FinMin Stournaras to state Greek case at Eurogroup

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will attempt to convince his eurozone peers in Brussels on Thursday that Greece is being unfairly criticized by its lenders and that the government has made progress in both fiscal consolidation and structural reform as concern mounts about the domestic political consequences of the latest round of troika pressure.

Stournaras will brief the Eurogroup, along with troika officials, about the latest review of the adjustment program in the wake of a European Union official saying that the two side were “miles apart” in terms of agreeing on the size of Greece’s fiscal gap for 2014. This comment angered Stournaras, who contacted the official and was given assurances that he would refrain from making similar statements in the future.

Finance Ministry sources said that Stournaras will remind his peers that Greece has taken fiscal measures amounting to more than 60 billion euros, or 30 percent of its GDP, since the start of the program in 2010 and has completed a number of significant reforms.

Stournaras carries the weight of expectations of the Greek government, which is still threatened by potential political turmoil despite defeating SYRIZA’s censure motion in Parliament on Sunday. The coalition’s economic policy came under attack from three New Democracy MPs on Wednesday, with Ilias Vlachoyiannis saying that he would refuse to back the lifting on restrictions for home foreclosures. “This will not pass,” he said.

Another conservative MP, Dora Bakoyannis, said that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras should invite Democratic Left (DIMAR) back into the coalition government. DIMAR quit the alliance in June over the closure of state broadcaster ERT. “We are at a crucial stage,” she said. “We have to do whatever we can to make the government more effective and we need a bigger parliamentary majority for this.”

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