PM to seek consensus at meeting of party leaders

PM to seek consensus at meeting of party leaders

Before a new round of tough talks with Greece’s creditors gets into full swing, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is aiming to secure the support of opposition party leaders for a contentious overhaul of the pension system.

Tsipras on Thursday asked President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to arrange a meeting with party leaders on Friday for talks on pension reform and the refugee crisis.

Rather than trying to convince opposition leaders to back the government’s pension reform when it goes to Parliament, Tsipras’s key aim is to reach a consensus with them on the broad strokes of the reform before government officials start discussing it with creditors, sources indicated.

At the meeting, the prime minister is expected to present the key points of Athens’s draft plan for pension reform.

The points that creditors are said to object to are plans to increase social security contributions, to link retirement payments to growth, and to recapitalize pension funds with reserves from a Greek asset fund that was the key sticking point in labored talks between Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the summer.

The agreement then was that 75 percent of the revenue in the asset fund would go toward debt repayments and 25 percent toward investments.

The other major issue Tsipras wants to discuss with party leaders is the refugee problem ahead of Sunday’s EU summit on the issue that is to include Turkey, a key transit country for migrants.

Reaction from the opposition was cautious but it appeared clear that all parties except the Communist Party would attend (neo-Nazi Golden Dawn was not invited).

Conservative New Democracy, which has been in turmoil since a thwarted leadership election last Sunday that prompted the resignation of the party’s interim leader Evangelos Meimarakis, is expected to be represented by caretaker leader Yiannis Plakiotakis.

Plakiotakis met on Thursday with former ND premiers Costas Karamanlis, Antonis Samaras and Constantine Mitsotakis for talks that are said to have focused on the stance that ND will hold in the meeting.

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