“It is reasonable to expect positive developments soon” said government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos in an interview with the Saturday edition of Imerissia newspaper. “The government will not bring to parliament a bad agreement let alone an agreement that will exceed the principles of the government’s majority” he said adding that the government would rise to the occasion and its historic duty.
Tzanakopoulos referring to the ongoing negotiations with the institutions on the second review of the Greek programme underlined that the aim is “to bridge whatever differences on technical issues and on the fiscal issue for 2019 in order the progress to be recognised at the Eurogroup meeting on Monday “.
He explained that “the government’s target is the overall agreement to be reached in April, something that will pave the way for the inclusion in the quantitative easing programme. I believe it is logical to expect positive developments” he concluded.
The six-hour teleconference between the government and the institutions concluded on Friday evening leaving open the labour, social security and energy issues, a government official with knowledge of the negotiations said after the marathon talks.
The issues that did conclude are the new privatization fund, the privatizations and the out-of-court settlement.
“Essentially three issues remain open which require political discussion,” the government official said. “We were fully aware that we wouldn’t close the social insurance and labour issues at this level.”
Concerning energy, the representatives of the institutions insist on the sale of power utility PPC’s units as part of the opening of the market, but the government official said this issue is difficult following the decision of the European Court and the and the involvement of the European Directorate for Competition, which “we must study and to manage.”
Asked about the package of measures and offsetting measures the government is proposing, the official insinuated there might be a reduction of the unified property tax ENFIA, noting however that the percentage has not been agreed on. “There’s a small issue that remains on what percentage ENFIA will be in the package,” he said.
The adventure of the second review is attributed to IMF’s ambivalence to remain or not in the programme as well as in its obsession to positions that are extremely neoliberal and anti-European” stated Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos in an interview with the Saturday edition of Eidiseis newspaper.
Katrougalos underlined that “the progress achieved at all the other levels of the negotiation and that the review has completed except the labour issues will be confirmed at the Eurogroup meeting on March 20”.
We are giving a hard negotiation battle. The aim is not the completion of the review on whatever conditions as main opposition New Democracy urged us to do and as it did when it was government, stated Infrastructure and Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis in an interview with the Saturday edition of Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper.
“The aim is the final decision to have the best possible results for the Greek people. To foresee favourable measures for the weaker and social justice on the allocation of responsibilities” noted Spirtzis.
He underlined that public works that were stalled for 11 years were completed and stated that until June the e-ticket will come into effect. “The bus itineraries are changing as the whole philosophy of the route planning. Our aim is the citizen to trust the public means of transport.
During their meeting in Athens on Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the head of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Gianni Pittella were fully aligned on the issue of restoring collective labour negotiations in Greece, noting that it was a matter of principle for the EU as a whole and not Greece alone.
“This battle is not a battle for Greece alone but a battle for Europe, because some want to invalidate the institution of collective bargaining not just in Greece but in Europe,” Tsipras said at the start of the meeting. “We must therefore fight together to immediately restore collective bargaining in Greece and the rights of the working class in all Europe,” he added.
Pittella, on his part, said that the 2nd review of the Greek programme must be completed and fully backed the position that collective labour bargaining must be restored. This was not just for Greece, he pointed out, but because “it is a European institution and we must not allow institutions outside the EU to forbid respect of social and labour rights,” he said.
Pittella was visiting Greece on Friday to attend a ceremony where he was declared an honorary citizen of Athens.