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ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ hopes for getting out from under its deal with international lenders likely won’t happen – if then – until his ruling coalition faces a critical battle to elect a Greek President in February.

The New Democracy leader met with his partner, PASOK Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos, who is Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister to try to find a way to convince the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to approve an early exit from the memorandum Greece signed in exchange for two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($306 billion).

Troika envoys are due back in Athens to check lagging reforms, including those in labor laws and pensions that the government want to avoid as its popularity is sagging and the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has gotten a boost from its opposition to the austerity measures imposed on the lenders’ orders.

Speaking to reporters after talks with Samaras, Venizelos said he believed the Troika would come back in time to finish their review before the Dec. 8 meeting of Eurozone finance chiefs who must also sign off on any deal that lets Greece break from the lenders and return to the markets.

So far, any hopes of doing that would involve Greece having a precautionary credit line, likely from bailout funds set aside for bank recapitalization, but could require Samaras to sign another memo with the Troika, which he wants to avoid at all costs.

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici had indicated at last week’s Eurogroup summit that Troika inspectors would return to Athens by the end of this week, but the lenders said that Greece must first implement a series of undone measures that Samaras doesn’t want to do.

With the clock running, Venizelos said it’s unlikely Greece will get its early exit deal by the end of the year. Most of the bailout monies run out then but the IMF is still set to provide loans into 2016, when the next national elections are scheduled.

Venizelos said any agreement would now probably come just ahead of the key Presidential election which SYRIZA is trying to block so that early national elections would be called just as the Leftists are building a growing lead in the polls.

Election of a President requires 180 votes in the 300-member Parliament but the uneasy coalition has only 155, and Samaras would have to convince 25 other lawmakers to side with him.

Venizelos said that, “The Greek people will have the complete agreement with the creditors…as soon as possible and certainly before the procedure of electing a new President begins.”

Venizelos, who was elevated after he gave his support to big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings that decimated support for PASOK, said that, “Either we will choose, as a people and as a nation, a solution for which we have struggled, with sacrifices… or we will choose other solutions, which are vague, shaky and high-risk.”

Troika envoys have sent Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis a list of 19 tough reforms they want done before the Eurozone meeting on Dec. 8, Kathimerini said.

That includes a uniform across-the-board wage structure for public sector employees, plans for the restructuring of Greek public utility companies and liberalizing the natural gas market.

The post With Reforms Lagging, Greece Pushes Back Troika Early Exit appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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