NEWS

Aid due soon, officials say, amid tensions over austerity rally

TAGS: Politics, Economy, Diplomacy

Greek government officials say they expect to receive the next tranche of bailout rescue funds before the June 23 referendum in Britain and even as early as Monday, after Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday that he expects a decision by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) for the money’s release to be approved on Thursday – on the same day the Eurogroup convenes in Luxembourg.

Speaking to the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), the Dutch official said that Greece had met all the prior actions demanded of it, allowing the ESM to approve the disbursement of a 7.5-billion-euro loan tranche.

His comments were echoed by ESM managing director Klaus Regling, who said on Monday that there is a “good chance” a decision will be made on the next disbursement when the eurozone finance ministers meet on Thursday.

Last week, the Euro Working Group had agreed to the release of the tranche before June 20, signaling a new phase in relations between Greece and its creditors, something also noted by Dijsselbloem, who said that the days of a mutual lack of trust, evident during last summer’s tough negotiations, were behind them.

He also told EU lawmakers that the target of a 3.5 percent GDP surplus after 2018 was unrealistic and that it could be
lowered in coming years.

Meanwhile, back in Athens, the leftist-led coalition has come under conservative fire for allegedly flouting parliamentary procedures and resorting to emergency decrees in a bid to fast-track legislation and avoid voting procedures.

In a letter addressed to Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the reckless use of emergency decrees is creating “serious” obstacles to parliamentary procedures.

He also slammed Parliament’s administration of being pro-government, while other senior conservatives accused the government of increasing “authoritarianism.”

Tensions also grew between the government and the main opposition over a protest rally that is to take place Wednesday evening organized by a movement called “Paraititheite” (Resign), with the government indicating that the movement is politically motivated and ND distancing itself from the protest.

Speaking on state TV, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said, “Everyone is free to protest as they see fit.” However, she added, “those trying to say they are apolitical when, in fact, that is not the case, will be judged.”

“The organizers are trying to hide by saying that no [politicians] are involved and suggest that it is all a spontaneous thing,” she added.

ND officials slammed the government for its stance on the movement, noting that its criticism was aimed at distracting the public from its failure to ease the burden of austerity on the Greek public.

Prominent ND MP Dora Bakoyannis, a former foreign minister, said she would not attend the rally even though she wanted to, so that the government cannot claim the conservative party is involved in the movement.

ND party secretary Lefteris Avgenakis struck a similar note.

Online