• Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, center, speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. European Union leaders on Thursday said the full respect of the planned weekend cease-fire in eastern Ukraine will be essential before there could be a change in the sanctions regime imposed on Moscow. (ANSA/AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Tsipras says EU south summit talks reflect common will to build a Europe of growth

Hollande: There must be a solution for Greece

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the meeting of seven leaders from southern European countries in Madrid on Monday allowed them to discuss the present and future of Europe and a series of topics such as the economic crisis and inequalities.

“Today we’re here to discuss the future and the present of the European south. We’re all countries of the European south and we all maintain our faith in the European ideal. Today’s talks reflect our common will to build an effective Europe with growth and a European pillar,” he said during joint statements with the leaders of Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta at El Pardo palace, near Madrid.

Tsipras continued to say the seven leaders discussed the need for Europe to overcome the economic crisis, which requires overcoming inequalities. “We have all agreed to follow the rules. But we need flexibility and these rules must be followed by all. You realize that the surpluses of some [countries] are the deficits of others. The deficits of the south are the surpluses of the European north. This contradiction should be resolved,” he said.

The Greek prime minister went on to present the recent performance of the Greek economy, noting that the country achieved in 2016 the targets for 2018. “Now is the time for a final solution to Greece’s problem. And I think we all agree that steps must be taken for the medium-term [measures] for primary surpluses and the medium-term measures for debt relief,” he said.

Commenting on the ongoing present review he said its completion will allow the countries in the south to discuss a series of new issues that concern growth in Europe.

“I believe that completing the second review opens for the southern countries the possibility of putting on the table a number of issues: The need to limit the destabilization in Europe,” he said and continued “We need a European bond. We need a strong budget and European programs to tackle unemployment.”
Tsipras said the seven leaders also discussed the refugee crisis, developments in Syria and the Cyprus issue. “On Syria, the countries of the south have a particular interest. The European Union must take initiatives for peace in the region,” he said.

Hollande: There must be a solution for Greece

French President Francois Hollande said during the joint statements that there must be a solution for Greece. “We want Greece to finally find the answers to its problems. Greece’s efforts are truly impressive and we must finally conclude and embark on a new phase,” the French president said. Europe must deepen monetary union, economic convergence and build policies for investment, Hollande noted, adding that this must be the priority of the 27 EU countries.

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