Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos asserted that the only obligation after the end of the bailout programme on 20 August is to maintain a 3.5 percent primary surplus, and that the road is opening for implementing an economic policy to support the economically weak and to maintain social cohesion.
As for reactions to Greece lowering the VAT tax on five Aegean islands burdened by the refugee crisis, Tzanakopoulos said that, “An extreme right group in the German ruling party, for reasons of excessive scholasticism, believed that the German parliament’s budget committee had to re-approve the move.
“There is no problem with the completion of the Greek programme. From August, 2018, and thereafter, the government acquires the key to exercising fiscal policy, with the only condition being maintaining a 3.5 percent of GDP primary surplus.
Regarding the case of four Russian diplomats – two asked to leave the country and two barred entry – Tzanakopoulos said such cases are sensitive.
“The Greek government has shown throughout the previous period that it will not allow itself to be dragged behind anyone and to undermine its foreign policy strategy, which is multi-pronged. We are trying to establish a multi-pronged policy that is energetic and has many openings to the entire world, without exclusions.
“To the degree that there is mutual respect in observing the principles of international law, and absolute clarity about heeding the principles of Greek sovereignty, that policy is a given and will continue,” Tzanakopoulos said.
“For our part, we will not tolerate behaviours that do not exhibit the requisite respect for the Greek government and the Greek state,” he underlined.
Regarding the two Russian diplomats, Tzanakopoulos said, “We took the measures that we should have taken and right now we view the issue as finished.”
He said the expulsion of the two Russian diplomats does not mean Greece is shifting its foreign policy, and recalled Greece’s stance in the face of pressures from the UK, EU, and Russia.
As for Russian Foreign Minister Ssergei Lavrov’s suggestion that the Americans are behind the expulsions, Tzanakopoulos said that was a mistaken evaluation.
“Russia is an important partner for Greece, and this will not change due to the recent incident. We must each time remind others that we are a sovereign state, and as a government and state we demand the respect of our partners. Period,” Tzanakopoulos said.