With an exact date for the return of troika inspectors to Athens still unclear, government officials are aiming for a comprehensive settlement on pending reforms and other issues next month to ensure that negotiations are not open in the countdown to European and local authority elections in May, Kathimerini understands.
Troika inspectors are expected to return to Athens before the end of the month but officials rejected media reports on Thursday that envoys would be in the Greek capital on January 20 or 22.
According to sources, the government is keen to use the additional time to prepare thoroughly for talks so that a full agreement can be reached next month on the reforms and other prior actions that Athens must implement to clinch sub-tranches of rescue funding through May.
The chief aim is to ensure that there are no loose ends with the troika as Greece goes to the polls, especially as political tensions are rising, the sources said.
President Karolos Papoulias set out Greece’s priorities in different terms on Thursday, declaring, “Let’s get through the crisis and boot out the troika.”
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, speaking from Strasbourg during a visit to set out Greece’s priorities during its presidency of the European Union, repeated that his conservative New Democracy party, which leads the ruling coalition, would prevail in May’s elections.
The head of the leftist opposition SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, insisted meanwhile that his party is ready to take the reins of government in Greece. In an interview with Italy’s La Stampa, Tsipras said his party was “more European than the conservative parties which destroyed the idea of solidarity and divided people.” He added that SYRIZA would seek a pan-European summit to discuss the debt of Greece and other Southern European nations.
Meanwhile Samaras’s coalition partner, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos, stated in an interview with France’s Le Figaro that SYRIZA cannot form a government and that its ascent is “restricted.” Venizelos is to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Friday.