No Migrant Break for Greece

Greece won't get relief from reforms demanded by international lenders because it's dealing with an influx of refugees and migrants.

ATHENS – Greece won’t get relief from reforms demanded by international lenders because it’s dealing with an influx of refugees and migrants, the European Union’s finance chief said.

Greece is going to get a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($93.82 billion) but will have to impose more crushing austerity measures that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed to reject.

Tsipras wanted debt relief and other breaks because of the cost of dealing with an invasion of 590,000 refugees and migrants, most headed to other EU countries. Visiting here, the EU’s Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that wouldn’t happen.

Moscovici was asked if allowances should be made for countries bearing the brunt of the flood of people. “The Commission has but one compass, that of the growth and stability pact, and rules should be implemented,” he said, speaking through an interpreter, Reuters reported.

“Concerning Greece, we have another compass, the adoption of the memorandum of understanding and the (reform) program. Nothing should make us loosen these reforms.”

The EU has offered to pay for accommodating 20,000 more migrants. Private groups have also pledged aid; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has promised to provide 12.7 million Swiss francs ($12.8 million) over the next seven months.

But Greece has already spent 1.5 billion euros on reception centers and staff to handle the migrants, a government source told Reuters. It needs 100 million euros for identification and relocation, the source said.

Tsipras’ government has failed, however, to set up a migrant office that would allow the EU to release another 460 million euros ($501.83 million) in critical aid.