Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday that Athens accepts its European partners’ insistence that the International Monetary Fund should play a role in supervising the country’s international bailout.
Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos on a panel that included German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Tsipras said Greece believed the European Union could manage the programme on its own but it accepted that other partners wanted the IMF involved.
“There has been a long debate, we have heard different views. Some partners asked that the IMF be involved and we agreed in order to have the agreement. Now we are doing all we can to implement this agreement,” he said.
Schaeuble said the German and other parliaments had agreed to aid Greece on condition that the IMF remained engaged in the programme and it would be like “entering a room full of dynamite with a lighted candle” to ask the Bundestag to change that agreement.
Tsipras joked that he didn’t want Schaeuble to blow himself up so they needed to remove the dynamite before he entered that room.
The leftist Greek leader, who was due to meet IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde later in the day, said what mattered was that differences among Athens’ lenders should not delay concluding a first review of the bailout programme.
Greece is debating a politically sensitive pension reform which is a pre-condition for completing the first review and starting talks on debt restructuring but which has prompted a wave of strikes.
IMF and European Union officials have voiced reservations about the proposed pension reform because it would be funded partly by increases in contributions by employers and employees, which they contend would prevent economic recovery and job creation in the official economy.
Tsipras insisted on the Davos panel that there should not be another across-the-board cut in pensions after 12 previous pension reforms that cut benefits since the start of Greece’s bailouts in 2010.
Schaeuble did not comment specifically on the pension reform but said what mattered most was the European Union countries stuck to the agreements they reached — a frequent German criticism of Greece’s performance in the past six years.
Source: Reuters (Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by Catherine Evans)