By Sotiris Nikas
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s statement in Brussels after his top-level meeting with European officials on Tuesday, in which he said that there will be no more austerity measures, has raised concern among the country’s troika of creditors.
Officials of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been saying in the last few days that the government is wrong in saying no additional measures will be required.
According to a Financial Times report published on Wednesday, senior troika officials are saying in private that they are concerned about Samaras’s insistence there will be no new austerity conditions attached to a further bailout package, adding that this is a promise the PM will not be able to keep.
The same report noted that this also weighs heavily on the heated debate over whether the eurozone creditors should take losses on the loans already provided to Greece and what new austerity measures should be imposed in order to keep the program on track.
However, after a meeting yesterday between the prime minister, Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, the latter told reporters, “I do not see any new measures in the horizon,” and added that things are going just fine.
Stournaras’s counterpart in Berlin, Wolfgang Schaeuble, also appeared optimistic on Wednesday, telling German newspaper Die Zeit that Greece will emerge from its recession and increase its gross domestic product faster than the rise of its debt as of 2014. “We conducted a debt haircut in 2011. We shall not do that again. There will not be a second debt haircut,” he stated four days before the German general election.
Schaeuble added that “last year almost no German spent their vacation in Greece because the cost-service balance was more favorable in Turkey. Now [Germans] have returned to Greece as it has reduced its labor costs by 13 percent.” He conceded that the general population in Greece is suffering and that the local elite is not suffering as much.