Robert Fico poskytol rozhovor pre Financial Times


Predseda vlády SR Robert Fico poskytol rozhovor denníku Financial Times. Prvý článok z tohto rozhovoru má názov Slovensko vylučuje ďalšiu finančnú pomoc pre Grécko. Ponúkame Vám ho v origináli v anglickom jazyku.

Slovakia rules out further financial aid for Greece

Henry Foy in Bratislava

financial times iw

Slovakia’s prime minister has vowed to oppose Athens’ push to ease the terms of its bailout, and warned that Bratislava was “calm” about a possible Greek exit from the eurozone if the country refused to honour its commitments.

Robert Fico said European authorities should enforce tough measures on Greece to ensure money already lent to Athens is repaid, noting the hardship endured by his own citizens.

“This is a red line for us. It would be impossible to explain to the public that ‘poor’ Slovakia . . . should compensate Greece,” Mr Fico told the Financial Times in an interview in his office on Thursday. “To explain to people that we have to give money to Greece for their salaries and pensions? Impossible. Impossible.”

Mr Fico’s comments come amid a stand-off between Greece and its eurozone creditors over whether to extend the country’s €172bn bailout by six months. Eurozone finance ministers will meet on Friday to consider the latest offer from a Greek government fast running short of cash.

While Germany is frequently portrayed as the biggest obstacle to Greece’s new leftwing government, Slovakia’s hard line is a reminder that Berlin is hardly alone. Officials involved in the talks said Slovakia has been one of the toughest opponents of relaxing the rules governing Greece’s loans.

Since its election last month, the hard-left Syriza party has been pleading for greater leniency for Greece’s citizens after years of recession and austerity. It had also insisted on restructuring its debts owed on bailout loans, though those demands have been scaled back in recent weeks.

“The [previous] Greek government has agreed to the conditions of financial assistance,” said Mr Fico. “It is not possible that a new government comes and immediately declares that, er, well, we will not respect this.”

He added: “It is not possible that on one hand they want to cut debt or they want, for instance, to prolong loans. And at the same time they declare that they will give energy free of charge to people. Or give accommodation free of charge to people. It is not possible.”

Mr Fico, who has strongly criticised austerity measures imposed on his own country, said he would only accept concrete promises from Athens that ensure it “will behave in a way that will guarantee that in 10, 15, 20 years, Greece will be able to pay [back] what they get”.

The 50-year-old former member of Slovakia’s communist party said that while the country is open to discussion on the content of the conditions of the financial package, Greek leaders had no grounds to adjust the actual amounts of money owed.

“There is no possibility to cut debt in itself,” Mr Fico said. “Because why should the Slovakian people pay some proportion of their debt?”

Slovakia has long been one of the toughest eurozone members with regards to Greece’s bailout. In 2010, it was the only country to withdraw from the eurozone’s original €110bn Greek rescue, and the government nearly failed to support an increase in size in the eurozone’s €440bn bailout fund in 2011. The vote to approve the increase eventually led to the collapse of the Slovak government.

Mr Fico won the ensuing election in a landslide, returning to the prime minister’s helm for the second time.

EU officials fear that if Greece’s current bailout expires on February 28 without a new deal, the country would be without support for the first time since May 2010, which could provoke market turmoil and, potentially, a bank run.

Syriza’s election victory, which tapped into Greeks’ outrage at the harsh austerity conditions imposed on Athens by the EU, has raised fears that Greece could ultimately exit the eurozone if no financial solution to the stand-off is found.

Mr Fico said the EU was “calm” about the possibility of a so-called Grexit, and that while other member states are shocked by the situation, they are not afraid.

“Europe is better prepared for shocks,” he said. “Everyone knows we have solutions, and that even exit of Greece from the eurozone wouldn’t be so dangerous as it would have been two, three or four years back.

Mr Fico, a centre-left leader who faces re-election next year, said his views are shared by many EU member states, and that Syriza was slowly realising that its “beautiful plans” drawn up while it was in opposition are now meeting opposition from other cash-strapped eurozone countries.

“I feel like a lot of the [eurozone] ministers of finance are very brave and are ready to take very, very tough decisions against Greece. No one in Europe wants to pay money to Greece,” he said.