European Parliament vice president Othmar Karas has postponed a visit to Athens, Greece, originally scheduled for January 8-9, according to an announcement by the European Parliament. The chairman of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Policy Committee had led a EuroParliament inquiry into the actions of the troika and was due to visit Athens at the head of a delegation, as part of a fact-finding tour of EU member-states entering bailout programmes.
Responding to the news, the main opposition SYRIZA party accused the government of engineering a delay of the visit “in panic”, with the support of the European Parliament President Martin Schulz. According to SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis, the government “trembled” at the thought of a discussion on the aims and repercussions of the bailout memorandums and its own share of responsibility for “the adoption of a disastrous programme that plunged the country into a deep recession.”
Skourletis further accused Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of failing to use the visit to highlight the failure of austerity policies, “seeking instead to avoid discussion and preparing for the country’s European presidency by organizing fiestas for his self-promotion”.
The main opposition claim’s were dismissed by government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, who accused them of being “stuck on conspiracy theories and attempts to defamate the country” and of making “wild and outrageous allegations”.
However, MEPs also expressed their concern that the visit had been put off, with no new date being set. “There is an urgent need for serious and in-depth investigations into the huge social, economic and democratic harm that has been caused in the troika program countries,” said Juergen Klute, a German MEP with Die Linke who is also part of the inquiry team. “Parliament has to prove that it is up to the task and lead the work of serious investigation.”