herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Greeks must 'get real' if they want a bailout debt deal, says Kenny

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's finance minister, left, looks towards Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's finance minister, during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin,
Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's finance minister, left, looks towards Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's finance minister, during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin,

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny defended Ireland's corporate tax rate and warned Greece that their hopes of an Irish- style deal for its debts rests on engaging "constructively" with European leaders.

Mr Kenny had a series of meetings in Brussels yesterday, including one with European Commission President Jean Claude Junker.

The Taoiseach said that Ireland has "nothing to hide" in relation to our 12.5pc corporate tax rate, and that Mr Junker is "very clear" that it will remain untouched.

Mr Kenny also met with European Council President Donald Tusk and Ireland's European Commissioner Phil Hogan.

He spoke about Greece's ongoing efforts to get a deal on its crippling debts.

Mr Kenny said Ireland backs its EU partner in tackling the "humanitarian issues" its people are facing.

However, he said that this country's support for Greece's bid to renegotiate its bailout is conditional on its leaders being prepared to enter a phase of realistic negotiations.

Mr Kenny repeatedly cited Ireland's negotiation record with its EU counterparts which led towards the country securing a restructuring of €50bn worth of bailout loans.

Mr Kenny suggested that his message to the newly-elected Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is to accept that any new deal must come with strict conditions.

Asked about the decision this week by the European Central Bank to stop funding Greek lenders, Mr Kenny said the move was a "message" that debt write-down is not on the cards.

Direction

"Clearly, this is, if you like, a direction to the Greek government, that as we have said, this is not a case of having debt write-downs which the Prime Minister has confirmed he doesn't want," Mr Kenny said.

"But it is a case of understanding that getting support from Europe does require conditions to be adhered to," he added.

Mr Kenny expressed sympathy with Greece's plight, pointing out that Ireland too has had to deal with a "catastrophic" economic situation.

But he insisted that Ireland's decision to stick to its bailout programme has now left the country in a "very different space than Greece"

hnews@herald.ie

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