EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici laid bare the differences between European creditors and the IMF concerning the Greek program (third bailout) in an address in Athens on Monday, during a day that kicks off a week viewed as a “make or break” period for posting progress towards a second review of the program.
Hours before speaking at an economic conference in Athens, he emphasized the need for the Fund to return to the Greek program as a lender, while saying the time has also come to discuss debt relief for crisis-plagued Greece.
Exiting the presidential mansion in downtown Athens, the high-ranking EU Commissioner also burnished his more populist credentials, saying that the effort remains to achieve a recognition of all Europeans and Europe for growth and “social development”.
Moscovici said it was imperative for Europeans not identify the European Union with “punishment” and a perpetual austerity.
In terms of the burning issue for the leftist Greek government, he referred to unquestionable progress towards the second review of the Greek program, saying negotiations were on a very good track.
In remaining on the “middle ground” between the dogmatic stance favored by Berlin and Athens’ call for immediate debt relief, even long-term measures, he merely said that if the Greek government fulfills its obligations then European creditors will “do their part.”
Nevertheless, he reiterated that the time has come for discussions to begin on the Greek debt issue, promising to bring up the matter at next week’s closely-watched Eurogroup meeting.
In an interesting pivot from the often scripted comments by EU Commissioners, Moscovici also referred to Greece’s “geopolitical role” in its region, something he said European allies neither ignore nor forget. He cited the particularity of Greece’s borders, and the difficulty in Athens’ relations with neighboring Turkey.
On his part, Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a long-time lawmaker and minister in several center-right governments, said the country cannot accept measures in labor relations that are in contrivance with the European acquis, “something that no other EU country, such as France and Germany, would accept.”