Athens braces for cru­cial week

As the IMF dis­cusses its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Greek bailout, gov’t in race against time to close re­view

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As a cru­cial board meet­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund took place last night over its par­tic­i­pa­tion in Greece’s cur­rent res­cue pro­gram, the govern­ment was brac­ing for a cru­cial week in its bid to con­clude the sec­ond re­view of the coun­try’s third bailout.

De­spite new fears that the im­passe in ne­go­ti­a­tions could send Greece, again, to the brink of a euro exit, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras in­sisted yes­ter­day that the “un­cer­tainty will end” soon, af­ter a meet­ing with top govern­ment and SYRIZA of­fi­cials.

With pres­sure grow­ing at an al­most ex­po­nen­tial pace on Athens to wrap up the re­view, govern­ment sources in­sisted yes­ter­day that the left­ist-led coali­tion would not make any “con­ces­sions on mat­ters of prin­ci­ple.”

But given that Greece is rac­ing against time to wrap up the re­view, an­a­lysts said this sounded like a shift from the govern­ment’s nar­ra­tive, which un­til last week in­sisted that no new mea­sures would be leg­is­lated.

What was clear yes­ter­day, ac­cord­ing to the PM’s aides, was that ne- go­ti­a­tions be­tween all par­ties in­volved in the Greek bailout have picked up in earnest again af­ter last month’s Eurogroup.

“We are talk­ing to ev­ery­one, we are sub­mit­ting our pro­pos­als and we’re lis­ten­ing to theirs,” a govern­ment source said.

Whether this in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of talks will yield the de­sired re­sults, which would lead to a con­clu­sion of the re­view, re­mains to be seen at Thurs­day’s Euro Work­ing Group.

As part of th­ese ef­forts to break the dead­lock, Eu­ro­zone chief Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem has re­port­edly seized the ini­tia­tive to get all par­ties in­volved around the same ta­ble on Fri­day.

The stakes couldn’t be higher as fail­ure to con­clude the re­view by the Eurogroup on Fe­bru­ary 20 could de­prive Greece of much needed res­cue funds, jeop­ar­dize the bailout, and the coun­try could find it­self again on the edge of the precipice.

Mean­while, Ber­lin warned ear­lier yes­ter­day, though a spokesman for Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, that if the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund were to pull out of the bailout, then that would spell the end of the cur­rent pro­gram.

The Wash­ing­ton-based or­ga­ni­za­tion has been at log­ger­heads with Greece’s in­ter­na­tional creditors over the sus­tain­abil­ity of the coun­try’s debt and the mea­sures Athens must take to meet its fis­cal tar­gets.

Ger­many, which is Europe’s largest econ­omy, has in­sisted that the IMF must re­main in the pro­gram but dis­agrees with the de­mand by the Fund for sub­stan­tial debt re­lief to Greece, un­less it leg­is­lates tough re­forms and achieves bud­get sur­pluses of 3.5 per­cent af­ter the bailout ends in 2018.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.