Bid for Fe­bru­ary deal

With date of troika re­turn un­clear, gov’t wants to tie up loose ends be­fore elec­tions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With an ex­act date for the re­turn of troika in­spec­tors to Athens still un­clear, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are aim­ing for a com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment on pend­ing re­forms and other is­sues next month to en­sure that ne­go­ti­a­tions are not open in the count­down to Euro­pean and lo­cal au­thor­ity elec­tions in May, Kathimerini un­der­stands.

Troika in­spec­tors are ex­pected to re­turn to Athens be­fore the end of the month but of­fi­cials re­jected me­dia re­ports yes­ter­day that en­voys would be in the Greek cap­i­tal on Jan­uary 20 or 22.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the gov­ern­ment is keen to use the ad­di­tional time to pre­pare thor­oughly for talks so that a full agree­ment can be reached next month on the re­forms and other prior ac- tions that Athens must im­ple­ment to clinch sub-tranches of res­cue fund­ing through May.

The chief aim is to en­sure that there are no loose ends with the troika as Greece goes to the polls, es­pe­cially as po­lit­i­cal ten­sions are ris­ing, the sources said.

Pres­i­dent Karolos Papou­lias set out Greece’s pri­or­i­ties in dif­fer­ent terms yes­ter­day, declar­ing, “Let’s get through the cri­sis and boot out the troika.”

Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras, speak­ing from Stras­bourg dur­ing a visit to set out Greece’s pri­or­i­ties dur­ing its pres­i­dency of the Euro­pean Union, re­peated that his con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy party, which leads the rul­ing coali­tion, would pre­vail in May’s elec­tions.

The head of the left­ist op­po­si­tion SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, in­sisted mean­while that his party is ready to take the reins of gov­ern­ment in Greece. In an in­ter­view with Italy’s La Stampa, Tsipras said his party was “more Euro­pean than the con­ser­va­tive par­ties which de­stroyed the idea of sol­i­dar­ity and di­vided peo­ple.” He added that SYRIZA would seek a pan-Euro­pean sum­mit to dis­cuss the debt of Greece and other South­ern Euro­pean na­tions.

Mean­while Sa­ma­ras’s coali­tion part­ner, PASOK chief Evan­ge­los Venize­los, stated in an in­ter­view with France’s Le Fi­garo that SYRIZA can­not form a gov­ern­ment and that its as­cent is “re­stricted.” Venize­los is to meet US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry in Wash­ing­ton to­day.

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