ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended a deal reached between Athens and its foreign creditors for further reforms in return for bailout aid, saying it was an ‘honourable compromise’.
Tsipras said he believed relations between the country and the European Union and International Monetary Fund had turned a page after seven years in international bailouts, and that lenders had accepted austerity for the crisis-hit country should end.
“I think there was a turnaround of all sides.. In the direction of overcoming austerity and to now focus on a change to the policy mix that Greece must now follow,” Tsipras told lawmakers.
Greece and creditors agreed on Monday to further reforms and in return Athens will adopt tax relief measures, in a quid-pro-quo to ease a logjam in talks which have held up additional funding.
Representatives of Greece’s foreign creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, will return to Athens next week to discuss reforms the country must adopt to convince the IMF to participate in its current bailout programme.
The review of Greece’s bailout progress has dragged on for months mainly due to a rift between the EU and the Washington-based IMF over the country’s fiscal targets in 2018, when its programme ends, and the post-bailout period.
Tsipras, who described the compromise as a refocus and a shift to a ‘policy mix’ in which any impact would be offset by some relief measures, said he expected the review to be concluded by March 20.
“If you would ask me personally, if I agree to the need to change this policy mix I would say no, but when you go into a negotiation its obvious you will make some gains, but you will also be forced to make some concessions,” he said.
“Today, I have the absolute conviction we have achieved an honourable compromise…For the first time in seven years it was agreed to leave behind us this principle of perpetual austerity.”
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Toby Chopra)