[WATCH] 'If Greece exits the Eurozone, nobody will be a winner'- PM

Muscat looks forward to migration and the future of the Eurozone talks in EU summits to be held later this week

Prime minister Joseph Muscat. Photo: Ray Attard
Prime minister Joseph Muscat. Photo: Ray Attard
'If Greece exits the Eurozone, nobody will be a winner'- PM • Video by Ray Attard

The Greek exit from the Eurozone will leave no winners, but if the Greek government persists with its unrealistic demands then we cannot be successful, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Addressing a MEUSAC Core group meeting ahead of his attendance at the emergency summit in Brussels later today, Muscat he explained that Malta would not allow any country to undermine its economic growth because of its own irresponsible promises.

Muscat pointed out that the international loans  the country was enjoying would not be available from any other countries under its current circumstances.

"Ultimately the funds they need will cost them more. " he pointed out.

"The romantic idea that Greece will be able to recover from this situation if it leaves the EU is wrong,"

Muscat spoke about Malta's expectations for the summit. He said that the Greek government had presented an extensive draft to extend the bailout period. This agreement naturally has to be made more concrete in the coming days.

"It appears that the summit has given a strong message to Greece, but any agreement will not be absolute, it will merely extend timelines," he specified.

Muscat said that the discussions would include the pension age and rates as well as VAT programmes in Greece.

"The meeting is expected to lead to an extension for the bailout period at least to the end of the year."

Muscat maintained that the government's position had remained constant.

"Our feeling was always that the Eurozone should remain as united and widespread as it is now."

"The money we lent to Greece needs to be returned," Muscat added explaining the importance of Greece avoiding bankruptcy and thus defaulting from the payment of its loans.

"We do not want a 'haircut concession' where the amount returned will be lower than that given by Malta, we would like to extend the period for the payment," he said explaining that some economists had even suggested a 75 year extension.

Muscat added that he hoped that the newly presented drafts would be more successful than the previously rejected and irresponsible and unrealistic ones.

Muscat explained that the Greek government had to work hard to ensure that conditions were met irrespective of the negative effects this would have on  employments and social benefits among others.

"The EU will try to reduce the impact on the innocent and needier people of the country, but there needs to be a guarantee that all European countries get their funds in return," he stressed.

Muscat also explained that Thursday and Friday would see the habitual EU summit where the discussion would centre around the way forward for the Eurozone. He explained that many argued that the euro would continue to go through such turbulence until the Eurozone was politically, economically and socially unified.

"We do not agree, with this and we have already stated that we will never accept or give in to pressures to put taxation matters in the control of anyone but the local government."

He added that country specific regulations would also be discussed during the upcoming summit.

Looking back at last year’s recommendations for Malta, Muscat said that the country had responded well to measures to increase female participation in the workforce among others..

Muscat also sad that the summit would also attempt to give a timeline for the UK-EU reform given that the UK was a key partner for the country and that the decision would also be taken some time ahead of the Maltese Presidency of the EU council.

"We will also be discussing migration. In particular we will be looking at emergency relocation systems and about a permanent program to come into force in the early months of next year," he said explaining that Europe had seen an unprecedented exodus of migrants from North African countries into Europe in recent months, but that Malta had seen the smallest number of migrants arriving in Malta in recent months.

He explained that this was due to Malta's agreement with the Italian government, which had understood Malta's limitations and potential to help. He added that the situation could change overnight, but that so far the political agreement had been successful.

"The emergency relocation program includes countries that saw large entries into the country in the past year," he said adding that Malta was  not one of these countries, but that disagreement with this move would have been short sighted.

"Malta agreed to accept migrants from Greece and Italy and move forward with integration programmes.” He explained that the condition for this agreement is that, if Malta gets an emergency influx of migrants, then the programme would be stopped and the commission would offer aid to the country in question.