Tough talks on two fronts

PM braces for re­turn of troika, meet­ing with coali­tion part­ners as Juncker vis­its

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras faces tough ne­go­ti­a­tions on two fronts this week as troika mis­sion chiefs re­turn to Athens to­mor­row for a new au­dit as his coali­tion part­ners press for changes within the shaky ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ahead of to­mor­row’s sched­uled ar­rival of the troika en­voys, Sa­ma­ras will have the chance to catch up with Lux­em­bourg Prime Min­is­ter and for­mer Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker who is due in Athens to­day for a two-day visit. Juncker, who de­scribed Sa­ma­ras as “a brother” in com­ments to the Ger­man Stock Ex­change’s news web­site last week, and hailed the Greek pre­mier for do­ing an “ex­cel­lent job” with re­forms, con­demned the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for its forecasts on the Greek cri­sis over the week­end, not­ing that they had “no link with re­al­ity.” His com­ments came amid spec­u­la­tion fu­eled by an In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund re­port ad­mit­ting to se­ri­ous er­rors in Greece’s first for­eign bailout, signed in 2010 by then Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou.

In com­ments to Skai over the week­end, Greece’s for­mer rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the IMF, Panayi­o­tis Roume­li­o­tis, blamed Pa­pan­dreou’s ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to de­mand a hair­cut on Greece’s huge debt from the out­set. “The Eu­ro­peans were un­be­liev­ably slow in tak­ing de­ci­sions but we did not rise to the oc­ca­sion ei­ther; we did not seek a re­duc­tion of Greece’s debt,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to sources in Athens and Brus­sels alike, the IMF’s re­port is less of a “mea culpa” than an at­tempt to put pres­sure on eu­ro­zone lead­ers to ac­cept a hair­cut on loans to Greece.

The prospects for a hair­cut are not of­fi­cially on the agenda of talks be­tween Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yan­nis Stournaras and troika en­voys. The talks are ex­pected to fo­cus on progress in re­form ef­forts – chiefly the stream­lin­ing of the civil ser­vice and an over­haul of the tax sys­tem – as well as an an­tic­i­pated fund­ing gap of 4.6 bil­lion eu­ros for 2014 and what mea­sures will be taken to plug it.

Along­side the troika talks, Sa­ma­ras is ex­pected to meet with his coali­tion part­ners who are likely to press for changes to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy pro­gram. The prospects for a reshuf­fle are likely to be dis­cussed, though Sa­ma­ras is re­port­edly keen to put off changes un­til the fall as min­is­ters still have re­forms to push through.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.