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French premier: current situation in Europe decisive for EU and Greece

July 08, 2015, 19:36 UTC+3 PARIS

Weakening Greece would mean to weaken the European Union with your own hands, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says

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PARIS, July 8. /TASS/. The current situation in Europe "is decisive both for the European Union and Greece," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday.

Valls spoke in the National Assembly, the lower house of French parliament, where MPs discussed France’s policy towards Greece’s financial and economic woes.

"Greece needs joint support, the unity of its partners and stability. Greece is an important country of Europe and has been a member of the European Union since 1980. Historically, this country is a true cradle. France remains faithful both to the past and current ties with this country," Valls said.

"The Greeks expressed their desire not to destroy bridges connecting Greece and Europe. They did not say ‘no’ to the euro at the referendum, specifically because this would have meant a dramatic deterioration in the situation and a fall in the purchasing power of wages," the French prime minister said.

Greece is important both as a country in southeast Europe and a country playing a big role in the EU Eastern Partnership "as a Christian Orthodox country with close relations with Russia," he added.

"Weakening Greece would mean to weaken the European Union with your own hands," Valls said.

Greeks went to the polls on Sunday to decide whether the Greek government should accept or reject a draft agreement on a new austerity package for debt-laden Greece worked out by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Referendum in Greece

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged Greeks to say 'no' to the creditors' ultimatum at the referendum.

The referendum results showed that most Greeks (61%) voted against the creditor terms.

Since 2010, when Greece’s sovereign debt crisis broke out, Athens has received €240 billion in bailout loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite a partial debt write-off in 2012, Greece’s sovereign debt currently exceeds €315 billion or 175% of its GDP. This figure is almost three times the debt-to-GDP ratio set for the eurozone countries, which should not exceed 60% of GDO according to the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact.

Greece’s international creditors say the Hellenic Republic can receive further financial aid, if the government undertakes to implement further austerity measures in the country.

Tsipras said earlier the international creditors should write off 30% of Greece’s debt.

The Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers has received an official request from Greece for a third financial assistance program under the European Stabilization Mechanism, Eurogroup spokesman Michel Reijns said on Wednesday.

The request will be examined by a Eurogroup’s working group, he said.

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