Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has announced the first section of a National Network for Continuing Education for Farmers will be established in the town of Velvento, about 30kms from Kozani, which he visited today.

The town has become identified with its high-quality brand name peaches, its organised agricultural cooperatives, and its success in distributing its products throughout Europe.

It is considered a model of agricultural development for the rest of the country.

Tsipras used the visit to Velvento to assert that its success story and autonomy is similar to the slowly emerging recovery of the Greek economy.

He said a key step in restoring Greece’s autonomy is the government’s effort to pay off the debt to the IMF and remove it from the Greek surveillance programme.

He said that the country’s economic disaster was in large measure due to a litany of errors in the Fund’s handling of Greece.

«We are finally shaking off those who, for the most part, made wrong decisions – the IMF – and we are now in a position to strike out on our own, but with awareness of the difficulties because we have learned our lesson. We are, however, in a position to decide our future ourselves, to know in what way we will avoid returning to the deficits and bankruptcy but at the same time support the weakest, support the middle classes,» he said.

The PM stressed that no other country has ever stayed under IMF supervision for as long as Greece – eight years – and that this is due to the Fund’s “wrong decisions”, some of which it has admitted, and an unprecedentedly harsh fiscal adjustment programme.

«These were the results of the decision made by some technocrats, superseding elected governments. But all that is in the past because the country now has enough capital and liquidity in order to access the markets and borrow,» he added.

Deputy PM Yannis Dragasakis announced today that Greece’s cash buffer ensures the country’s borrowing needs through 2023.