Syriza concerned it could be cornered in bailout, refugee issues

Syriza concerned it could be cornered in bailout, refugee issues

Athens, March 24, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

The Greek government has increased its attacks on the International Monetary Fund in recent weeks mainly because of the huge differences between the two sides in the bailout program review negotiations.

The disagreements have threatened to derail the talks and put off the negotiations on Greek debt relief that Athens hopes will start as soon as the first review is wrapped up.

The IMF appears to believe Greece should implement additional measures worth approximately 5 billion euros more than what the Greek government is proposing, in order  to cover the fiscal gap up to 2018. The Fund has also reportedly expressed doubts the effectiveness of measures the government has yet to implement such as revenue collection from games of chance, special taxes on wine, military spending cuts and more.

Furthermore, while the Greek government and the European institutions agreed that Greece achieved a 0.2% of gross domestic product primary surplus in 2015, beating targets for a deficit of 0.25% of GDP, the IMF insists that Greece has posted a 0.6% of GDP deficit.

All these differences have prompted the Greek government to publicly criticize the IMF in order to exert pressure on it to back down from its tough demands or deciding to quit participation in the Greek program altogether.

During a Syriza political secretariat meeting chaired by Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday night, the PM attacked the IMF for making demands beyond the bailout agreement and pushing for pension cuts that are unacceptable to Athens.

There was also concern among Syriza officials over the latest statements by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who is not keen on Greece being drafted debt relief; at least not before it has implemented the main bulk of its bailout program obligations. “The debate about debt sustainability is unfortunately a debate about something that is not urgent,” Schaeuble told reporters earlier this week, adding boosting competitiveness and implementing structural reforms were more pressing.

Refugees

Meanwhile, ruling Syriza is also concerned that the heat may be turned up for the government on the front of the refugee crisis.

During the Syriza political secretariat meeting, there was concern over the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement to tackle the refugee crisis. Syriza officials point out that the deal will be much more difficult to implement following the terrorist attacks in Brussels and could even fall apart, causing a great problem to Greece.

Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy seems determined to flag security concerns and has already requested a parliamentary debate on the subject of security in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, reflecting the party’s concerns about the handling of the refugee crisis by the government.

“There is an urgent need to re-examine security in the new conditions the country is experiencing”, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday. “It is safe to assume that the European Union agreements on the refugee crisis and the readmission of refugees [by Turkey from Greece] will have problems in implementation.

“Under these circumstances, the issue of security becomes paramount for Greek citizens and our country”, K. Mitsotakis stressed.