Greek opposition 'not bound' by post-bailout commitments

Kyriakos Mitsotakis leader of center-right New Democracy party leaves from the Foreign Press Association offices in Athens, Thursday, April 12, 2018. Greece's conservative opposition leader says his party would not be bound by the terms of a post-bailout agreement currently being negotiated between the government and international creditors, arguing that he would implement more aggressive cost-cutting reforms. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece — Greece's conservative opposition leader says his party will not be bound by the terms of a post-bailout agreement being negotiated between the government and international creditors, arguing he would implement more aggressive cost cuts.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the remarks Thursday as Greek officials were in Brussels to meet European creditor representatives to discuss the terms of Greece's exit from the multi-billion rescue program in August. A draft Greek proposal for post-bailout reforms — promised in return for debt relief — is to be presented at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria, on April 27.

Mitsotakis' center-right New Democracy party leads in the polls over Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party ahead of general elections, which must be held by the fall of 2019.

"New Democracy will not be bound by a program that is based on outdated ideas," Mitsotakis told a briefing with foreign correspondents in Athens.

Failure to honor commitments made by previous governments has been a frequent source of friction between Greece and leaders during three successive bailouts that started in 2010.

But Mitsotakis indicated his party's program would be more closely aligned with policies favored by creditors.

"No one can accuse us of not being pro-reform ... Our reforms will be bold."

Greece is expected to achieve this year another high budget surplus when not counting debt costs and economic growth of 2.5 percent. But it will remain reliant on bailout creditors who hold most of the country's whopping national debt, which has reached 365 billion euros ($450 billion), or 180 percent of gross domestic product.

Creditors have promised more generous repayment terms, including a protection mechanism for periods of low-growth or recession, in exchange for continued reforms and the further privatization of state enterprises and public utilities.

The government says it wants to abolish minimum wage restrictions, reform collective salary-bargaining agreement between labor unions and employers, and create cooperative banks to boost growth. It is unclear whether creditors would endorse the proposals.

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