A tricky bal­anc­ing act ahead

As Tsakalo­tos seeks to win round cred­i­tors and restart re­view, Tsipras must keep lid on SYRIZA dis­sent

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos is brac­ing for a Eurogroup sum­mit on Thursday where he is ex­pected to present a set of con­ces­sions on thorny is­sues that have stalled bailout ne­go­ti­a­tions in a bid to restart the re­view so the prospects for debt re­lief and in­clu­sion in the European Cen­tral Bank’s quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing pro­gram re­turn to the ta­ble.

It re­mains un­clear ex­actly what Tsakalo­tos will pro­pose to his peers, though the is­sues hold­ing up the talks re­late to fis­cal fore­casts, en­ergy and la­bor re­la­tions. With the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund press­ing for addi- tional cuts to pen­sions and a fur­ther low­er­ing of the tax-free thresh­old, Tsakalo­tos will come un­der pres­sure for ini­tia­tives in those ar­eas too.

The IMF has yet to de­ter­mine whether it will join Greece’s third in­ter­na­tional bailout. Un­til last week, the gov­ern­ment had in­di­cated that the bailout could progress with­out the Fund’s in­volve­ment. But, since Ger­many’s pow­er­ful Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble made it clear that Ber­lin would not ac­cept the with­drawal of the IMF, Athens has stopped the tough talk. Fac­ing elec­tions in the fall, Schaeu­ble is keen to en­sure that Greece does not be­come a do­mes­tic prob­lem for him.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras mean­while must achieve a tricky bal­anc­ing act: en­dors­ing the nec­es­sary re­forms to en­sure Greek bailout talks re­sume while keep­ing a lid on dis­con­tent with the ranks of his left­ist SYRIZA.

Al­ready some rad­i­cal fac­tions within SYRIZA have re­acted neg­a­tively to the prospect of fur­ther aus­ter­ity. The Group of 53, to which Tsakalo­tos be­longs, has ex­pressed mis­giv­ings while it re­mains un­clear how many MPs would se­ri­ously con­sider desta­bi­liz­ing the gov­ern­ment by vot­ing down new mea­sures in Par­lia­ment. The grow­ing un­ease has re­fu­eled spec­u­la­tion about the prospect of an­other round of snap polls.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, Athens wants to chop up ne­go­ti­a­tions with cred­i­tors to limit the po­lit­i­cal cost. The plan would be for talks to re­sume over the com­ing week, fo­cus­ing on the fi­nal mea­sures that are nec­es­sary to con­clude the cur­rent bailout re­view. Talks on a midterm pro­gram, which were sup­posed to take place in par­al­lel, would be post­poned.

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