Alexis Tsipras wrapped up his visit to the USA with a speech at Brookings Institute where he reiterated his message of a Greek comeback after years of crisis and austerity.
“Now is the time to Trust Greece. This is the message I tried to convey […] and the one I think [President] Trump tried to convey yesterday,” he told attendees.
Tsipras hailed Greek-American relations describing them “strategic” noting it is more important than ever. “American support for both our economic recovery and protection of sovereign rights is today as crucial as ever,” he said.
In the Q&A session that followed the speech, Tsipras was asked whether he preferred the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in or out of the Greek program.
“I am happy to hear the IMF declaring that it will change course of action and no new measures needed,” he said.
“The best for Greece is to successfully complete the program with the IMF participation if this means better results on debt relief,” he said.
He added however, that if the dilemma is to have again an “endless discussion and negotiation” on the IMF’s demands from Greece or a quick conclusion of the review without the Fund, then he’d choose the second.
Asked about investments such as the development project in the old airport of Hellinikon and the mining activity of Eldorado Gold, Tsipras said each investment is separate and should not be confused.
“I admit there is huge bureaucracy in Greece but we are not a Third World country. Everybody has to respect the rules, the Constitution and law,” he responded.
Referring to the Greek-U.S. deal to upgrade the country’s fleet of F-16 and its cost for Greece, the Prime Minister said he would rather not spend money on defence, but geography will not allow it.
“I would like to be in a position not to pay a single euro in military procurements. But this would only be possible if our neighbour was Luxembourg or Belgium. And I want to bring it down,” he said.
Another reason is that Greece has to maintain a military balance in the region. “I believe this is not a financial issue. Our experts at the ministry of defence said this is a very beneficial [deal] for the Greek side […] It is a geostrategic issue,” he added.
Epic word blunder
At the end of his speech, the Greek prime minister attempted to translate a Greek saying, equivalent to “the hard part is over” in English, leading to a blunder. Instead of saying “we have eaten the camel, now all that’s left is the tail”, he said “There is an expression in Greece: ‘we have already eaten the camel and now there is the queue’.”
Needless to say, Greek social media users had a field day with it.
You can watch the PM’s unfortunate translation attempt at 2:12:00 of the speech video.