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Greece rejects Germany’s demands to “cancel anti-austerity promises”

Just hours before the meeting between Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis with his counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin, and the German side most probably thought to put the agenda of Thursday talks. In a document leaked to the press, Berlin made its positions towards Greece very clear and demands from the new left-wing coalition government to call off all the anti-austerity promises SYRIZA made right after it took office on January 26th 2015 and stick with the economic policies commitments of the previous governments. newly appointed Greek ministers made publicly pledges to halt privatizations, raise minimum wage, give an extra pension to low-pensioners and rehire some fired public sector workers.

Athens answer was quick: Within hours, the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rejected Berlin’s demands.

“It is obvious that the German proposals will not be accepted by the new Greek government, They are against the recent command given by the Greek people and they do not help the prospect of development in Europe, ” government sources told Greek media, stressing that “the German proposals ask the Greek government to withdraw its anti-austerity commitments and restore the Memorandum!”

In an exclusive story, Reuters reports to have seen a document prepared by Germany for the Euro Working Group meeting tomorrow Thursday.

“The Eurogroup needs a clear and front-loaded commitment by Greece to ensure full implementation of key reform measures necessary to keep the program on track,” the German document said adding that the aim is the perpetuation of the agreed structural reforms. The German document showed Berlin wants the Troika to remain in place.

Specifically the document calls on Greece

1) to declare it would honor its debt repayment commitments toward the ECB, the IMF, the euro zone bailout fund EFSF as well as bilateral loans from euro zone countries extended to Greece under the first bailout program.

2) to accept the independence of the Greek central bank, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund that is the capital backstop for Greek banks, as well as the tax and statistics authorities.

3) to reach a primary budget surplus before interest payments of 3 percent of GDP in 2015 and 4.5 percent in 2016, and to close the remaining gap in the 2015 budget to reach the agreed target.

4) to stick to an agreement to reduce general government employment by 150,000, implement pension reforms that establish a close link between contributions and benefits, keep the lowered minimum wage and make wider use of decentralized wage bargaining.

5) to continue privatizations of ports, energy utilities and real estate in particular and fostering foreign direct investment with the aim of getting 2.2 billion euro in revenue in 2015. (full story in REUTERS)

It must have shocked Berlin that SYRIZA and Independent Greeks ministers publicly pledged among others: to halt the privatizations and especially the ones of Piraeus port Authority and Public Power Company, to raise the minimum wage to €751 from €581 currently, to restore the so-called “13th pension” for low-pensioners, scrap patients’ contributions to health access and rehire public sector workers fired just for the sake to meet Troika’s demands.

The official SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition program is to be unveiled over upcoming weekend in Greek Parliament.

PS Correct me if wrong, but I have the very slight suspicion that Germany has not taken notice that elections have taken place in Greece and that people voted in a favor of an anti-austerity party and government.

 

 

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5 comments

  1. MARYANN CATHOPOULIS

    Germany does not respect the Greek people’s sovereign rights to determine its own future.

    Perhaps Germany needs to be reminded that they lost WW II and Greece is no longer under German occupation and its dictates.

    Germany’s goal seems to be to crush the will of the Greek people.

    • Felix from Germany

      It’s not Germany which doesn’t seem to have understood the change to a new Greek government that supports anti-austerity measures elected by almost half of Greek voters, but it is the German GOVERNMENT.
      For me as a German – not agreeing with my countries’ government – it is always quite bitter to see these generalized statements about Germans. Although there are quite a lot of Germans who are against anti-austerity measures in Greece (who often do not have a clue what’s going on in Greece and what’s the true cause of these problems), there are still people being quite electrified and excited about your new government. Hope you understand.

      • That’s great Felix, thanks for your support! We know that Germany is not all “Merkel” but with all the trolling here from supposed individual Germans, people forget to be specific….
        As for a lot of us, we admire and follow Die Linke. In fact, thanks for reminding us that we need to support you as you support us. Solidarity!

  2. Sorry but what have internal Greek issues to do with Germany? This is cheap German bashing.
    It was Tsipras, who has promised things that he can not comply. He has not even spoken to the euro group.
    Next elections our politicians should promise that the Greeks will finance our energy transition.

  3. @ Felix
    In fact we should remember that it was ordinary working Germans that were & still are the first to suffer from ‘Austerity’ with HARZ reforms. Solidarity!