ATHENS, Greece (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) — Political parties supporting the Greek coalition government on Thursday reached a “basic agreement” on a new round of harsh austerity measures demanded by its foreign lenders in exchange for emergency loans, following weeks of negotiations.
“There was basic agreement on the fundamental points,” said Fotis Kouvelis, the leader of the Democratic Left, the smallest coalition partner following a three-hour meeting with conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
“There are still some outstanding issues. We are going to seek a four-year extension of the Greek fiscal adjustment program.”
The government’s latest proposed austerity package consists of 11.5 billion euros ($14.8 billion) in spending cuts to pensions and salaries. That includes raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, the axing of some 15,000 public sector workers and another 2 billion euros’ worth of tax measures.
For weeks, Venizelos and Kouvelis had been in disagreement with the prime minister over the mass layoff of public sector workers, proposed cuts to pensions under 1,000 euros, and the reduction of pensions for farmers, from 360 to 330 euros.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who was present at the meeting of the three leaders, described the agreement as a “basis for strong negotiation” with Greece’s international lenders - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who are collectively known as the troika.
Stournaras said the proposed measures will first have to be approved by troika envoys, who are expected to return to Athens over the weekend, before they are presented to parliament.
The government hopes to have the measures approved by the troika in time for an Oct. 8 meeting of eurozone finance ministers, which is due to decide on whether to grant Greece the next tranche of aid, worth 31.5 billion euros. Without it, Greece would be forced to default.
Thursday’s meeting took place as hundreds of disabled people were demonstrating against proposed benefit cuts outside parliament, a day after police clashed with hundreds of hooded youths during a mass demonstration in central Athens.
In Brussels, Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras said that Greeks had been “quite restrained given the attacks on their incomes, their possibility to live decently.”
He also called for an EU-sponsored conference on debt relief for Greece, comparable to the 1953 international meeting that granted West Germany some relief on its loans.
“We have to give the opportunity to the Greek economy to collect its breath and not strangle it again with a 13.5 billion-euro package,” Tsipras told reporters.
“We have had two bailout programs and the debt is still not viable. . (This) medicine is deadly and it’s killing the Greek economy,” he continued.