NEWS

As Athens awaits troika reply, PM warns of ‘unreasonable’ demands

There had been no official response by Tuesday night from the troika to the Greek government’s proposals for breaking a deadlock over the program review as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told an audience in Athens that he would not give in to “unreasonable” demands.

Greece’s proposals included raising value-added tax on hotel services to 13 percent from 6.5 and phasing out early pensions. It is believed, though, that the International Monetary Fund is demanding more fiscal measures to close an estimated shortfall of 2.5 billion euros for next year.

“We are ready for a final agreement and we can achieve it if everyone really wants to move on,” said Samaras at an American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference. “I cannot accept unreasonable demands. We are at the end of 2014 and nobody has the right to treat us like they did two-and-a-half or four years ago, when everything was collapsing.”

The government sent its proposals, stretching to almost 50 pages, to the troika on Sunday. Sources said that since then Samaras has not made any attempt to contact members of the European Commission.

“We have a duty to protect the country’s dignity,” said the prime minister, adding that Greece is prepared to take extra measures next year if its forecasts regarding the budget gap prove wrong and the troika is proved right.

“To make changes to the settlement of tax debts in 100 installments, to raise VAT on medicines and to cut pensions would be a disaster,” said Samaras. “I will not allow anyone to torpedo the successes that have been achieved through the sacrifices of the Greek people. I say this to a domestic audience and abroad.”

The premier reiterated his belief that the government would win the presidential election in February and accused SYRIZA of scaring investors.

Addressing the same conference earlier on Tuesday, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he would seek a debt writedown for Greece if his party comes to power in snap polls and underlined the need for a broader solution to the eurozone’s debt problem. Tsipras heralded “an immediate end to austerity, a shift to growth, a debt haircut and a significant lightening of the annual cost of servicing [the debt].” Noting that eurozone member states have a combined debt of 9 trillion euros, Tsipras said Germany could not insist on austerity for much longer. “Mrs Merkel and Mr Schaeuble are playing deaf but reality will soon take over,” he said, adding that SYRIZA could be “the midwife of progressive developments in Europe.”