ATHENS – Meeting European Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Greece is meeting its fiscal goals and will come out of a crushing economic crisis.
Juncker, the former chief of the Eurozone – during which he backed austerity measures that devastated the lives of many Greeks – chose Athens to kick off a tour of European capitals before he takes office in the fall.
Samaras, who, on orders of international lenders, imposed big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings that created record unemployment and deep poverty, said the conditions nevertheless have helped lead Greece toward an exit from the crisis, the Athens News Agency reported.
He said that the discussion with Juncker focused on the new era and on ways to stabilize the new situation and boost social cohesion in Greece and Europe. “Such a crisis should not be repeated,” he said.
“We should not return to deficits, we should turn hope into a visible prospect for all. Greece, as far as fiscal adjustment is concerned, has achieved something which is internationally unprecedented; it managed to have primary surpluses after 21 years and one year earlier than it was anticipated. As regards reforms, it went up 111 places in the international rankings and returned to the international markets a year earlier than expected.”
Samaras made a comparison with Argentina that still hasn’t returned to the markets after many years and just defaulted again, noting that “Greece has avoided what Argentina was unable to avoid, and this happened when there were voices suggesting us to follow the example of disorderly default.
“This was possible because Greece stayed under the European umbrella thanks to Mr. Juncker’s help as the President of the Eurogroup. Mistakes have been made on the way, but we have learned from them and we overcome them. Many predicted the worst for Greece and Europe but they were proven wrong. Staying under the umbrella of the Eurozone was what saved Greece.”