Athens hopes for sup­port on debt

Pos­i­tive Obama state­ment will boost chances of con­crete com­mit­ment at De­cem­ber Eurogroup, of­fi­cials think

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greek of­fi­cials are hop­ing to se­cure a pub­lic ex­pres­sion of sup­port for debt re­lief from out­go­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama when he vis­its Athens next week, with gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los yes­ter­day un­der­lin­ing the “ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant” role of the US in global eco­nomic de­vel­op­ments.

“A state­ment by Pres­i­dent Obama is never just a state­ment, but it’s po­lit­i­cal pres­sure so that the is­sue of debt can be solved,” Tzanakopou­los told a me­dia brief­ing in Athens yes­ter­day. Tzanakopou­los also em­pha­sized the sig­nif­i­cance of the fact that US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Jack Lew, who has re­peat­edly called for Greek debt re­lief, will be ac­com­pa­ny­ing Obama on his visit. Lew’s state­ments “have gone a great way to­ward pro­mot­ing the Greek debt is­sue,” he said.

Stress­ing the fact that the cur­rent US ad­min­is­tra­tion in gen­eral has been very sup­port­ive of Greece’s calls for debt re­lief, Tzanakopou­los said, “We be­lieve that the is­sue of Greek debt will be at the top of the agenda dur­ing Mr Obama’s visit to our coun­try.”

Athens hopes that Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos can travel to a sched­uled meet­ing of eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters on De­cem­ber 5 with a con­crete state­ment of sup­port for debt re­lief from Obama. The US pres­i­dent is to travel to Ber­lin im­me­di­ately af­ter his two­day visit to Greece where the Greek debt is­sue is sure to be one of many is­sues on a long list of top­ics topped by the reper­cus­sions of Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory.

A re­newed de­bate about the prospects of light­en­ing Greece’s debt has been ac­com­pa­nied by spec­u­la­tion about whether the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund will join the Greek pro­gram, which has in turn fu­eled de­bate about the pos­si­ble need for a fourth bailout for Greece. Tzanakopou­los cat­e­gor­i­cally ruled out such a prospect. “There is no in­ten­tion for new mea­sures or for new struc­tural re­forms in the agree­ment which may tran­spire if the IMF agrees to fund the Greek pro­gram.”

Apart from the debt is­sue, Cyprus talks, the refugee cri­sis and Greece’s role in the broader re­gion are ex­pected to be on the agenda of dis­cus­sions be­tween Obama and Greek gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

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