ANA/MPA – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday had an extensive discussion with Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos ahead of the Eurogroup meeting on Thursday.
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis also participated in the meeting that took place at Maximos Mansion.
Venizelos underlined that the Eurogroup meeting, in Brussels, is crucial for the particularly difficult and delicate negotiations the government is now carrying out in order to “complete this phase and move on to a new phase, after the memorandum and the troika, with all the safeguards of the existing European mechanisms.”
He said that these would allow the country to breathe, to move as an equal in the European and international economy and to not be at risk from any market tricks against it.
Asked about Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s statements, Venizelos referred them to the Finance ministry announcement, saying that Hardouvelis spoke on the phone with Dijsselbloem, who clarified that he had not made any reference to an extension of the current programme, but rather to the period after the current programme, adding that “it is, therefore, a misunderstanding.”
“We must be very cool-headed, very precise and not undermine our own efforts with a nervous internal discussion,” he added, noting that this gave market speculators a pretext to move against Greece.
Venizelos, replying to questions, said that the troika will be returning to Athens as soon as possible and also pointed out that the troika mission did not have to be physically present in Athens for negotiations to take place.
Asked whether the time until the December European Council was sufficient for a move to the next phase and for the debt, Venizelos replied affirmatively but also highlighted the difficulties created by a lack of consensus within the country. He noted that the climate in the country was not the best possible for a negotiation of a national nature but stressed that the government would not be dismayed by those “seeking to obstruct and undermine the country”.
“We have the mandate and the institutional responsibility and our goal is to end this before the last Eurogroup in 2014, on December 8,” he said.
Asked whether it might be necessary to convene the political party leaders’ council, if only for foreign policy issues, the foreign minister clarified that there was “no national danger, not decision on a foreign policy issue that we are called upon to make.”
“Turkey must stop violating international law and respect the sovereign rights of the Cyprus Republic,” he stressed, saying the process could start with a “good briefing” of the political parties and invited them to attend the National Council on Foreign Policy to be held on Monday as well as the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs next Tuesday, while noting that the foreign ministry was at the party leaders’ disposal for any further clarifications they may need.
Regarding a discussion between the parties on other issues, Venizelos said he did not see any “willingness” in that direction.