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SYRIZA Says Samaras Submissive to Merkel, Troika

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has mostly quiet this summer, but his party is stepping up criticism of the government

After maintaining a curiously low profile while the uneasy coalition government led by New Democracy Conservative leader and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras readies another $14.16 billion in cuts demanded by international lenders – aimed squarely at workers, pensioners and  the poor – the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is attacking the plan.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras finished a close second to Samaras in the June 17 elections when New Democracy failed to get enough of the vote to form a government and had to bring in ideological rivals, the PASOK Socialists and tiny Democratic Left.
Samaras has reneged on pledges to try to renegotiate the onerous terms of a second bailout, this one for $173 billion, from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) which wants continued austerity and the firing of 150,000 state workers.
Samaras, aware of the political consequences of going after the most vulnerable sectors of Greek society again, is expected to raise the question of a two-year delay in reaching the fiscal targets set by the Troika when he meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Aug. 24, and French President Francois Hollande in Paris the next day. Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity platform but says Greece has to follow the Troika’s orders.
SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said that Samaras is going to the meetings “as a suppliant and not as the representative of the interests of the Greek society.” Germany is the biggest contributor to the Greek bailouts, including a first series of $152 billion in loans and Merkel has been unflagging in demanding more austerity measures on Greeks.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met his Greek counterpart, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and said that his country would not soften its hard line and that it’s up to the Greeks to make the reforms or risk losing the aid. Skourletis said that the foreign ministers’ meeting was a “communication fiasco,” and that Westerwelle had lectured Avramopoulos and Greece was blindly following the orders of the memorandum it had signed in return for the money.
“It is absolutely certain that Mr. Samaras has no plan different from that of creditors against the crisis. Walking speed to obtain the title of Prime Minister of the bankruptcy and the drachma,” he said. Tsipras has remained mostly quiet so far although social unrest is expected to resume next month when Greeks return from long vacations and face more unpopular austerity measures.
At the same time, Westerwelle said that, “We are working in the direction of Greece staying in the Eurozone,” the 17 countries that use the euro as a currency. There are fears that a Greek default could bring down the entire economic bloc. Westerwelle cautioned Greek politicians not to be populists, but said Germans understand the sacrifices of the Greek people.
“We are aware of what you are shouldering in the present phase. We are aware of what the ordinary person is going through in Greece, what it means for young people seeking employment, what it means for older people to have their salaries cut and for pensioners, who fear for their future.”
Avramopoulos said that the government would try to protect the very sector it is going after and that the cuts “confirm in the clearest manner the determination of Greece to achieve targets, with special consideration, however, for the weaker social classes, which are in the vortex of a social crisis due to the financial crisis”.
(Sources: Kathimerini, Reuters, AMNA)

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