European officials have given the government an ultimatum to proceed with electronic foreclosures on homes later in the month or else the country’s third bailout review will not be concluded.
The warning came despite the recent positive messages emanating from Brussels and Washington that Greece is making progress in the review and is on course to reach an agreement with creditors on a technical level by the end of the year.
But lenders appear adamant that the review’s conclusion will be jeopardized if foreclosures do not take place as scheduled and if notaries, who have borne the brunt of attacks by anti-establishment groups and protesters, are not protected.
“If the Greek government has the will to protect notaries it will find the way to achieve this,” a source told Kathimerini, adding that “if they want to stop the violence they can do it.”
The sources told Kathimerini they expect to see foreclosures beginning on November 27 “at all banks and throughout the country and not just isolated cases.”
Auditors have repeatedly made it clear that the resumption of foreclosures, which have dragged during the crisis years due to strikes by lawyers and notaries and more recently due to anti-austerity protesters, is a prerequisite for the successful conclusion of Greece’s current bailout review.
The ultimatum, however, appears to have motivated the government to take action so that foreclosures resume and notaries are protected as sources said that all necessary measures will be taken to “ensure strategic debt defaulters do not hide behind the attacks against notaries.”
To this end, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis met with representative of the notaries’ union of Athens, Piraeus and the Aegean and Dodecanese islands and agreed on a set of measures to protect notaries.
The presence at the meeting of Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas and Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Dimitris Liakos was seen as a further indication of the importance the government has attached to the issue – after long being accused of looking the other way.
For his part, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos underlined the importance of foreclosures in the effort to deal with the problem of nonperforming loans during a speech Wednesday to the parliamentary group of ruling SYRIZA.
Tsakalotos said that given that main residences of a commercial value of up 300,000 euros are protected, it would be unfair to protect homes worth 500,000 or 1 million euros against foreclosure. “Strategic defaulters must pay,” he said.