The mood in the leftist-led government was tense on Tuesday as officials and MPs are divided over the prospect of privatizing the Public Power Corporation, the latest stumbling block in negotiations with the country’s international creditors.
Meanwhile, as government officials indicate that a technical-level agreement can be reached in time for a Eurogroup summit on April 7, European officials told Kathimerini that all agreed-to measures must be approved in Greece’s Parliament before talks can begin on debt relief and the level of primary surplus targets.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos indicated that a deal is not far away while Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou remarked that the International Monetary Fund is intent on downgrading workers’ rights.
In the wake of Interior Minister Panos Skourletis’s comment on Monday, describing as “cannibalism” creditors’ plans to sell off 40 percent of PPC power plants, several members of leftist SYRIZA spoke out.
SYRIZA spokeswoman Rania Svigou backed Skourletis, who was energy minister in his former role, attributing his comments to a broader effort to “maintain the public character of PPC.” Deputy Parliament Speaker Tasia Christodoulopoulou told Real FM that “this government cannot seal a deal that brings so much adversity.”
The mood is expected to get heavier for the government as communities in regions that would be affected by the closure of power plants – in Kozani and Florina for example – are planning protests, as are PPC unionists.
Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis sought to appease the concerns of coalition MPs and is to visit Kozani on Friday.
Government sources indicated that decisions will be taken in the context of a broader deal with creditors even as bailout talks remain stalled.
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said he appreciated concerns about the repercussions of the delay but hit out at Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras for urging a swift conclusion to the bailout review, accusing him of “politicizing.”
Meanwhile, coalition partner Panos Kammenos stressed the important role the US could play in the Greek economy through increased investment, and went as far as telling Antenna TV that “only America can help us.”
“Those who helped us in our difficult times were not the Europeans,” he said, noting that the Marshall Plan – introduced by Washington to help rebuild Western European economies and Greece after the Second World War – had no harsh terms attached to it or abusive rates of interest.
Kammenos, who recently visited the US, also referred to a large Greek-American fund that has shown an interest in investing in the tourist sector over the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced he will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China on May 14 and 15 and will meet with leading government officials in his bid to further strengthen ties and for Greece to become Europe’s main entry point for Chinese goods.