Clouds gather as bailout re­view hangs in bal­ance

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The pro­tracted­de­lay in wrap­ping up the coun­try’ bailout re­view is be­gin­ning to take a heavy toll on the gov­ern­ment’s plan of ac­tion for putting the coun­try on the path to eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

The left­ist-led ad­min­is­tra­tion was ini­tially aim­ing to com­plete the re­view by the end of 2016 at the lat­est in or­der to be­gin in-depth ne­go­ti­a­tions on debt re­lief and enter the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank’s (ECB) quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing pro­gram be­fore head­ing back to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

The lat­est blow came last Thurs­day at a meet­ing of the Euro Work­ing Group, which Athens ex­pected would trig­ger the re­turn to Greece of the cred­i­tors’ tech­ni­cal ad­vis­ers to re­sume ne­go­ti­a­tions. But again, noth­ing came out of the talks that would meet the gov­ern­ment’s ex­pec­ta­tions, and Athens will now have to wait for a meet­ing of the ECB’s board on March 9. In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the ECB, the coali­tion is now hop­ing for the re­view’s com­ple­tion by late Fe­bru­ary or early March.

How­ever, de­spite the gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to raise the alarm over the con­se­quences of the de­lay in wrap­ping up the re­view, it has re­cently sounded a more de­fi­ant tone, say­ing it is in no hurry as it can “cover costs over the next few months.”

The tough­en­ing of its stance has raised eye­brows at home and abroad as, to many ob­servers, it brings to mind the ac­ri­mo­nious ne­go­ti­a­tions that took place in the sum­mer of 2015, which pushed Greece to the brink of a eu­ro­zone exit.

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