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Greece asks creditors to relieve the measures

16 October 2015 / 14:10:31  GRReporter
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Days before the first monitoring of the implementation of the third rescue programme, Greek Minister of Finance Efklidis Tsakalotos asked creditors for "flexibility" in terms of the reforms that must be implemented and that will lead to significant social consequences. The message from the euro zone is that Athens should not reduce the intensity in the implementation of reforms and proceed with the necessary radical changes.

The Greek daily Kathimerini reports that Efklidis Tsakalotos is seeking to create conditions that will alleviate some of the upcoming measures. According to sources, these are mainly the changes in the social security system, the settlement of non-performing bank loans and labour law reforms. For all of them, the memorandum stipulates that a discussion be held before the final decisions are adopted.

The request submitted by the Minister of Finance was revealed yesterday after his meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia at the US Department of Treasury Daleep Singh, who was accompanied by US Ambassador to Greece David Pierce. According to the announcement of the Ministry, Efklidis Tsakalotos assured Singh that reforms in Greece "are progressing as envisaged in the programme" but added that in parallel, it is necessary for the "institutions (creditors – editor’s note) to also show flexibility regarding the outstanding issues that will have significant social consequences."

Kathimerini writes that creditors are not prone to make concessions to the already agreed changes. They are of the opinion that if Athens wants to change some of the reforms, it will have to propose a different reform that will have the same financial effect.

The reluctance of creditors to make concessions is apparent at the political level too. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was adamant when she said, "It has been a few weeks since the situation in Greece has kept us under pressure and was in the media headlines. We cannot afford to reduce reform efforts in Europe based on the responsibility of each country and on European solidarity, especially in crisis-hit countries." She stressed categorically, "We cannot afford to reduce efforts to correct the mistakes that have been made in the structure of the economic and monetary union."

President of Euroworking Group Thomas Wieser said in turn, "the problem in Greece is not just a problem of public finances. The country needs profound changes in administration and to establish a new type of citizen's trust in the state to pay the taxes attributable to everyone." In his interview with the Austrian edition Kurier, he expressed his optimism for the future, stating: "During the negotiations on the third bailout package to Greece in July the general feeling was that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has the absolute will to give the country a new perspective."

Besides European representatives, the US Assistant Secretary also sent a message for the strict implementation of reforms. According to the Ministry, during his meeting with Efklidis Tsakalotos, Daleep Singh emphasized the importance of achieving significant progress in the reform implementation by the Greek government. He assured the Greek Minister of Finance of the existence of absolute agreement on the need for recapitalization of Greek banks.

It is worth noting that the heads of creditor institutions will arrive in Athens this coming Tuesday to begin discussions with the Greek government.

Tonight, the Greek Parliament will vote on the bill with the first package of budgetary measures in connection with the implementation of the conditions of the third rescue programme. At the same time, the social tension against the measures is growing. At 7:00 pm while the debates among lawmakers will be taking place, public sector workers trade union ADEDY will hold a protest outside parliament. Half an hour earlier, the trade union of the Communist Party of Greece PAME will also organize a protest rally against the new budgetary measures in Omonia Square.

Tags: PoliticsThird rescue programmeBudgetary measuresReformsFinance Minister Efklidis TsakalotosCreditors
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