Athens in push to restart stalled talks

Tsakalo­tos will launch an ef­fort ahead of the EWG for the cred­i­tors’ mis­sion chiefs to re­turn to Greece

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ELENI VARVIT­SI­O­TIS

BRUS­SELS – Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos has launched an ef­fort to un­freeze talks on the Greek bailout re­view ahead of Thurs­day’s Euro Work­ing Group – which will de­ter­mine when and un­der what con­di­tions the mis­sion chiefs of the coun­try’s cred­i­tors can re­turn to Athens – as the tar­get of con­clud­ing the re­view within Jan­uary ap­pears to be in­creas­ingly out of reach.

Govern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los yes­ter­day told Skai TV that the govern­ment and its cred­i­tors would have “a clearer pic­ture” of where ne­go­ti­a­tions stand at the Jan­uary 26 Eurogroup.

Tsakalo­tos is due in Paris to­mor­row, where he will meet with his French coun­ter­part Michel Sapin, and will then travel to Brus­sels to see Euro­pean Eco­nomic Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Pierre Moscovici and dis­cuss the con­clu­sion of the sec­ond re­view.

Al­though the aim of the meet­ings is to speed up the re­turn of the cred­i­tors’ chief rep­re­sen­ta­tives to Athens, the of­fi­cials Tsakalo­tos will be talk­ing to are Greece’s strong­est al­lies in the Eurogroup of eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters so it is un­likely those meet­ings will yield any fruit.

“We do not have any new de­vel­op­ments,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesman Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas said in ref­er­ence to state­ments last week sug­gest­ing that while Brus­sels re­mains com­mit­ted to the com­ple­tion of the re­view, this is not just up to the Com­mis­sion ex­clu­sively.

At the Euro Work­ing Group on Thurs­day,Eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­istry of­fi­cials will be dis­cussing the progress of ne­go­ti­a­tions with Athens and also the tar­gets that need to be set for talks to re­sume. The aim is for enough progress to be made so ne­go­ti­a­tions can move for­ward be­fore the Eurogroup meet­ing of Jan­uary 26.

The pres­sure is high as ne­go­ti­a­tions prac­ti­cally came to a stand­still in mid-De­cem­ber when the cred­i­tors’ mis­sion chiefs left Athens.

Eu­ro­zone of­fi­cials now es­ti­mate that it will be vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to have an agree­ment in place for the com­ple­tion of the bailout re­view by the end of the month and the up­com­ing Eurogroup, given that the dis­tance separat­ing the Greek govern­ment and its cred­i­tors, as well as the eu­ro­zone in­sti­tu­tions and the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund, re­mains quite sig­nif­i­cant.

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