Broader sup­port sought

Schaeu­ble says mea­sures must be backed by Greek op­po­si­tion, IMF thought to agree

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos strug­gled on with tough bailout ne­go­ti­a­tions in Brus­sels yes­ter­day, com­ments by his Euro­pean coun­ter­parts about the pos­si­ble need for the op­po­si­tion in Greece to back eco­nomic mea­sures af­ter 2019, when the next Greek gen­eral elec­tions are sched­uled to take place, spurred po­lit­i­cal up­heaval in Athens.

The tur­moil was trig­gered by the com­ments of French Fi­nance Min­is­ter Michel Sapin, who claimed that the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund wanted Greece’s main con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion party New Democ­racy to give re­as­sur­ances on its po­si­tions af­ter 2019. Sapin said he had never con­sid­ered the IMF’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in Greece’s third bailout nec­es­sary but stressed that a so­lu­tion must be found to the im­passe. He added that the per­sis­tence of the Fund on the need for tough re­forms to the la­bor mar­ket was an “ob­ses­sion.”

A few min­utes af­ter Sapin’s com­ments, the IMF de­nied that it re­quired com­mit­ments from the Greek op­po­si­tion.

How­ever, Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble broached the is­sue too, not­ing that some kind of com­mit­ment would be re­quired from the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion so that the leg­is­la­tion of the post-2019 mea­sures “will have sub­stance, ir­re­spec­tive of the elec­tions and their out­come.”

New Democ­racy, for its part, said that no such is­sue had been broached with its leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis dur­ing his re­cent vis­its to Brus­sels and Berlin. It re­peated that it will not back fur­ther aus­ter­ity and called on the gov- ern­ment to “ex­plain why it is seek­ing sup­port from abroad for the ap­proval of its mea­sures.”

In re­sponse, the of­fice of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras ac­cused Mit­so­takis of hav­ing “a hyp­o­crit­i­cal and sub­servient stance,” not­ing that un­til re­cently he had been urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to give in to cred­i­tors and com­plete the bailout re­view.

In a sep­a­rate state­ment, Tsipras’s of­fice de­nied re­ports that Athens was con­sid­er­ing with­hold­ing sup­port for a dec­la­ra­tion to be signed in Rome on Satur­day, chart­ing the EU’s course af­ter Bri­tain’s de­par­ture. Athens sim­ply wants the dec­la­ra­tion “en­riched... to high­light the im­por­tance of the Euro­pean So­cial Model, which in­cludes the pro­tec­tion of work­ers,” the state­ment said.

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