BRUSSELS, January 30, 2015 (TSR) – The President of Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem and the Greek Finance Minister, Giannis Varoufakis, proceeded to joint statements, after their meeting just moments ago. Mr. Varoufakis welcomed the European Official “with great joy,” declaring that this was only an introductory meeting. “We started a first meeting process which will be the basis for a fruitful and effective cooperation, as required in the interests of Greece, the Eurozone and the European Union,” he added.
The starter pleasantries, however, were soon to be replaced by differing views in what is seen as the first clash of the newly elected SYRIZA-led government with the European partners.
The discussion ended on a good note with the President of the Eurogroup stating: “We discussed the procedures of the Eurozone putting particular emphasis on confidence that will lead to a new agreement within the Eurozone. From my side, I referred extensively to the Greek government’s priorities and the determination with which we intend to proceed with necessary, deep reforms, which must be made without fear and passion and restore the country’s competitiveness,” Mr. Dijsselbloem stressed.
The new Greek Finance Minister explained during the meeting that “the government’s guarantees for a balanced budget with a small primary surplus in perpetuity. I clarified that the State might have a continuity but we will not accept the self-reinforcing crisis of deflation and debt.”
Moreover, Mr. Dijsselbloem characterized the meeting as one of twofold purpose as it was made both “to hear the new government’s intentions and to explain the requirements of our agreements. We share mutual interests and both sides want Greece to regain its financial independence.” Referring to the 2012 Eurogroup, its President underlined that “it undertook a commitment to adequately support Greece in order to regain access to the markets under the condition it will meet its own commitments. Unilateral steps are not a way of moving forward. There are still problems in Greece, the situation did not change overnight.” At the same time, he expressed his understanding that the Greek people suffered harsh measures and “it is important for the new government not to waste this progress. “We expect from the Greek government to define its position and move forward together,” he concluded.
A few moments earlier, though, Mr. Varoufakis said that the government dismisses the troika’s logic: “Our first act as a government will not be the continuation of the program. In a cooperative spirit we want to convince our partners that the public interest will be served more efficiently with a new agreement,” he said. This caused a reaction from the Eurogroup President, who highlighted that the Greek program extension is due the end of February “and we have not yet concluded if there will be an additional extension,” while regarding the possibility of a conference on the debt he clarified that there is one already; the Eurogroup.
“You just killed the Troika” were, according to Greek media, Dijsselbloem’s departing words to Varoufakis after the latter said Athens will cease negotiations with the team of IMF/EC/ECB inspectors known collectively by that name.
“Wow” was the one-word response of the flamboyant new Greek Minister, or so his aides told reporters hours afterwards. Television newscasts made the disclosure after a mini media frenzy to learn exactly what was said by the two men after they stood up to leave in the process of exchanging an awkward handshake.
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