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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-12-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece will not accept IMF demands for more measures, labour deregulation, government spox says
  • [02] German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on visit to Greece
  • [03] Greek economic team, institutions had teleconference on Saturday, source says

  • [01] Greece will not accept IMF demands for more measures, labour deregulation, government spox says

    The Greek government will not back down in the face of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure for more measures, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos reiterated on Sunday, in an interview with the radio station Athina 9.84.

    "We have made it clear that there is no chance of us accepting all that the IMF demands with regard to the measures but also with regard to labour issues," he said.

    He also suggested that this may not necessarily be the case for main opposition New Democracy and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis. "I think they would be willing to accept [the measures] in the sense that the main opposition party has, throughout the previous period, conducted politics in a way that whetted the IMF's appetite," he said.

    The atmosphere and momentum among the Eurozone's leadership pointed to a political agreement on Greece by the end of the year, Tzanakopoulos added, "because everyone understands that Europe cannot withstand another flare-up of the Greek crisis when there are issues that concern Italy, a pre-election year for several European countries and the refugee crisis."

    In the case that the IMF proved inflexible and insisted on its terms, Tzanakopoulos admitted that the pressure from the IMF was strong but noted that there were many other factors affecting a solution for the Greek issue, not just the IMF.

    "I do not consider that Europe will stay on the sidelines regarding these demands; We all understand that they are unreasonable, recessionary and absolutely cannot be accepted by our side," he noted.

    Tzanakopoulos said the Greek government was working toward achieiving a political agreement at Monday's Eurogroup, which would allow a discussion on Greek debt relief measures to begin and also allow Greece to join the European Central Bank (ECB) quantitative easing programme in the first quarter of 2017.

    He said the December 5 Eurogroup would be a landmark meeting in that the basic outline of a comprehensive agreement on Greece would be decided there, while a second extraordinary Eurogroup might be needed before the end of the year to "rubber stamp" this.

    Regarding labour issues, in particular, Tzanakopoulos noted that Greece was in a singular position of "exception" from European norms regarding collective labour bargaining and that this cannot continue.

    "As the Greek government, we have said from the start that we can neither legalise nor make permanent this condition of exception. And for this reason, with very specific legal, economic and political arguments, we have tried to restore collective bargaining. For us, this is equally important as avoiding any measure for mass layoffs," he said.

    He said that at Monday's Eurogroup, if there is agreement on the short-term measures proposed by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a discussion on medium-term and long-term measures will begin, noting that these were directly linked to primary surplus targets after 2019.

    Commenting on recent statements made by Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble regarding Greek debt and whether this might block the Greek government's efforts in this direction, the spokesman noted that Schaueble's statements were also aimed at German tax payers, not just Greece and Europe.

    "When he talks about debt relief he means reduction. No one is currently discussing the nominal reduction of Greece's debt. We are talking about extensions, about interest rates and, therefore, I consider that by the end of the year we can arrive at specific medium-term and long-term measures that will be implemented after the end of the programme. And which will possibly pull primary surpluses downward," he said.

    [02] German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on visit to Greece

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is also running as Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) candidate for German President, began a two-day official visit to Greece on Sunday.

    The timing of the visit, which comes soon after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made statements seeming to question the 1923 Lausanne Treaty establishing the Greek and Turkish borders in the Aegean, as well as the implementation EU-Turkey agreement on migration and developments in the Cyprus talks, is seen as particularly important.

    In an interview with the Greek newspaper "Kathimerini on Sunday," Steinmeier made clear that the Lausanne Treaty was "indisputable" and that "the issue is clear from the point of view of international law and no one can dispute this." He also expressed conviction that "it is in Turkey's interests to continue implementing the agreement on the refugee crisis."

    The German foreign minister said Greece's European partners have made it clear that Greece "is not being abandoned to its fate" and urged all sides in the Cyprus issue to demonstrate a "constructive attitude" so that the Cypriots can see their country reunited, as Germany was in the past.

    During his visit to Thessaloniki, Steinmeier will join Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias at 12:45 for the official opening of the "Divided Memories 1940-1950" exhibition at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, organised in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki, the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki and the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.

    After the exhibition opening, the two ministers will return to Athens where Kotzias will host a dinner for his German counterpart at the Acropolis Museum, before the latter is received by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos at 17:30. They will then have a meeting at the foreign ministry at 18:30, followed by statements to the press at 19:15.

    Kotzias and Steinmeier, who were fellow students in Germany, have a long relationship of friendship that was recently rekindled when they met again as heads of the foreign ministries in their respective countries.

    Steinmeier is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday morning at 10:00 and the leader of main opposition New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis at 13:15.

    [03] Greek economic team, institutions had teleconference on Saturday, source says

    There was a teleconference on Saturday night between the Greek government's economic team and the institutions, with the participation of labour ministry officials, a government source said on Sunday.

    The source noted that successive discussions and attempts were being made in an effort to certify that there was a staff-level agreement on at least 95 pct of issues of the second review by Monday's Eurogroup.

    The major issues of controversy remain labour issues, fiscal issues and energy-sector issues.


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