Greek Deputy PM Dampens Hopes for Debt Relief


Greek Government Deputy Prime Minister Giannis Dragasakis proposed sanctioning debt restrictions within the framework of the Greek Constitution. Taking part in the first conference of the sub-committee of Greek Parliament’s Committee of Economic Affairs focused on debt and debt reduction, he said that the debt process will stretch beyond 2018 as it is unlikely that Greece’s European creditors would offer debt relief.

Dragasaki’s proposal for a constitutional ceiling to debt was based on a model followed by Ecuador. He said that the solution for Greece’s debt woes does not lie in “the demonization or the blessing of deficits” though it is clear that you have a problem when there is borrowing at times of growth, as was the case with Greece.

Regarding debt relief, Dragasakis explained that Greece’s creditors are also burdened with debt, making them less likely to consider a debt haircut for Greece. “I don’t think it is easy to achieve a large reduction without regulating their own debt. That is why we should seek a European solution,” he said.

The Eurogroup deal has a three-pronged timeline with direct, short-term and long-term reforms required. “Even if things go well, we are looking at a process that will stretch beyond 2018,” he said.

Dragasakis was somewhat negative about the “Truth Committee” that had been created during former Parliamentary Speaker Zoe Konstantinopoulou’s tenure. The goal had been to explore Greece’s debt history, however, Dragasakis says that it did not have the respectability and weight that it should have. He said that there is a “self-awareness” problem in Greece. “We should balance internal and external reasons. The bipolar notion that only those outside (Greece) or the belief that those outside are just there to help us serves to regurgitate the problem.”

Throughout the meeting the discussion took place in a tense climate. The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputies taking part were aggressive in regards to the main opposition deputies of the conservative New Democracy (ND) party as well as the socialist PASOK party. There were moments in the discussion that resembled an inquiry or examination committee regarding who caused the debt problems for Greece.


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