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Greek PM begins first foreign tour saying debt hurts all EU

Greece`s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday that eurozone debt was a crisis for the whole continent as he launched a European tour to rally support for his campaign for debt forgiveness.

Nicosia: Greece`s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday that eurozone debt was a crisis for the whole continent as he launched a European tour to rally support for his campaign for debt forgiveness.

"Europe is in crisis, not just Greece and Cyprus... Europe then should take brave decisions so that the growth agenda returns," he said.

The hard-left premier, who swept to power last week pledging to end painful austerity measures demanded by the EU and the International Monetary Fund, was speaking in Cyprus, a traditional ally whose economy has also been hit hard by the crisis.

He was to travel on to Italy on Tuesday and then France on Wednesday as he presses his campaign for a renegotiation of Greece`s 240 billion euro ($270 billion) bailout over strong opposition from Germany.

Tsipras said it was time to end the current system of supervision of indebted nations` economies under which economists from the so-called troika of lenders carry out regular compliance reviews which must be passed for bailout loans to be disbursed.

"It`s been accepted that this mechanism doesn`t have legal institutional status at a European level," he said.

Tsipras`s government has said it will no longer work with the troika and will forego any further bailout loans but will look to negotiate directly with its creditors instead.

But he stressed that reforms would have to be agreed with other EU member states, as he kept up his efforts to reassure partners and creditors alike that his government would not act unilaterally.

Earlier, Tsipras held talks with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades as he visited the island, which is the traditional first port of call for all new Greek leaders.

The Cyprus president is not an ideological soulmate of Tsipras.

He is a conservative who struck a painful bailout deal with creditors in 2013 and has since fought doggedly to meet its terms, despite losing his parliamentary majority amid a prolonged recession.

But Greece and Cyprus have a special relationship built on a shared language and culture and share strong misgivings about EU sanctions imposed on Russia, which is an important economic partner for both countries."There should be a coordinated stance by the two governments in Europe so there is a necessary bridge between Europe and Russia," Tsipras said.

"A continuation of the tension, transformed into a war of economics can have no positive outcome for Europe."

Greece has also been a key military backer of the Cyprus government in its decades-old standoff with Turkey.

Turkish troops invaded the island`s northern third in 1974 following an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia seeking union with Greece.

Athens has some 10,000 troops stationed in the south of the island and provides senior officers and training for the Greek Cypriot National Guard.

It has been a strong diplomatic backer of the Cyprus government`s policy towards UN-backed reunification talks with Turkish Cypriot leaders, who proclaimed a breakaway state in 1983.

The Greek Cypriot side suspended its involvement in the talks in October in protest at Turkish prospecting for offshore oil and gas in part of the island`s exclusive economic zone where the government had already licensed exploratory drills.

Tsipras called on Ankara to withdraw its exploration vessel from the island`s waters to create an appropriate climate for a resumption of talks.

"The violation of Cyprus`s sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone with the research vessel Barbaros constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and undermines the need for talks between the two sides," Tsipras said

"Talks should continue. But to continue it is necessary for Turkey to respect the principle of good neighbourliness and international law, not make threats."

Turkey does not recognise the island`s exclusive economic zone and has called for joint exploitation of the energy deposits that will also benefit Turkish Cypriots.

From Zee News

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