Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras raised the issue of Greece’s debt in meetings with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, noting the need to resolve disagreements among the institutions that perpetuate the uncertainty regarding its sustainability.
According to government sources, the French side supported the Greek positions and expressed the will of the French government for a solution on the debt to be found, recognizing the need to put an end to uncertainty. Moreover, both sides agreed that the disagreements regarding the handling of the debt issue need to be resolved in order to find a solution that will ensure its sustainability. The agreement on debt is also necessary, among others, because it will give a signal that Europe solves its problems.
Tsipras and Hollande agreed that access to the quantitative easing programme is crucial for the recovery of the investment climate in Greece, while the Greek side reiterated its position that the agreements must be respected by all parties, which was accepted by the French side.
Tsipras expressed the same position in his meeting with Merkel, stressing that it is necessary to dispel the uncertainty so that a solution can be reached and Greece can regain access to the markets.
Tsipras and Merkel also discussed developments in the refugee issue, according to governmental circles. The two sides agreed that all necessary measures need to be taken so that the EU-Turkey agreement advances. The same sources said that Merkel expressed her intention to further support the refugee issue in Greece, both at an EU and bilateral level.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, which was raised in the meeting, Tsipras briefed Merkel on the Greek positions adding that he supports the intercommunal talks. He referred to the issue of guarantees and security, noting that the Greek side supports the complete withdrawal of troops from the island.
Finally, government sources said that Tsipras had a short meeting with British Prime Minister Teresa May, in the framework of bilateral contacts with Member States ahead of the Brexit. In this meeting, the Greek side raised the issue of Greek students and workers in the UK, while they also discussed the Cyprus issue.
In statements following his meeting with Tsipras on the sidelines of the European Council meeting in Brussels, Hollande said that France encouraged all sides involved, such as the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to take the necessary decisions regarding Greece’s debt. At the same time, he noted that Greece must fulfill its commitments.
European commitments to Greece over the issue of the debt must be met “as quickly as possible,” he said.
Merkel, on her part, confirmed that her discussion with the Greek prime minister on Friday morning had covered the refugee crisis, the Cyprus issue and the progress made in the Greek programme. She was replying to a question put by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) during a press conference after the end of the EU leaders’ summit.
The German chancellor declined to go into specifics but confirmed that all three issues were discussed. With respect to the refugee crisis, in particular, she said the discussion had focused on how Greece might be assisted by sending experts from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), among others.