PM eyes strat­egy talks

Sa­ma­ras to meet ad­vis­ers, coali­tion part­ners ahead of troika of­fi­cials’ re­turn

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fol­low­ing an of­fi­cial trip to Fin­land, where Greece’s re­form ef­forts were dis­cussed in the light of an In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund re­port ad­mit­ting to se­ri­ous er­rors in the coun­try’s for­eign bailout, Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras is due to meet with ad­vis­ers, and pos­si­bly also with his coali­tion part­ners, ahead of the an­tic­i­pated re­turn of troika in­spec­tors to Athens on Tues­day.

De­spite the furious de­bate spurred by the IMF re­port and the rift it pro­voked be­tween the Fund and Greece’s two other of­fi­cial cred­i­tors, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank, it is highly un­likely that au­di­tors will be open to ma­jor changes in the eco­nomic pro­gram, govern­ment sources told Kathimerini. Nev­er­the­less, Greek of­fi­cials are ex­pected to press a re­quest for a 10 per­cent re­duc­tion to the value-added tax on restau­rants and tav­er­nas and to seek more time to fire 2,000 civil ser­vants.

It is likely that Sa­ma­ras will call a meet­ing with his coali­tion part­ners – PA­SOK leader Evan­ge­los Venize­los and Fo­tis Kou­velis of Demo­cratic Left – to dis­cuss strat­egy ahead of fresh talks with the troika. The pre­mier is re­port­edly keen to mend rifts in the coali­tion, ag­gra­vated by a botched anti-racism ini­tia­tive, and is ex­pected to avoid cast­ing blame on PA­SOK, which was in govern­ment when Greece signed its first bailout in 2010. “The pre­mier is not in­ter­ested in mak­ing po­lit­i­cal gains from yes­ter­day’s prob­lems but in solv­ing to­day’s,” an of­fi­cial said.

In com­ments in Helsinki, how­ever, Sa­ma­ras re­ferred to an ab­sence of po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sive­ness at the be­gin­ning of the Greek cri­sis, a clear dig at PA­SOK. He also re­peated Greece’s in­ter­est in ex­ploit­ing hy­dro­car­bon de­posits off its coast­line un­der a broader Euro­pean en­ergy pol­icy and stressed the prob­lems posed by il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion in Greece. “Ex­trem­ism will be tack­led by fight­ing un­em­ploy­ment and curb­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion,” he said, not­ing that most Greeks that voted for ul­tra-right Golden Dawn did so “not out of ide­ol­ogy but due to the cri­sis.”

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the progress of the Greek re­form pro­gram was dis­cussed with Euro­pean Eco­nomic and Mone­tary Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Olli Rehn, who is a Finn. Yes­ter­day Rehn lashed out at the IMF’s crit­i­cal re­port. “I don’t think it’s fair and just for the the IMF to wash its hands and throw the dirty wa­ter on the Eu­ro­peans,” he said.

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