Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Athens on Wednesday to discuss the refugee crisis as well as the bailout that the Greek government is attempting to implement.
Tsipras reiterated the Greek government’s position and that there needs to be a relationship between creditors’ demands and the refugee crisis that has overwhelmed Greece.
The United Nations recently reported that 570,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece since the beginning of the year, with 210,000 of these arriving in October. Tsipras called for a common policy by the European Union to protect human lives while noting that Greece is dealing with a situation that is beyond its capabilities.
“At the same time that islanders open their arms to the waves of migrants and give them food, some of them even provide shelter to these migrants, but the government is obliged to raise VAT rates on islands. At the same time, we will carry out our duties, and create the best conditions possible so that these people have a roof over their heads, even temporarily until their relocation. But we are receiving pressure, through irrational demands, to lift the protection on first homes for Greeks,” Tsipras said.
The Greek Prime Minister added that he explained to Schulz that these demands are ridiculous and the Greek government will not accept them.
The conditions of foreclosures on first homes is one of the outstanding issues between the Greek government and international creditors. The inability to agree on this matter has delayed the disbursement of two billion euros in bailout funds to Greece.
The Greek government has also agreed and has begun the process of increasing VAT rates on Greek islands, a measure which is prescribed by the three year 86 billion euro bailout deal that Greece and creditors agreed to in August.
In his remarks, Schulz noted that the Greek government’s concerns about foreclosures and increased VAT rates on Greek islands, are justified and he will convey them to European leaders in Brussels. Schulz also urged the Greek government to cooperate with European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, who is currently in Athens, to work out these issues.
He further applauded Tsipras’s upcoming state visit to Turkey as an effort to resolve the refugee crisis.
Schulz and Tsipras will visit the East Aegean Greek island of Lesvos on Thursday in the context of the refugee crisis.
Following his meeting with Tsipras, Schulz met with the president of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“It must be made known that Greece is going through an economic and social crisis that borders on becoming a humanitarian crisis. It is my fervent request that in the course of executing the programme [Greek bailout], there be a correction of mistakes that are not the fault of Greece, but the result of mistaken calculations, in order that Greece can provide support for people and the social state,” ANA-MPA quotes Pavlopoulos as telling Schulz.
The European Parliament president expressed his support for Greece and noted that the country needs solidarity, which Europe will in turn show. Schulz further declared that Greece belongs to the Eurozone and the idea of a Grexit is non-existent.