Gov’t tries to spin an­niver­sary as EU ap­plies pres­sure

PM vows ‘not an­other euro’ in aus­ter­ity

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials sought to put a pos­i­tive spin on the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the coali­tion’s time in power yes­ter­day, a top Euro­pean of­fi­cial ap­plied the pres­sure on Athens, say­ing that a drag­ging bailout re­view must be com­pleted by the end of Fe­bru­ary, with the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund on board.

A doc­u­ment dis­trib­uted by the of­fice of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras took stock of the gov­ern­ment’s work since Jan­uary 2015, declar­ing that it had stopped a cat­a­strophic de­cline pro­voked by pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions and in­tro­duced a se­ries of ini­tia­tives to ease the plight of those hard­est hit by aus­ter­ity.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are ex­pected to draw from this doc­u­ment when they fan out across the coun­try this week­end to con­vince Greeks that au­thor­i­ties are do­ing what they can to im­prove their daily lives even as fur­ther aus­ter­ity looms. Set­ting the tone in an in­ter­view in the Efimerida ton Syn­tak­ton pub­lished yes­ter­day, Tsipras promised “not an­other euro” of new aus­ter­ity mea­sures. “Un­der no cir­cum­stances will we have leg­is­la­tion for any fur­ther aus­ter­ity mea­sures – not an­other euro – be­yond what has al­ready been agreed upon,” Tsipras said.

The po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion struck a very dif­fer­ent tone, with con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis re­fer­ring to a “black an­niver­sary.” “It is time to put an end to this na­tional night­mare,” he said.

Mean­while, eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters will meet to­day in Brussels but there isn’t much hope for a deal now as there has not been enough progress in Greek re­forms, as noted by Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Af­fairs Pierre Moscovici on Tues­day.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Euro­pean of­fi­cial, it is likely that the sec­ond re­view of Greece’s third bailout will be wrapped up at the next Eurogroup meet­ing on Fe­bru­ary 20, be­fore elec­tions be­gin in ma­jor EU coun­tries – the Nether­lands in March, French pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in April and, pos­si­bly, in May, as well as Ger­man polls in Septem­ber.

He said there is a “good chance” that an agree­ment will be reached at to­day’s Eurogroup meet­ing “to send ne­go­tia­tors back to Athens so that a deal can be reached in Fe­bru­ary.”

“Fe­bru­ary is the last month in which there is no po­lit­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant elec­tion in rel­e­vant mem­ber­states,” he said. “Fe­bru­ary is not for­mally but re­al­is­ti­cally the time when we need to reach a po­lit­i­cal agree­ment.”

But he made it clear that the pro- gram must in­clude the “full par­tic­i­pa­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.”

“A string of hy­pothe­ses stip­u­lat­ing the non­par­tic­i­pa­tion of the IMF in the pro­gram showed very clearly that it would cause huge tech­ni­cal prob­lems and de­lays,” he said, adding that those that re­gard the IMF’s with­drawal as some­thing pos­i­tive “should know what they are wish­ing for and stop wish­ing.”

Mem­bers of the fed­er­a­tion of Greek pub­lic hos­pi­tal work­ers yes­ter­day staged a rally in Athens, mark­ing the two-year an­niver­sary since left­ist SYRIZA and the right-wing In­de­pen­dent Greeks rose to power on a prom­ise to roll back aus­ter­ity.

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