Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke to the European Parliament presenting the country’s position on the debt issue and spoke of the five years of austerity Greece went through.
“I am here today after the referendum and Greek people’s mandate for a financially viable and socially just agreement. I am at the Temple of Democracy, in the European Parliament,” Tsipras said in the beginning.
“The brave decision of the Greek people is not for a rift with Europe but for the return to a Europe of solidarity, equality and social justice. The European Union must be democratic, otherwise it will not survive. It must respect the people’s will in individual countries.
“I take full responsibility for what happened in the past five months, but we must admit that the blame for recession goes to the five years of failed austerity measures. Austerity was imposed on other countries too, but Greece’s austerity was harsher than all. Allow me to say that Greece became a guinea pig for harsh austerity programs.
“The majority of Greek people believes that it has no choice other than to be freed from such austerity measures. We want an agreement that will have a light at the end of the tunnel. The burden must go to those who can afford to pay and no to low-salaried employees and pensioners, as it was happening for the past five years. The agreement must include growth reforms. Also, the debt haircut must be discussed so that the Greek debt becomes viable.
“We are sending a request to the European Stability Mechanism with comprehensive proposals for the benefit of Greece and the Eurozone in general.
“The Greek proposals are for debt restructure and growth. The money Greece borrowed in the past five years never went to the Greek people but they went to save European and Greek banks. Since August 2014, Greek people paid 17.5 billion euros out of their own pockets in loan payments without receiving any money from creditors
“I don’t support the idea that foreigners are to blame for Greece’s plight. Previous governments steeped in corruption, clientelism and tax evasion contributed to the Greek debt. Memoranda failed because they required harsh reforms while there was corruption and oligarchs and banks were the only ones who benefited from that.
“Our proposals are for real reforms that aim to fight oligarchs, monopolies, corruption in television channels that operate without license, tax evaders. We want restructuring of the public sector so that it becomes more efficient. We want to clash with lobbyists and oligarchs in Greece and Europe in general.
“The Greek crisis shows the inability of Europe to find a real solution. The Greek crisis is a European problem, not a Greek problem. European history is a history of clashes and compromises. It is a history of unity and not division. We want a united Europe, not a divided Europe.
“I am sure we all understand how crucial this moment is and that we must assume our historic responsibility.”