NEWS

Acrimony as EU denies false report on pension cuts

ELENI VARVITSIOTIS, EIRINI CHRYSOLORA

The European Commission on Friday denied a report in the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) that claimed Greece’s lenders had agreed to the non-implementation of pension cuts slated for January as they believe the country’s social security system has become viable. 

The agency, whose report was initially backed by government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, also claimed that the institutions had informed opposition parties about their decision. But a government source told Kathimerini that the report was not true. 

The EC was quick to refute the report with a statement urging Greece to deliver on the promises it has made to its international lenders under the bailout program. 

“Our position is crystal-clear: Pacta sunt servanda. This is the only position you need to look at,” Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told a news briefing, using a Latin proverb which means “agreements must be kept.” 

For their part, the institutions said they made the visit to Athens – the first since Greece’s exit from the bailout program in August – not to engage in negotiations but to monitor whether the government is sticking to agreed reforms.

Accordingly, there was no reference to pension cuts in the statement issued after the visit by staff from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

“The mission held discussions on the situation and key challenges facing the Greek economy in the post-program period, as well as the state of play and next steps in the implementation of Greece’s commitment to continue and complete the key reforms launched under the program,” the statement read.

It added that the discussions focused “on the fiscal situation and outlook, which will feed into the preparation of Greece’s Draft Budgetary Plan for 2019, to be submitted to the Commission by 15 October, as well as on the implementation of the nonperforming loans resolution strategy.”

The pension cuts were agreed in 2017 by Greece and its eurozone creditors and have been approved by the Greek Parliament.

The ANA-MPA story drew a scathing response from opposition parties.

New Democracy said the report was “fake” and that it had not been informed, neither by the government nor creditor representatives during meetings with party officials on Tuesday.

ND went on to accuse the agency of spreading fake news and becoming an “instrument of government propaganda.”

The Movement for Change also said that it was never informed by the institutions that pension cuts would be scrapped, with party officials also describing the ANA-MPA report as “fake news apparently ordered by Maximos Mansion.”

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