By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Greek premier Antonis Samaras says he will “not allow democracy to succumb to criminal violence” in reference to the murder of two Golden Dawn party members in a drive-by shooting last weekend.
As crunch talks between the Greek government and the troika kick off in Athens on Tuesday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was quick to provide assurances that the country’s government is stable.
“There must be stability and unity as well faith in Greece both from the Greek people and from abroad”, Samaras told Mega Channel in a televised interview.
Samaras reiterated that the sacrifices of the Greek people must be acknowledged by the country’s lenders, having pointed out however that the government is not at war with troika officials.
The Greek PM also said pensions and wages will not be cut and that there is no chance of an early general election even if negotiations with the troika stumble. The premier also expressed belief that another bailout deal for Greece is not on the cards.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn denied that the troika believes Greece’s fiscal gap will be as big as 2.9 billion euros next year.
“I don’t recognize that number,” said Simon O’Connor, adding that “the discussions on this very subject are now getting under way. We are now in discussions in Athens with our interlocutors and we’ll see where that goes.”
Troika officials arrived in Athens Monday at the same time EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, on an official visit to Greece, told Greek Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos that the troika should be called upon to explain the course of the Greek adjustment program before the Financial Affairs Council and the EU Parliament plenum.
“The troika (…)will have to be accountable to an institution”, Schulz said before expressing his intention to boost the confidence of investors in the Greek economy and the self-confidence of the Greek people.
On his part, Evangelos Venizelos referred to the need for a “new Europe” to face intense problems like unemployment, replacing the “conservative Europe that cannot undertake the necessary initiatives to overcome the crisis”.
The stance of the Greek government vis-à-vis the troika has changed recently as the former attempts to capitalize on signs of a turnaround in the Greek economy. Greece will argue that the markets have already recognized progress in the fundamentals of the economy and that this must now be reflected in the agreement reached with the troika over the country’s future course.