alleviate all those who have over these difficult years made huge sacrifices in the name of Europe,” the prime minister said.
‘Sincere and honest’ conversations
Tsipras made his comments at a press conference in Berlin standing alongside the chancellor, who would not be drawn in on the negotiations between Greece and the three institutions involved in the bailout talks – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Merkel said her meeting with Tsipras was not the “place for decisions to be taken.”
“We don’t always have simple conversations,” Merkel said ahead of her talks with Tsipras. But they were “always sincere and honest,” she added.
Merkel confirmed that the bailout talks were “in good hands with the three institutions and the Eurogroup, but the Greek prime minister’s assessment of the situation will certainly play a role in our discussions,” she said.
Tsipras remarked, “Our relationship is characterized by stability and directness.”
Merkel also called on other EU states to support Greece by accepting asylum-seekers fleeing conflicts in the Middle East.
“Greece faces huge challenges,” Merkel said. “We are both jointly promoting the idea that we must have a fair distribution of refugees within the European Union and we cannot leave a country such as Greece here alone.”
Christmas bonus sparks discord with creditors
On Thursday, the Greek government passed legislation to give pensioners a one-off Christmas bonus costing 617 million euros ($643 million). It has yet to be determined if the payout is compatible with obligations set under the terms of Greece’s bailout.
However, German Finance Ministry spokesman Dennis Kolberg said the institutions were critical of the payout in a preliminary report.
“To make the aid program a success, it’s essential that measures are not decided unilaterally or are not taken back without advance notice,” Kolberg said on Friday