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EU’s Moscovici: 'A positive outcome in the negotiations with Greece is not far'

EU’s Moscovici: 'A positive outcome in the negotiations with Greece is not far'

EU’s Moscovici: 'A positive outcome in the negotiations with Greece is not far'

The ongoing negotiations between Greece and its lenders have borne fruit and there will soon be a positive outcome, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA published on Wednesday.

The full text of the interview is the following:

- Commissioner, millions of Greeks have not had access to their banking accounts for days. When and under what circumstances will banks reopen in Greece?

M: The main issue is to achieve an agreement on Sunday. I think it is necessary and feasible. An agreement that ensures Greece’s stay in the Eurozone and leads to growth for the Greek economy, with justice and solidarity.

- In order to have a positive outcome in the negotiations we will have to agree on a list of reforms. Does the last Juncker proposal constitute the basis for reaching agreement?

M: The first thing I want to stress is that thankfully, the climate between Greece and the Eurozone has significantly improved. We saw yesterday in Brussels, both in the ministerial meeting as well as the summit meeting that the Greek side is now joining the negotiations with a positive and constructive spirit. Now two steps are needed: the first has already taken place and it is the official request for an economic aid programme by the ESM.

The second is for Greece to submit a credible and serious list of reforms which will have a long-term character and will allow us to talk on specific issues. In the meantime, of course, we’ll have to find the necessary resources to deal with emergency problems.

- Why are there so many problems in drawing up the list of reforms?

M: It wouldn’t be right to say that negotiations in the past five months have not yielded any results. Today, we recognize which are the reforms that are demanded for the Greek economy. They concern Justice, taxation and the pension system. The Greek government is aware of reality and it is up to them to take decisions. The aim of the reforms should be to strengthen Greek economy which will have to become more attractive to investors, while humanitarian crisis issues must also be dealt with.

Today, we are not demanding new austerity measures from Greece; we demand serious reforms with the aim of creating a credible economy. However, we’re not far from an agreement. Negotiations so far have been fruitful.

-What about restructuring the Greek debt?

M: What is urgent is to find an agreement on the reforms and the future funding of the Greek economy. The issue of Greek public debt will be examined at the right time. It’s not only the IMF which worries about the Greek debt: We worry at the European Commission; they worry in Frankfurt, at the European Central Bank. The Commission wants to play the role of the role of the intermediary in the negotiations for Greece's loans with the other countries of the eurozone. With their vote on Sunday, Greeks sent a message but did not turn their backs on Europe. Therefore Europe must not turn its back on Greece.

- The closure of Greek banks entails a cost to the Greek economy. Are there any estimates on the size of the damage?

M: Every day that goes by has a cost for the Greek economy and makes things harder. There’s no more time to waste.

- Should there be wage and pension cuts?

M: We need reforms. We’re not discussing wage and pension cuts. But we do ask for a pension system reform.

- Has the European Commission prepared action plans for a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone?

M: The Commission must be prepared for any eventuality. It’s a matter of responsibility. However, it is clear that for us the basic scenario was and is Greece’s stay in the Eurozone. We must all work towards this direction. After yesterday’s political discussions, I have concluded that they respond now to the gravity of the situation and to what’s at stake.

- There’s a sense that referendums are not particularly popular in Brussels. Is that true?

M: We must always support the result of a ballot, but we also have to draw the right conclusions. In the case of Greece, there’s not much time left. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to find a compromise with his lenders. Yesterday’s discussion was complicated because things are complicated.

- Do you agree with the view of Giscar D’Estaign, who proposed a temporary exit of Greece from the Eurozone?

M: No I don’t and I’m fighting to avoid such an event.

- In the past few years, the cumulative recession in Greece has reached 25 pct. How’s responsible for this?

M: Responsibility is undoubtedly shared. What is important now is to turn a page.