After a week that saw Athens successfully tap international bond markets for the first time in four years, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras essentially ruled out the need for a third loan program for Greece, insisting that the markets’ positive response to last week bond’s issue is the first step toward the country emerging from its economic crisis.
In an article to be published in Sunday’s Kathimerini, Samaras declared that “the country’s return to the markets rebuffs [speculation] about a third memorandum,” a prospect that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was careful to leave open on a lightning visit to Athens on Friday.
“Two years ago when I was speaking about prospects and hope, the signs were not good. Few believed that we could make it,” Samaras wrote. “Now, everyone can see it: Greece is succeeding, step by step.” The premier said his priorities now were growth-boosting measures and “relief for those who have been hardest hit.”
In his article, Samaras lashed out at critics, particularly leftist SYRIZA and the neofascist Golden Dawn, which he did not name. He said democracy had been challenged by “an irresponsible opposition which tried to rally the people against the country staying in the eurozone” and by a “criminal organization” which used the parliamentary immunity of its MPs to launch “an unprecedented wave of violence.”
Meanwhile, as experts weighed the outcome of the bond issue and Merkel’s visit to Athens, sources suggested that both had been carefully considered. As regards the capital markets foray, sources told Kathimerini that it had been preceded by months of secret meetings with the final decision taken during a meeting at Samaras’s home in Kifissia, north of Athens, on the night of March 24. As for Merkel’s visit to Athens, there are said to have been doubts on both sides about whether it would be beneficial to both leaders with the decision taken at the last minute.
The head of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, noted on Saturday that the bond issue inspired optimism but that Greece still had “a long way to go” before it could talk about a full return to the markets.