​‘Bailout deal won’t stop Syriza from cutting austerity trend’ – Greek econ minister

Thousands of Greeks take part in a pro-government demonstration in front of the parliament in Athens February 11, 2015.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)

Syriza is still determined to fulfill its campaign promises to cut austerity regardless of the new agreement between Athens and Eurozone ministers, a Greek economic minister told RT.

In accordance with a
deal agreed to on Friday, Greece must submit a list of reforms
for review to a group of bailout monitors on Monday. If the
reforms are approved, Athens will secure a four month extension
to Eurozone funding.

The extension provides Greece with a temporary economic lifeline,
without offering permanent solutions to the debt-ridden nation.

But Syriza leaders insist that the agreement gives them the
maneuvering space needed to work out a solution.

READ MORE: ‘End of austerity’? Greece claims
bailout battle victory, warns hard time not over

The deal forces Greece to continue to cooperate with the
domestically unpopular troika of creditors (the International
Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central
Bank), and to continue implementing “cost-cutting” measures that
were the conditions of the enormous 2010 loan doled out by the

RT spoke with Greece’s Alternate Minister of Economics Dimitri
Mardas about what the conditional extension means for the

RT: As we know the deadline is looming, by
Monday Greece needs to submit a list of reforms for approval by
its creditors. How much room does Athens have for actual change
when the measures must be within the existing program?

Dimitri Mardas: We have time to do that. We have
now a transition period and during this period we can give all
the precise information that they need for the future and in the
meantime we can show that there is an alternative way in order to
implement a new economic policy so we have this period of time
generally in order to point out that the policy that has been
applied it is not the appropriate one.

RT:You said you have time, but this
agreement is only a temporary solution and the talks will begin
again in just a few months. Does this mean that Athens has some
sort of cards up its sleeve for the future negotiations?

DM: There is no need for any cards because
everything must be clear and we have very clear proposals. We
think that all of these proposals are compatible to the point of
view of the European Union and of the other creditors in case we
have to submit a precise plan for development; a precise plan for
distribution of revenues. All these are almost ready. We have
started applying some measures on that.

READ MORE: Greece, eurozone officials agree to
extend bailout by 4 months

RT: What will happen if the EU doesn’t agree
to your proposals?

DM: There was no disagreement on the proposals.
There was a disagreement on the process that we have suggested
but this disagreement was during the first step of the
negotiations. I can say that it was an expected result and during
the third phase of these negotiations we found a common way to

RT:There have been calls, for example from
the Maltese Finance Minister, to just have Greece leave the
single currency club. What do you make of that?

DM: I have supported the fact that euro is the
only currency in Europe. There is no other alternative, which
means that the drachma or any other currency are just virtual
currencies and they have nothing to do with the real case — the
real economy. So Europe must find any kind of solution in the
context of the euro or else the European monetary system will
show that its value is very low. I cannot imagine any other

RT: Speaking of the Syriza party—it was
swept to power with promises to cut austerity and to give money
to the poor, but money can’t be created from thin air. What if
the party won’t be able to deliver on its promises?

DM: There are some promises which seem easy
[and] others which seem relatively difficult. The problem is that
we have our plan. We have our goals. We also know that we face
some constraints. So simply in the near future we have to find
the solution which can permit us to apply a part of our goals.

As you know we have four-period governance in Greece, so in this
case we can have some solutions in the near future, some other
solutions during the next year or the third year or the fourth

Finally I think that we can keep our promises. Simply the time of
the implementation of all these promises can vary, because as I
told you, we face constraints and we have to take into account
these constraints, because by following this point of view, we
can have a more efficient economic policy.

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