Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN
Lithuania will come, most likely, to rescue Greece after its Parliament has voted for the eurozone-proposed bailout plan. It is thought Lithuania will need to chip in some 60 million euro yearly to keep the troubled Greece afloat. However, Lithuanian MPs are eager to find out first «tons of details» about the deal to get their vote for it.
«So far, I see just propaganda streaming both ways – against Greece and for the bailout -, but I do not see any reliable data on the country’s economy and the bailout package. Importantly, I don’t see so far how we in Lithuania stack up against Greece on many of the economic parameters,» Naglis Puteikis, a member of the Lithuanian Parliament, told BNN.
Deliberations on Greece’s bailout in autumn
The parliamentarian said he was caught «off guard» by the question on the date of the vote on the Greece bailout plan in the Lithuanian Parliament.
«Frankly, I haven’t heard any timeline when the voting could take place,» Puteikis admitted.
Gediminas Kirkilas, a Lithuanian parliamentarian and chairman of the parliamentary European Affairs Committee (EAC) at the Seimas, Lithuanian Parliament, told BNN the plan deliberations should reach Lithuanian legislators after the European Union, International Monetary Fund and other international institutions involved in Greece bailout approve the bailout package.
«I believe it will be no earlier than the autumn,» Kirkilas told.
He underlined that «still many things» have to be learnt, and, first, the possible scope of the Lithuanian support.
«Frankly, it is unknown at the stage, whether Lithuania will have to make any monetary contribution and if yes, how big it will be, when and how it will reach Greece, etc.» the lawmaker told.
If things come to that, Kirkilas insisted that he along with the colleagues in the Parliament will want to send Greece «a strong message» and perhaps do some couching on dealing with the ailing economy.
«We’ve got some really great experience to share,» the MP emphasized.
He says he «heard» the eurozone wants to see their Greece support money coming back over the next two years.
«I am not sure whether this is feasible under the circumstances,» he admitted though.
Money will not be given away
Previously, Rimantas Šadžius, the Lithuanian Finance Minister, told Lithuanian media that the Government will approve the Greece salvation package only if the Greek Parliament votes for the first package which included a series of obligations the country has to bind with to get the bailout money.
It is estimated Greece needs roughly 85 billion euro to resuscitate its economy, which now is in tatters.
The minister inclined that helping Greece out will not cost Lithuanian taxpayers anything. But others claim Lithuania will have to earmark some 60 million euro for the cash-strapped country annually.
And if it comes to giving Greece money, Lithuania will do it likely through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a comprehensive EU strategy designed to safeguard financial stability within the EU’s eurozone states, to which Lithuania has transferred 65.44 million euro this year and will add another 262 million over the next four years.
It is reported that namely from ESM around 80 billion euro will be disbursed by several tranches to Greece.
«No one is going to give away the money- all the support is to be paid back. For interest rates, in fact, but they are not very high and the loan terms are rather human, i.e. very long,» Šadžius told in another interview.
Sides need to approach each other
Still, now, all in Lithuania have more questions than answers over Greece’s bailout.
«For the moment, we do not have an answer to the question (whether it is possible to trust Greece and whether it won’t splurge the money the eurozone has pledged to allot the troubled country). But I believe the support is possible only if the Greek Parliament endorses the bailout program and commits to the obligations that Greece has agreed to abide by,» Šadžius inclined.
He, however, eluded the question earlier what the Lithuanian Government would do in case the Greeks disapprove of the fiscal austerity and reforms imposed by the EU.
«We will see how it unfolds tomorrow (Thursday),» the minister shunned a direct answer.
He, nevertheless, expressed hope that the strategy assumed in the Greece negotiations should pay off at the end of the day.
«Whether the negotiations will pan out as a success, we still cannot tell. But I believe that the approach we’ve taken «step-by-step» should prove itself and guarantee that, with the stride from the Greek side, the eurozone will make also a stride towards Greece and see another step in its direction from Greece,» the minister pointed out.
MP misses reliable information
Puteikis, the parliamentarian, meanwhile, expects by the start of parliamentary deliberations on Greece bailout to obtain all necessary information.
«So far, I see only propaganda streaming both ways- against Greece and for the bailout. What I want to see is reliable and approved statistics of how the Greek economy is doing. What I am hearing now is a pretty mixed-up picture. One sources claim the VAT for luxury items is around 10-12 percent in Greece, which is way too little for a struggling country. I want also to make sure myself that the money we will give Greece won’t end up in the hands of local oligarchs and that they will serve social justice. Only after that Greece will get my vote,»Puteikis told BNN.
Lithuanian President tones down Greece rhetoric
The Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, Loreta Graužinienė, has been so far the only high-ranking Lithuanian official to have bluntly lashed out at Greece for the borrowing.
«The debt it is ridden with is the problem of Greece, not Lithuania’s. When the Greeks were borrowing, they had to think (of that the future may hold). Looking at the issue from Lithuania’s positions, I am convinced our people do not have to cover the Greek debts,» the Lithuanian Parliament Chairwoman told .
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian head-of-state, Dalia Grybauskaitė, has seemingly toned down the harsh rhetoric she had assumed on Greece in the recent weeks.
«I want to reiterate that Lithuania has entered the eurozone and it constitutes such a union of states, where in case of a burden for one, all the rest (come in) help. If Lithuania finds ever itself in a trouble, the other eurozone states will come at rescue,» Grybauskaitė told on her state visit to Italy.
She expressed hope that the measures Greece needs to adopt, and which the entire eurozone has to approve, will help Grece stand eventually on its own feet.
«This is our goal. We have to help, help in a friendly way, but also demand, in a sister or brother-like way, responsibility,» the Lithuanian leader was quoted as saying.
Labour Party will not back Greece bailout plan
In the latest development, Lithuania‘s Labour Party said on Thursday, July 16, its ministers would not back the proposed Greek bailout plan, calling for a ruling coalition‘s meeting on the issue.
«The board ordered the ministers delegated by the Labour Party not to back the Greek bailout plan which is currently considered by the government,» the party said in a statement.
«Pensions and salaries in Greece are now much bigger than in Lithuania. Whether the proposed bailout will help is doubtful. Since it’s financially related to the State of Lithuania, there must be a wider and clearer discussion on the issue among all coalition partners,» Labour Party chairman Valentinas Mazuronis was quoted as saying in the statement.