The government on Monday sought to appear upbeat about the agreement it reached with the country’s creditors over the weekend, and which was approved by eurozone finance ministers earlier in the day, but the atmosphere within leftist SYRIZA is tense as dozens of reforms must be legislated in the coming weeks, some of them contentious.
Outgoing Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was replaced on Monday by Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno, described Greece’s latest deal with creditors as “good news.” However, he and other European officials in Brussels underlined the need for Greek authorities to move forward quickly in legislating and enforcing reforms. Some of the actions are to be legislated before Christmas and the remainder in January with the aim of securing the disbursement of some 5 billion euros.
Earlier in the day, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos declared Greece had not only managed to conclude the third review of its third bailout more quickly than previous reviews but also that authorities had not been obliged to take any further fiscal measures.
The mood among some in SYRIZA was less optimistic. Former education minister Nikos Filis, an outspoken SYRIZA MP, congratulated Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos for “meeting all bailout commitments on time” in overtly sarcastic tones.
Interior Minister Panos Skourletis also appeared cautious. He welcomed the deal, noting that it gave the leftist-led coalition the leeway to proceed without excessive pressure, but noted that Greece’s commitments will not end with the expiry of its third bailout in August, saying creditors will still press Athens on fiscal targets.
Although reforms in the latest deal between Greece and its creditors do not include pension cuts, some are contentious, such as plans to sell off four power plants. On Monday, workers at one of those facilities, in Florina, northern Greece, protested the planned sell-off.
Conservative New Democracy took issue with another concession by the government, its launch of electronic foreclosures. ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on authorities to ensure the auctions relate to “villas on Myconos and multi-million-euro country homes,” not the homes of low and middle income Greeks.