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Germany wants Varoufakis replaced for not having the qualities of finance minister

15 February 2015 / 19:02:45  GRReporter
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German politicians are doubting the professionalism of the members of SYRIZA’s government, reports the Berlin correspondent of To Vima in its Sunday's issue.

Joachim Poss, the Social Democratic Party’s deputy finance spokesman in the German parliament, said that Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis "causes chaos everywhere." His reaction was triggered by Varoufakis’ exposition at the Eurogroup meeting last Wednesday. "Instead of presenting his colleagues with a list of concrete proposals, he gave them a half-hour political speech." Quite a few of the ministers, added Poss, were desperately asking themselves how much of this they could convey to their governments or parliaments.

Poss called on the Greek prime minister, "in the interest of Greek people", to replace Varoufakis with someone who is able to meet the requirements going with the post. And these requirements are really huge in view of the intransigent position taken by Wolfgang Schaeuble.

The representative of the ministry of finance Martin Gerner said last Friday that if aid to Greece were to continue, there is no other solution than that of creditors: an extension of the current bailout package. And the only prerequisite for this, he said, was the repayment of all Greek obligations by the end of February. This, however, does not exclude any changes that the Greek side might possibly wish to introduce.

It is fairly likely that the argument will become more heated over the next few days. The expectations of achieving results at the Eurogroup meeting on Monday are tapering off. The Greek government, as well as the prime minister himself through his statement in Sunday's press, are claiming that there are ways to thrash out an agreement with the partners, but the solution is still out of sight.

On Saturday evening in Brussels, the technical consultations of the Greek side with the creditors’ representatives were finished. On Sunday, the experts of both sides will compile equivalent texts, which either side is going to present at Monday's negotiations. The aim of these texts is to find points of proximity or gaps between the two sides.

According to To Vima, there are three flashpoints, on which the two sides disagree, and the creditors are unwilling to make concessions:

  • the amendments to the labour law;
  • the privatisation deals, which have to be reviewed one by one;
  • the easing of the target for the primary budget surplus.

The points of agreement are:

  • tax evasion;
  • fighting corruption;
  • reforms aimed at improving the business climate.

According to reports in To Vima, it is encouraging that the topic of most intense disagreements – the changes to the labour market – has already been taken out of the negotiations agenda.

Sources, who have taken part in the negotiations, have said that most of the issues – e.g. the layoff limits, the annulment of arbitrage, etc. – have been raised at the request of Greek employers supported by the ministers of the former Greek government.

However, the partners are pessimistic and believe that Monday will be a difficult day for the negotiations.

On Saturday on Mega TV, the State Minister, Alekos Flambouraris, said he was optimistic that the Eurogroup meeting would reach an agreement with a 99.9% probability. He added, however, that a summit may be necessary only on issues concerning Greece. The minister made a forecast that an agreement would be signed by the end of the month.

Yet other sources believe that another Eurogroup meeting might be necessary.

As far as the most likely scenario for reaching an agreement is concerned, Financial Times has pointed out that a fresh bailout programme looks like a good solution at a time when the Greek side has rejected the extension of the existing package while creditors have in turn discarded Varoufakis’ proposal for a bridging programme.

Tags: Yannis Varoufakis negotiations Eurogroup extending the programme points of contention
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