Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras traveled to Paris today to receive the “Political Courage” award from the French quarterly Politique Internationale and its founder Patrick Wajsman, and yet another award from the Paris Bar Association, the “European Engagement Prize”.
“Allow me to say that this prize belongs to the Greek people, and I receive it in their name. Our courage is the courage of our people, from whose historical experience and maturity we find the courage and endurance to stand up straight in the twilight of the great trials of the last seven years,” Tsipras said of the courage award.
Tsipras is scheduled to have a working breakfast with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris tomorrow morning, amidst reports of French interest in Greek privatisation projects.
While in Paris, Tsipras will also meet with representatives of French businesses that may be interested in investing in Greece.
Opposition parties and a segment of the media suggested that Tsipras was leaving for Paris to avoid being present at a parliamentary discussion of an allegedly scandalous munitions deal with Saudi Arabia, in which his defense minister, Panos Kammenos, is being accused by the opposition of illegally trying to use the services of a middleman.
At the prime minister’s request, the debate was postponed from today until Monday, November 27, so that he can attend, thus signaling full support for his junior ruling coalition partner.
In his speech to the Politique Internationale audience, Tsipras outlined his government’s accomplishments and its intention of continuing the path of fiscal responsibility and reform.
Previous recipients of the prize include French President Emmanuel Macron, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angel Merkel.
Wajsman made clear that it was Tsipras’ about-face in ignoring the ‘No’ vote in the 2015 referendum that he declared on whether to accept Greece’s last bailout programme that establishes his courage.
“Despite the different orientation that Tsipras’ political family originally had, he found the courage to keep Greece in the euro and Europe, avoiding consequences that would have been disastrous for everyone,» Wajsman told the state-run Athens News Agency (ANA).
“Real leaders are people who are capable of understanding the meaning of history and putting their personal inclinations in second place when needed, as did Alexis Tsipras,» the journal’s founder told ANA.