Michael Georg Link, Member of the German Bundestag and Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, was in Athens for a working visit on 16 July.
As the first official representative of the German Government to visit the Greek capital since the new Greek Government took office, he spoke to Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Parliamentary Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas and IMF Representative Bob Traa to find out more about the domestic political situation following the elections, the current state of the reforms and the implementation of the troika’s programme to overcome the debt crisis.
Minister of State Link made the following comments in Athens yesterday (16 July):
“I welcome the fact that the new Government has clearly pledged to implement the reform programme negotiated with the EU. The German Government would like to encourage the new Greek Government to persevere on the path of reform on which the country is now embarked. The implementation of the reform programme must by no means be watered down – neither by calls from the Eurozone to eject Greece from the euro area, nor by a debate in Athens on moderating the reform course in any way or form.”
Mr Link also said that further efforts were needed with respect to privatization, which is currently proceeding sluggishly, the opening of de facto closed trades to competition and, last but not least, an increase in efficiency when it comes to collecting taxes, in particular from the wealthy.
Minister of State Link emphasized the importance of further strengthening the independence of the national statistics office and of completing the overdue overhaul of the banking sector. In his opinion only rigorous reforms could restore market confidence and give foreign companies the confidence to do business in Greece once again. Germany’s willingness to continue to support Greece with significant guarantees under the EFSF/ESM was, he said, inseparably linked to the actual implementation of these reforms.
Minister of State Link also stressed the importance of the Greek Government adhering to its international agreements:
“We expect the agreed reforms to be implemented with all due vigour, using the summer months too. We can only take stock and consult the German Bundestag and our EU partners on the way ahead once the troika’s full report has been submitted.”
Minister of State Link also discussed current European issues, such as the negotiations on the EU’s multiannual financial framework (2014‑2020), the outcomes of the latest European Council, and bilateral German-Greek matters, with Foreign Minister Avramopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Kourkoulas.