Pressed by left, Greece's Tsipras vows 'thus far and no further'

Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:24pm EDT
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By Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, struggling to contain a revolt in his left-wing Syriza party, said on Wednesday that his government would not implement reform measures beyond those agreed with lenders at a euro zone summit this month.

Tsipras faces a tough Syriza central committee session on Thursday with many activists angered by his acceptance of bailout terms more stringent than those voters rejected in a July 5 referendum.

In a clear warning to Syriza rebels, Tsipras said he could be forced to call early elections if he no longer had a parliamentary majority, and suggested an emergency party congress could be held in early September.

At the same time, he is under pressure from Greece's creditors to go beyond the two packages of so-called prior actions passed by parliament and include unpopular steps to curb early retirement and tax breaks for farmers, EU sources say.

"I know well the framework of the deal we signed at the euro zone summit on July 12," Tsipras told Sto Kokkino radio. "We will implement these commitments, irrespective of whether we agree with it or not. Nothing beyond that."

With Greece close to the financial abyss last month, the government closed the banks for three weeks and Tsipras was forced to make the major concessions on reform and austerity to open negotiations on a third bailout of up to 86 billion euros.

In a setback for government efforts to restore more economic normality, the Athens stock exchange will stay closed probably until the end of a fifth week because banks need to adapt IT systems to enforce limits on trading by Greeks.

A European Commission spokeswoman declined to say what additional measures Athens was expected to take before the conclusion of the new bailout, although she said earlier this week more reforms were due before the first aid is disbursed.   Continued...

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras  in Athens, Greece July 24, 2015.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis