While Greece’s left-leaning new government attempted to put a positive spin on Monday’s continued talks with European finance ministers, conflicting reports indicate that Syriza’s plan to distance the country from its austerity-imposing creditors, the so-called Troika, may be dashed for now.
Following a meeting of the Eurogroup council, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters that—despite pledges made by Syriza—Greece has committed not to take any unilateral actions, and would also not roll back any austerity reforms that had previously been adopted.
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And although the new leftist government intended to keep financial officials representing the lending triumvirate—the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank, and the European Union—out of Greece, Dijsselbloem also confirmed that “technical teams” would arrive in Athens on Wednesday to further monitor bailout provisions.
According to the Guardian, the fact that next Wednesday’s meeting would happen in Athens rather than Brussels serves as “a reminder that Greece is still under the control of its creditors.”
Guardian journalist Helena Smith noted that term “Troika” has now taken on fraught undertones and its deliberate use by various officials during Monday’s meeting was done to undercut some of Syriza’s initial victories. Smith reports:
On Monday afternoon, the Greek government released a statement describing the Eurogroup meeting as a “success” because: it marked the official launch of the new program agreed on February 20, which replaces the former austerity regime; Greek’s reform proposals were accepted “politically” by the Eurogroup; and the “institutions showed a willingness to resolve the financing problem with immediate effect.”
However, contradicting Dijsselbloem’s statement, the Greek government said that Wednesday’s meeting with technical teams would happen in Brussels. “We remind you that the Troika is a mechanism that belongs decisively to the past,” the statement said.
A senior Greek official also reportedly said that the government “will continue enriching the list of reforms with additional proposals that it will elaborate on,” which he noted would part of the National Plan for Reconstruction and Growth.
On Friday, the Syriza government sent a letter (pdf) to Dijsselbloem detailing the first list of reform measures. And on Sunday, Greek financial minister Yanis Varoufakis said that if Eurogroup officials rejected the reforms that the Greek government would consider holding a referendum and “resort to the Greek people.”