Greek PM pledges support for farmers as "recovery can't depend on tourism alone"

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Greek PM pledges support for farmers as "recovery can't depend on tourism alone"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday presented his government's plan for a full-scale reconstruction of production in the country

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday presented his government's plan for a full-scale reconstruction of production in the country, while speaking with farmers and groups of producers in Mesara, during his two-day tour of Crete. Tourism was doing well, the prime minister noted, but to depend only on tourism as a driver for recovery showed a lack a vision. "A country could not depend on tourism alone," he said.

"Our main concern is a reconstruction of production but this cannot proceed unless we talk about a new model for the rural economy and if this is not linked to a growth model for exploiting the country's comparative advantages," he said.

"I am well aware that farmers have shouldered the greatest burden in this crisis and want to say that support of farmers is a moral obligation, and not just because this will improve the prospects of the economy," Tsipras said in Moires, where he was warmly greeted.

The prime minister listened to the demands and problems faced by residents in the area, noting that the main reason for his visit "was to listen, not to talk."

"A sincere dialogue with the citizens, organisations and local government on the problems that we are all aware of and on the possibility of having a prospect for solving them, is what has the greatest importance at this time," he noted.

Tsipras referred to the country's advantages, especially its human resources, noting that these had been sidelined in the "skewed model" that had led to the crisis. It was important to have a discussion now on how to put these advantages to work and start generated wealth, he added. In this context, he added, his visit to Mesara was not a chance decision.

Greece's agricultural economy had shown resilience during the years of crisis, in spite of the difficulties, increasing exports by 12 pct in 2015 and was set to record a similar performance in 2016, he noted. The prime minister also referred to the government's efforts and the tools at its disposal to carry out its plans for a reconstruction of the farming sector.

Among them he listed the Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020, which included 4.7 billion euros in Community funds and targeted young people, organic farming, processing and other projects, including water resources management works. Another goal was to link local farm production and food products with tourism, with 9.5 million euros earmarked for advertising and promotion.

The wager in the years to come was to ensure that these numbers were not "empty words," Tsipras added, which was why the government was aiming for "equitable growth" that produced a dividend, a social redistribution to those that needed it most and had been paying the cost of the crisis all these years.

Encouraging news on the unemployment front

Speaking in the city of Iraklio later on Tuesday, Tsipras ruled out the possibility that Greece will agree to additional measures to be implemented after the bailout programme. Both the programme and the agreements that came with it would come to an end in mid-2018, he said.

"After that, and here I want in all cases to be absolutely clear, there are no more commitments and measures. [This] is a message that must be understood inside and outside the country. Our country's sovereignty will  be restored. Supervision and the memorandums are ending," Tsipras said.

He pointed to encouraging news on the unemployment front, which he said was dropping "slowly but steadily" and noted that a 1.1 pct surplus would activate not a spending "cutter" but its opposite, allowing the government to hand out a 13th pension.

Tsipras said that the European far-right and populism could no longer be allowed to dictate the policies that Greece will follow. "Greece might be in a programme but it is also an independent country. If it honours its commitments and observes the rules, it should not have to tolerate being told what to do. The second review will end well, promptly and without additional measures after the end of the programme, without excessive demands by some of the partners," Tsipras said.

The Greek prime minister had earlier referred to the spate of terror attacks across Europe, expressing the Greek people's solidarity and support for the victims of terrorism and war and noting that Monday had been a difficult night for all of Europe.

"We express our whole-hearted support for the German, Russian and Turkish peoples," the prime minister said, while adding that solidarity alone was not enough. "There must also be some self-reflection and political action to tackle terrorism," he said.

"Ankara, Berlin, Moscow but also all of Europe were shocked by the terror of horrendous actions. Actions which unfortunately prove that we are living in a dark age. Though we may sometimes not appreciate it, security is a priceless commodity," he said. 

The future of this world could only be protected by democracy, tolerance, dedication to peace and to social cohesion, Tsipras added, noting that this was the only way to consolidate security and peace in modern societies.

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

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