Row over stalled troika in­quiry

Visit to Athens of MEPs in­ves­ti­gat­ing bailouts is post­poned, spark­ing crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion party

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A planned visit this week by MEPs who are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the way bailouts in Greece and other eu­ro­zone coun­tries have been con­ducted by the troika was post­poned yes­ter­day, spark­ing an an­gry re­ac­tion from SYRIZA but not pre­vent­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yan­nis Stournaras from re­spond­ing in writ­ing to the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans’ ques­tions.

A del­e­ga­tion of mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Eco­nomic Af­fairs (ECON) com­mit­tee, led by Aus­trian MEP Oth­mar Karas and French MEP Liem Hoang Ngoc, were due in Athens tomorrow and Thurs­day but it was an­nounced yes­ter­day that the visit would be post­poned.

The MEPs’ visit, dur­ing which they were due to meet with Greek of­fi­cials, would have co­in­cided with the of­fi­cial cer­e­mony mark­ing the mo­ment Greece as­sumes the Euro­pean Union’s ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency. SYRIZA claimed this was what prompted the post­pone­ment.

“It would have spoiled the fi­es­tas the Greek gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing for the EU pres­i­dency,” said left­ist MEP Nikos Choun­tis, who is on the ECON com­mit­tee.

Gov­ern­ment spokesman Si­mos Kedikoglou re­sponded by ac­cus­ing the op­po­si­tion party of be­ing “ob­sessed with con­spir­acy the­o­ries and ef­forts to tar­nish the coun­try’s im­age.”

Mem­bers of the in­quiry team have sent ques­tion­naires to a num­ber of of­fi­cials, seek­ing an­swers about how the bailouts have been con­structed and im­ple­mented. One of those re­ceiv­ing the list of ques­tions was Stournaras, whose an­swers were made pub­lic yes­ter­day.

His most no­table re­sponses high­light the so­cial im­pact of the aus­ter­ity mea­sures and the lim­i­ta­tions of the pro­grams. He says, for in­stance, that Greece’s “re­mark­able” fis­cal and struc­tural ad­just­ment “has come at an ex­tremely high so- cioe­co­nomic cost.” He high­lights eco­nomic con­trac­tion of 25 per­cent, un­em­ploy­ment of 27 per­cent and more than a third of the pop­u­la­tion at risk of poverty or so­cial ex­clu­sion.

“Also, with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, the eu­ro­zone didn’t di­ag­nose timely the causes of the cri­sis in Greece and across the Euro­pean South, par­tic­u­larly the widen­ing deficits in the cur­rent ac­count bal­ances.”

“More­over, state­ments of var­i­ous stake­hold­ers re­gard­ing ‘Grexit’ played a very neg­a­tive role,” he adds. “Th­ese state­ments ag­gra­vated sig­nif­i­cantly the Greek cri­sis.”

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