ATHENS – Despite reneging on many campaign promises, Greece’s new Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition said it had triumphed in bailout extension negotiations with international lenders.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to seek the extension he didn’t want, to work with the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) he said he wouldn’t recognize and not to put money into social spending programs to reverse the effects of austerity as he said he would.
Despite that, the government released a statement that the country had “turned a page,” and would take a loan extension it didn’t want, but that it had not given in to more austerity measures.
But Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has until the end of Feb. 23 to present the Eurozone with a list of specific reforms to meet fiscal targets and admitted Greece would be in “trouble” if what he puts up is rejected.
The government said a four-month extension of what remains of two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($272 billion) including the hoped-for release of an outstanding installment of 7.2 billion euros was welcome and give it more time to renegotiate a broader deal.
“Greece has turned a page,” said an official that wished to remain unidentified, adding that attempts to blackmail the SYRIZA-led government over the past few days had fallen through.
The same source told Kathimerini that Athens had succeeded in averting the recessionary measures agreed by the previous conservative-led administration as well as a commitment for “extravagant primary surpluses.”
The official said the agreement in Brussels also spelled the end of the Troika and its enhanced powers although the government said earlier it would cede authority to the lenders to monitor reforms and spending, contradicting itself.
The official added that the government will unveil reforms for the interim period, giving priority to those where there is common ground with other eurozone members – “meaning curbing tax evasion and corruption, public sector reform and dealing with the humanitarian crisis.”
The Greek Communist Party (KKE) said that Tsipras and SYRIZA had capitulated to the lenders and banks.
KKE Secretary General, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, said that regardless of what it will be called, the deal is in fact “a prolongation of the loan agreement – that is an extension of the memorandum.”
“Ultimately the bill will be footed by the people, as it happened with all previous governments,” he said.