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PM, Venizelos meet as Administrative Reform Ministry eases stance on evaluation

Coalition leaders sought on Thursday to defuse tension that has built up between New Democracy and PASOK as a result of the assessment of public servants’ performance, with the Administrative Reform Ministry indicating that it is willing to make compromises over the evaluation scheme.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos met on Thursday to discuss the dispute between the two parties. Although there were no public statements directly after the meeting, both sides let it be known that the two leaders are determined to overcome this rift and to meet Greece’s commitments to the troika.

In a statement issued later to mark the 40th anniversary of the junta’s fall and democracy being restored to Greece, Samaras appeared upbeat. “I am optimistic about tomorrow,” he said. “This feeling is not based on guesswork.”

Venizelos also denied that PASOK was wavering over its commitment to Greece’s adjustment program. He said the Socialist party had shown over the past few years that it is prepared to take the decisions needed to help the country exit the crisis.

In a further bid to dispel doubt about the government’s future, Samaras also told New Democracy MPs in an off-the-record meeting that he believes Greece will not be forced to hold snap elections early next year. According to sources, the prime minister told the lawmakers he believes the government will get the 180 votes it needs in Parliament to elect a successor to President Karolos Papoulias when the head of state’s term expires in February.

The conciliatory mood within the government was also aided by Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou revealing that tweaks will be made to the evaluation process in the civil service. The point of friction between the two governing parties has been Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s insistence that 15 percent of employees in each department be deemed below standard, leading to them being placed in a labor pool.

Christofilopoulou indicated that the ministry is now willing to commit in writing that civil servants who fail the grade will not be fired, transferred or have their wages cut. Instead, the government will seek ways to increase their productivity, such as extra training. “The aim of the evaluation is only to improve the performance of civil servants,” she said.

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