Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Tsipras sees an end to oversight next year

AP, THESSALONIKI, Greece

Demonstrators on Saturday hold banners and placards during a protest against the government’s austerity measures and reforms outside the Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece, where Greek Prime Minister Aleix Tsipras was speaking at the opening of the annual exhibition.

Photo: AFP

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday said that the nation’s economy is turning around and would no longer be under the supervision of the country’s creditors next year.

Speaking at the opening of the 82nd Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece’s second-largest city, Tsipras said the economy will grow this year after a nine-year recession.

He said Greece added 236,000 jobs in the first seven months, the fastest pace since 2001 and that foreign investors are eager to capitalize on the opportunities.

To back up that point, Tsipras said a French businessman accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron on his two-day visit to Greece last week told him that the once prevalent narrative of Grexit — the likelihood of the deeply-indebted country leaving the 19-nation eurozone — has now become Grinvestment.

“I am certain that, this time next year, [creditor] supervision will have ended,” Tsipras said.

Left unmentioned was any reference to cutting part of the country’s still very high debt, a central demand of his government to which the IMF is sympathetic, but to which the EU, especially Germany, is adamantly opposed.

Also conveniently forgotten by Tsipras, now the champion of foreign investment and declared enemy of “wasteful spending,” was his party’s past vehement opposition to foreign investment and the obstacles put by both government ministers and state bureaucracy to investments such as the gold mining operation in Chalkidiki Peninsula, just east of Thessaloniki, and a real estate development project, by far Greece’s largest, on the grounds of the former Athens airport.

The main opposition New Democracy party seized on Tsipras’ changed positions and past unfulfilled promises to blast him for his speech.

“Mr Tsipras is funny in the role of a serious and reliable prime minister ... in a tasteless theatrical performance,” it said in a statement.

After recalling Tsipras coming to power as an unrepentant demagogue whose high-wire negotiations in 2015 cost Greece “100 billion euros” (US$12 billion at the current exchange rate) — in extra austerity measures — the opposition accused him of “belatedly discovering investments” that he fought against.

New Democracy also released, before Tsipras’ speech, a YouTube video purportedly showing Tsipras’ “lies” and broken promises from his speech last year at the fair’s opening.

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