ATHENS, Greece — The leaders of Greece’s coalition government failed Tuesday to reach an agreement on the details of a new round of austerity measures, which are a precondition for the country to receive its next tranche of emergency aid.
The government is in negotiations with its international lenders — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known as the troika — on a package of spending cuts worth $17.5 billion.
“As long as the EU/IMF presses Greece on the issue of labor reforms, I will disagree,” said the leader of the Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, adding that this will only serve to increase unemployment and deepen the recession.
Both Kouvelis and the leader of the socialist PASOK party, Evangelos Venizelos, insist they will not give in to plans which cut wages, reduce severance payments and scrap automatic salary increases.
“Negotiations continue,” Kouvelis said after the three-hour meeting, one of dozens to take place since July between the leaders of the three parties in Greece’s coalition government.
In a nationally televised address following the talks, conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said: “Those that dare will end up saving the country … I ask for everyone to look forward and for there to be unity.”
“For the past three months we have managed to daily change the image of Greece … negotiations with the troika are ongoing.”
The government is hoping to have the spending cuts and structural reforms ratified by parliament by mid-November so that it can secure its next tranche of aid, worth $41 billion, to avoid bankruptcy.
According to a report in the Greek daily Kathimerini, the troika may agree to lower the country’s privatization targets for the coming years.
Greece will now aim to raise $13 billion by 2016 and $32 billion by 2020 through privatization revenue, the newspaper said. The target under the current terms of its EU/IMF bailout is $65 billion by 2015.
2012 GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by MCT Information Services