Confusion over stances
Rifts appear in both government and opposition about approach to bailout talks
As bailout negotiations continued in Athens yesterday, the government appeared to shift its strategy slightly, indicating that some measures might go to a vote in Parliament before a critical Eurogroup summit scheduled for March 20. Meanwhile main opposition New Democracy appeared divided over the stance it should assume on the prospect of a new round of belt-tightening being demanded by Greece’s creditors.
In comments to reporters at a briefing yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said it was “possible” that some of the measures being discussed by Greek and foreign officials would be legislated before the current bailout review is concluded. A government official with knowledge of the negotiations said Greece would probably have to go to the March 20 Eurogroup with the “basic package” of new measures voted into law so that talks on determining the terms of medium-term debt relief can get under way without delay.
The position struck by Tzanakopoulos yesterday was in sharp distinction to the stance of Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who has repeatedly said that an agreement must be reached on all issues before the bailout review can be signed off. Nevertheless the government spokesman insisted again yesterday that there is no difference of opinion between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Tsakalotos on this matter.
There was also some confusion in the ranks of ND about the program review. Former ND leader Evangelos Meimarakis appeared to differentiate his stance from that of current leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis in comments to reporters yesterday. In contrast to Mitsotakis’s insistence in recent interviews that ND will not back further measures, Meimarakis remarked that “saying ‘I’m not voting’ from a safe distance is tough-guy posturing.” Sources in ND played down the apparent rift yesterday, saying that Meimarakis’s comments had been a response to statements earlier in the day by ND MP Makis Voridis and not a reaction to comments by Mitsotakis.
Yesterday bailout talks in Athens stalled on the details of an extrajudicial mechanism for settling corporate debts.