NEWS

Opposition parties scorn eurozone deal on loan terms

Opposition parties have played down a deal achieved early Saturday that saw eurozone leaders agree to improve the terms for Greece?s 110-billion-euro loan package, with New Democracy insisting that Prime Minister George Papandreou must renegotiate the EU-IMF agreement to help the economy recover.

In a statement, ND leader Antonis Samaras said that the conservatives had in the past called for a longer repayment period and lower interest rate but had also stressed the need for the EU-IMF memorandum to be redrafted.

Samaras also highlighted the failure of the eurozone leaders? meeting to agree that a permanent rescue fund should have the ability to buy back government bonds.

?This would have really lightened the load but the idea was rejected,? said Samaras. ?Another permanent solution to ensure viability would have been the Eurobond but this idea was not even discussed.?

The eurozone leaders agreed to extend the maturity of Greece?s loans from 3 to 7.5 years and to decrease the interest rate from an average of 5.2 percent to 4.2.

It was thought that Greece would have to make certain commitments, such as privatizing 50 billion euros worth of state assets by 2015 and including a ?debt brake? in the constitution, in order to receiver better loan terms but the prime minister denied giving any such promises.

Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, however, accused Papandreou of not telling Greeks the whole truth about what had been agreed. She also said that the agreement in Brussels would bring about ?new and overwhelming measures on wages, pensions, labor rights and the privatization of everything.?

The leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) Giorgos Karatzaferis said the agreement was a chance for Greece to improve its fortunes but suggested that the PASOK government was not best placed to maximize this opportunity.

?We may not have got everything we wanted from Europe but we got much more than the pessimists expected,? he said. ?The issue now is who will make the most of this opportunity. It is clear that the structure of the current government is not the best guarantee for Greece?s future.?

The head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras said that there was little to cheer in Saturday?s agreement.

?People should not rush to celebrate because the lengthening of the repayment period for the 110 billion euros was a given if the lender wanted to ensure that they would get their money back,? he said. ?Furthermore, it guarantees that they will get their money back over a 7.5-year period at a very high interest rate.?