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Greece/Eurogroup meeting

Published on February 19, 2015
Statement by M. Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts (excerpts)¹
Brussels, February 16, 2015


THE MINISTER – My position during the meeting was the same as that of the Eurogroup President and Commissioner Moscovici. We have, it seems to me, a direction. It is a reasonable direction, and one that also takes into consideration the voice of Greece’s voters. It is what is called a technical extension, with some flexibility, and therefore it offers the possibility of changing elements of the previous programme precisely to take the Greek vote into account.

Therefore, we have a possible direction, and it seems to me to be the only reasonable one. It will allow us to follow a clearly-marked path, a path that is familiar to the markets, the institutions and the full range of European authorities. This is the direction that should be explored, and explored thoroughly.

This evening, the Eurogroup President ended the talks – calmly, as you have seen – by saying that now it is up to the Greek authorities to say if they agree with this direction with, let me say again, all the flexibility needed to take account of the Greek vote, which is only fair.

Therefore, it is now up to the Greek authorities to tell us if they want to take this direction. And if they say that they indeed want to, then a meeting will be held on Friday to take note of these decisions and proposals.

Q – Is the Greek approach too ideological?

THE MINISTER – This is an area that requires a lot of ideas and a great deal of logical thinking, but very little ideology. We need a great deal of pragmatism, while respecting democratic processes. Respecting democratic processes is not a sign of ideology, it simply means respecting the voice of the voters. So we need ideas, and we have those, and we need logical thinking, as I have just said. With them, we can take this direction, which is a safer and calmer direction, and which will provide the necessary serenity to negotiate a new programme – what we called in Paris, with Yanis [Varoufakis], a new contract. The term “new contract” was invented in Paris, when I met him.

Q – What will happen if Greece does not ask for an extension?

THE MINISTER – Well, my question is, what will happen if we successfully take the direction I have just described? Things will go better for Greece and for Europe.

Thank you./.

¹Source of English translation: French Economy Ministry.

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