Athens, 27 November 2013
Joint statements of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Venizelos and OECD Secretary General Gurria, following their meeting
Ev. Venizelos: The OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurria, is a true friend of Greece and a major international figure, because before he took up this high office some years ago, he served as Foreign Minister and Finance Minister of his country, Mexico.
He understands very well the problems the Eurozone has, as well as Greece’s problems, and he is helping in every way for us to return to positive growth rates and get past the crisis. We are in ongoing cooperation.
Today’s message is that Greece’s debt is sustainable, and the potential for bringing it down is much greater than is apparent to the naked eye. This is an additional, very specific and positive message for the Greek people. We truly are in the phase of exiting the crisis, the phase of change. We must persist united and strong.
A. Gurria: I agree with everything he said, fundamentally. I am delighted to be visiting Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Venizelos. We are good friends, and we have had a very frank and very open dialogue.
I have informed the Minister that I am delivering today with Ministers Stournaras, Mitsotakis and Hatzidakis, three reports, one full economic report of Greece, one economic report on competition issues in particular, and then an advance progress report of a report that will be delivered in full next January, about public administration and about all the facilitation of business, going forward.
So we are very active with Greece. We are working with Greece, but also for Greece. We have delivered also for Greece a full report about education, a full report about social issues and also a full report about the modernization of public administration.
We are of course always ready to listen to the indications of the Greek government. We just had an excellent meeting with the Prime Minister, also, to see what their priorities are, how we can accompany these in what has to be the most impressive adjustment programme that has ever been undertaken: a dramatic turnaround in your current account – it was almost 10% in deficit, now its in balance; a dramatic turnaround in your fiscal accounts, which was very heavily in the red, as you know, and which was the original source of the problems in Greece, and which has now turned around, and now you have a primary surplus.
And the fact that you have regained your competitiveness, which was lost after many, many years of having increased wages that were higher than productivity, when many other countries were having productivity going higher than wage settlements.
Now that has been addressed. And now there is a convergence process. And of course that is showing. And this is why your current account is now moving towards balance.
But there’s also – there is ‘life after debt’. There is a question of the medium and the long term. And the question is, we are working with the Greek government in the medium and the long term, after all the short-term issues and the debt and the troika and everything else is settled, there will still be public policies to focus on to make sure that the Greek people do better in the years to come, and that the scars of this painful period are erased, and the situation returns to its advantage that we can have more competitiveness, more prosperity, more well-being for the Greek people in the years to come.
Thank you very much.