Athens.- The government council held a constructive meeting on Tuesday focusing on the list of reforms sent by the government to the institutional partners, a government source said.
Certain reservations were expressed during the discussion and according to other sources, Productive Reconstruction, Environment & Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis expressed objections. Earlier, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had briefed the government council members on the negotiations and the drawing up of the list.
Some of the ministers asked for clarifications, while the discussion focused on the immediate government priorities and the legislative work that will follow. The government will wait for the agreement to be approved by the EU member states’ national parliaments and afterward will decide on the procedure to be adopted by the Greek parliament, the source said.
The four-month extension of the loan agreement and the accompanying list of reforms are a turning point for Greece and Europe, according to government sources on Tuesday speaking about the government’s recent round of talks with its creditors on the country’s fiscal programme.
Justifying the proposals included to the Eurogroup request for an extension in an announcement, the sources said that the reduction of the required primary surplus will give society some breathing space and can help restart the economy.
Among other things, they said the government managed to leave “the death trap” of extreme austerity, and did not accept the term “current programme” that required an extension of the loan memorandum. It insisted instead that there be a separation between the agreement for the loan and that of the memorandum (of the fiscal programme).
They also said that the list of reforms was based on the government’s agenda and its premise that the basic issue of the Greek economy is the chronic tax evasion of the wealthy. The new harsh measures planned by New Democracy and PASOK, had they won elections, will not be implemented, thus there will be no new cuts in pensions, layoffs in the public sectors and heavier taxes on the low and middle income classes.
Referring to its platform, known as “the Thessaloniki programme,” which the sources said was largely included in the agreement reached with the Eurogroup, other measures that would help were the collective labour agreements and the increase of the lowest salary ranges.
“In a negotiation, no side can impose 100 percent of its positions… Therefore the agreement text includes positions with which the government does not agree,” they said. “In the negotiations to follow until the concluding agreement is reached for a Contract for Revival and Growth, all effort will be expended to strengthen the Greek positions. The road will be long and difficult, but the first step has been taken.”
The citizens can judge who negotiates for the benefit of society, government sources on Tuesday said in response to statements by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader and former prime minister Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
The government accused the ND leader of attempting to convince the people that the government continues his policy, underlining that “those who advocated the deterioration of the labour Dark Ages, further wage and pension cuts, abolition of welfare benefits and tax increases, while turning a blind eye to tax evasion and corruption, have the nerve to reprimand us for paving the way to a policy that will reverse the memorandum ordeal of the past five years”.
Referring to Venizelos, the government sources noted that “Samaras’ memorandum partner is targeting society because the overwhelming majority of the people support the new government and not him…”
Opposition PASOK party on Tuesday called on those who were “casting stones” on former finance minister Gikas Hardouvelis’ email, “to realize that it concerned the country’s exit from the memorandum whereas Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ email concerns the implementation of the current memorandum,” adding that the terms for the implementation of memorandum No 3 will be set later.
PASOK accused the government that in the latest Eurogroup “it performed the absolute policy somersault in a clumsy and damaging way for the country’s interests.”
The junior member of the former ruling coalition also noted that the government, in exchange for the troika’s renaming to “institutions”, has undertaken to write the memorandum, which is the job of the technical teams.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday lashed out at the government accusing it of “leading the country further back compared to where it was last November,” referring to Greece’s reform list presented to the country’s loan partners.
Samaras underlined that “today with (Finance Minister Yanis) Varoufakis’ proposal, the government has accepted (former finance minister Ghikas) Hardouvelis’ email” after accepting the memorandum extension and the debt sustainability.
He noted that with Hardouvelis’ email Greece was exiting the memorandum era, noting that “Varoufakis’ email was submitted to the troika – ‘the institutions’ – for approval so that the final memorandum review could be completed and constitute a ‘bridge’ for a new memorandum which is now called a ‘contract’.”
Samaras said that the ND-led government was moving toward the exit from the memorandum with the help of a precautionary credit line to be able to return to the markets and not need a new memorandum.
He said that two months of election uncertainty and a month of “virtual negotiation” were wasted for the country to go further back compared to where it was last November. “We met with SYRIZA at the memorandum exit: we were getting out and they were rushing in,” the ND leader said.
The new agreement the government signed with its creditors is “essentially the extension of the memorandum and the commitments it (the memorandum) called for, the continuation of the antipopular policy of former governments of New Democracy and PASOK,” the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Tuesday, while calling Athens and Piraeus residents to a rally on Friday.
The KKE said the rally at 7:00 p.m. at Syntagma Square in Athens on Friday would be addressed by party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas.
The so-called reforms list, he said, ” includes all the negative measures for laboureres that capital has taken along with its governments, and with the EU treaties of the economic crisis” and said they list included strict supervision and review by the troika of Greece’s lenders, now redubbed “three institutions”, and the maintenance and expansion of antipopular directives.
“The so-called ‘proud’ negotiation was a fraudulent advertisement,” it said, adding that any review of the previous fiscal adjustment programme would not result in relieving the people but in guaranteeing state funding for investments and profit by capital and by the lenders, while working people, the unemployed and poor farmers among others will continue to pay for continuing austerity.