Athens aims for quick review wrap in bid to change agenda

Athens aims for quick review wrap in bid to change agenda

With the return on Monday to Athens of bailout inspectors representing Greece’s lenders, the government is eager to wrap up the second review of the country’s third bailout as soon as possible, in order to move the public debate away from the highly unpopular measures it has agreed to implement.

In this bid to change the subject, the leftist-led coalition is reportedly in a rush to clinch a deal and push the measures through Parliament, as it is clear that the longer talks drag on, the worse for the economy and for the administration of Alexis Tsipras, whose poll numbers are increasingly lagging.

At the same time, the government is eagerly anticipating the outcome of crucial talks between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Berlin over the issue of debt relief, which has been a key demand from the left-led coalition as it tries to sweeten the pill of fresh austerity to a disillusioned electorate.

What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that the May 22 deadline which the government had set to reach a compromise on debt, will not be met.

Instead, it is more likely that lenders will issue a general statement of intent for debt restructuring and a promise that the issue will be dealt with in detail at a later date.

In response to this outcome, the government has reiterated that the measures it has agreed to legislate now for 2019 and 2020 will not be implemented if actions aren’t taken to alleviate the country’s debt once the current bailout expires next year.

But the fact remains, analysts insist, that the government will vote all the measures through now – given of course that a deal will actually be reached with bailout inspectors – without having secured any commitment on debt, while its threat not to implement measures is nothing but a unilateral declaration of intent.

This sense of urgency to tie all loose ends with regard to the bailout is also fueled by the volatility linked to national elections in Europe.

Meanwhile, Tsipras hastened on Monday to congratulate France’s pro-European centrist, Emmanuel Macron, who made it the the second-round runoff of the French elections on May 7 after ruling SYRIZA had earlier voiced its support for his losing opponent, the leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon.

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