ERT saga continues as coalition partners meet again

ERT saga continues as coalition partners meet again


By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens

Greece may have escaped calling an early general election Monday night, however, the ERT saga is far from over. The leaders of the country’s coalition government will meet again Wednesday to reach a final agreement over how the national broadcaster will operate until it is replaced by a new entity.

A Greek court has ordered the state broadcaster ERT back on air while it is restructured. However, the decision leaves it up to the government to decide whether ERT will restart with programming as before or only partially resume operations until its re-launch.

Wednesday’s meeting is crucial since both junior government partners haven’t agreed to a temporary version of ERT going back on the air. Reports suggest Samaras will have to make further concessions to achieve compromise (greater influence in ERT’s transition being one); however, attention has now shifted to a reshuffle that would provide for better governmental co-ordination.

The issue of ERT’s closure and the crisis it brought about has brought attention to faults in the way the country’s coalition government operates. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras offered Evangelos Socialist PASOK leader Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis remedies which will kick in as soon as they agree to go ahead with a cabinet reshuffle at the beginning of July.

Until then – ERT aside – there are many pressing issues the trio must ensure are dealt with without the added pressure of the prospect of a snap election hanging over the country.

Unresolved issues include the country’s privatization program. The Greek PM met with Troika inspectors Tuesday evening. How the government plans to sell natural gas supplier DEPA after Gazprom pulled out was on the agenda. Talks also focused on the closure of the Greek state broadcaster ERT as well as the failure of the main medical services provider EOPYY.

Greek and Troika officials must reach a consensus ahead of the Eurogroup meeting scheduled for Thursday.

European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly urged Greece’s ruling coalition parties to fulfill their responsibilities.

“We have clear positions on Greece and the political stability required for the implementation of reform and the economic rebalancing of the country,” he said on Tuesday. “And we would like that stability to be maintained.”