Deadline Missed, Tsipras, SYRIZA Anxiously Seek Troika Austerity Deal

FILE - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, arrives for a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

ATHENS – Greece on March 20 will miss its own deadline for reaching another austerity-driven reform deal with the Troika of its European lenders amid worries the political instability is rattling the lagging economy again.

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader and his coalition partner, the pro-austerity, far-right, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) have been trying since July 2015 when it sought and accepted a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($92.53 billion) to reach a compromise with the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM).

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will be in Brussels for a meeting of the Eurogroup of finance chiefs from Eurozone countries but the government already has set a new deadline of April 7 even as there is concern the deal could be pushed back to summer, just ahead of a 7.2-billion euro ($7.75 billion) loan payment due in July.

Disagreements remain on labour issues such as mass firings, diluting workers rights, lowering the tax-free threshold and new pension cuts, the Athens News Agency reported.

The Eurogroup ministers are expected to keep Tsipras’ feet in the fire even as he has alrady repeatedly surrendered to them over more austerity, reneging on his promises and seeing his popularity evaporate.

“The Greek recovery is once more significantly delayed by politics,” Nicholas Economides, a professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business told the Bloomberg financial news agency. “Tsipras will blink at some point in time, the question is when.”

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) Parliamentary spokesman Costas Tzavaras in an interview with the Athens Macedonian News Agency’s radio station Praktoreio 104,9 FM said

Referring to the meeting between New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and former party leader Evangelos Meimarakis, he said that they may cooperate on New Democracy’s common vision.

Moreover, Tzavaras expressed his pessimism over the negotiation. “The government is mainly negotiating with the society in order to accept the new measures and not the institutions.”

He also said that the government may delay the conclusion of the programme review estimating that the likely rise of extreme right in Europe ahead of the elections in France and Germany may change the austerity policies.

The crisis has become degradation that the country can’t stand anymore” said in an interview with the Sunday newspaper Realnews main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy and responsible for foreign policy George Koumoutsakos. “The prolonged course of the paralytic uncertainty continues, the economy is sinking and the society is in despair” he claimed and reiterated his party’s request for elections underlining that it is not only linked with the endlessly expected review but it is required by the deep degradation that the country is experiencing”.