Gov’t awaits cred­i­tors’ move

Amid con­tin­u­ing rift be­tween Greece’s lenders, of­fi­cials hold back on fi­nal­iz­ing strat­egy in ne­go­ti­a­tions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The gov­ern­ment is wait­ing for a move from Greece’s cred­i­tors to break the dead­lock in frozen bailout ne­go­ti­a­tions, Kathimerini un­der­stands, as Euro­pean of­fi­cials in­di­cate that very lit­tle progress has been achieved since last month’s Eurogroup.

Al­though Greek of­fi­cials say they are keen to se­cure the re­sump­tion of talks, the lack of any con­crete ac­tion means the im­mi­nent re­turn of bailout mon­i­tors ap­pears un­likely. And if for­eign au­di­tors fail to re­turn by early next week, con­clud­ing a pend­ing bailout re­view at the next sched­uled Eurogroup on Fe­bru­ary 20 will be dif­fi­cult.

There are two key stum­bling blocks: firstly Greece’s re­luc­tance to leg­is­late con­tin­gent fis­cal mea­sures up front, in line with de­mands by the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund; and sec­ondly a rift be­tween Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials and the IMF over fis­cal fore­casts for Greece.

Fol­low­ing Ber­lin’s in­sis­tence on the need for the IMF to sup­port Greece’s third bailout, Dutch Fi­nance Min­is­ter Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem in­di­cated yes­ter­day that the Nether­lands also re­quires the Fund to be on board. Both the Nether­lands and Ger­many face gen­eral elec­tions, the for­mer next month, the lat­ter in Septem­ber. Sources in the Greek gov­ern­ment in­di­cated yes­ter­day that Di­js­sel­bloem’s com­ments, made to the Dutch Par­lia­ment, were for do­mes­tic con­sump­tion and dif­fered sig­nif­i­cantly in tone from his crit­i­cism of the Fund’s re­port this week that pushed for the im­po­si­tion of more aus­ter­ity in Greece.

Sources sug­gested that they did not ex­pect much to come of a Euro Work­ing Group meet­ing sched­uled for to­day as ne­go­ti­a­tions have moved to a higher level. “The is­sue is not tech­ni­cal, it’s po­lit­i­cal,” one source said. “The EWG has no say and is not the com­pe­tent author­ity as re­gards the is­sue that has tran­spired about the role of the IMF,” the of­fi­cial said.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, who yes­ter­day started a two-day of­fi­cial visit to Ukraine, is ex­pected to set out his vi­sion for a po­ten­tial com­pro­mise with Greece’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors dur­ing a ses­sion of left­ist SYRIZA’s cen­tral com­mit­tee this week­end.

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