Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made it clear to his party’s MPs on Tuesday that the government has no intention of attempting to renegotiate Greece’s bailout terms at the moment and would prefer to wait until it can do so from a position of greater strength.
Addressing New Democracy’s parliamentary group, Samaras said that Greece would have nothing to gain by trying to convince its lenders at the moment to change the loan agreement. “We will not aim for a renegotiation from a position of greater weakness and exasperation,” he said.
In a speech aimed at domestic and international audiences, Samaras struck traditional conservative themes by saying that the government would defend the “right to work” following the police’s intervention to end the Halyvourgia steel plant strike. He also pledged to lower unemployment from 23 percent to 10 percent within four years.
With regard to those who might have been watching from abroad, the prime minister accused foreign politicians who speculate about Greece’s eurozone membership of “undermining” the country.
Speaking at a meeting of PASOK’s political secretariat, Samaras’s coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos stressed the need for Greece not to become an election tool for Northern European politicians. “We cannot let Europe’s position on Greece be affected by the upcoming elections in the Netherlands or by the fact that Germany is entering a pre-election period,” he said.
Like Samaras, Venizelos also attacked leftist SYRIZA, labeling it an “irresponsible” opposition party. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis accused the government of conceding ground to the troika and allowing Greece’s lenders to “blackmail” the coalition over new austerity measures.