Prime Minister Antonis Samaras began a short break on Monday by calling for Greeks to unite in their effort to exit the crisis but this togetherness appeared lacking from one of the groups in his three-party coalition.
Samaras was in Pylos, in his native Messinia, yesterday for a quick vacation before a series of crucial meetings in the coming week. After meeting the local mayor, Samaras attempted to strike a positive note with a brief statement.
“I want you to know that we are flying the flag of Greece’s struggle high,” said the New Democracy leader. “We are fighting to achieve our target, which is for the country to quickly exit the crisis. In this respect, I call on all Greeks, above and beyond party allegiances, to unite together like a clenched fist.”
Samaras is due to meet Eurogroup chief and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in Athens on August 22 before talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on August 24 and French President Francois Hollande the following day. He is also pursuing meetings this month with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Samaras could be in a position to present to Juncker, Merkel and Hollande the details of the 11.5 billion euros in savings Greece plans to make over the next couple of years. Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis are likely to be supplied with the final list of spending cuts around August 20. The measures will need the coalition leaders’ approval.
This appeared far from a foregone conclusion yesterday as two Democratic Left MPs, Odysseas Voudouris and Yiannis Micheloyiannis, both expressed doubts about the cuts their party leader is set to approve.
“The government is slipping and not keeping to its promises,” said Voudouris. “We were committed to finding the 11.5 billion from tax evasion and waste but I don’t see the Finance Ministry looking in these areas.”
“If farmers’ pensions are cut, if pensions under 1,400 euros are cut, if civil servants’ bonuses are reduced and if benefits for the long-term unemployed are cut, Democratic Left should leave the coalition,” said Micheloyiannis.
Voudouris and Micheloyiannis left PASOK to join Kouvelis’s party earlier this year