Tsipras from Rome: Not the EU we envision; must remain in Union to work for change

Saturday, 25 March 2017 15:41
UPD:15:42
REUTERS/REMO CASILLI

The Greek premier also cited a letter he sent to other EU leaders over the Union's social acquis, saying he's received positive answers, "but it remains to be proven in practice".

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent his message for the country's Independence Day from the Italian capital on Saturday, where EU leaders signed and issued a joint statement on the occasion of a weekend commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. 

Tsipras' comments came after previous reports stating Athens was threatening not to sign the declaration, if a reference to the "European Social Model" was not included in the text, didn't materialize.   

In a statement directly linked to his leftist-rightist coalition government's ongoing and often exasperating negotiations with institutional creditors, Tsipras said "this is not the Europe we envision and want, but there is no doubt that we must struggle within it (European Union) to change it."

The Greek premier also cited a letter he sent to other EU leaders over the Union's social acquis, saying he's received positive answers, "but it remains to be proven in practice".

The increasingly embattled Tsipras government is facing standing demands by creditors, particularly the IMF, to liberalize the labor market in the country, whereas its own demand to restore obligatory collective bargaining negotiations between unions and employers' groups, in order to achieve sector-wide work contracts, has stumbled on the Fund's unqualified opposition.

In a statement later carried by the state-run broadcaster, Tsipras referred to what he called the "neo-liberal directions" that the Union has followed over recent years as the "primary enemy of Europe", calling for a "return to the founding principles of the Union".  

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