Meeting visiting European journalists on October 25, PM Alexis Tsipras stressed: “In the framework of globalisation and the EU, a left strategy is to change the balance of power internationally, not only domestically. It is important to replace austerity with a growth-oriented agenda to the benefit of society and economy. And it is necessary to replace irregular and dangerous migration routes with safe and regular ones.”

While addressing the Euromed Summit Summit of Economic & Social Councils held in Vravrona near Athens (Oct 24), Alexis Tsipras underlined that Europe’s cohesion is judged by its ability to face all the parallel crises with solidarity and effectiveness; economic crisis, refugee crisis and the external and internal security crisis, with the upsurge of terrorism.On the debt issue, PM said that it is not a Greek issue, but a European one, adding that Europe has a strong incentive to clear out immediately the situation over the Greek debt. He explained that 2017 is a critical political year for many European countries, where elections will be held, and nobody would like a discussion on the Greek debt to become a political argument and pre-election tool for the European far-right. Tsipras sounded the alarm bell saying that this is what will happen if the discussion on the debt is postponed to the second half of 2017.

Second program review negotiations: first round to be concluded

In the meantime, the first round of negotiations between Greek government and institutions representatives, as part of the second program review, was launched on October 21 and is expected to be concluded on October 27. The government’s financial team has indicated that the review must be concluded before the Eurogroup on December 5, so that the Eurogroup ministers will be able to reach a decision on debt relief for Greece that will allow it to join the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) programme. The negotiation agenda included changes in labour law, the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework and primary surpluses, out-of-court dispute resolution for non-performing loans, greater competition in the engineering profession, licensing and energy market, public administration, privatisations and staffing for the new privatisation fund.

Greece must join the quantitative easing program as soon as possible

The need for Greece to join the QE program was stressed by the Alexis Tsipras in Brussels. Greece has permanently left the days of crisis behind it, Alexis Tsipras said in a press conference in Brussels on October 23, after the end of the European Council. Talking about the results of his meetings with European leaders and officials, Tsipras said those he spoke with understood the need to send a strong signal to the markets. “A strong signal must be given to the investment community and this is not given as long as there is constant postponement of all we have agreed. Greece must, as soon as possible, join the quantitative easing programme,” Tsipras said. At the European Council in December, there will be a discussion on the specific immediate and short-term measures that are necessary for a solution of the debt issue, he noted.

Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis also stressed that Greece’s full inclusion in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) program will constitute a powerful symbolic move for the country’s return to the markets, in a speech at the “Capital + Vision” conference in Athens on October 22.

President Obama official visit to Greece

The White House announced on Tuesday (Oct 25) that U.S. President Barack Obama will pay an official visit to Greece on November 15, after which he will travel to Berlin (Nov 17-18). According to the statement of the Press Secretary regarding the visit: “The President on November 15 will arrive in Greece, where he will see President Pavlopoulos, meet with Prime Minister Tsipras, and reaffirm our support for ongoing efforts to place the Greek economy on a path to sustainability and renewed prosperity. In the birthplace of democracy, the President will also reaffirm the resilience of democratic values, which have done so much to deliver peace and prosperity to Europe and the wider world. Additionally, the President will make clear our appreciation for the remarkable generosity shown by the Greek Government and people to refugees and migrants”.

Refugee crisis and economic reforms will be at the top of the agenda. According to government sources (AMNA), Greece’s role in the stability and security in the wider region will dominate the agenda of talks during the US President visit. The same sources said that Greece’s role is strengthened as a result of regional developments and increased instability. Moreover, the decision of the US President to visit Athens and then Berlin before the end of his tenure at the White House attaches great importance to this visit. Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently said that the US aimed at the settlement of Greek debt by the end of Obama’s term.