EU advises Greece not to help the poor; PM Tsipras Visiting Moscow Soon

True to its elitist character, the EuroGroup just told the New Greek government not to provide freebies to its poor citizenry, so it could pay its usurious debts.
However, Tsipras administration is fully committed to fulfill its campaign promises and will be talking to Putin soon.

Greece told not to okay anti-poverty law: Report

Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:38AM

Declan Costello, the director at the European Commission (EC)’s directorate for economic and financial affairs
Declan Costello, the director at the European Commission (EC)’s directorate for economic and financial affairs

A European Commission (EC) official has demanded that Greece not pass an anti-poverty bill that would provide free electricity to the country’s poorest, prompting a sharp response from Athens, a report says.
The Tuesday report by British Channel 4 said Declan Costello, the head of the EC’s directorate for economic and financial affairs, told the Greek government in a letter not to proceed with the parliamentary vote.
The anti-poverty bill, set to be passed by the Greek parliament (seen below) on Thursday, would provide not only free electricity to the country’s poorest households but also provide them with food stamps and allow installment payments of tax arrears.

In the letter addressed to Athens, Costello said that, “During our teleconference last night, you mentioned the planned parliament passage tomorrow of the ‘humanitarian crisis’ bill…We would strongly urge having the proper policy consultations first, including consistency with reform efforts.”
“There are several issues to be discussed and we need to do them as a coherent and comprehensive package,” Costello added.
The EC official continued by saying that if the Greek parliament passed the bill, it would violate a compromise deal signed by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis last month in Brussels.
“Doing otherwise would be proceeding unilaterally and in a piecemeal manner that is inconsistent with the commitments made, including to the Eurogroup as stated in the February 20 communiqué,” said Costello.
In response, a Greek government source criticized the letter, saying, “If in 2015 in Europe the fight against a humanitarian crisis is considered a unilateral decision, what then remains of European values?”
Under the deal, eurozone finance ministers granted Greece a four-month extension of its international bailout to avert the possibility of the country’s exit from the currency area. But Athens will not receive the cash until eurozone partners approve a list of reform measures proposed by Greece.
The current Greek government is seeking to revise the terms of the country’s €240-billion ($270-billion) bailout it received from the troika of international lenders following the 2009 economic crisis under a previous government.

PM Tsipras: We won’t back down from what we have announced

Posted by newsroom in Politics Mar, 18 2015
The Greek PM addressed concerns about ‘unilateral actions’ and capital controls and gave a sample of what is to come at the EU summit
During his speech on Wednesday at the debate on the humanitarian crisis bill, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras noted that this is the first time in four years that a draft bill is being discussed in the Greek parliament which is not a “translation” of recommendations made to Greece by its European creditors.
In the second day of the debate, the Greek PM predicted that the bill will be passed with a huge majority, as it addresses the needs of the largest part of the Greek population, not only the needs of an elite.
Commenting on the hard stance of Greece’s European creditors in the negotiations regarding the Greek problem, Tsipras said that the road ahead is difficult and full of traps, which was largely expected.
“Our partners, who thought of us as a continuation of the previous government, are just starting to get to know us,”  Alexis Tsipras noted, underlying that the Greek Govt is not asking for special treatment, just equal.
“We have laid the foundations for a solution of the Greek problem,” the PM he said, noting that Europe has just started to acknowledge that the humanitarian crisis in Greece is the result of a program that failed miserably.
“We have canceled the evaluation of the previous program and put an end to the Troika, the representatives of which had grown accustomed to interrogating and humiliating ministers,” Tsipras said, underlying however that there are some people in Greece that are even worse than the Troika in some respects.
Greek PM personally answered claims that Greece is taking ‘unilateral action’ by addressing the humanitarian crisis in a letter by Declan Costello, the European Commission’s cheif representative of the technical team monitoring Greece.
The speech in Parliament was a sample as to what is expected from Tsipras at the EU summit on Thursday and his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.
source »

Greek PM brings forward Russia Putin trip

Alexis Tsipras, Greek PM (15 March)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin on 8 April, a month earlier than planned, as the indebted eurozone member state seeks to avoid bankruptcy.
He came to power vowing to end austerity, but talks with creditors on Greek financial reforms are in trouble.
Relations with one of Greece’s biggest creditors, Germany, are at a low ebb.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has accused the new government of wrecking confidence.
Greece needs the final instalment of its €240bn (£172bn; $255bn) bailout to stay afloat and in order to secure a four-month extension, the government has to give full details of its planned reforms by the end of April.
The visit to Moscow, confirmed by officials, was initially reported by Ta Nea newspaper, which said that the Athens government had sought to bring forward the meeting, originally planned for 9 May, because of “stifling economic conditions” set by Europe’s creditors.

Graffiti in Greece (file pic)
Greece’s international creditors, known as the troika, are widely hated by Greeks


Playing the Russian card – by Giorgos Christides

Greece is desperate for cash, and already the government is paying only for essentials, such as wages and pensions, while other expenses have been frozen. The government needs €1.7bn this month alone, and €4bn in total by the end of April.
Mr Tsipras will make a final effort at the EU summit later this week to convince creditors to release part of the remaining bailout tranche, or at least convince the ECB to allow Greek commercial banks to buy more Treasury bills, giving in return some reforms he can safely pass in parliament.
If no progress is made, his trip to Russia may come in handy, since Moscow has already said it would be willing to consider a request for a loan by Athens.
The Greek leader could also play the Russian card in another way. He could tell Mrs Merkel that he will give the green light to Russian investment, in state railways, the port of Thessaloniki and other state assets that Moscow has publicly shown an interest in. These are steps the EU would be keen to avoid.
Could Greece abandon the EU for Russia?
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Greece has ruined the trust that had been rebuilt
As tensions increase with Greece’s major European partners, Mr Tsipras is hoping to meet the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, as well as the German chancellor and the presidents of France and the European Commission on the sidelines of an EU summit on Thursday, Greek radio reports.
A further important meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel will take place next Monday, when the Greek prime minister travels to Berlin in an attempt to push for a deal to secure funding.
Several ministers in Mr Tsipras’s Syriza-led government have close contacts with Moscow and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has openly questioned EU sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea and its conduct elsewhere in eastern Ukraine.
source »
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