Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that his trip to present German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande with details of plans to make another $14.16 billion in cuts could keep Greece in the Eurozone and prevent a return to the drachma and what he said would compete the ruination of Greece.
Samaras reiterated claims he made ahead of the critical June 17 elections in which he said that his chief rival, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras – who wanted Greece to ditch bailout deals with international lenders because of punishing austerity measures that came with them – would have pushed Greece out of the Eurozone of the 17 countries using the euro as a currency.
“The lobby of the drach lost a decisive round,” he said, adding that: “We, however, have a very difficult task ahead of us: the last but most difficult decisions.” Samaras was throwing down the gauntlet to Tsipras and others who support the Leftist leader, such as Panayiotis Lafazanis, who said Greece still faced going bankrupt, what the Premier said was a “bogeyman.” Samaras said Tsipiras represented the “Lobby of the Drach.”
Tsipras has accused Samaras – who reneged on campaign promises to try to renegotiate terms of a pending second bailout for Greece, for $173 billion – of caving in to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) which is fronting the money for Greece, including a first series of $152 billion in loans.
Samaras, after a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias, disputed that and said, “We are giving a battle to reinforce the negotiating position of the country and giving a struggle to bring closer to what we had promised to do,” he said, speaking for his uneasy coalition that includes his New Democracy Conservatives along with the PASOK Socialists of Evangelos Venizelos the the tiny Democratic Left of Fotis Kouvelis.
Papoulias said Samaras’ trip to meet Merkel and Hollande was “interesting,” and Samaras agreed and added that, “I think that the ship is starting to turn.” He quickly added, however, that, “No way does this mean we have less work or easier work to do. That’s why we have to run, and we are running.”
Samaras will meet on Aug. 29 with his coalition partners to talk about the Berlin-Paris swing and to try to make the last cuts in his financial plan he said could save Greece. Venizelos and Kouvelis were reportedly opposed to laying off 45,000 public workers although Greek media said they privately may back the plan. The government is rushing to complete the plan before a return visit of Troika inspectors.
Greece is drowning in nearly $460 billion in debt caused by alternating New Democracy and PASOK Administrations packing public payrolls with hundreds of thousands of unnecessary workers in return for votes, creating the crisis that Samaras from which he said he can now save Greece.