Greece roots for Renzi for 'challenging Merkel on austerity'

Italian premier's plan is a gamble for southern Europe

18 March, 10:45

    (by Demetrio Manolitsakis) (ANSAmed) - ATHENS, MARCH 18 - Greece is watching Italian politics and 'rooting' for Premier Matteo Renzi and Italy's centre-left over their ''challenge'' to end austerity policies and ''throw down the gauntlet to Merkel'' on behalf of ''all of southern Europe'', according to leading papers in Greece. Greece is about to return to international capital markets to test its strength after harsh austerity policies imposed by the troika and local media reports over the past few days have been focusing on Italian current events.

    Local media and analysts have been closely watching the latest developments and awaited Renzi's meetings with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    A headline published by Athens daily Ta Nea two days ago summed up the ongoing mood: ''The Italian centre-left ends austerity and throws down the gauntlet to Merkel''. And an editorial on the same paper ran this headline: ''Italy's gamble for the entire South''.

    ''The economic policy of young Italian Premier Matteo Renzi which in practice signals the end of three-year-long austerity policies in his country, tracing a different route from the one outlined by Brussels and Berlin, is turning into a great gamble for the entire (European) south'', wrote Ta Nea. ''It is the first time that a eurozone country with problems announces a different plan from austerity measures. In this respect, the outcome of the Italian project, regardless of its success, will be a catalyzing agent also for Memorandum countries. In order to allay market fears, the Italian premier has assured that his country will stand by engagements over its economic indexes'', the paper wrote over Italy's international engagements. ''After all, the 'Italian model' will be tested here as it seems to be giving a ray of hope to all southern countries''.

    Newspaper Kathimerini ran the headline ''Matteo Renzi and Greece'', writing, among other things, that ''Renzi took the helm of the government in Italy promising a number of reforms which will produce a constructive quake and will lead the country out of the economic crisis. Meanwhile Greece in 2014 is in strong need of a Greek Matteo Renzi and is for now forced to endure a two-party system'', as indicated by recent surveys. The so-called Memorandum agreements signed by the Greek government and the country's international creditors will meanwhile expire in a few months and troika officials - Germany's Matthias Mors (EU) and Clauss Mazuch (ECB) and Denmark's Paul Tomsen (IMF) - who are in charge of monitoring the national economic recovery programme, will finish their work and leave Greece in a few days. The long round of talks that kicked off six months ago thus ended. From now on EU officials will have to monitor the Greek economy and the government's work. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said now Greece - which has made relevant progress towards economic recovery, in spite of mistakes committed by representatives of international creditors - is about to return to international capital markets to test its strength. But local political observers have some reservations as, after analyzing the behaviour of the troika in the last round of inspections and, most of all, the stance taken by the IMF representative who even irritated Premier Antonis Samaras - believe this is part of a plan aimed at imposing on Greece a new Memorandum which would enable the IMF to prolong its presence in Europe.

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