Having had an opportunity to absorb the implications of Monday’s Eurogroup in Brussels, the government’s response Tuesday to what was agreed by eurozone finance ministers appeared much more somber than a few hours earlier.
The fact that the short-term debt relief measures will stretch out until 2060 and that Greece may have to maintain primary surpluses of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product for up to 10 years after the program ends in 2018 left the coalition with much to ponder.
The government’s frustration was clear in comments by spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, who identified the International Monetary Fund and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as being obstructive. He said that Athens expects “the German finance minister and the IMF to play a constructive role in the effort we are all making.”
Tzanakopoulos was especially critical of the IMF’s European Department head, Poul Thomsen, who represented the Fund at Monday’s meeting.
The Greek official claimed that during the Eurogroup, Thomsen put more pressure on Greece to adopt extra measures in order to maintain the 3.5 percent primary surplus after 2018 rather than on the eurozone to provide further clarity on the medium- and long-term debt relief measures it plans to roll out from 2018 onward.
The government spokesman was adamant that the coalition would not agree to the adoption of any new measures in order to meet the 3.5 percent primary surplus target after 2018.
Seizing on the high fiscal targets that are forming part of the post-Eurogroup discussion, New Democracy argued that the coalition has essentially agreed to a fourth memorandum of understanding with Greece’s lenders as it will be forced to implement more measures in return for further debt relief.
Speaking in Metamorphosis, northern Athens, conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the short-term debt relief measures agreed by eurozone finance ministers were welcome but far from enough to drive a recovery in Greece.