Tsipras: Grexit backers, internal political opposition tried to sabotage negotiations with creditors
Greece’s embattled leftist prime minister on Sunday called negotiations in the run-up to an agreement, in principle, with institutional creditors “difficult and with ups and downs”.
The Greek side on Friday accepted new austerity measures for 2019 and 2020 worth roughly 3.6 billion euros, as corresponding to GPD, mainly pension cuts and a lowering of the tax-free annual income threshold. The leftist-rightist government coalition had for months refused to accept such demands in order to achieve a second review, which would have unblocked a multi-billion-euro credit line for the bailout-dependent Greek state.
Speaking to ruling SYRIZA party’s central committee members on what is Palm Sunday in the country, Tsipras claimed that “some clearly wanted the (second) review (of the Greek program) not to conclude, either because some outside the country insisted on historically debunked scenarios of Grexit, or because some inside the country did not want us to be the ones to lead the country out of the crisis.”
Demands for new austerity measures were spearheaded by the IMF, which has repeatedly maintained that fiscal goals, primarily ambitious primary budget surplus targets for after 2018, cannot be achieved under the present economic and fiscal conditions. In a bid to “sweeten” the “bitter medicine” of more austerity measures that the Tsipras government had promised not to take, countervailing measures of equal value will ostensibly be included in the next agreement. The latter, mostly social spending, will only be implemented if fiscal goals are achieved.
Moreover, the mostly leftist Greek government has said that the new austerity measures will only be implemented if debt relief measures are granted.
In a reference to center-right main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, which is leading Tsipras’ SYRIZA by double-digit figures in all mainstream opinion polls, the Greek prime minister accused it of trying to block negotiations for the second review of the Greek program (third bailout).
“The system that for decades plundered the country tried to directly overthrow us by its involvement in the review (process). This attempt didn’t succeed, and they are now before a strategic impasse. The government would have preferred an ideological opponent and not a coterie of vindictive far-rightists and privileged scions, who suffer from a power withdrawal syndrome,” was his comment before top party cadres.
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