As fears mount that troika envoys will push for more austerity measures when they return to Athens, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is reportedly planning to adopt a tough stance, insisting that any more horizontal cuts would be politically and socially disastrous.
Officials close to Samaras have expressed concern about the troika’s demands for another 2 billion euros’ worth of savings next year, as successive reports by the foreign auditors had not hinted at the need for such measures. “You can’t praise someone and slap them at the same time,” one source remarked. The government is also dismayed by the troika’s refusal to consider rolling over Greek bonds held by European central banks and by their insistence on postponing talks on further debt relief for Greece until after European Parliament elections next May.
Several senior conservative MPs, including Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on Thursday insisted that there was no further scope for austerity. In comments to Mega TV, Mitsotakis said the “huge sacrifices” made by the Greek people and the contraction of the Greek economy by a staggering 25 percent over the past five years were unprecedented and “must be taken into account.” He said the fact that Greece is on course to post a primary surplus this year put the government in a strong bargaining position to avert further austerity. Even if measures were proposed, he said, “Parliament will simply not vote for them.”
Dora Bakoyannis, another prominent conservative MP, struck a similar note. “If the creditors want Greece not to sink, they must show understanding for the problems of the people,” she said.