“The German finance minister never wanted the Greek program to succeed,” Telecoms & Media Minister Nikos Pappas said on Saturday referring to Wolfgang Schaeuble, one of Athens’s staunchest critics.
Speaking on Skai TV, Pappas said that the Greek bailout program will not undergo any changes until 2018, adding that lenders are divided in the approach to Greece and making particular reference to the International Monetary Fund.
“The IMF is not necessary to the Greek program as the European Commission questions its numbers,” Pappas said in reference to a disagreement between Brussels and the Fund concerning fiscal targets and the need for debt relief. “The IMF is arm-in-arm with the German Finance Ministry.”
Greece, said the minister, is facing a “political confrontation with the lenders. This is the first time that a program for Greece is working and this is because low primary budget surpluses have been agreed, with the priority being given to protecting the most vulnerable.
“Only someone who is one-sided politically can refuse to see that the Greek economy is stabilizing,” Pappas added in another apparent dig at Schaeuble.
“There is no reason for Greece to agree to additional measures,” the minister said responding to speculation that the cash-strapped country may need another rescue package to get back on its feet.
Pappas also dismissed suggestions that the leftist-led government is considering snap polls amid flagging popularity. “Elections is something that [conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos] Mitsotakis is dreaming and propagandizing about in order to tame his parliamentary group,” he said. “The elections will take place in 2019 and it is obvious that political expediency has seeped into public opinion polls. New Democracy does not have a 15 percent lead.”
Elections, Pappas said, “will take place when Greek citizens have the chance to compare what we took on and what we have done to improve the situation. No one says that the situation is easy. From the taxes being implemented, 20 billion euros stem from commitments made by previous government. The ENFIA [property tax] did not go up, but remained stable or was reduced for those who couldn’t afford it.
“The lion’s share of the burden is on the middle class,” Pappas said.