Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos was in London last week speaking to academics, opinion makers, hedge funds and international investors, where he reiterated that Greece plans to return to bond markets in the second half of 2016 and that any agreement on Greek debt relief should include grace periods of 15-20 years, which would improve its finances and encourage long-term investment.
In a public lecture at the London School of Economics headed “Economic Blues: The left in government times” (Hellenic Observatory, 10.11), Tsakalotos presented the perspectives of the Greek government, touching on the subject of the possibility of social justice in an alternative economic model, as well the prospects for Greece to act as a catalyst for wider progressive changes in the Eurozone and the EU.

Referring to the Greek government’s road map to exit the crisis, he argued that recapitalization of banks, closing of first review with creditors and a discussion on debt relief will release demand and investment, and create space and time for a growth strategy agreed to be finalized in March 2016.

Tsakalotos claimed that his role as a leftwing Finance Minister is to give space to an alternative economic programme in specific areas such as health policy, social and solidarity economy, ethical and special purpose banks, alternative use of the privatization fund, and reducing unemployment and attracting back the brain drain. Referring to the July 2015 compromise, he argued that the Syriza government put back on the agenda the issue of democracy and a different kind of cooperation in European affairs, although any judgment of the final deal will depend on Syriza’s capacity to incorporate a long-term strategy for alternative goals that are also possibly compatible with the aims of European social democracy. 

Tsakalotos also said that, despite promises, Greece’s creditors may delay talks over reducing the country’s debt burden until after the Spanish elections in December, for fear of emboldening anti-austerity forces in southern Europe.