Contrasting views of Greece′s austerity programs | News | DW | 27.07.2012
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Contrasting views of Greece's austerity programs

The Greek prime minister has met with European and IMF auditors to discuss Greece's austerity drive. Although the delegation has clearly been stern with Greece, the country's unionists promptly hit back.

International lenders and Greek unionists articulated ominously contrasting views of Greece's austerity mission on Friday, as pressure on the country's government to step up its austerity drive increased.

A delegation of international inspectors from the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), told the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday that the government had no choice but to dramatically slash its costs.

Following a two-hour meeting between the mission of auditors and the Greek Prime Minister, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a statement that inspectors had spoken to the Prime Minister on measures "that must be taken to ensure that the national program is brought back on track."

Greek unionists: austerity 'has destroyed us'

But on the same day Greek unionists hit out, claiming that the international auditors overseeing Greece's adherence to austerity would have failed their own evaluation.

A protester walks behind a Greek flag that reads the ancient Spartan saying 'Either with it, or on it'

There remains strong populist opposition to austerity in Greece

"Their program has destroyed us, pushing the Greek economy into recession," said Yiannis Panagopoulos, leader of private sector union GSEE. Panagopoulos also branded the auditors "charlatans."

"If [the auditors] were civil servants and had to be evaluated, it is certain that they would have been fired," he said following the meeting between the Greek government and the EU-IMF mission.

Cuts for aid

The inspectors landed in Greece earlier in the week to evaluate the progress Athens has made in fulfilling the austerity objectives that it agreed to in exchange for bailouts from the EU and the IMF. Athens has been granted two bailout packages worth 173 billion euros.

The Greek government is on the cusp of finalizing a new package of cuts that will slash an additional 1.15 billion euros in state spending over a period of two years. The government is also tipped to cut pensions, benefits, healthcare spending and civil servant salaries.

But outsiders have voiced alarm that Greece is still falling short on its austerity agenda. During their last visit to Greece at the beginning of July, the auditors warned that Athens had missed its budget cut targets and needed to speed up its reforms. Although Samaras has voiced his wish for more time to carry out reforms, European leaders did not welcome the request.

sej/jm (AFP, dpa)