Mitsotakis: ND will not support Prespa Agreement, not now nor in next Parliament

Saturday, 15 September 2018 21:42

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday promised that his party will not support a landmark agreement between Athens and Skopje to finally resolve the fYRoM "name issue", speaking in the northern Greece port city of Thessaloniki.

In a televised address from the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair, which began last week, and from a region where opposition is the highest in Greece to the bilateral deal, known as the "Prespes (Prespa) Agreement", Mitsotakis also dismissed criticism by the leftist-rightist coalition government that ND has swerved to the far-right.

"Genuine patriots are not nationalists; and ultra-nationalists are not patriots; Mr. Tsipras should never dare compare the party founded by Constantine Karamanlis with the far right; ND will vote against this agreement, either now, or in the next Parliament," he said, in taking a shot at leftist Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.

The statement was widely interpreted as meaning that ND, if it wins the next election and forms a government, will not vote in favor of the bilateral agreement.

Turning to European partners, who are now the eastern Mediterranean country's primary creditors, he assessed that "some of our partners do not believe there is volition (in Greece) for reforms. They are even suspicious of our political group; they're wrong. I travel around Greece, they underestimate how much we have matured from this adventure," a reference to three successive memorandum bailouts, and accompanying austerity measures, since 2010

That said, however, Mitsotakis zeroed in on a standing commitment to creditors, signed and delivered by the current Tsipras government, namely, what he called excessive primary budget surplus as a percentage of annual GDP that the Greek state must achieve. He said a coming ND government will make lowering the specific fiscal target (now at 3.5 percent of annual GDP) a priority.

At the same time, he again promised income and corporate tax cuts, a reduction in VAT rates - from 24 percent to 13 percent in the F&B sector, for instance - as well as reductions in the unpopular property tax (ENFIA), echoing a similar promise by his rival, Alexis Tsipras, who made a similar pledge from the exact same podium a week earlier.

A more innovative tax break announced by Mitsotakis was a promise for a suspension on the imposition of VAT in the construction sector for three years.

"I plan to reduce the cost of borrowing for the country. Greece will not become Argentina, and surely will not become Venezuela... We will never again allow our country to beg for another bailout program. We'll do whatever is necessary to reduce borrowing costs for Greece, so we can borrow from the markets just as other normal countries do".

His next pledge was to eliminate all remaining capital controls imposed on Greek banks, depositors and bank transactions, a leftover of shambolic five-month negotiations between a Greek government, then represented by Yanis Varoufakis, with creditors in the first half of 2015.


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