Greek PM planning charm offensive aiming to ease primary surplus targets


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is planning a series of trips abroad toward the end of this month and next, hoping to convince Greece’s creditors of the recently elected government’s commitment to reforms and to lay the groundwork for reducing demanding primary surplus targets agreed under the country’s post-bailout agreement.

Mitsotakis will launch his charm offensive in Berlin on August 29, where he will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has staunchly opposed a reduction to the annual target of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product through 2022.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas on Tuesday said that after Germany, Mitsotakis would travel to The Netherlands for a two-day visit on September 2-3 that will include a meeting with Dutch counterpart and fellow liberal Mark Rutte, regarded by the Greek center-right prime minister as an important potential ally in the bid for more fiscal leeway.

New York will be Mitsotakis’ next port of call, where he is also scheduled to appear at the United Nations General Assembly during the September 24-27 visit, whose purpose is to garner support for his reform agenda and also to restore the country’s international image.

Mitsotakis on Friday is due to meet with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Athens.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Petsas defended an article included in a bill tabled in Parliament that would lead to the replacement of the current leadership of the Competition Commission, an independent authority.

He said the aim of the article is to make public administration and independent authorities non partisan.

The article in question institutes strict rules regarding matters pertaining to conflict of interest and stipulate that heads and members of independent administrative authorities must not hold or have held posts in political offices of the prime minister, or have been members of the government or government bodies.

This means that Vassiliki Thanou, the current head of the independent authority, is on her way out on the grounds of conflict of interest as she was until recently in charge of ex prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ legal office.