There is something odd about the talks between Greece’s government partners Antonis Samaras (ND), Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK) and Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left). The three leaders, their parties’ committees and negotiation teams from several ministries have been apparently talking about the 11-billion-euro package of Troika-measures under the guidelines of Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras and the conductor stick of PM Antonis Samaras.
On Monday afternoon Samaras, Venizelos and Kouvelis met to discuss and give the final touch on the long list of additional austerity and state expenditure cuts.
However after the meeting concluded in two hours, there was a … surprise. Socialist government partner said more or less that they talked about strategy and not spending cuts. What is needed is a two-years space for the Greek government to meet the fiscal targets.
” You are wrong to speak about measures,” Venizelos told reporters. “We’re working on an overall strategic framework primarily designed to permanently take the country out of the crisis. This means that we must halt the recession and promote structural changes, to proceed to privatizations and to achieve fiscal consolidation. But the deficit reduction should take into account that we have unfortunately much deeper recession than that predicted by our partners, ” Venizelos said.
“Discussion are continuing and will carry on in coming days. We have in front of us specific issues, but we also have a Greek society that cannot lift more burdens,” Kouvelis told reporters.
What was obvious for Greeks on Monday evening was that the three government leaders were unable to agree upon the spending cuts. Each party has its own ‘red lines’, and no party leader would like to pay a hazardous political cost for cutting 30 euro from a farmer’s pension (360 euro/month) or raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 years old.
What is also striking is that Venizelos and Kouvelis seem reluctant to agree on cuts in wages and pensions and social benefits, therefore they proposed a thoroughly new strategic plan that includes instead of cuts, privatizations and structural changes in the first phase. Of course, such a proposal would not but run parallel to the extension efforts.
Venizelos allegedly has ready his plan for extension and measures: structural reforms and privatizations for 2013-2014, implementation of additional austerity measures and spending cuts for 2015-2016.
A grave disagreement among the political leaders would dangerously shake the Greek coalition government with (un)predictable consequences.
Talks between party’s representatives and coalition government partners are continuing. The package has to be ready and submitted to the Troika until upcoming Friday.
The Troika is on stand by.
And so are we, Greeks, too.
Measures that will deeper the recession will not achieve anything else than further tear apart the social tissue of an already broke society. A social explosion would be inevitable – right in the heart of our beloved European Union and precious Euro Zone.