Greek Coalition Allies Balk as Samaras Says Austerity Talks Done
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition partners said they still oppose parts of a budget and austerity package after the premier said negotiations required to secure more bailout funds had been completed.
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who will submit the budget to parliament tomorrow and the austerity package next week, briefed Samaras on plans for a conference call by euro area finance ministers on Greek-related issues tomorrow. The measures are linked to approval for the payment of 31.5 billion euros ($41 billion) of bailout funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
“We completed negotiations on measures and the budget,” Samaras said in an e-mailed statement today. “As long as this agreement is approved and the budget is ratified Greece will stay in the euro.”
While Samaras said a deal had been completed, his coalition partners are highlighting divisions. Democratic Left, which has said it will support the budget, today reiterated opposition to proposed labor reforms. Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said talks on the deal will continue up to a Nov. 12 meeting of euro area finance ministers.
The “hasty” announcement while Pasok and Democratic Left were holding meetings of their lawmakers is “at the very least unfortunate,” Venizelos said in an e-mailed statement. “When Mr. Samaras announces the completion of negotiations on the measures and the budget he obviously means on the troika level.”
The so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF is compiling its latest report on Greece’s progress in meeting internationally agreed targets that are a prerequisite for the next installment of a 130 billion-euro rescue.
Samaras urged lawmakers to “act responsibly” and vote for the measures which he said will ensure the country avoids chaos. His coalition government now has 176 seats in the 300-seat chamber and Samaras, whose New Democracy party controls 127 seats in parliament, relies on Pasok and Democratic Left’s support to turn any pledge to lenders into law.