Samaras douses speculation about snap polls, cooperation with SYRIZA

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insisted on Thursday that his fragile coalition government would see through its four-year term until 2016 and doused speculation about the possible creation of a grand coalition involving the leftist opposition SYRIZA, which opposes the terms of Greece’s international bailouts and is ahead in opinion polls.

“Greece is ready to turn the page, to exit the memorandum,” Samaras said in a speech to members of his conservative New Democracy’s parliamentary group. “Now is the time to show decisiveness and stability,” he said in what was widely seen as attempt to boost lagging morale among ND deputies.

The premier ruled out the possibility of snap elections, once again, and sought to put an end to debate about the possible need for a broad coalition including both ND and SYRIZA in the event that neither are able to form a majority government at the next general elections. “Elections in 2016,” he said. “We do not cooperate with those who undermine the country.”

“To convince them to become a credible and responsible government? Yes. But to co-govern as some people have been dreaming? No,” he stated.

Samaras said that Greece remains on track to post a primary surplus, adding that the size of the surplus for 2013 is larger than anticipated, in excess of 1 billion euros. He nudged the country’s foreign creditors, who have said that a primary surplus would be a basis for the launch of talks on debt relief. “We have achieved and exceeded the terms of the agreement,” he said. “Now it’s their turn to honor the agreement.”

The premier’s speech sparked a scathing response from SYRIZA. “It is pathetic that the prime minister of a country which is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis would reach the point of expressing pride to the Greek people for the ‘successes’ of the memorandum,” SYRIZA said.

Troika inspectors, whose talks with government officials have been suspended three times since September, are due back in Athens “in the next few days,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday.