“We are very close to recovery, we are now determined to recover. That is the message,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday, during their meeting at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.
“Your visit takes place at a significant time for Greece. We thank you greatly for your announcement yesterday of the initiation of the process for ending the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) for Greece, a very important message,” Tsipras said.
Juncker acknowledged the progress made by the Greek economy and said that he owed a tribute to the Greek people for the sacrifices they had made.
Tsipras noted that the EDP for Greece had started in 2009, when the Greek deficit was at 15.1 pct of GDP. “Now it is 1.2 pct and the projections for 2018 are very optimistic. This is due to the immense efforts made by the Greek people, the sacrifices of the Greek people,” he said.
Greece’s deficit had been at 5.1 pct of GDP when he and Tsipras had first met, Juncker responded, and had since followed a downward course.
“The country is in a very good state now and that is the reason why we decided yesterday to stop the EDP,” he said. “We had promised this, in any case, and the time had come to fulfill our promise.”
The Commission president also noted that credit was due to the Greek people and especially the poorer sections of Greek society, which had suffered much more than the rest. “The average citizen has made huge efforts,” he said.
Juncker met with Tsipras shortly before a ceremony at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall where Juncker was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Thessaloniki School of Law, also attended by Tsipras. Before his meeting with Greece’s prime minister, he also met Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.