With uncertainty growing over dragging bailout talks, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrived in Rome on Thursday for a European Union leaders’ summit on Saturday that aims to declare unity as Brexit looms.
Although Tsipras has no planned meetings on the sidelines of the summit Saturday, his aides indicated that he may meet some officials to discuss the progress of bailout talks and Greece’s stance on the joint declaration EU leaders aim to sign to mark the EU’s 60th anniversary.
Greek officials have indicated that they will only sign a declaration including a reference to the need for workers’ rights to be protected. Initially sources had suggested that Athens would boycott the signing, a potential setback to an event aiming to issue a message of unity.
But Tsipras’s office denied reports that Athens might withhold support for the declaration. Athens simply wants the declaration “enriched… to highlight the importance of the European Social Model, which includes the protection of workers,” his office said.
The insistence of the International Monetary Fund on the further deregulation of the labor market in Greece, enabling employers to conduct mass firings but depriving workers of collective bargaining rights, has been the key sticking point in bailout negotiations.
Meanwhile German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and other foreign officials have indicated that creditors’ may also need the backing of the political opposition for measures to come into effect after 2019 when general elections are to take place in Greece.
The news of the demands has not been well received by the conservative opposition New Democracy, which remarked that the main problem is the government’s “irresponsibility,” not ND’s lack of support.
The bailout talks were also discussed by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in Athens on Thursday.
“Greece stands with Germany and with all EU partners so that we can build a Europe that is prosperous, increasingly competitive, a Europe that respects the basic properties and values on which it was built, namely democracy, rule of law and social justice,” Pavlopoulos said.