Brus­sels of­fi­cial rules out April deal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

At at a time of in­creas­ing gov­ern­ment jit­ters over the de­lays in wrap­ping up ne­go­ti­a­tions with the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors, Alexis Tsipras is ex­pected to use Prime Min­is­ter’s Ques­tion Time in Par­lia­ment to­day to present an up­date on the course and con­tent of the talks, and a time frame for their conclusion.

Tsipras’s de­lib­er­a­tions in Par­lia­ment will come as it be­comes in­creas­ingly clear that any fur­ther de­lays in the bid to com­plete the re­view of the coun­try’s third bailout will in­crease un­cer­tainty and lay the ground­work for sce­nar­ios of doom, which could neg­a­tively im­pact the course of the ne­go­ti­a­tions, and fur­ther un­der­mine the prospects of eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

A point in case is that the gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day scram­bled to dis­miss spec­u­la­tion that spread like wild­fire in the lo­cal me­dia – and picked up by Reuters – that Tsipras was about to ad­dress the na­tion to an­nounce early elec­tions af­ter an al­leged bust-up with cred­i­tors.

The prime min­is­ter’s of­fice is­sued a scathing state­ment against Reuters, ac­cus­ing it of pub­lish­ing “fake news” from un­re­li­able sources.

Mean­while yes­ter­day, an EU of­fi­cial in Brus­sels dashed the gov­ern­ment’s hopes that the con­tentious is­sue of la­bor re­forms will be de­ferred un­til the coun­try’s next re­view, by in­sist­ing yes­ter­day that cur­rent ne­go­ti­a­tions will not be con­cluded with­out changes to la­bor laws.

The bid to de­fer the la­bor is­sues un­til the third re­view, he said, “is out of touch with re­al­ity.”

Speak­ing to re­porters, he also con­firmed the as­sess­ment by Kathimerini that, con­trary to the gov­ern­ment’s ex­pec­ta­tions, there is not enough time in April to reach a com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment that will in­clude the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and a deal on the midterm debt re­lief mea­sures. The of­fi­cial cited the Easter hol­i­days and the IMF’s spring meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton on April 21-23 as the main rea­sons for the de­lay, as well as dif­fer­ences on var­i­ous is­sues in­clud­ing the mea­sures the gov­ern­ment needs to im­ple­ment to achieve a 3.5 per­cent sur­plus in 2019. But de­spite the EU of­fi­cial’s de­flat­ing re­marks with re­gard to an April deal, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos ap­peared to be on a dif­fer­ent wave­length yes­ter­day, say­ing that a deal could be clinched by the April 7 Eurogroup.

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