Greece supports the European Commission’s proposal for a reformed EU economic governance framework in principle, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday during a press conference after the European leaders’ meeting in Brussels.
In response to questions, the prime minister noted that this proposal recognises the possibility of greater flexibility and a reasonable reduction of public debt and that most member-states appear to adopt this position. He also stressed that “faster progress is required” and said that Greece will not accept a return to the previous, strict rules.
According to Mitsotakis, the government has shown that Greece is capable of designing its own policies that reduce debt and don’t undermine fiscal stability.
“I am certain that we can achieve the goal of regaining investment grade within 2023, provided our people place their trust in us and a strong and stable government emerges [in the elections],” Mitsotakis added, in response to questions. He noted that gaining investment grade will help lower the cost of borrowing for Greece.
Regarding electricity rates, he said the government was prepared to actively support households and businesses and that, as prices drop, the need for subsidies will also be lower. He also noted that Europe must replenish its natural gas reserves and redesign the electricity market, as no one can be certain what will happen next year. Mitsotakis described Greece as a “protagonist” on a European level, pointing out that prices began to fall when a decision was taken to impose a cap on natural gas prices. He called for more networks to export energy to Central Europe, including energy that might be transferred to Europe from Africa.
Asked about his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the renegotiation of the contract with Hellenic Train, the Greek prime minister said that he had invited Meloni to Athens before the elections and that she accepted. He said the meeting could discuss the fiscal rules, migration and Italy’s support in restarting Greece’s railways, with the Italian company investing in more reliable and safer trains while the state invests in the network.
On the elections and the possibility of cooperation to form a coalition government, Mitsotakis repeated that the country “needs a strong and stable government to make the great leap to the future” and that he will continue to strive for this. He also ruled out all possibility of privatising water, dismissing such claims as “fake news”.
Mitsotakis particularly emphasised that Greek banks were “absolutely stable and not under threat” from the latest turmoil in the international markets, as non-performing loans in their portfolios have been cut from 40 pct when he came into power to just under 10 pct at present.
On rooting out the “deep state”, the prime minister pointed to government successes, such as speeding up the processing of pension applications or the introduction of productivity bonuses, while noting that the accident at Temp “reminded us there is still a lot of work to be done”.
“We are determined to stand up to those that want to keep Greece a captive of the past,” he added.