Greece’s Tsipras Tells European Leaders Reforms Are Coming

The Greek prime minister promises policy changes in order to qualify for continued financial support.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras meets with other European leaders in Brussels, March 19, 2015
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras meets with other European leaders in Brussels, March 19, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras assured his European Union creditors late on Thursday that his government would soon unveil new economic reforms in order to qualify for continued financial support.

The far-leftist premier said he left a three-hour meeting with the leaders of France, Germany and European institutions feeling more optimistic.

“It is clear that Greece is not obliged to implement recessionary measures,” he said, referring to reforms previous Greek government pledged to enact but Tsipras reneged on after taking office in January. “Greece will submit its own structural reforms which it will implement.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel sounded less convinced. “We have not changed one iota,” she insisted. “You may have heard some of this before. But then not much has happened in the last few weeks.”

Greece submitted additional reforms last month under a deal that saw its bailout extended for four months. But especially Northern European countries, like Germany, complain little progress is being made while Greek leaders continue to defy the rest of the bloc.

Earlier this month, the Greek defense minister outraged the rest of Europe with his threat to flood the continent with immigrants, including militants who might have been fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, if his country didn’t get its way.

Tsipras later threatened to seize German property in Greece as compensation for wartime atrocities, claims Germany says are invalid.

The prime minister also accused Portugal and Spain of taking a hard line in negotiations in order to bring down his government.

The desperation comes as Tsipras’ radical Syriza party is struggling to make good on its election promises.

The far-left coalition vowed to roll back spending cuts and liberal economic reforms Greece has enacted since 2010 in exchange for €240 billion in financial aid from other European Union countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Most governments denounced the unilateral moves while the IMF was highly critical of the new reforms Greece submitted, saying the plan lacked “clear assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged.”

The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of eurozone finance ministers, has said Greece will not receive any more bailout disbursements unless it actually makes policy changes, rather than talks about them. “Just receiving the money without any action — it’s not going to happen,” he told Dutch television.

Time is short because Greece could run out of money by the end of the month. Without continued financial support, it might have to default on some of its debt payments.

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