NEWS

Leaders’ meeting on measures inconclusive [UPDATE]

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met on Wednesday morning with his coalition partners — socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis — for talks on a package of some 11.5 billion euros in austerity measures for 2013 and 2014 that have been demanded by Greece’s foreign creditors — the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known as the troika. But the meeting did not appear to yield a final agreement between the three party leaders on all issues.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who also attended the meeting, told reporters that the «basic scenario» for the measures had been finallized but that further talks would be held on issues of «minor significance» including on proposals for additional wage cuts for certain categories of civil servants such as military and judicial staff and priests.

Venizelos appeared less absolute in his statements to the media, saying that further discussion was required on the details of the package of measures, adding that efforts would be made to protect low-income Greeks. «There will be more cuts and sacrifices but they will be fair,» he said.

Kouvelis too said that the effort to hammer out the measures were continuing and reiterated his «categorical opposition» to horizontal cuts.

The package is to be presented to troika envoys, due in Athens next week, for approval.

The strongest objections to the proposed package have been to a labor reserve scheme for civil servants and to additional wage cuts for certain categories of civil servants such as military and judicial staff and priests. According to sources, the greatest objections to the latter measure have come from conservative MPs and cabinet members — including Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Defense Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos.