Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker discussed on Thursday the broad strokes of Greece’s plan for emerging from its loan program as well as a pending review by the troika, which must be completed before such an exit can occur, on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels.
According to sources, the two men discussed the outlook for Greece after the European participation in the country’s international bailout concludes at the end of this year. Juncker was said to be keen to get a grasp of all the available options for tackling the “Greek question.”
On arriving at the meeting, Samaras said Athens wants a “prudent” exit from its loan program. “We are negotiating closely with our lenders, the next day after the end of the program, a prudent exit to normality,” he said.
The government is keen to see the International Monetary Fund halt its participation in the bailout a year ahead of schedule but sources indicate authorities are ready to accept a precautionary credit line from Greece’s eurozone partners. Athens aims to return some 11 billion euros in residual funding from the recapitalization of Greek banks to reduce its debt. However this money will be kept aside to act as a cushion for when Greece taps bond markets. Government sources were upbeat yesterday as initial indications about the outcome of European Central Bank stress tests on Greek banks suggested that little or no further funding would be required.
Meanwhile in Athens Samaras’s coalition partner, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, proposed five “axes” for Greece exiting its economic crisis. In a speech at a French business forum, Venizelos listed the axes: firstly a gradual disengagement from the memorandum, a finalizing of ties with the IMF and a confirmation of the sustainability of Greece’s debt; secondly, achieving political and institutional stability by electing a new president; thirdly, safeguarding social cohesion; fourthly, securing Greece’s position in Europe by boosting institutions; and fifthly, rallying the country’s creative forces around a national growth plan.