Schulz and Tsipras present united front

European parliament president Martin Schulz and new Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras have met in Brussels.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

04 Feb 2015

The two men did their utmost to appear reassuring, amid concerns that Tsipras' anti-austerity agenda would clash with the terms of Greece's bailout package, with Schulz calling the talks a "very friendly and fruitful exchange of views". 

The newly elected Greek prime minister is currently travelling around Europe meeting with various government leaders, a move Schulz said was the sign of "a prime minister fighting for European cooperation and not for Greek separation - this is a very strong signal and I am very optimistic after today that both sides are fighting for mutual understanding".

He pointed out that "ordinary citizens in Greece paid the bill in recent years, and it is now time that those who have money and who took their money out of the country, contribute to the solutions to the problem".

Schulz assured Tsipras that he could "count on the 100 per cent support of parliament and the European institutions as a whole", but warned that "difficult times lay ahead - we do not yet have the necessary solutions".

The Greek prime minister echoed the German deputy's sentiments, saying that he was "very optimistic that we will try to do our best in order to find a mutually beneficial and acceptable solution for our common future".

"This is a prime minister fighting for European cooperation and not for Greek separation" - Martin Schulz

He underlined that "the EU's history is one of disagreements, but at the end of the day it's about compromises, and we have the willingness to work together in this direction".

Tsipras added, "we are ready to deliberate - we have our goals, to respect the people's sovereignty in Greece and the clear mandate of our people, but at the same time we respect the rules of the EU".

He stressed that, "we want to correct the EU's framework - not smash it. In this framework, we can find a viable solution for our common perspective".

The two men's unity stance is somewhat in contrast with their previous statements. Commenting on the coalition Tsipras' Syriza party formed with the right wing Independent Greeks party, Schulz said, "I must say I am not only surprised, I am shocked - the coalition in Athens is as if Die Linke would make a coalition with the AfD in Germany".

In his victory speech, the new Greek prime minister promised his country was "leaving behind it fear and intimidation, it leaves behind it five years of humiliation and grief. Greece advances with hope, with dignity and steady steps towards a changing Europe."

 

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