Greek PM appeals for unity, pushes for spending cuts

Greek PM appeals for unity, pushes for spending cuts
# 23 October 2012 22:23 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made an appeal for unity to save Greece on Tuesday evening, after a new meeting with the two other party leaders in the coalition government ended without a final deal on supplementary spending cuts, APA reports.

The 13.5 billion euro austerity and reform package under discussion is a prerequisite to secure further vital international bailout loans to Athens by mid-November to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy and potential exit from the euro zone.

"Talks continue. Those of us who have courage, will save Greece. I look ahead, asking for the wider possible unity,"the conservative leader said in a dramatic statement broadcast by local television channels.

Shortly earlier, speaking to media, his socialist and moderate coalition partners had repeated their strong objections to a part of the austerity and reform policies requested by European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders before they unlock the next 31.5 billion euro bailout tranche.

Greece runs out of cash on November 16, according to official Greek estimates. Athens needs to have clinched an agreement on the package cleared by the Greek chamber, before a crucial Euro Group meeting on November 12.

According to media reports on Tuesday evening, a new political leaders meeting could be held on Wednesday to resolve pending issues, in particular over labor market reforms.

Fotis Kouvelis, the chief of Democratic Left (DIMAR), the smaller party in the coalition government, warned on Tuesday that his party will vote down the package, if it will contain troika demands for tough changes to labor relations, such as less severance payments for dismissed workers.

EU/IMF auditors argue that the reforms in combination with fresh cuts on wages, pensions and tax increases, are needed to ensure that Greece will meet its deficit cutting targets and restore growth under the plan launched in 2010 in return of intenational rescue aid.

"Our firm position is that such unacceptable demands will not lead to any fiscal benefit, but on the contrary will worsen unemployment and recession," Kouvelis told media on Tuesday, expressing a widespread view amongst political parties, trade unions and Greek society.

Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos backed the argument, further raising the tones. "Troika should keep in mind that we are not a protectorate," he said, underlying that the planned package should be the last to be tabled in the assembly and offer Greek people a comprehensive solution to the debt crisis.

Political analysts in Athens commented that time runs out for coalition partners and in coming days they should put the deal to vote in the 300-memebr parliament where the coalition holds a 176 seat majority, after losing two deputies this week.

On Monday Samaras expelled from his party’s parliamentary group a deputy who said he will vote against painful measures, while another MP announced his decision to leave DIMAR’s parliamentary group and sit as an independent. (1 euro= 1.3 U.S. dollars)
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