Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday that the country’s Grexit status had changed and it was now attracting investors in droves.
“In 2016, direct foreign investments were the highest in the last 10 years and in 2017 further improvement is expected”, Tsipras said while inaugurating the Thessaloniki International Fair.
“A French businessman who came to Greece with my French counterpart this week approached me and told me that we have managed to transform Grexit to Grinvest not only for the French but for the rest of Europe,” he said.
“The heightened interest for investments in Greece is not something that happened by chance,” he said recalling recent visits by French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
But he conceded that signs of economic growth had not been felt so far by the majority of Greeks.
Two years after Tsipras’s leftist government nearly crashed Greece out of the euro, and eight years after the country plunged into economic crisis, employment numbers are finally improving.
Tsipras added his administration has created around 500,000 jobs since taking over in 2015 -- “a record for the last 16 years” -- and expects the economy to grow by nearly 2.0 percent this year.
Greece has got two multi-billion euro rescues since 2010 but it has frequently complained of the IMF’s demands for fiscal cuts and labor reform.
On Thursday, France’s Macron delighted his hosts by warning the International Monetary Fund to refrain from demanding cuts beyond those already agreed, in upcoming talks.
“The IMF’s position should be in good faith and without added requirements,” Macron said as Greece prepares to reopen reform talks in return for another tranche of bailout cash.
Greece’s third rescue program, currently financially supported by EU states alone, runs to August 2018.
The IMF has said it will only contribute to the program if EU creditors take further steps to lighten Greece’s debt load, which has yet to happen over strenuous objections by Germany.
Tsipras voiced hope on Saturday that “next year, the country will be inaugurating the International Fair of Thessaloniki without being under a suffocating bailout program.”
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