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Troika Wants SYRIZA to Step Up Electronic Home Foreclosures

February 6, 2018

ATHENS – Greece’s creditors want the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition to forge ahead faster with online foreclosures of homes, which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he would never do before surrendering to them again.

The Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) is putting up a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($107.19 billion) Tsipras said he would never seek nor accept but did both even though it came with more crushing austerity measures he vowed to reject before imposing more.

They included letting banks buried under bad loans confiscate homes after he swore “not one home in the house of banks” before reneging on that vow too.

But violent protests at courthouses where auctions were being conducted, and with notaries taking part sometimes refusing in fear of retribution, led to the government agreeing to electronic foreclosures to get around the demonstrations.

Protesters were also threatened with automatic prosecution and jail if they got in the way but the anarchist group Rouvikonas, which broke into the office of one notary and vandalized it and made threats, said it would press action against foreclosures.

A recent meeting of the Eurogroup, an informal body in which the ministers from the 19 Eurozone countries discuss matters relating to their countries’ common responsibilities related to the euro insisted Greece show progress from electronic foreclosures.

That was a condition of getting the release of more monies from the staggered third rescue package which has built Greece’s debt to the lenders, which includes the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to 326 billion euros ($406.32 billion) in three bailouts that began in 2010.

There are concerns on the lenders’ side about whether auctions can take place in all parts of the country, especially as many notaries have not registered for the electronic scheme, and whether the online platform, which was only launched in November, can cope with the number of auctions that are expected to take place, Kathimerini reported.

With initial reports that some 40,000 homes would go on the block, with the government insisted it was only strategic defaulters and not those of people who couldn’t afford to pay because of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, a report from the European Commission put the number at 130,000 through 2021.

The Finance Ministry denied that any such target had been agreed, downplaying fears that the government would allow wholesale takings of people’s homes.

According to the Compliance Report, 1,000 auctions a month should be carried out from March, with the number rising to 2,000 a month in the final quarter of the year so that roughly 10,000 have taken place by the end of the year.

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