Greece seeks a new European contract

The newly-elected government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras needs a bit more time – one month – to explain its economic policy and make proposals, said Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis while meeting with his French counterpart Michel Sapin in Paris, in a first stop of a European tour during which he doesn’t plan to go to Berlin where the opposition against Greece’s new economic posture is said to be the fiercest. Greece doesn’t want a new loan, “it’s not that we don’t need the money, we’re desperate because of certain commitments and liabilities that we have,” Varoufakis explained, but “very bad austerity” must end, he stressed.

Though open to discussion, Sapin ruled out any cancellation of the Greek debt – 315 billion euros, 170% of GDP – and underlined that his government’s top priority is to preserve convergence with Germany on the issue. “We can talk, we can delay, we can reduce but we don’t cancel,” said Sapin. Overseas, US President Barack Obama stated that Greece needs growth, not more austerity. “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression, (…) at some point, there has to be a growth strategy in order to pay off their debts and eliminate some of their deficits.” Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, adding that he hopes Greece will remain in the euro area.