Fo­cus turns to debt talks

Greek del­e­ga­tion to head to Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day, with en­cour­ag­ing fis­cal data

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fol­low­ing the brief Easter break, Greek of­fi­cials are pre­par­ing to head to Wash­ing­ton for talks with the coun­try’s lenders that Athens hopes will con­trib­ute to a so-called “global” agree­ment, in­clud­ing debt re­lief, be­ing clinched in the com­ing weeks.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos, his al­ter­nate Gior­gos Hou­liarakis and Econ­omy Min­is­ter Dim­itris Pa­padim­itriou are due to travel to the US cap­i­tal on Thurs­day night for the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund’s Spring Meet­ings, run­ning Fri­day to Sun­day.

The del­e­ga­tion will travel with the ad­van­tage of know­ing the rat­i­fied pri­mary sur­plus for 2016. Greek gov­ern­ment sources in­di­cated there is con­fi­dence in Athens that the fi­nal of­fi­cial fis­cal data will show a pri­mary sur­plus of around 4 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct last year, which would be some 3.5 per­cent­age points above the tar­get agreed with the cred­i­tors.

Athens hopes that this pos­i­tive out­come will fa­cil­i­tate the dis­cus­sion ex­pected to take place at the sidelines of the gath­er­ing hosted by the IMF and that the in­sti­tu­tions will reach an un­der­stand­ing on how to put Greece’s public debt on path to sus­tain­abil­ity.

In an in­ter­view with Ger­man news­pa­per Die Welt pub­lished yes­ter­day, IMF Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Chris­tine La­garde re­it­er­ated the Fund’s po­si­tion on Greek debt. “If Greek debt is not sus­tain­able based on IMF rules and rea­son­able pa­ram­e­ters, we will not take part in the pro­gram,” she warned.

Ger­many’s po­si­tion on this is­sue is con­sid­ered to be piv­otal, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal con­straints on the gov­ern­ment in Ber­line due to the fed­eral elec­tions sched­uled for Septem­ber.

Be­fore the debt is­sue is of­fi­cially set­tled, though, there will have to be an agree­ment be­tween Athens and the in­sti­tu­tions at a tech­ni­cal level on the mea­sures that the Greek gov­ern­ment will have to im­ple­ment. The lenders are due to re­turn to Greece on Mon­day to con­clude the so­called staff-level agree­ment. The coali­tion is hope­ful that this can be done in a few days, as it be­lieves that just some minor is­sues still need to be re­solved.

Athens con­tin­ues to be­lieve that a com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment can be reached by the May 22 Eurogroup.

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