Government spokesman: It is possible, doable and desirable to reach an agreement by December 5

The government’s plan is to wrap up the second review of Greece’s programme before December 5, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos repeated on Tuesday, stressing that there was no ‘Plan B’.

“We are working hard for an agreement by the end of the week…it is possible, doable and desirable to reach an agreement by December 5,” he said, adding that neither Greece nor any other party had any alternative plan of action. This would be followed by the “formal” conclusion of the review by the end of the year and the inclusion of Greek bonds in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme in the first quarter of 2017, he said.

“This is the plan on which the Greek government is working. Its aim is to capitalise on the momentum of the negotiations,” he said.

Asked what will happen if an agreement proves elusive, Tzanakopoulos said that the government will persevere with the negotiation effort so that a solution is found by the end of the year. He also pointed to the very rapid progress made in the second review.

“There is a very good climate in Europe for taking short-term measures for the Greek debt, while the discussion on the medium- and long-term measures has progressed. An extension of the talks would create complications for all sides at a time that is unstable, not only in Europe but for the entire world,” he noted.

Referring to the areas where the Greek government has drawn “red lines” and is not prepared to back down, Tzanakopoulos said that the agreement will not include concessions on labour issues and will “bridge the gap” in fiscal issues. He also pointed out that an agreement has been clinched on some 90 pct of the issues under discussion.

“We cannot accept a solution that is contrary to the European social model. Our position is to restore collective labour bargaining and to not accept a higher limit for mass layoffs. On no account will we agree to take unfavourable measures and to postpone restoring collective negotiations until some future time,” Tzanakopoulos said. Among others, he cited European court rulings that bind European officials to negotiate within the framework of Community laws.

The spokesman also made it clear that the government was not prepared to discuss additional austerity measures after the current programme ends in 2018 and that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “make up it’s mind what it wants to do” regarding the Greek programme and realise that Greece’s economy cannot withstand yet more measures.
“The IMF must put pressure on the side of the European partners to reduce the debt and primary surpluses. The demand for measures after 2018 cannot be accepted by the government,” he said.

The spokesman attacked main opposition New Democracy’s demand for early elections, saying this was a “dangerous plan for the Greek economy and the country” and accused ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis of wanting a “fourth memorandum” and further harsh austerity.

On the Cyprus issue, Tzanakopoulos said the top priority for all sides must be a resumption of the talks while he clarified that no meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been set at this time.

“This will happen at the right time, if the talks start again,” he added.