Greece’s fresh Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) government is wasting no time in making its intentions known regarding its stand on various issues.
First European officials arriving to Greece
* European Parliament President Martin Shulz called Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ win “a historical victory for his party” and said he was looking forward to discussing “many aspects of the memorandum and the troika” with Tsipras. “The European Parliament is open to all discussion, but negotiations must be based on mutual respect and trust,” said Schulz, who will be in Athens on Friday to meet with Tsipras.
* Eurogroup Chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem is visiting Athens on Friday, also, for a first meeting with Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. He made it clear that there will be no negotiations during the meeting, though he expressed the view that it is important to rebuild the Greek economy though a regression in reforms would be a step backwards.
Official visits abroad
Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides told RIK state radio that Tsipras had said before the elections that his first visit as Prime Minister would be to Cyprus. It is estimated that he would pay a visit early next week though the date has yet to be finalized.
Cross-checks for wealth statements
The assets statements (pothen esches) of 15 tax bureau officers and two employees of public companies of the General Secretariat for Public Revenues are being investigated with cross-checks of their bank accounts abroad.
Changes to Education
Deputy Education Minister Tasos Kourakis said that the nationwide exams for the first and second years of Lyceum (years 10 and 11 of senior high school) would be abolished. The controversial exam bank imposed in 2014 that required students to sit for nationwide exams (with teachers’ questions drawn by potluck approach for each school) is being eradicated following the steep rise in students seeking extra private tuition to make sure that all the exam material had been covered.
Port Privatization Cancelled
The new government’s Alternate Minister for Shipping, Thodoris Dritsas, announced the cancellation of the privatization of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP). He stated that “the public character of the port will be maintained. The OLP sell-off stops here.” He said that the state privatization fund (TAIPED) would suspend the process for the sale of the majority stake in OLP. First indications show that the future of TAIPED looks ominous.
Reaction to the EU’s sanctions against Russia
A European Union statement on behalf of all member states released on Tuesday condemning Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis and calling for broader sanctions was criticized by Greece. Tsipras, as one of his first actions as Prime Minister, made a formal complaint to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Moherini underlining that the statement does not have Greece’s consent. The declaration condemned the killing of civilians in the “indiscriminate shelling” of the city of Mariupol on January 24. European diplomats fear that the new Greek government will veto fresh sanctions against Russia marking a major confrontation between Tsipras and other EU leaders in Brussels on February 12.
Public Sackings to be revoked
The Undersecretary of Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance George Katrougalos said, “We have committed ourselves to revoking all dismissals that were unconstitutional, including those due to the measure of availability.”
Greece’s new cabinet, chaired by Tsipras, is to take place in Parliament at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by the ministry and hand-over ceremonies.