PM iso­lated at sum­mit

Tsipras may seek talks on side­lines of Rome meet on bailout, unity dec­la­ra­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With un­cer­tainty grow­ing over drag­ging bailout talks, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras ar­rived in Rome yes­ter­day for a Euro­pean Union lead­ers’ sum­mit to­mor­row that aims to de­clare unity as Brexit looms.

Al­though Tsipras has no planned meet­ings on the side­lines of the sum­mit to­mor­row, his aides in­di­cated yes­ter­day that he may meet some of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the progress of bailout talks and Greece’s stance on the joint dec­la­ra­tion EU lead­ers aim to sign to mark the EU’s 60th an­niver­sary.

Greek of­fi­cials have in­di­cated that they will only sign a dec­la­ra­tion in­clud­ing a ref­er­ence to the need for work­ers’ rights to be pro­tected. Ini­tially sources had sug­gested that Athens would boy­cott the sign­ing, a po­ten­tial set­back to an event aim­ing to is­sue a message of unity. But Tsipras’s of­fice de­nied re­ports that Athens might with­hold sup­port for the dec­la­ra­tion. Athens sim­ply wants the dec­la­ra­tion “en­riched... to high­light the im­por­tance of the Euro­pean So­cial Model, which in­cludes the pro­tec­tion of work­ers,” his of­fice said.

The in­sis­tence of the International Mon­e­tary Fund on the fur­ther dereg­u­la­tion of the la­bor mar­ket in Greece, en­abling em­ploy­ers to con­duct mass fir­ings but de­priv­ing work­ers of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, has been the key stick­ing point in bailout ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Mean­while Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble and other for­eign of­fi­cials have in­di­cated that cred­i­tors’ may also need the back­ing of the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion for mea­sures to come into ef­fect af­ter 2019 when gen­eral elec­tions are to take place in Greece.

The news of the de­mands has not been well re­ceived by the con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy, which re­marked yes­ter­day that the main prob­lem is the gov­ern­ment’s “ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity,” not ND’s lack of sup­port.

The bailout talks were also dis­cussed by Greek Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los and Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter and Vice Chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel in Athens yes­ter­day. “Greece stands with Ger­many and with all EU part­ners so that we can build a Europe that is pros­per­ous, in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive, a Europe that re­spects the ba­sic prop­er­ties and val­ues on which it was built, namely democ­racy, rule of law and so­cial jus­tice,” Pavlopou­los said.

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