ATHENS — On the eve of crucial talks with international lenders in Paris Sept. 2-4, Greece’s coalition government has already sent a signal that it will not impose any more of the harsh austerity measures that created record unemployment, deep poverty, and drove down the popularity of the ruling parties.
Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives said that cuts in pay and income tax hikes would not be discussed at the negotiations which were moved to Paris to avoid protests aimed at the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and four other cabinet ministers are to attend the talks with debt inspectors — the first time they have taken place outside Greece since the country was bailed out in 2010 in what turned into two rescue packages of 240 billion euros, about $317 billion.
Greece’s six-year recession is widely expected to come to end this year but the government still wants to restructure its debt, although the Troika and EU countries have ruled out allowing Greece to walk away from a big chunk of what it owes.
That so-called “haircut” would require taxpayers in Eurozone countries to pick up the tab for generations of wild overspending and runaway patronage by New Democracy and its coalition partner the PASOK Socialists over the decades.
A previous PASOK administration, when current Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, who is serving Samaras as Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in return for agreeing to worker firings, stiffed private investors, including those in the Diaspora, with 74 percent losses on Greek bonds and brought down the Cypriot banks while putting Greek banks in peril.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)