NEWS

Gov’t spokesman: must reach deal today or tomorrow

A few hours before a scheduled meeting on Tuesday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partners, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that the coalition was facing its «final hurdle» and that a deal on a new package of austerity measures must be signed off on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.

“We must reach an agreement today or Wednesday,» Kedikoglou told Skai television.

The spokesman noted that the climate was improving in Greece following a recent visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, observing that many Greeks who had withdrawn their savings from local banks were starting to bring their money back.

Kedikoglou emphasized the importance of boosting liquidity in the Greek market, noting that Merkel had stressed this, and remarking that the release of a 31.5-billion-euro rescue loan on which Greece’s solvency relies will ensure that no more businesses leave the country. «The two companies that left did not flee to a tax haven or to a country with better labor relations but to countries where liquidity is guaranteed by the banking system,» he said.

Kedikoglou added that the recent European Union leaders’ summit had been very positive for Greece, confirming that the debt-wracked country was gradually getting back on track and supporting the coalition’s reform efforts. «The government’s plan is the only realistic rescue plan for the country, there is no other realistic alternative proposal,» he said.

Commenting on the recent departure of two coalition deputies who had threatened to vote against the austerity package — one from conservative New Democracy and one from the Democratic Left — Kedikoglou remarked «not everyone can deal with difficult times.» He said he believed that the vast majority of coalition lawmakers would back the new measures.

Samaras is to discuss the package of 13.5 billion euros in austerity measures as well as a series of so-called prior actions demanded by the troika — including labor reforms — in a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Samaras is reportedly intent on clinching the deal by Friday in a bid to secure a positive message at an emergency summit of eurozone finance ministers on Monday despite the objections of Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis and PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos to proposed changes to labor reforms.