Brussels, 3 December 2013
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Venizelos’ statements to Hellenic Public Television on the margins of the NATO Ministerial
JOURNALIST: What stance will you maintain with the troika from here on in?
E. VENIZELOS: On the margins of today’s Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, and ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the Greek government and the College of EU Commissioners, I am having a series of meetings in which my message – Greece’s message, the message of the Greek people and our government – is very, very clear: We want substantial, not just rhetorical, acknowledgement of the sacrifices and great achievements of the Greek people.
We want all of our international partners to understand what the market has understood on the international level – what the international private sector has understood: that Greece has changed, that Greece is exiting the crisis and no one can hinder us now that we are covering the last few meters to the end of this tragically difficult time, which would have been much more difficult – much, much worse – if we hadn’t made this responsible but, naturally, extremely arduous choice, for the good of the nation, the homeland, and the economy.
So we are therefore prepared for all the structural changes; we are ready to implement the measures that have been legislated. But, no – the Greek people cannot bear additional burdens. No, we cannot withdraw protection for vulnerable social groups, like, for example, protection for the first home of poor and middle-income households.
JOURNALIST: You said this morning that, regardless of the negotiations, we have met the requirements to get the next instalment.
E. VENIZELOS: This is a technical matter that concerns the flow of payments for the servicing of the public debt and the loan. And this is another message we are giving to all our partners and all the countries – particularly the eurozone countries: Yes, the eurozone and the ESM and the IMF have given us loans. Yes, the loan we took was very large – €250 billion – but it is being serviced in full. No country or international organization that has lent us money has been at any risk.
And if everything goes smoothly – and everything will go smoothly, thanks to the hard work, sacrifices and pressures taken on by the Greek people – no one will lose. Everyone will win. Greece will win, naturally, as it turns a new page, but the eurozone as a whole will also win. That is why any other approach, portraying Greece as having taken loans that it isn’t going to repay, is derisive and unfair – it is not the case. We are proud as a nation, trustworthy as partners. We went through a very difficult time, but now we have to cross the finish line.