EXCLUSIVE / Greece’s Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) is “completely isolated” within the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and its attitude about the government’s negotiations with its creditors is “embarrassing”, sources told EurActiv.com.
The Syriza-led coalition government is currently holding tough negotiations with its creditors in order to successfully conclude the first assessment of the country’s third bailout agreed last summer with international lenders.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday (27 April) sought help from the European Union to break a deadlock in critical debt talks as his spokeswoman accused the IMF of “undermining” the process.
Greece’s government and the International Monetary Fund are at odds over “contingency” austerity measures worth €3.6 billion in the event that Athens misses its budget target for a 3.5% surplus in 2018.
A leaked telephone conversation, and the reactions which followed, revealed a “silent war” between the United States and Germany over the Greek crisis, with Athens’ leftist government finding itself more in tune with Washington than Berlin.
The Tsipras government says it is ready to establish an automatic correction mechanism, but vows not to legislate specific measures, as such a move would go against the country’s constitution.
France, Italy, and Portugal, all led by center-left governments, along with the European Commission, support Greece on the issue.
“In our view, we do not need a precise and detailed package, but a mechanism that shows exactly how to take such measures if necessary,” Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici recently said.
In an April interview with EurActiv Greece, Gianni Pittella, the leader of S&D in the European Parliament, was also supportive, saying that the IMF and the “German hawks Schäuble-style […] try to use inappropriate weapons to destroy a democratically elected government and a nation that is making big efforts.”
Pittella also stressed that Tsipras represented a progressive force, and admitted that there was a dialogue with him, but that no request on the part of the Greek premier to join the Party of European Socialists has been made.
Despite strong socialist support for the Tsipras government in the EU, the two affiliated parties in Greece, particularly the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), have departed from the party line. Pasok, in particular, blames Tsipras for the current deadlock and is demanding his resignation.
“They [the Syriza government] are incompetent. They should resign. We don’t need elections and the current parliament should give a solution, altogether,” Fofi Gennimata wrote on Twitter last week, supporting the idea of an all-party government.
It was a Pasok government that signed the first bailout agreement with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in February 2010.
Potami (The River) is a political party founded in 2014, described as both centrist and centre-left.
Its leader, Stavros Theodorakis, recently said that the majority of Greek people believed that the current negotiations are not in favor of the country but “another show of the government”.
Eurosocialists: Pasok is isolated
Reacting to Pasok’s stance on the Greek negotiations, a high-ranking socialist told EurActiv that Pasok was “of course completely isolated in the group”.
“They are the only ones who support an attitude like the resignation of the Greek government. They put our group in a difficult position, they are absolutely not in line with the S&D group […] it’s a kind of embarrassing attitude,” the source noted, adding that in a recent meeting of the financial working group, Pasok MEP Eva Kaili was “opposing any kind of reasonable solution […] she put us in a really difficult position.”
Kaili not ‘feeling isolated’
Contacted by EurActiv, MEP Eva Kaili insisted that the Greek government had lost its credibility.
“Last year it was Varoufakis’ fault […] this year they will find someone else like the IMF,” she noted, adding that this is an excuse for not implementing progressive reforms.
Referring to the support of the European Commission for Syriza, she said that this was for the Greek people and not the government.
As for socialist leaders backing Tsipras, she stressed that each of them addressed their own audience.
“For instance, the French government was accused of pushing for a package of labor reforms which was not so leftist and therefore was withdrawn, and then it tried to raise the ‘leftist’ flag supporting a type Tsipras-Kammenou [the junior coalition partner] rhetoric.”
Asked whether she felt isolated in the PES, she denied it.
Pasok is heavily exposed
Dimitris Papadimoulis, vice-president of the European Parliament and a Syriza MEP, told EurActiv that the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Stability Mechanism had already “fully” agreed with the Greek government about the package of measures.
“The Greek economy went better in 2015, as Eurostat showed and the spring forecast will strengthen the negotiating position of Greece,” he noted.
“The leaders of Pasok and Potami are an absolute mismatch with the European Socialists, although they belong to them. Their stance exposes them as a background actor of right-wing New Democracy [main opposition party]” Papadimoulis stressed, adding that New Democracy is not in line with right-wing politicians, like Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker, or Donald Tusk, who spoke in favor of Greece.
“The silence of outspoken Mr Schäuble and Ms Lagarde is worrying, but this time, those who want a successful completion of the evaluation are a lot more than last summer,” he concluded.
In response to this article, Pasok MEP Eva Kaili wrote:
The reference to supposedly suggested solutions within the Monitoring Committee of the Greek issue is absolutely misleading. This committee has no such power to intervene in national issues.
The Syriza-Independent Greeks government, in order to exploit, for petty reasons, the support of the Social Democrats in Greece, lied about supposedly progressive reforms that never took place. They hid the overtaxation of Greeks and the selling off of Greek properties with the bank recapitalization.
Only on these issues I asked to stop the hypocrisy of the government, in order to not jeopardize the future of all Greeks, to implement progressive reforms, and allow investment; (and) to stop the austerity policies this government has chosen, as Moscovici constantly reiterates.
Pasok MEP Nikos Androulakis told EurActiv Greece that all wanted a deal between Greece and its creditors and none’s objective was a new deadlock.
“If one looks at things objectively there is a not a substantial mismatch because both Pasok and the European Socialists want an agreement. The strategic objective is to reach an agreement which will guarantee the presence of the country within Europe and the eurozone”.
“Even if Tsipras brings a deal, there is an issue of government malfunction. Pittella does not live in Greece to tell you that there is a government failure. We say then, that beyond what Pittella says [about IMF] and agree with him, there is a great managing failure of the government”.
- 9 May: Extraordinary Eurogroup on Greece