Athens, April 13, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras traveled to Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday in an effort to secure political support for the conclusion of the bailout program review.
Tsipras is also expected in Strasbourg on Thursday to meet with European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
The Greek PM is expected to explain a Greek government decision to table two draft bills on tax and pension reform to Parliament next week without the Greek bailout program review being concluded. As a result, the entire review by the country’s “quadriga” of creditors now hangs in the balance and the situation is, according to some analysts, similar to the “political thriller” the country experienced last summer.
This surprising move by Athens is seen as a bid by the government to exert pressure on the creditors to wrap up the first review of the country’s third bailout by the end of the month so as to avoid the scenario of negotiations extending into June and to move closer to the start of debt relief discussions.
Government officials hope that the referendum on “Brexit” in the UK in June and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe will pressure creditors into a deal with Greece.
Furthermore, government officials privately acknowledge there is “small political risk” in the decision to unilaterally table bills in Parliament, however, Athens is almost certain an agreement with the International Monetary Fund is very difficult.
According to the media, the move apparently took creditors by surprise as the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had not informed them of these intentions.
A European Commission spokesman said Wednesday that the bills the Greek government will table in parliament on taxation and pension reform will only come into effect once an agreement with institutions has been reached.
The spokesman said that the EU is aware of Greece’s intention to begin a debate in parliament in the near future on some draft bills but “the ownership of reforms is key along with an agreement being reached with institutions”.
“Talks continue and the Commission expects progress on all fronts” he added.
The government launched a strong attack on New Democracy calling it to answer a series of questions instead of trying to throw the bailout program review off track and destabilize the economy and society.
“New Democracy is denouncing the measures foreseen in the agreement it too has voted in favor of. New Democracy had committed to implementing measures worth more than 20 billion euros when it was in power. It is trying to politically capitalize on developments but it should really tell the Greek people: Does it really want the review to be concluded? Does it have its own alternative proposals to make to the measures it believes are harmful (when in fact they will benefit the poorest)? Does New Democracy disagree that the new tax system will take more from higher incomes?”
According to government sources, the government intends to help Greece’s creditors solve their own differences over the Greek bailout program targets and intensify efforts for the review to be wrapped up swiftly.