During his speech yesterday at the annual general meeting of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) in Athens European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, urged for political consensus and ownership of the reforms incorporated in Greece’s bailout program.
Hinting at the need for continuity in government irrespective of which political party is in power, Junker urged the political class to respect the deal agreed between Greece and the EU, and to implement the necessary reforms, adding that this “May be the last chance to do what is good for Greece.”
Juncker dismissed conspiracy theories formed in the country, saying that on the contrary, he sees good will, which is why he’d like to see all Greek governments respect the deal.
He also said the government should decide on the policy mix needed to be implemented, noting reforms should not be done to please Brussels or the creditors, but for Greek citizens and the country’s European future.
The Commission chief reiterated the message of hope for the country and declared himself a friend of Greece, adding that friends can sometimes say “Some uncomfortable truths,” such as this crisis is not just economic and social, but concerns the building of a modern state that cares for its citizens. He added mistakes have been made by both sides in the past few years but a Greek exit from the Eurozone was never an option.
Juncker also said that some people who suggested a “Grexit” are today urging Britain to stay in the EU and clarified that the country’s position is “safely anchored” in the Eurozone.
“The efforts made by Greece since the summer, create a window of opportunity. With the completion of the first review and the measures on the debt, Greece has the opportunity to turn a page,” he said.
“It’s not just the economic adjustment; but the modernisation of the economy and the state, so as to create the right conditions for businesses, for tackling tax evasion, corruption, speeding up justice, establishing a modern system of social protection and managing borders,” he added.
He also highlighted the EU funds that are available to Greece through the “Juncker plan” and hailed the people’s response to the refugee crisis.
Commenting on Britain’s EU referendum, he said: “History has taught us a simple lesson: that together we’re stronger and safer, achievements which will be jeopardized If there’s an exit from the EU.”