Cru­cial talks with troika in Paris

Greek del­e­ga­tion to seek common ground to re­launch re­view, win com­mit­ment on post-EU bailout sce­nario

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A Greek gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion is to meet rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the coun­try’s troika of in­ter­na­tional lenders in Paris to­day for two days of talks aimed at bridg­ing a rift be­tween the two sides and re­launch­ing a stalled eco­nomic re­view in a last-ditch at­tempt to pre­pare for a Eurogroup sum­mit on De­cem­ber 8.

The meet­ing in Paris was an­nounced yes­ter­day after be­ing ar­ranged late on Sun­day in a bid to break the dead­lock.

Sources close to Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras struck an up­beat tone, say­ing the Paris talks could se­cure the re­turn of the troika to Athens as well as an agree­ment re­gard­ing Greece’s prospects after the end of the Euro­pean part of its bailout on De­cem­ber 31.

Sa­ma­ras and his coali­tion part­ner, PA­SOK leader Evan­ge­los Venizelos, met last night to fi­nal­ize Greece’s po­si­tions on key is­sues. Venizelos said the Paris meet­ing would bring Athens “a step closer to the end of this ne­go­ti­a­tion.” Ear­lier in the day, the Fi­nance Min­istry struck a sim­i­lar tone, say­ing the meet­ing had been ar­ranged to “ad­vance the re­view and ex­am­ine the frame­work for the day after.”

But troika of­fi­cials in­di­cated that the talks in Paris would fo­cus only on the cur­rent re­view and not the prospects for next year. “Both par­ties con­tinue to work closely to­gether with the aim of con­clud­ing the re­view,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokes­woman Mina An­dreeva said. Another troika source said it would be “very dif­fi­cult” for the au­dit to be com­pleted this year.

De­spite the reser­va­tions, Greek of­fi­cials hope two days of talks in the French cap­i­tal will yield a com­pro­mise by Thurs­day when eu­ro­zone of­fi­cials are to hold a Euro Work­ing Group sum­mit in prepa­ra­tion for the De­cem­ber 8 Eurogroup.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gikas Har­dou­velis, who is to lead the del­e­ga­tion of min­is­ters in Paris as he did in a sim­i­lar meet­ing in early Septem­ber, has pre­pared re­sponses to a 19-point to-do list sent to Athens by the troika. On Sun­day, Har­dou­velis sent the troika some pro­pos­als for nar­row­ing a fis­cal gap that cred­i­tors fore­see for next year but they are be­lieved to fall short of the bold in­ter­ven­tions be­ing de­manded by cred­i­tors. Key points of con­tention are over­hauls to the la­bor mar­ket and pen­sion sys­tem with Athens un­will­ing to make ma­jor in­ter­ven­tions in th­ese con­tro­ver­sial ar­eas.

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