ATHENS – Backpedaling after Greece’s lenders indicated he was trying to wiggle out of more tough reform he imposed after swearing he wouldn’t, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trying to find a way to take the offensive with elections coming.
A report from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM), which in 2015 put up a third rescue package, of 86 billion euros ($97.49 billion) said the Radical Left SYRIZA leader’s government was lagging.
The creditors are holding up disbursement of 750 million euros ($850.17 million) in the return of profits by Troika region banks in their holdings in Greek bonds, part of a debt relief deal agreed in 2018, delaying a series of installments until the government finishes up reforms and more austerity.
Far behind in polls to the party he unseated, the major opposition New Democracy, Tsipras has given a bevy of handouts, stopped planned pension cuts, and wants to give state debtors 10 years to repay and has partially restored the minimum wage.
Reeling on the domestic front after giving away the name of the ancient Greek province Macedonia to rename The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as North Macedonia, Tsipras is also trying to show he’s a statesman, said Kathimerini.
He’ll move out of the local political scene and is expected to take some of the credite for the signing of an agreement between Greece, Israel and Cyprus for the construction of the East Med pipeline, which will transfer natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and Cyprus.
According to reports, the deal will be signed by Tsipras, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades within the month with the project getting a big boost when the US company ExxonMobil announced a big gas field find off the divided island.