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Greek Prime Minister: Debt relief will bring the curtain down on a modern Greek tragedy

Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, says “the time is now” for lenders to give Greece debt relief.

“This is the responsibility of our international creditors,” Tsipras said during a speech at the Concordia Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Debt relief will bring the curtain down on a modern Greek tragedy. For this reason, nobody has the right to hesitate or procrastinate,” he added.
Tsipras said specific measures for the reduction of Greek debt by the end of the year would give markets and investors a clear message that “Greece is back.”

Tsipras wants to show the world that Greece’s third bailout package since 2010 is bearing fruit. Nearly forced out of the euro zone last year, Greece enacted painful tax hikes and deep pension cuts as part of its 86 billion euro bailout.

“Last year Greece made bold and decisive steps to secure its internal political and economic stability,” Tsipras said. “This year marks the turn of the economy from recession to economic recovery.”

Tsipras believes Greece could grow by 0.2 to 0.4% this year and has committed to attaining a primary budget surplus of 3.5% of economic output by 2018.

For some economists, those numbers are too optimistic. Greece’s economy contracted 0.5% from January to March, and Greece’s unemployment rate remains stuck at 23.5%. That’s more than double the eurozone’s average of 10.1%.

Still, Tsipras hopes that within the next six months, Greece will be included in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program and make a partial return to the bond markets in 2017.

Tsipras used his time in New York to reach out to foreign investors who have been skittish about placing bets on Greece.

He touted what he called “investment-friendly” initiatives, including 12 years of stable taxation for investments exceeding 40 million euros and stressed that, “Every day we fight against corruption and the interests of the oligarchy which was connected with the old political system and hindered transparency and competition.”