Greece wants to pay debts, negotiate, says PM Alexis Tsipras

 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asserted that Athens wants to pay its debts to its international creditors and if its partners want the same they must "negotiate the technical means to do so with us".

IANS| Updated: Feb 09, 2015, 15:19 PM IST

Athens: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asserted that Athens wants to pay its debts to its international creditors and if its partners want the same they must "negotiate the technical means to do so with us".

It was his first major speech to parliament since being elected last month, and the new premier Sunday went through a lengthy list of moves to reverse reforms imposed by European and International Monetary Fund (IMF) lenders, including reinstating pension bonuses, re-hiring laid-off state employees and hiking wages back to pre-crisis levels.

"If we can agree that austerity was disastrous, the solution will be reached by negotiations," Tsipras said upon presenting the government`s economic programme in parliament, adding that Greece`s debt has "exceeded 180 percent" of the country`s gross domestic product.

Tsipras said the government wanted to respect its obligations, but he added that "austerity does not form part" of his government`s programme.

"We want to make clear to all that we will not negotiate our national sovereignty," he said, adding that in the elections that brought him to the premiership the public gave him a clear mandate to do away with austerity and change the country`s policy to get out of its economic crisis.

He said his government`s aim was to achieve a new contract between Athens and the European Union (EU) and added it "will respect the rules of the Eurozone, but will not include unattainable surpluses that are the other face of austerity".

Tsipras said he wanted to attract private investment but he will not privatise the country`s energy networks and infrastructure, which are "our national capital, natural and mineral wealth".

The premier also announced the gradual re-establishment of a minimum wage of 751 euros ($663) per month and he said that monthly pensions lower than 700 euros would regain the extraordinary subsidy eliminated by the previous government. 

Tsipras further promised not to cut pensions or mandate new increases in the retirement age.