The European Central Bank’s decision not to extend its quantitative easing program to Greece unless it concludes the pending troika review is confirmation that the country could find itself stranded if it elects a SYRIZA government, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras argued on Thursday.
Samaras made a public address a few hours after ECB President Mario Draghi announced the details of the much-anticipated QE program. The Italian central banker unveiled a 60-billion-euro a month asset-purchase program to run from March until the end of September next year. However, he said that Greece would not immediately qualify for the scheme.
“We don’t have any special rule for Greece, we have basically rules that apply to everybody,” he said. “There are obviously some conditions before we can buy Greek bonds.”
These conditions include the completion of the current review and Greece being under a troika program as long as its bonds are not considered investment grade.
“Today’s ECB decision says it clearly: Without closing the review for the existing program that is due to expire in a month, we will be shut out,” said Samaras.
“Our policies guarantee that Greece will play a full part in this new era for the whole of Europe but the central policy of the opposition party is certain to keep us out of these developments,” he added in reference to SYRIZA’s insistence that it will not complete the current review or continue with the troika bailout.
Earlier, SYRIZA had issued a statement welcoming Draghi’s decision, saying that it had “proved wrong those that sowed fear and panic.”
“This is an important decision, which the next Greek government will use to the country’s advantage,” said the opposition party. “With today’s announcement, Mr Draghi responded to the extreme neoliberal voices, which unfortunately include Mr Samaras.”
In practice, Greek debt does not currently qualify as another rule stipulates that a maximum 33 percent of the bonds issued by any country may be bought. The ECB and other eurozone central banks already own more than this, although they may start purchases after two bonds totaling 6.7 billion euros mature this summer.