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Bulgarian heads IMF’s mission to Athens

13 March 2015 / 13:03:42  GRReporter
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Bulgarian Iva Petrova will head the mission of the International Monetary Fund and will participate in the negotiations with the Greek government in Athens on the part of the International Monetary Fund. The news was announced by spokesman for the International Monetary Fund Gerry Rice and Elena Panariti, advisor to Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis and member of the group that negotiates with lenders.

In a presentation to the audience at the Institute of Diplomacy and Global Affairs, at which she arrived directly from the airport after a flight from Brussels, she said that the representatives of the lenders behaved arrogantly with the Greek negotiators. According to her, this was probably because the previous government had not negotiated but had unconditionally accepted their orders. Furthermore, she accused the previous government of not being aware of data.

"The representatives of the International Monetary Fund rigidly "stick" to the regulation of the institution, which is why they are firm and inflexible, but also quite predictable. The representatives of the European Central Bank are classic bank employees who are interested in figures and data, which is understandable because they are appointed there precisely because of these skills and not because of their ability to handle the rescue of an economy. European Commission representatives are typical bureaucrats who stick to the programme and it is almost impossible for them to look beyond it. It is a significant fact that we obtain answers such as not to pay salaries and pensions for a period of 1-2 months."

Panariti said that the government at the time had adopted the rescue programme for Greece "under very strong pressure" and in fact, it had achieved nothing but to deepen the crisis in the country, "although many of its provisions were in the right direction." According to her, the programme had been created to save foreign banks that had held toxic Greek government bonds.

"I would say that the memorandum was the work of greedy bankers. Even if economists had worked on it, banking interests hid behind it," she was firm.


Elena Panariti at the Institute of Diplomacy and Global Affairs, photo: the author

Panariti criticized the measures applied in Greece in recent years, including the horizontal cuts in pensions and salaries, stating that nothing had been done to restore the economy in fact. "The specific measure has not contributed towards increasing employment. Moreover, you should know that the notorious budget surplus of 2014 would amount to 0.6% not to 1.5%, according to new estimates by Brussels."

Elena Panariti said that as an employee of the International Bank she had participated in the management of financial crises in 33 countries, stressing that Greece needed reforms. She resented that, five years after the crisis, granting pensions to people aged 45 and 50 years continued.

She stressed that the new Greek government had asked the lenders to change the rescue programme in precisely this direction. According to her, the agreement reached at the Eurogroup meeting on 20 February included a list of 25 reforms, some of them being liberalization of closed professions, the pension system, simplifying bureaucracy and more.

Elena Panariti did not comment on whether the government would be able to carry out these reforms, nor the fact that the first seven reforms, which were discussed at the Eurogroup meeting on Monday, are not in the category of the most painful ones against which SYRIZA struggled in the years when it was the opposition.

She was firm that Greece's exit from the euro zone would be a huge disaster for it itself and for the other member states, and rejected the view that they were prepared for this possibility by saying, "The consequences will be tragic, although Germany’s economic team is trying its best to convince Angela Merkel that there will be no problem in the system."

Panariti said that the government was working to avoid such consequences and therefore, support for it was a matter of patriotic duty.

* The photo of Iva Petrova is from her personal account on the professional social network LinkedIn.

Tags: PoliticsGreeceLendersTalksIMFIva PetrovaElena Panariti
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