Hur­dles whit­tled down

Tsipras sees talks in fi­nal stretch while Juncker is hope­ful of deal in Au­gust

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

There are at least three key is­sues that Greece and its lenders have to re­solve in the com­ing days, oth­er­wise prepa­ra­tions will have to be­gin for a new bridge loan to en­sure that Athens does not miss a pay­ment to the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank on Au­gust 20.

“We still have to set­tle three or four is­sues at a tech­ni­cal level,” Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos said yesterday af­ter a new round of talks with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank, Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. “These mat­ters will re­quire a lit­tle more time.”

The main ob­sta­cles to an agree­ment at the mo­ment are the timeline for re­forms, pri­vati- za­tions and the re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion of Greek banks.

On the first is­sue, Greece and its lenders have yet to de­cide when spe­cific re­forms will have to be im­ple­mented. It is thought some prior ac­tions will be passed through Par­lia­ment at the same time as the agree­ment for the third bailout but oth­ers will be adopted later in the year.

With re­gard to pri­va­ti­za­tions, there is no agree­ment yet on how the new fund that Greece has to set up will op­er­ate. It ap­pears the cred­i­tors are in­sist­ing that the cur­rent sell-off fund com­plete the projects it had lined up.

The de­tails of the planned re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion of Greek banks has not been fi­nal­ized ei­ther. The in­sti­tu­tions fa­vor com­plet­ing the process by the end of the year and seem to want to avoid a bail-in of de­pos­i­tors, as does the gov­ern­ment.

“We are in the fi­nal stretch,” said Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras dur­ing a visit to the Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Min­istry. “De­spite the dif­fi­cul­ties we are fac­ing, we hope this agree­ment can end un­cer­tainty on the fu­ture of Greece.”

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker also ap­peared hope­ful of progress this month, if not by Au­gust 20, when a 3.2-bil­lioneuro bond held by the ECB ma­tures. “All the re­ports I am get­ting sug­gest an ac­cord this month, prefer­ably be­fore the 20th,” he said, adding that another round of bridge fi­nanc­ing would have to be ar­ranged if the dead­line is not met.

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