Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took the podium again after European lawmakers commented on his speech to the European Parliament.
Tsipras said in his rejoinder that the discussion is about the Eurozone’s future. The confrontations only had political content and they were not confrontations between member-states.
Regarding negotiations, he said that Greece had to debate with three different institutions, with frequent conflicting opinions and suggestions. If the decisions were to be made between Greece and the European Commission, then the two sides would have reached an agreement. But the involvement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its conflicting suggestions put hurdles in the deal.
The Greek side has tabled a 47-page proposal after difficult and arduous negotiations and now the picture is that it had not tabled a proposal. On Monday, Greece tabled its proposals with a strong commitment to reach its goals, Tsipras noted.
Tsipras also said that the Greek government is a sovereign government and has the right to choose what it will implement.
Regarding misunderstandings and distortions in issues such as early retirement, Tsipras said that they should be eliminated. The Greek government was the first to say that reforms are needed and is committed to reach surplus targets. However, it has the right to redistribute the weight of measures and reforms.
“I heard insinuations that I have a secret plan to get Greece out of the euro. All last week European officials stated that a “No” in the referendum means we want out of the Eurozone. Greek citizens were aware of that. If I wanted to get Greece out of the euro, I would not be sending proposals and would not have translated the referendum results as a mandate to negotiate. I do not have a hidden drachma agenda,” he said.
“A loan is a form of solidarity. We want a viable program, and when we ask for a debt writeoff, we do so in order to repay our debts. I heard that we haven’t had any reforms in five months. The truth is that in the past five months we were negotiating and not governing,” Tsipras pointed out.
And he added: “However, we did things: We opened the Lagarde List, we prosecuted tax evaders, we signed an agreement with Switzerland to tax people who have their money abroad.”
“We ask for your support to change Greece,” Tsipras concluded.
European Commission President and European Council President rebut some of Tsipras’ statements in frustration
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded to some of Tsipras’ statements, saying that there were no discussions on Greece behind closed doors and that all negotiations were conducted in a friendly atmosphere.
“No one can accuse me of not caring about the low-income pensioners. I never suggested wage or pension cuts. Instead, I suggested to Mr. Tsipras to tax shipowners. We proposed an investment program to Greece worth 35 billion euros to revive the Greek economy. However, there have to be policies implemented so that the program works,” Juncker said.
“We are willing to continue our support, even at this moment. I would be grateful if Mr. Tsipras mentioned all those things when he said there were a lot of things that were not done from our side,” he added.
European Council President Donald Tusk also criticized the Greek Prime Minister and asked him “not to humiliate his friends.”
“We must return to certain common basic principles,” Tusk said. “We all talk about unity but here we are, divided on the Greek issue. We are obligated to respect one another. We must repay our debts to others. Creditors are not bad and immoral and debtors the innocent victims…. It is simply impossible to keep spending over a long period of time much more than one earns. This is the source of the crisis in Greece, not the common currency… Seek help among your friends, not among your enemies who are not able to help you. Finally, if you want to help your friend in need, do not humiliate him,” Tusk noted.
“Today, we need unity… It is indispensable in order to take concrete decisions. Without unity on Greece, we will wake up in four days in a different Europe. This is really and truly the final wake up call for Greece but also for us. Our last chance,” he stressed.