Samaras, Venizelos agree on policy framework for coalition

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is due to meet fellow European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday but preceded this by holding talks with Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday, which culminated in the two men agreeing on a 12-page policy framework for their coalition.

The content of the policy framework sets out some of the government’s main aims and a number of the 43 points it contains refer to Greece’s inability to adopt further austerity measures. In what is seen as a clear message to the country’s lenders ahead of the EU summit, the document sets out what could be considered the coalition’s “red lines” in its discussions with the troika about the future of its bailout program.

“Greece is now in a position to convincingly tell the world that new fiscal measures that limit wages and pensions should not and cannot be adopted,” says the document finalized during two-hour talks between the New Democracy and PASOK leaders. “Greek society and the economy cannot tolerate any more.”

The policy framework sets out two targets that will help Greece “rid itself of the [EU-IMF] memorandum.” Firstly, it says that the country will have to stick to its fiscal targets to make its debt sustainable and its economy more competitive but then suggests that the government will have to make Greece’s lenders “recognize the major sacrifices made by the Greek people” and that “the vicious cycle of recession and unemployment must be broken immediately.”

The second goal set out in the document is for the continuation of structural reforms “that allow Greece to become a modern, normal European state that is at the service of its citizens.”

There is also a reference to a National Reconstruction Plan but few details are given. The paper, however, does make reference to tourism, energy, shipping and innovation being among the sectors of the economy which Greece must try to cultivate.