Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras remains determined to seek a political solution to an impasse in bailout talks between Greece and its international creditors even though his one-on-one meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before Christmas failed to yield any substantial support for Greek demands for debt relief and less austerity.
Government officials insist that the pace of the Greek economy’s recovery cannot justify any further procrastination by the creditors and any further obstructive tactics would suggest political motives. In private, aides close to Tsipras indicate that delaying tactics are probably linked to the desire of some European officials to see the departure of the leftist-led coalition.
Some believe the government’s tendency to see plans to undermine the administration at every turn – in comments by European officials but also in critical reports in the foreign media – is an attempt to create a narrative that will be useful if Tsipras is obliged to call snap elections.
For the time being, Tsipras and his aides are insisting publicly that the government’s priority remains the resumption of bailout talks with Greece’s creditors as soon as possible with the aim of securing the country’s inclusion in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is to have a series of talks with European officials with this goal in mind in the coming days in a bid to win support at the forthcoming Euro Working Group meeting on January 12 and the Eurogroup summit on January 26.
Rhetoric aside, the government must deal with its fading popularity, which is expected to worsen as a series of new taxes – on fuel and coffee among other things – have come into effect this month.
Commenting on Tuesday, New Democracy spokesman Vassilis Kikilias accused the government of “giving everything to the creditors in exchange for staying in power.” “It also admits that it’s discussing a new, fourth memorandum, but it calls it a ‘fiscal path,’” Kikilias added.