Stein­brueck cites progress but sees longer re­cov­ery

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Dur­ing a visit to Athens yes­ter­day, Ger­many’s So­cial Demo­crat can­di­date for chan­cel­lor, Peer Stein­brueck, re­peated his call for Greece to be given more time to com­plete its fis­cal ad­just­ment and ex­pressed reser­va­tions about when the Greek government might be able to turn to the in­ter­na­tional mar­kets for its bor­row­ing re­quire­ments.

On a whirl­wind 24-hour visit to Athens, dur­ing which he met with Pres­i­dent Karo­los Papou­lias, Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yan­nis Stournaras and PASOK leader Evan­ge­los Venize­los, the SPD’s chan­cel­lor can­di­date ac­knowl­edged that Greece had made sig­nif­i­cant steps and could end the year with a pri­mary sur­plus.

How­ever, he said that the government had to make greater ef­forts to pro­duce a fairer tax sys­tem. Stein­brueck, who served in the past as fi­nance min­is­ter in a coali­tion government led by Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, said he had re­layed his con­cerns to Stournaras, point­ing out that the le­git­i­macy of Greece’s pro­gram would be ques­tioned if the bur­den con­tin­ued to fall on Greeks who have seen their wages slashed while few in­roads are made into tax eva­sion.

Stein­brueck’s party is trail­ing Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives in opin­ion polls ahead of na­tional elec­tions this fall but the SPD can­di­date in­sisted the pos­si­bil­ity of the So­cial Democrats win­ning was not “utopian.” He said that an SPD-led government would place more em­pha­sis on main­tain­ing so­cial co­he­sion in Greece and driv­ing growth and job cre­ation.

“I fear, though, that Greece’s re­turn to the mar­kets will take longer than what we ex­pect to­day,” added Stein­brueck.

The SPD politi­cian also stated that fel­low cen­ter-left party PASOK should not be held re­spon­si­ble for Greece’s cri­sis.

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