Lead­ers to look for com­mon ground

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Af­ter his gov­ern­men­tyes­ter­day an­nounced new tax and pub­lic spend­ing mea­sures and the be­gin­ning of its pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram, Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou will meet with lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion par­ties to­day in an at­tempt to sat­isfy the Euro­pean Union’s de­mand that there should be some form of po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus on the re­forms.

All eyes will be on Pa­pan­dreou’s morn­ing meet­ing with New Democ­racy leader An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras. He has al­ready ex­pressed his re­luc­tance to give the gov­ern­ment his bless­ing but it is his sup­port that the EU is keen on ob­tain­ing. ND’s back­ing would al­low key bills to be passed through Par­lia­ment with a qual­i­fied ma­jor­ity rather than just 151 of the 300 votes in the House, thereby al­low­ing lit­tle room for crit­i­cism or po­lit­i­cal dis­putes.

“There does not have to be a de­tailed agree­ment but a po­lit­i­cal one re­lat­ing to the po­lit­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the pro­gram,” EU Econ­omy and Mon­e­tary Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Olli Rehn said yes­ter­day.

Sa­ma­ras ar­gues the gov­ern­ment should rene­go­ti­ate the terms of its loan agree­ment with the EU and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, point­ing to the less harsh mea­sures in Por­tu­gal’s re­cent bailout deal. How­ever, ND sources said that the con­ser­va­tive leader also re­al­izes that he can­not af­ford to ap­pear petty at a time when Greece is fac­ing se­ri­ous prob­lems. It was no­tice­able that ND re­mained silent fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment of new mea­sures. The party has also re­frained from com­ment­ing on in­ter­jec­tions from abroad, such as calls for an in­de­pen­dent agency to be set up to man­age the pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram.

Com­mu­nist Party leader Aleka Pa­pariga has said she will not at­tend the meet­ing with Pa­pan­dreou, while the head of the Coali­tion of the Rad­i­cal Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, has made it clear he would not give the gov­ern­ment his con­sent.

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