Pri­va­ti­za­tion set­back played down

In joint ad­dress with Juncker, Sa­ma­ras rules out more aus­ter­ity to off­set lost rev­enue

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fol­low­ing the fail­ure by Rus­sia’s Gazprom to bid for Greece’s Pub­lic Gas Cor­po­ra­tion (DEPA), Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras sought yes­ter­day to put on a brave face as he de­clared dur­ing a press con­fer­ence with Lux­em­bourg’s Prime Min­is­ter Jean-Claude Juncker that the hic­cup was tem­po­rary and that Athens would not take fur­ther aus­ter­ity mea­sures to plug the gap.

Sa­ma­ras de­scribed as “ab­sur­di­ties” re­ports that his govern­ment would im­pose new mea­sures be­cause of the “tem­po­rary holdup” in the DEPA sell-off. “The plans for pri­va­ti­za­tions will con­tinue,” the pre­mier said. “What­ever prob­lems arise will be over­come.” Asked whether the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, which has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Gazprom since last fall, had in­ter­vened to stop the Rus­sian com­pany from buy­ing DEPA, Sa­ma­ras avoided re­spond­ing di­rectly, not­ing that the pro­ce­dure for the pri­va­ti­za­tion was “cor­rect” and at­tribut­ing the col­lapse of the sell-off for rea­sons that are “be­yond” Greece.

The pre­mier hailed a bid by Az­eri state en­ergy firm So­car for DESFA, the gas trans­mis­sion net­work op­er­a­tor, which he said strength­ened Greece’s fu- ture bid to trans­port Caspian nat­u­ral gas to Western Europe as part of the Trans-Adri­atic Pipe­line.

Juncker, for his part, said he could “nei­ther con­firm, nor deny” that Brus­sels had played a part in stop­ping the DEPA sell-off but said that if it had, it should be “pre­pared to face the con­se­quences of its de­ci­sions.”

Juncker, for­merly chair­man of the Eurogroup, reaf­firmed his sup­port for Greece and its tough eco­nomic re­form ef­fort, re­fer­ring to Sa­ma­ras as “a brother.” The Greek pre­mier struck a sim­i­larly af­fec­tion­ate tone, call­ing Juncker “one of us.”

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