Coalition heads to meet FinMin amid rift rumors [UPDATE]

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to meet with his coalition partners, Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left and with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras at 7 p.m. on Wednesday for a briefing from the latter on two meetings by European finance ministers in Brussels as speculation about rifts within the administration peaks.

Officially the goal of the meeting is for Stournaras to brief the three leaders on Monday’s Eurogroup summit of eurozone finance ministers and Tuesday’s gathering of European Union finance ministers. But according to reports, rifts have appeared within the fragile coalition over the stance adopted by Stournaras in Brussels. Venizelos, a former finance minister himself, has reportedly criticized Stournaras for failing to broach the issue of Greece’s demand to extend Greece’s deadline for fiscal adjustment. Stournaras had said that this issue could not be broached until Greece has managed to get its economic reform program back on track.

The minister, and the coalition leaders, were on Wednesday expected to discuss the implementation of some 3 billion euros in measures that Greece agreed to in March but which have yet to be enforced.

It is thought that Venizelos may ask his coalition partners for the issue to be raised at the next Eurogroup meeting, scheduled for July 20.

In a written statement issued by PASOK’s offices on Wednesday, Venizelos rebuffed reports in Kathimerini and Skai accusing him of ‘undermining’ Stournaras, noting that PASOK’s position — and the common position of the coalition — was to seek the renegotiation of certain terms of the country’s debt deal with creditors, including the extension of its fiscal adjustment period. Those who interpret the fact that he sought a meeting with Stournaras and the other coalition leaders after the former’s talks in Brussels as an attempt to ‘undermine’ the minister ‘have no grasp of the political, economic and social reality in Greece nor about the formation of alliances in Europe at this time,’ he said.

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