PM’s message for Greek leader

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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David Cameron will tell his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras he needs to end the stand-off with the eurozone amid fears the uncertainty could damage the British economy.

The Prime Minister will hold his first face-to-face meeting with Mr Tsipras at a gathering of European leaders in Brussels which is set to be dominated by economic concerns following the victory of the Greek radical anti-austerity party in elections last month.

The European Council summit will also discuss the latest developments in the Ukraine crisis following a diplomatic initiative led by French president Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has been invited to brief the summit and Mr Cameron is expected to press for the European Union to maintain pressure on Russia’s Vladimir Putin to demonstrate that he has changed course.

British officials said Mr Cameron would be in “listening mode” in his meeting with Mr Tsipras, but was keen to hear the details of how he intended to get his country’s economy growing and how he would tackle the crucial issue of Greece’s debts.

“I expect the Prime Minister to make clear that we expect to see a swift resolution to the current stand-off between Greece and the rest of the eurozone,” an official said.

“The Prime Minister’s point will be this is not about us taking sides, it’s down to Greece and eurozone partners to agree on the best way to move forward to get the Greek economy growing, to bring their debt down and get it on a sustainable footing.

“They need to work on this together but they need to be acting responsibly and coming up with a plan for growth.

“The point from the UK perspective is that the uncertainty around Greece is clearly a risk to our economy. We want Greece and eurozone partners to get on and sort this out.”

The talks between Mr Tsipras and his European counterparts will be a chance for the Greek leader to set out how he intends to implement the anti-austerity policies his Syriza party was swept to power on.

The discussions will focus on the detail of the reforms necessary in Greece and the timetable for implementing the measures.

On Ukraine, the leaders will assess the outcome of the talks between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in Minsk.

A British official said: “The PM’s view is very clear on this and hasn’t changed. The test here of the progress we are making is what’s happening on the ground and we will judge Russia and the success of any initiative by that situation there.”

The source added: “Some of the smaller and Eastern European countries have been looking to us to continue to send a very strong and tough message to Russia that they need to change course and I think they will be looking for the PM to do that and that is his very clear position.”

The UK is ” not going to ease off the sanctions pressure until Russia changes course, and that is the very clear message we want to send”.

The United States is considering whether to supply weapons to Ukraine’s military and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said that while the UK was not planning to offer arms to the Ukrainian military but the Government reserves the right to change its position.

The official said: “We are already providing non-lethal support and we keep this under review but the focus at the moment is very much on the diplomatic effort.”

European leaders will also consider counter-terrorism measures following the bloody events in Paris last month.

The heads of government will discuss the efforts to reach agreement with the European Parliament on airline passenger name record (PNR) data, c ontrol of illegal firearms, counter-radicalisation, including online material, and sharing info on those convicted of serious crimes.

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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