Greek government determined to defy troika on home foreclosures ban

Greek government determined to defy troika on home foreclosures ban


By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens

The Greek government appeared willing to settle the issue of the lifting of a ban on home foreclosures through discussion with the troika by the end of the year. Otherwise, of no compromise is reached, it appears determined to legislate unilaterally, without the troika’s approval.

In a meeting on Monday evening, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras discussed this issue with deputy Evangelos Venizelos, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Stournaras said the government must draft legislation amending the existing status quo regarding foreclosures irrespective of whether or not a deal is reached with the troika on the issue as the current ban protecting Greeks’ primary residences is set to expire on December 31.

Commenting on the issue, Simon O’Connor, the spokesman for European Economic and Monetary Affairs spokesman Olli Rehn, said the troika has not asked Greece to lift the moratorium on foreclosures but to prevent people “systematically abusing” the protection it offers. “We want a solution that will protect the truly vulnerable but will also allow banks to put things in order,” the spokesman said.

Athens is becoming increasingly distressed with the troika’s uncompromising stance and constant pressure, not only on the issue of home foreclosures.

Leading ministers as well as several New Democracy MPs have called the government to fight off pressure for further austerity and the implementation of measures that will push society past it limits, such as the foreclosures issue.

Addressing the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Monday, Evangelos Venizelos accused troika inspectors of “unfairly and unjustifiably broaching issues that are ostensibly pending” and of hiding behind minor bureaucratic details.

Administration reform minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis also stated that if the government was to fall it should do so standing and fighting.

It appears that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shares the views of Venizelos and Mitsotakis and is determined to toughen his stance against the troika. As a result, the government is expected to pass legislation allowing the extension of the ban on first-home foreclosures by the end of year.