ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has turned a page and can stand on its own without financial help, European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday on his first visit to Athens since European lenders agreed to grant the country further debt relief.
Greece has signed up to three international bailouts since 2010, when its debt crisis broke out, in exchange for unpopular reforms and painful austerity. The third program expires on Aug. 20.
“Greece can now stand on its own two feet,” Moscovici, who is economic and financial affairs commissioner, told the Greek parliament. “The time has come for Greece to be a normal country.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants Greece to rely on debt markets for its financing needs without any more external support, although some economists have said it would be wise to secure a precautionary credit line from the European Union or International Monetary Fund.
The “troika” of mission chiefs from the EU, European Central Bank and IMF will no longer visit Athens to review its bailout progress, a process which many Greeks saw as evidence that the country lost part of its sovereignty during the crisis.
“The troika will not return here,” Moscovici said to lawmakers’ applause. “We’ll write a new chapter together,” he said, adding that Europe would stand by Greece in the post-bailout period.
Moscovici, who earlier met Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, said the debt relief measures agreed last month were the best the European lenders had to offer. He told reporters that Greece was finished with bailouts. “There is no more program for Greece. There won’t be any more programs for Greece,” he said.
Greece has agreed to implement more pension cuts and tax increases in 2019-2020 after the end of the bailout.
Asked if the legislated pension cuts could be reversed, Moscovici said: “Commitments must be respected.”
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Additional reporting Stavros Agorakis; editing by David Stamp