Going Easy in Paris, Mitsotakis Aims for Berlin, New York

August 26, 2019

Backpedaling a bit from his goal of getting Greece’s European creditors to back off demands for a primary surplus goal of 3.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP,) Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis still hopes his visits to France, Germany and the United Nations General Assembly annual September opening in New York will bring some relief.

In public at least, Mitsotakis didn’t refer to his goal as he met French President Emmanuel Macron, although he did talk about his plans to cut taxes and try to lure back foreign investors scared off by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA he ousted on July 7.

With Macron was Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, a sign that the Greek government felt was significant although Mitsotakis didn’t push his hope to get the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESB) to lower the primary surplus benchmark, which he said is needed to get more foreign investors.

Instead, he sought to make the case that his reform plan and tax cuts will not infringe on the surplus targets for 2019 and 2020, said Kathimerini, reporting that sources it didn’t identify said he emphasized his tax cuts and speeding development of the 8-billion euro ($8.9 billion) long-delayed Hellenikon International Airport project blocked by SYRIZA.

He reportedly hopes to also persuade the EU that Greece is an area of stability that needs support although it wasn’t mentioned if the discussions included the ongoing and growing refugee and migrant crisis dumped on Greece by other countries.

In New York, he also hopes to meet President Donald Trump, who has said he supports Greece but has an on-again, off-again relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has been provoking Greece in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

Mitsotakis is also said to be anxious for the ECB to return profits it made off holdings of Greek bonds during a 9 ½-year-long economic crisis in which the country got 326 billion euros ($362.49 billion) in three bailouts from the Troika and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF.)

That would amount to 0.6 percent of GDP and count toward the primary surplus which doesn’t include interest on the debt, the cost of running cities and towns, state enterprises, social security, some military expenditures nor holding back payments to those owed money by the government.

Another unnamed source told the paper that, combined with other types of hoped-for savings of around the same amount, then around a third of the surplus will already have been achieved.

He’s scheduled to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Aug. 29 and then go to the Netherlands before heading for New York to finish.


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