Speaking on Greece’s Mega TV, Deputy Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis said that a comprehensive agreement with the lenders must include debt reduction. He said:”If the debt problem is not solved, all the rest cannot help the situation.”
Bearing this in mind, Chountis added that the next loan installment to the IMF should not be paid, even if Greece had the money, which it doesn’t.
“If we do not have the money, we will not pay the IMF,” he said. He also said that government would not compromise on its red lines, such as pensions. “We will proceed with the implementation of our program,” he said.
Chountis said that neither the European Commission, European Central Bank nor the International Monetary Fund, can ask for changes in pensions, labor and social security policies, as these are not within their jurisdiction.
His statement follows what was considered a stormy session of Syriza’s Central Committee over the May 23-24 weekend, at which the left wing, led by the party’s Left Platform, demanded a harder line and even suspension of all debt payments. While Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was given the green light to continue negotiations along the lines he has chosen, he has been called on not to accept another “memorandum-style” agreements or cross the party’s “red lines.”
The Left Platform, headed by Productive Reconstruction Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, drafted a two-page document asking that the next International Monetary Fund installment not be paid, if the same “extortionary tactics” continue. While Syriza’s Central Committee approved the document, it rejected the proposal for payments to Greece’s international creditors to be stopped, by just 11 votes (56-44%). It approved a statement that,”If the credit crunch continues, there is no doubt that the payment of salaries and pensions have absolute priority over loan installments.”